1) What should a Musalli do if his wudhu breaks whilst praying behind an Imam? Should he remain in the Saff? What happens if he is in the first Saff, and there are many rows behind him? He would end up crossing infront of other Musallies.
2) If he leaves, should the person behind him fill his place?
Wa’alaykum as Salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
If a Musalli’s Wudhu breaks while performing Salaah behind the Imaam, he should immediately leave the Saff and proceed to make wudhu. He should not remain in the Saff until completion of the Salaah.
This procedure can be corroborated by a HadIth of the prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) wherein it is stated:
قال الإمام أبو داود حدثنا عثمان بن أبى شيبة حدثنا جرير بن عبد الحميد عن عاصم الأحول عن عيسى بن حطان عن مسلم بن سلام عن على بن طلق قال قال رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « إذا فسا أحدكم فى الصلاة فلينصرف فليتوضأ وليعد الصلاة )أخرجه أبو داود في سننه (1/144)
“If any of you breaks wind in Salaah, he should leave (the salaah) and proceed to perform a fresh wudhu.” [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol 1, Pg. 144].
As far as the issue of crossing the path of Musallis in the back Saffs is concerned, a person will not be sinful for doing so as there is no other alternative. The Musallis in the back Saffs will, on noticing the advancing Musalli, comprehend the situation and immediately incline to the left or right to allow him to cut through the Saffs. The Musalli could also simulate the action of a man with a bleeding nose by holding his nose (as directed in a Hadith of the prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam), while cutting through the Saffs. This will serve as a sign to the other Musallis that his Wudhu has broken, and thus facilitate his passing through the Saffs.
[ 2 ] Yes, the space left vacant by the Musalli should be filled by the person immediately in the Saff behind him. The procedure is that the person behind should step forward with minimal movement, restricting himself to one or two steps in order to do so. If there is no Saff behind, then the Musallis in the same Saff should step to the side in order to fill the space vacated by the Musalli that just left.
And Allaah Ta’aala knows best
Ismail Moosa (Mufti)