Question: Chairs have been put into many mosques. Those who perform fard salats sitting on chairs say, “We perform salats on chairs because easiness and facilitation are of the main characteristics of Islam.” Is their practice Islamically correct?
ANSWER
It is not correct. What is meant by the statement “There is no hardship in Islam” is not “Do not do the acts of worship that are difficult for you, and change acts of worships just as you wish.” It means that we should make use of the concessions that our religion has allowed for us. One who is able to go to the mosque can sit on the floor. If one cannot do sajda, then one should perform salat sitting by gestures with one’s legs toward the qibla direction. Alternatively, one may sit on a chair and put one’s legs on another chair placed before one.

Question: 
Why is it impermissible for a sick person to perform salat sitting on a chair?
ANSWER
It is written in fiqh books:
One who cannot stand, or who may suffer harm or feels dizzy if one stands, performs fard salats sitting. One bows for ruku’ and places one’s head on the floor for sajda. For a person who can stand for a little while by leaning on a wall, on a stick, or on another person, it is fard to say the takbir (of iftitah) while standing up and to remain standing at least long enough for that. One who is unable to prostrate for sajda does sajda on something hard that is not higher than 25 cm and that has been put on the floor beforehand. One who has a wound on one’s forehead puts only one’s nose on the floor, and one with a wound on one’s nose puts only one’s forehead on the floor for sajda. One who has excuses both on one’s nose and on one’s forehead and who, therefore, cannot put one’s head down on the floor or on a similar hard thing, performs salat sitting by gestures, even if one could stand. That is, one bends a little for ruku’ and bends even more for sajda.

It is makruh tahrimi for one or for someone else to lift up something from the floor in order to do sajda on it.

One day, the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ’alaihi wa sallam visited a sick person. When he saw that the person lifted up a pillow and did sajda on it, he removed the pillow. This time the sick person picked up a piece of wood and did the sajda on it. The Messenger of Allah removed the piece of wood, too, and stated: “Do the sajda on the floor if you can! If you cannot bend down to the floor, do not lift something up to your face to do sajda on it. Perform salat by gestures and for sajda bend more than you do for ruku’.” (Fath al-Qadir, Maraqi al-Falah, Halabi, Majma al-Anhur)

One who cannot sit properly because of some pain in one of one’s limbs sits as one likes. One may even stretch one’s legs toward the qibla in order to sit. One leans against a pillow or something else, or someone may support or hold one and prevent one from falling. It is not permissible for one to sit on something high and perform salat by gestures.

[The salat of one who performs it sitting on a chair is not acceptable because there is no darurat (extreme necessity) for sitting on a chair. One who can sit on a chair can sit on the floor as well, and therefore one has to perform salat sitting on the floor. If one is too ill to get up from the floor after salat, whereas it would be easier for one to stand up if one sat on a chair, then someone should help one rise to one’s feet. Or the sick person can perform salat sitting without hanging his/her feet down from a couch laid toward the qibla. After salat, he/she can hang down his/her feet from one side of the couch and stand up as he/she would from a chair.]

One who cannot sit on the floor by leaning against something or by being held up by someone else must perform salat lying on one’s back. One stretches one’s feet toward the qibla. One puts a pillow under one’s head, thus one’s face being turned toward the qibla, or one lies on one’s right or left side with the front of one’s body toward the qibla. One makes gestures with one’s head for ruku’ and sajda. A conscious but sick person who cannot perform salat even by such gestures does not make up the missed salats, if he/she cannot perform salat for more than a day. So is the case with a person who, for some reason not caused by himself/herself, such as illness, unconsciousness, and obliviousness to the extent that he/she forgets the number of sajdas or rak’ats, has not been able to perform salat for more than a period comprising five salats. However, one who becomes unconscious by taking alcoholic drinks, narcotics, or a medicine has to make up all the salats one has not performed even if they stretch over a period of several days.

It is not permissible for a sick person to perform salat by gestures sitting on a bed or on a chair by hanging his/her legs down. The sick person must perform salat sitting on the floor or on a couch placed toward the qibla direction. If he/she is unable to stand up after sitting on the floor, he/she may sit on a chair, in an armchair, or on a bed and put his/her legs on a coffee table placed in front of him/her and perform salat by gestures. A paralyzed person who cannot leave his/her wheelchair should put, if possible, his/her feet on a coffee table placed before him/her or ask someone else, if possible, to help him/her put his/her feet on it. If it is not possible either, then it is permissible for such a disabled person to perform salat on his/her wheelchair.

Question: In circulars sent to muftiates by Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate and on its official website, it is written that it is Islamically not correct to perform salat sitting on a chair and to incorporate seating into mosques and that it is not permissible for anyone, except for the disabled, e.g., the paralyzed, who are unable to get up after sitting on the floor, to perform salat on a chair. Why do we still see those people who bring chairs and stools into mosques in spite of these circulars?
ANSWER
It is not extreme necessity (darurat) for a person who is able to walk to the mosque to perform salat sitting on a chair. Unfortunately, nowadays people do not heed the circulars of the Religious Affairs Directorate or what reliable fiqh books say. Everyone acts according to what he/she think is right. It is not permissible for anyone, except a paralyzed person confined to a wheelchair, to perform salat sitting on a chair.

Şamil Aykut

View all posts