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This question of the permissible distance in congregational prayers is not new as many think. It has been mentioned in our books before about one thousand years. Shaikh Al-Tousi who established the Hawza of Najaf Ashraf before about one thousand years ago and passed away in 460 Hijri, has mentioned it in his book (Al-Mabsoot). Al-Muhaqqiq Al-Hilli (676 \Hijri) and Yahya ibn Sa'eed (689 Hijri) who were among the prominent Shia Ulama did mention it. The verdict of all these three prominent Ulama and many other Ulama that it is permissible to perform congregational prayer with distance between the individuals as far as the shape of the group is a congregation الهيئة العرفية. This in principle. The medical and health reason based on the the obligation on every Muslim to save himself and other from infection, add another reason to our Maraaji' of Taqleed to act upon the verdict of Shaikh al-Tousi and other old Ulama allowing the distance in congregational prayers.



Asalamu Alaykom, 

Yes, some maraja have now come out and are saying that congregational prayers may be held with a certain measurement of distancing between people in the rows. 

May Allah grant you success 

as salam alaikum

the term "Imam" can be used also for the one who is leading the congregational prayer. In fact he is called "Imam al-Jama'ah".

With prayers for your success.

Imam in Arabic means leader. Leader can be pious like the prophets and their successors mentioned in Quran; (We made them Leaders (Imams) guiding people by Our order.)  (Sura Anbiyaa', Verse 73). Leader can be bad person who misleads his followers away from Allah and leads them to hellfire as we read in Quran (And We made them leaders call to the Hell Fire) ( Qasas, Verse 41).

The leader in prayers is called in Arabic Imam al-Jama'ah, while the leader of Friday prayers is called Imam al-Jum'ah.

In some non Arabic languages they call him Pesh Namaz (Leader of prayer).

It also depends on the society as we see in Europe and America, they call him Imam , while in other countries they call him Shaikh or Shaykh. In the Indian subcontinent, Sunni and Shia Muslims use the title of Maulana for religious teachers and leaders of prayers.

Shia Muslims live all over the world and they have their own cultural varieties which is respected in Islam as far as it does not contradict any Islamic teaching.