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FAQ

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Question:

Assalamualaikum SS Datuk Mufti. I want to ask your opinion regarding a celebrity that prayed inside his vehicle. Is this act permissible, when there are a lot of other places we can stop to perform our prayer?

Answer:

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

To answer this issue, there are a few important basics that are needed to be understood first.

The Ruling of Praying in A Car

The discussion regarding this issue, more or less has a basis, for there are a few narrations that mention this. One of them is a hadith from ‘Amir bin Rabi’ah, he said:

رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَهُوَ عَلَى الرَّاحِلَةِ يُسَبِّحُ يُومِئُ بِرَأْسِهِ قِبَلَ أَيِّ وَجْهٍ تَوَجَّهَ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَصْنَعُ ذَلِكَ فِي الصَّلَاةِ الْمَكْتُوبَةِ

“I saw the Prophet PBUH on his Mount praying Nawafil by nodding his head, whatever direction he faced, but Allah's Messenger PBUH never did the same in offering the compulsory prayers.”

Sahih al-Bukhari (1097)

Based on this hadith, the mount (animals) are used as a mode of transportation in the time of the Prophet PBUH, it is the same as vehicles used today. Thus, modern mode of transportation such as cars, aeroplanes, trains, boats and the like also falls under the same ruling as mounts.

Hence, is it permissible to pray in a car if someone is travelling? Also, what type of prayer is referred to by the hadith? Is it especially for the obligatory prayer or just for sunnah prayer?

Imam al-Hafiz Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani Rahimahullah when commenting on this hadith put it under the chapter of “Chapter: When He (the Prophet PBUH) Went Down (from His Mount) to Perform the Obligatory Prayer”.

This is one of the signs that signals what type of prayer can be performed on or inside a vehicle, and it is specific to sunnah prayers. While, to perform the obligatory prayer, one must go down of his vehicle. In other words, it is prohibited to perform the obligatory prayer while one is on his mount (animal ride).

Ibn Hajar wrote the opinion of Ibn Batthal regarding this issue, stating: “Scholars and ijma’ has agreed on the condition of (going down from animal mount) for this issue, and it is prohibited for someone to perform his obligatory prayer on animal mount without any reasons or facilitation (that is permitted by Syarak)”.

He further states: “The word praying in this hadith refers to sunnah prayer. This is based on other hadiths that support it.” See Fath al-Bari, Ibn Hajar (2/667).

We divide the issue of praying in vehicles into two types of vehicles used nowadays:

First: Praying on vehicles such as trains, aeroplanes and the like.

In this issue, it is permissible for someone to pray in it, whether it is obligatory prayer or sunnah prayer. This is after taking into consideration of the usual duration for journeys involving this type of transportation. Furthermore, there is no way for him to come down from this type of transportation unless he has arrived at the destination intended. Thus, the concept is clearly different than praying on animal mounts.

The in-depth discussion regarding the rulings of praying in an aeroplane can be accessed through the link https://bit.ly/2r3kfAe

Second: Praying on animal mounts.

Regarding praying on animal mounts such as a horse and a camel, it is very similar to a car that is used nowadays. This is due to the fact that someone that is in a car can easily stops and gets out of his car to pray. Furthermore, we live in a conducive environment, where in Malaysia, there are plenty of places provided, such as the surau in Rest and Recreation (R&R), petrol station and many more places especially for prayer, and someone can easily stop to pray comfortably.

Hence, the ruling of performing prayer in a car is the same as on animal mounts, such as camels and horses. Which means, it is permissible to perform the sunnah prayer in a car, but it is prohibited to perform the obligatory prayer in a car.

Should We be Facing the Qibla When Performing the Sunnah Prayer in a Car?

For this problem, we would like to state the opinions of previous scholars as well as contemporary scholars regarding this issue, they are as follows:

Al-Syeikh Muhammad bin Ismail Daud al-Fathani said: “If someone is in a vehicle and he can face the qibla for the whole duration of the prayer and completing all of its prerequisites or some of them, then he has to stay in that state. If he cannot face the qibla during the whole duration of the prayer, then it is enough for him to face the qibla during takbirat al-ihram. If he can’t, then he does not have to face the qibla.” Refer Matla’ al-Badrain, Syeikh Muhammad bin Ismail (1/3).

Hence, the requirement to face the qibla varies according to the situation of the person performing the prayer.

Al-Imam al-Qadhi Abu Syuja’ Rahimahullah said: “It is permitted for someone to leave the facing of the qiba in two situations; which is when he is in extreme fear or when performing sunnah prayer during travel on animal mount.” See Matan al-Ghayah wal-Taqrib, Abu Syuja’ (pg. 62).

Hence, after considering the environment and situation of the roads in our country, it is permissible for someone to perform sunnah prayer such as dhuha prayer or others, not facing the qibla.

Manners of Performing Prayer in A Car

For someone to perform prayer in a car, it is a bit different than when performing prayer normally. This is due to the fact that praying in a car involves signals by movements of the head, as explained in a few hadiths. There is a narration from Ibn Umar R.Anhuma, where he said:

كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُصَلِّي فِي السَّفَرِ عَلَى رَاحِلَتِهِ، حَيْثُ تَوَجَّهَتْ بِهِ، يُومِئُ إِيمَاءً، صَلاَةَ اللَّيْلِ إِلاَّ الْفَرَائِضَ، وَيُوتِرُ عَلَى رَاحِلَتِهِ‏

“The Prophet PBUH used to offer (Nawafil) prayers on his Rahila (mount) facing its direction by signals, but not the compulsory prayer. He also used to pray witr on his (mount) Rahila.”

Sahih al-Bukhari (1000)

Imam al-Khatib al-Syarbini also used this hadith as an evidence in stating his opinion: “That it is enough for someone (that prayed on animal mount) to just use signals (for his ruku’ and sujud) and his sujud must be lower than his ruku’.”.

Conclusion

We conclude this issue as the following:

First: The ruling for performing sunnah prayer in a car is permissible, while for obligatory prayer, it is prohibited with the exception of darurat (desperate) situations.

Second: If someone has great influence or followers, he must avoid any acts that could confuse the community, unless he includes references or arguments from scholars or body of authorities.

Third: The prayer’s and conditions and prerequisites that need to be fulfilled are to be taken into consideration when praying. Thus, it is a priority and most preferred for someone to not pray in his car, if the environment is conducive, and it is easy for him to pray at a comfortable place compared to praying in a car.

Lastly, may Allah SWT give us the right understanding in practising His religion. Ameen.