Salat: The Ritual Prayer
Questions and Answers
- Question: A person used
to make mistakes in the way he performed his wudhu (minor ablution) or ghusl
(major ablution). After many years, he comes to realize his mistakes. When
he inquires as how to solve his problem, he is told: "Repeat all your prayers
and perform the pilgrimage again." Since saying all the prayers and doing
the pilgrimage again is difficult, is there a solution which would salvage
his prayers and pilgrimage performed with wudhu and ghusl that he thought
was correct? Is there such a solution as a concession to this person so that
he does not become disheartened and rebellions against religious obligations
in a society which encourages such kind of rebellion?
Answer: If he was ignorant out of innocence,
and therefore made mistakes without causing harm (e.g., did not follow the
proper sequence in washing the head and the other parts of the body in ghusl;
or did the wiping of the head or feet [mash] with a new water), then his wudhu
and ghusl will be considered correct; and, consequently, his past prayers
and pilgrimage will also be considered correct.
But if he was ignorant out of negligence in learning the Islamic laws or did
mistakes which do invalidate the act in general (e.g., leaving out some parts
of the body which must be washed in wudhu or ghusl), there is no way to validate
his past prayers and pilgrimage.
However, if there is the fear that he would totally rebel when asked to make
up all the past prayers and pilgrimage, then it is not appropriate to ask
him to do so. Maybe Allah will improve his situation in future.
- Question: Some people pray for years
and even perform pilgrimage, yet they do not pay khums.*
Is it obligatory on them to repeat their prayers and pilgrimage?
Answer: Based on precaution, it is obligatory
on them to repeat prayers and pilgrimage, if the particular dress that they
used in prayers, in tawaf and in salat of tawaf was from items on which khums
had become due.
However, if only the dress they used in salat of tawaf was from items on which
khums had become due, and they were ignorant (even out of negligence) of the
law or the status of the dress, their pilgrimage is valid, but they have to
repeat salat of tawaf if they had no excuse for their ignorance. [In this
case,] they have, as a matter of precaution to return to Mecca [to perform
the salat of tawaf again], if it does not entail great difficulty; otherwise
they can perform that salat wherever they are.
Similarly, they will have to do the pilgrimage again if the animal offered
as a sacrifice was bought with money on which khums had become due. However,
if they had bought it with money whose unspecific portion was liable for khums
-as is the case normally - there is no problem in their pilgrimage, even if
they used it from the money on which khums had become liable; of course, they
will be responsible for that amount [for payment of khums].
All this is applicable, if they knew about the obligation of khums and the
law forbidding them to utilize items on which khums has become wajib or if
they were ignorant out of negligence. But, if they were ignorant out of innocence,
their prayers and pilgrimage are valid.
- Question: If a traveller leaves his
home town immediately after the adhan of noon prayer, i.e. without saying
that prayer, and reaches his destination after sunset, has he committed a
sin? And is it obligatory on him to make up for noon prayer?
Answer: Yes, he has committed a sin by
neglecting the obligatory prayer in its appropriate time, and he has to make
- Question: Is the ink that had dried
[on our hands, for example] a barrier to perform wudhu or ghusl?
Answer: If it does not form a mass that
would prevent water from reaching the skin, the wudhu and ghusl is valid.
However, if one has doubt whether it forms a mass or not, it must be removed.
- Question: Is it permissible for a Muslim
to involve in pleasure by continuing to watch an entertaining movie even,
though salat time is due, and then he goes to say his prayers just before
it becomes overdue (qadha)?
Answer: It is not appropriate for a Muslim
to delay the saying of salat from its preferred time (i.e., at the beginning
of its time span) except for an excuse; what has been mentioned in the question
is not an acceptable excuse.
- Question: Is cream a barrier to water
reaching the skin, and if so should it be removed prior to wudhu and ghusl?
Answer: Apparently the effect left on
the skin after it is applied is nothing but just moisture, and so it does
not constitute a barrier to water reaching the skin.
- Question: Some women let their nails
grow longer than necessary for beauty. Sometimes a nail breaks up, requiring
a cover that must be placed over the broken nail. Knowing that such a cover
prevents water from reaching the nail in wudhu and ghusl, is it permissible
to use it? How should wudhu and ghusl be performed with that cover?
Answer: Wudhu and ghusl with such a cover
over the nail is not valid; therefore, it is necessary to remove it for ablutions.
And the purpose mentioned above for the cover is not justifiable.
- Question: When should one say his salat
full (tamam) and when should one say it qasr (two rakat instead of four)?
Is the general perception about a person being resident of a city sufficient
for him to say his salat fully [in that city]?
Answer: The conditions for qasr in travelling
have been mentioned in the Manual of Islamic Laws. When a person considers
residing in a city for a long time, and in the general perception it is considered
as such, he is not considered as a traveller (e.g., if he intends to reside
in that city for year and a half, it will be considered as his home-town after
one month). But if he intends to stay in that city for a short while only
and is considered, in the general sense, as a visitor, he should pray qasr.
- Question: How can we know the time
of mid-night? Do 00.00 hours the point of mid-night as it is commonly held
by some people?
Answer: Midnight is halfway between sunset
and true dawn. So if the sun sets at 7 p.m. and the true dawn begins at 4
a.m., then midnight will be at 11:30 p.m. The criteria for determining midnight
are the timings of sunset and true dawn, which differ according to place and
- Question: A person who believes that
he will not be able to wake up for dawn prayer if he goes to sleep, is it
obligatory on him to stay awake till the time of prayer? Is he committing
a sin if he sleeps and does not wake up for dawn prayer?
Answer: It is possible for him to ask
someone to wake him up for dawn prayer or use an alarm clock, etc, for this
purpose. If these means of waking up are not possible, then he is not committing
a sin by going to sleep unless it is considered, as is widely believed, an
insult to, and neglect of, the salat.
- Question: How can we say our obligatory
prayers in an aircraft, especially if we do not know the direction of the
qiblah taking into consideration the instability of the floor [because the
plane is in motion]?
Answer: As for the qiblah, it is possible
to identify its direction by asking the captain or the airhostesses because
their answers usually carry validity and are a source of assurance. One should
therefore act accordingly.
As for the stability of the floor where salat is to be performed, that condition
will be waived when it is not possible to achieve it. However, other conditions
of prayers should, wherever possible, be observed. Under no circumstance should
the prayer be delayed beyond its appropriate time span.
- Question: How should we say our salat
in trains and cars? Is it necessary to do prostration (sajda) on something
or is it not necessary, in that would bending of the neck be sufficient?
Answer: It is obligatory to say salat
in the usual way where possible. So, one should face the qiblah in all stages
of the salat; if not, at least while saying the opening takbir. Otherwise
the condition of facing the qiblah will be dropped. Similarly, if it is possible
to do the bowing (ruku') and prostration (sajdah) normally (e.g., in the aisle
of the bus or the train), those parts of salat should be done normally. But
if it is not possible, then one should try to bow normally for ruku' and sajdah
[for example, from a sitting position on the seat or the berth of the train].
For sajdah, one has to put the forehead on an item on which sajdah is valid,
even if by lifting that item to the forehead. If bowing normally is not possible,
one should just indicate by bending the neck [halfway for ruku and fully for
- Question: If the time for salat has
come while the student is still on his way to the university. When he reaches
the university, he realizes that the time of salat has ended. In this case,
is it permissible for him to say salat in the car although there are places
in which he could pray, yet by going to those places he may risk becoming
late [for his university]?
Answer: The delay in getting to the work
place [or university] is not a good enough reason for praying in the car.
This is because it involves non fulfillment of some of its conditions while
it is possible to get down and pray normally on the earth with all the conditions
fulfilled. However, if the delay is going to cause him considerable harm or
put him in an untenable situation, it is permissible for him to pray in the
car, (without being able to fulfill some of prayer's conditions).
- Question: It happens that the time
of salat sets in while the Muslim worker is at his work-place, - noting that
finding work is not easy - thus, he finds it difficult to leave the work for
salat. Sometimes he ends up losing his job because of his insistence on saying
salat. Is he allowed to say his prayers as qadha? Or must he say them [on
time], even if it leads to him losing his job?
Answer: If the need to work at that place
reaches the level of necessity, then he should pray in time in whatever way
possible: even just by indicating [by lowering the neck halfway for ruku'
and fully for sajda]. However, such a situation would arise only exceptionally.
So he should fear Almighty Allah and not accept a job which leads to neglecting
the pillar of faith; thus, he should remember the words of the Almighty: "And
whosoever fears Allah, He will make a way out for him [from difficulties]
and provide for him from where he does not expect." (65:2)
- Question: Many big companies and business
in the West employ large numbers of employees who work in offices about whose
ownership they have no idea. So what is the ruling on:
- Praying in those offices and using the water for wudhu?
- If praying there is problematic, what would become of past
prayers said in those places?
- There is no problem in praying in those places nor in using
the water for wudhu as long as it is not known to have been usurped.
- If it becomes clear after saying the salat that the property
was usurped, the past prayers are valid.
- Question: If I pray with a leather
belt or a wallet made from leather of a mayta and realize it during the salat
or after finishing it but before the end of its time span or after the ending
of its time span-what would become of that prayer?
Answer: The prayer with a wallet made
from leather of a mayta is valid just as it is acceptable to pray with a belt
made from such a leather, provided that the probability of it being from zabiha
is not a very low probability that would be ignored by sensible people.
In the second case [of very low probability], if he was ignorant [of this
rule] and realized during salat, he should take it off immediately and his
salat would be valid. The same rule would apply if he forgot [that he had
the wallet or the belt on him] and remembered during salat, provided that
his forgetfulness was not a result of carelessness and indifference. In other
cases, he will have to repeat salat in time or qadha as a matter of obligatory
- Question: One of the famous trousers
these days is the one known as jeans. It is made in non-Muslim countries.
It has a piece of leather used as a label. It is not known whether the leather
is that of an animal slaughtered Islamically or non-Islamically-is it permissible
to say salat with these trousers?
Answer: Yes, it is permissible.
- Question: Is salat valid if the person
uses cologne? Is cologne ritually pure?
Answer: Yes, it is pure.
- Question: Is it alright to do sajdah
on concrete or on mosaic?
Answer: Yes, it is alright.
- Question: Some prayer-mats are made
of synthetic material; is it permissible to do sajdah on them?
Answer: Sajdah on such items is not good
- Question: Is it permissible to do sajdah
on writing paper and on paper tissues, especially, if is not known whether
or not the raw material they are made of was from items on which sajdah is
Answer: It is not permissible to do sajdah
on paper tissues, only after ascertaining that they have been made from items
on which sajdah is allowed; it is permissible to do sajdah on paper if it
is made from material on which sajdah is allowed or from cotton or flax.
- Question: A reciter of the Holy Qur'an
recites a verse of wajib sajdah, on hearing it from a cassette player, is
it obligatory on us to do sajdah in this case?
Answer: It is not obligatory.
* Translator's Note: Khums is an
annual Islamic tax applied, among other things, on the savings. See the Manual
of Islamic Laws or the present translator's, Khums: An Islamic Tax for details.