What is the ruling on the children praying in the first row?

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Darul Iftaa Jordan
What is the ruling on the children praying in the first row?

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds, and may His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all of his family and companions. It is prohibited to move away a child from the first row (in a Masjid) whether he was on the right or left save if he stood directly behind the Imam because whoever comes first to a place of prayer deserves it more than anybody who comes after him. In this regard, Abu Huyrayra (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said (What means) :" If A Man Gets Up From His Spot Then Comes Back To It, He Has More Right To It." [Muslim] Moreover, it is preferable for the Imam not to move the children from the first row unless they stood directly behind him. Based on a Prophetic narration, the Prophet (PBUH) said (what means):" "Let those be nearest to me in Salat (prayer) who are mature and possess (religious) knowledge, then those who are nearest to them in these respects". He repeated this three times." [Muslim] Furthermore, it is recommended that the more prudent and sedate in Sharia should stand directly behind the Imam so that they could correct any possible mistake while prayer is performed by the Imam or, even, lead the prayer on his behalf according to the aforementioned Hadith since a child can't do so. Therefore, moving a child away if he stood directly behind the Imam is permissible. In conclusion, our advice (The Board of Iftaa') is that if a person realizes that children praying in the first row would cause trouble in the Mosque then there is no harm in moving them to the second row. And Allah knows best.

This answer was collected from the official government Iftaa Department of Jordan.

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