Place Of Children In Congregational Prayer

Question

What is the Shari'ah guidance regarding children in the mosques during prayers? We have been to Umrah twice in the last 18 months and no one asked our children to move to the back row during prayers in Makkah and Medinah. In Makkah we even were in the very first row or two and no one asked to move them. However back at our local mosque in USA and, in fact, in Karachi as well when I used to live there, Imam would ask the kids to move to the back line. He even stated that the Prayer will be invalidated if kids are in the front row with adults. Now this only happens whenever the Imam is of Indian or Pakistani origin. Arab imams will never ask the kids to move. My kids feel insulted when they are asked to move to the back. If you can guide me to a Quranic verse or a Haidth where this is mentioned as a requirement then I can explain to my children.


Answer

Many scholars base their view that the children should follow the adults in the congregation on a few hadith narratives which tell us how the people in the presence of the Prophet (sws) would stand in the congregation. No scholar has ever believed that it is necessary and that failing this renders the prayer invalid. In eastern cultures the children traditionally do not follow the elders. However, we believe that if a child comes early and stands in the first row he must not be forced to go back. To reach the mosque earlier and take a seat in the first row is to earn a great reward. One who happens to reach such a high status should not be forced to go back. If the elders come late they should take their seats in the back.

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