Asalamu alikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatahu Is there anything in the Sunnah about not changing the place after completing a fard prayer? Some people say that one should sit at the same place where he offered the fard prayer and should change the place only when he wants to pray the nawaafil. They say that if he continues to sit at the same place and starts remembering Allah there, he will be regarded as in prayer. But if he changes his place and sits at another place and starts remembering Allah at that place, then he will not be considered in prayer. To which extent is this correct? May Allah reward you with the best of this world and the hereafter!
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.
The worshipper is not obligated to remain in his place of prayer after performing the obligatory prayer; it is only recommended based on the Hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “The angels invoke blessings on any of you who remains in his prayer place as long as he does not invalidate his ablution, saying, ‘O Allaah, forgive him; O Allaah, have mercy on him.’” [Maalik, Al-Bukhari and others]
Al-Haafith Al-‘Iraaqi said in Tarh At-Tathreeb: “What is meant exactly by the ‘place of prayer’ in the Hadeeth? Is it before or after performing the obligatory prayer? The two situations are possible. Al-Bayhaqi dedicated in his book a chapter entitled "Encouraging to remain in the place of prayer to remember Allaah The Exalted longer.’ This indicates that the Hadeeth refers to staying after performing the obligatory prayer. This is the apparent meaning of ‘the prayer place’ in the Hadeeth…. It could also mean waiting for the prayer and that the angels invoke blessings on such a worshipper as long as he stays in the place where he performed the two Rak‘ahs of Tahiyyat Al-Masjid or the Sunnah prayer, for instance.”
The version of the Hadeeth cited by Al-Bukhari reads: “The angels keep on asking the forgiveness of Allaah for anyone among you as long as he is at his place of prayer and does not invalidate his ablution. The angels say, ‘O Allaah, Forgive him and have mercy on him.’ Each one of you remains in prayer as long as the prayer keeps him and nothing but the prayer detains him from returning to his family.”
Ibn Rajab commented on the phrase “nothing but the prayer detains him from returning to his family” saying: “This includes someone who enters a mosque in which there is a congregation to pray before the Iqaamah of the prayer and who sits waiting for the prayer. It may also apply to the worshipper who joins the Imaam and stays in his place of prayer after the prayer waiting for the following one…. The phrase ‘remains in prayer’ means that such a worshipper earns equal reward to the one who is praying because he confines himself to the mosque waiting for the prayer.”
‘Ali reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “If the slave (of Allaah) prays and then sits in his place of prayer, the angels ask blessings for him saying, ‘O Allaah, forgive him. O Allaah, have mercy on him.’ And if he sits waiting for the prayer, the angels ask blessing for him saying, ‘O Allaah, forgive him. O Allaah, have mercy on him.’” [Ahmad]
The phrase “his place of prayer” may mean that he remains in the very spot where he performed the prayer and that if he moves to another place inside the mosque, he will lose the reward intended for this deed. It may also mean to remain inside the mosque and not particularly in the very spot where he performed the prayer. This view is considered the preponderant one according to Al-Haafith Al-‘Iraaqi in his book Tarh At-Tathreeb where he says: “What is exactly meant by ‘in his place of prayer’ in the Hadeeth? Does it mean the very spot where the worshipper performed the prayer that if he moved elsewhere inside the mosque, he would lose the reward, or does it mean that he should remain inside the mosque where he performed the prayer? Both meanings are possible; the second possibility is more evident and more valid as evidenced primarily by the mentioned version in Al-Bukhari – "as long as he is in the mosque" – and also the version in At-Tirmithi. This indicates that what is meant by the place of prayer is the entire mosque as is clear. The first possibility is supported by the version of the Hadeeth cited in Muslim’s Saheeh, Abu Daawood, and Ibn Maajah, reading ‘as long as he remains in his place of prayer.’”
This opinion was chosen by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen as well. He was asked about the Hadeeth that reads “The angels keep on asking forgiveness from Allaah for anyone among you as long as he is in his place of prayer and does not invalidate his ablution. They say, ‘O Allaah, forgive him. O Allaah, have mercy on him.” Does it mean that he should stay in the very spot where he performed the prayer or it could also include the entire mosque?
He replied, “Evidently, it is more comprehensive – whether one is in the same specific place or the entire place of prayer. But if it is possible not to go beyond the place where he prayed from the time he came, it will be better.”
For further information, please refer to Fatwa 86221.
Allaah Knows best.