Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
I am a Hanafi woman; recently, I was told that if a man sees me praying, it will break my prayer. My question is: is this from any madhab? Is there any basis for this statement in the four schools?
In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate
I hope you’re doing well, insha’Allah. There is no basis for stating that a man seeing a woman pray will in any way affect the validity of her prayer.
Modesty (haya’) is a virtue for both men and women—and women are encouraged to be discrete in public. But we see the wisdom of the modest form of the women’s prayer: the Muslim woman can prayer anywhere if the time of prayer comes. Naturally, it is superior to choose a more private, quiet place—but one can pray anywhere, even if men are around.
The Validity, Soundness, and Properness of Prayer
Prayer is valid if its conditions (shurut) and integrals (arkan) are fulfilled, and sound if necessary (wajib) acts are performed.
After this, the prayer is proper if the sunna acts and proprieties (adab) of the prayer are upheld—while striving to take care of one’s presence of heart (hudur) and reverence (khushu) in the prayer. [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah; Ghazali, Ihya’ Ulum al-Din].
The prayer is only broken by non-fulfillment of a condition or integral (both of which are obligatory, fard) or by doing something that invalidates the prayer. [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]
You can easily learn these things through the Level One courses at SeekersGuidance. Alhamdulillah, all of our courses are (1) taught by reliable scholars; (2) are always open; (3) you can ask questions; and (4) they’re all completely free.
Religious Concern and Confusing Religious Opinions
May Allah bless you for your religious concern and for asking. The Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him) said, “The only cure for confusion is asking.” [ِAbu Dawud, Ibn Maja, Ahmad; sound (hasan)]
It is also important not to pay attention to religious opinions from unqualified or unverified sources—especially as so many say so much, with such little basis, in our times. Often, such religious talk can confuse or cause misgivings.
Thus, I would advise you to gain a foundation of sound religious knowledge; and to ask reliable scholars when you are unclear. Allah Most High says, “Ask the people of remembrance if you don’t know.” [Quran, 16.43]
And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.
[Shaykh] Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age. He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center