Can a person or a group of people in an open desert area, where there is neither a Masjid (mosque) nor something to use as a barrier, pray there after marking a line with a stick?
Yes, this is permissible based on the Hadith narrated on the authority of
Abu Hurayrah (Part No. 7; Page No. 80) (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
When one of you prays, they should put something (as a barrier) in front of them, and if they cannot find anything, they should set up a stick; but if there is no stick, they should draw a line; then if anything passes in front of them (i.e. Between the Sutrah and Qiblah), it will not affect them (i.e., their Salah).
ibn Majah; and it was ranked as Sahih (authentic) by
Those who claim that this Hadith is Mudtarib (a Hadith with disagreement over a transmitter or the text) are wrong. Rather, it is Hadith Hasan (a Hadith whose chain of narration contains a narrator with weak exactitude, but is free from eccentricity or blemish).
Al-Hafizh Ibn Hajar (may Allah be merciful to him) stated the same opinion. There are also many Hadiths indicating the legitimacy of using a Sutrah (barrier placed in front of a person praying), and they are all sound proofs. Among them is the Hadith
on the authority of
Talhah ibn `Ubaydullah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
Whoever places in front of them something like the rear part of a saddle should pray without worrying about anything passing beyond it.
According to another narration related by
…then anything that passes in front of them will not affect them.
`Ata' said: "The rear of a saddle is about one cubit high, or more."
related through good Isnad (chain of narrators) on the authority of
Abu Sa`id under the category of Hadith Marfu` (a Hadith narrated from the Prophet with a connected or disconnected chain of narration):
When one of you prays, let them pray facing a Sutrah and stay close to it.
May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.