Anas (RA) said: I saw the Prophets Companions rushing towards the poles of the mosque - to perform the two rakah optional Salaah - between the sunset adhaan and the Prophets (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) coming [to lead the Salaah.] [Bukhaaree] Naafi(RA) said: Ibn Umar (RA) - who never did his Salaah but towards a Sutrah- used to do it towards one of the mosques poles. In case they are all occupied [with praying Muslims] he used to ask me to turn my back to him as a Sutrah. [AI-Musannaf ]
The actions of the Companions indicate the affirmed obligation of performing Salaah towards a Sutrah whether indoor or outdoor places. This is the Prophets (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) Sunnah, as Ash-Shawkaanee (RA) stated. As-Safaareenee(RA) said: It is indeed recommended that one does his/her Salaah towards a sutrah even if there is no chance of someone passing in front of him/her.
Imaam Maalik held the opposite opinion regarding the last part of As-Safaareenees opinion and Ibn Aqeel AI-Hanbalee stated that the Sutrah should be a wall or something prominent. Imaam Ahmad held the opinion that a Sutrah should be wide. The soundest of all opinions is that the order of taking a Sutrah is a general and acomprehensive one that should not be restricted to certain times, places or shapes. The reasons previously mentioned [by the Imaams] are mere mental deductions that have no strong evidence. Imaam Maaliks opinion ignores the many ahaadeeth that shows the necessity of doing ones Salaah towards a Sutrah. Besides, those whom you are not able to see i.e. Shaytaan may pass in front of you as is clearly stated in the Prophets (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ahaadeeth and shown in his deeds. Having mentioned some ahaadeeth about the obligation of performing Salaah towards a Sutrah, Ibn Khuzaimah said: These are all authentic ahaadeetr which clearly state the obligation of doing Salaah towards a Sutrah.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited