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Questions pertaining to sitting and performing Salah

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by DarulUloomTT.net
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I have read rulings and generic articles on sitting on the floor and chair and performing fardh Salah, but they are unclear regarding various specific scenarios.

More importantly, there is no mention as to the validity, reprehensibility or otherwise of performing Salah sitting when one is able to stand and neither is there definitional clarity as to what constitutes “extreme pain” or a “genuine fear of an illness increasing.”

Please consider the specific scenarios below and provide us with rulings so that family and friends may be educated regarding this matter.

(A) A man can stand for a few seconds either normally or by leaning, and is able to perform ruku and sajdah normally, but due to some pain or difficulty, which is neither extreme nor likely to increase his illness, he chooses to sit on the floor or on a chair to perform his fardh Salah, will his Salah be valid?

(B) A man is unable to stand for a few seconds, either unaided or by leaning against a wall. He experiences severe pain, or there is a risk of his illness increasing by doing so. He is able to perform fardh Salah sitting on the floor, yet he chooses to perform Salah sitting on a chair, is his Salah valid, and if it is valid, is there any reprehensibility in this particular scenario?

(C) A man is able to stand but due to infirmity or illness, he is unable to perform ruku or sajdah. Is he permitted to sit on the floor to perform fardh Salah? In this scenario, if he is able to sit on the floor, but chooses to sit on a chair, will the Salah be valid and, if so, would there be any reprehensibility attached to the Fardh Salah performed in such a manner?

(D) How does one determine that an illness is serious enough to warrant sitting on the floor or on a chair to perform Salah?

(E) In what I assume to be rare circumstances where a person is permitted to sit on a chair and perform Salah, where in the saffs should these chairs be sited. For example, is it permissible for the chairs to be in the first or second saff but right at the end, or should they all be sited in the last row?

(F) Is it permissible to reserve one’s place in a saff, either by placing one’s chair, tasbih, topi or scarf in the saff?

This is a common occurrence in many Masajid, particularly between Asar and Maghrib where people need to use the toilet, or go perform Wudhu, or simply to have a chat outside until the Maghrib Salah.

Others that come to the Masjid and are desirous of obtaining the reward of performing Salah in the first saff are then denied the opportunity of doing so because they are met with a whole host of tasbihs, chairs, scarves, spectacle cases etc. Is this permissible?

Assalaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah,

الجواب و بالله التوفيق

As an established principle, it is to be understood that standing (for Salah) is Fardh (compulsory) for the Fardh and Wajib Salah. Therefore, one must ensure that in these types of Salah one adopt the standing posture (Qiyaam). Even if one has a little difficulty in standing, but can stand without hardship and suffering, he must still stand since it is a Fardh (essential) posture to adopt in Salah.

Seeing that standing is essential in the Fardh and Wajib Salah, it means that if a person is capable of standing for a short while, then it is Fardh for him to stand as long as possible. In this regard, it is stated in Dur Al Mukhtaar with Shami, ‘if one is capable of standing for a short while, it is necessary to do so in accordance to the duration of one’s ability (to stand) even though it may be for the duration to one verse or a takbeer.’ Similarly, if one is able to stand with the support of something like leaning against something etc; then he is required to stand for Salah.’

He is not allowed to sit in this case. In Shami, it is mentioned, ‘If one has the ability to stand while leaning, the correct opinion/view is that one should perform Salah in the standing posture while leaning on something. It would not be permissible to do otherwise.’

This being the case, the following are the answers to your questions:

(A) If the pain and difficulty is not unbearable, and the man can stand to perform the Salaah, then his Salaah performed sitting on the floor or chair will not be valid since he has neglected a compulsory element in Salaah which he had the ability to do. (Fatawa Mahmoodiya, Vol.7, Pg.561, Jamia Farooqiya Karachi 2009).

(B) Seeing that this person has a valid reason for sitting, it will be allowed for him to sit and perform Salah.

However, one is required to sit on the floor instead of a chair. The Scholars have written that if one can sit on the ground and perform Salah, but chooses to sit on a chair thereby performing Ruku and Sajdah by signs, then his Salah is invalid.

(C) In this situation, the man is allowed to sit on the ground and perform the Ruku and Sajdah with signs. While doing so, he will make the sign for Sajdah lower than that of Ruku (Mabsoot As Saraksi Vol. 1, Pg. 213, Idaratul Quran). The Salah performed on the chair will be invalid if he has the ability to sit on the floor. (Fatawa Darul Uloom Zakariya Vol. 2, Pg. 485, Zam Zam Publishers 2008).

(D) If a person is sick or old and weak to such an extent that he cannot stand at all, or he can stand but with great difficulties, then he is allowed to sit and perform Salah. Regarding this, the Fuqaha have stated, ‘If a person is in a condition that if he stands, he may fall down, or if he stands his health condition may worsen, or there may be a delay in gaining cure for one’s ailment, or dizziness of the head, or one experiences unbearable pain by standing, then in these conditions one may perform Salaah sitting. (Dur Al Muktaar with Shami; Hashiya At Tahtawi Ala Maraqi Al Falah).

One who has a slight pain or difficulty in standing for Salah is not allowed to sit. He must stand. The sitting posture which must be adopted when allowed, is that one sits on the ground/floor and performs Salah. As long as one has the ability to sit on the ground/floor in a manner that is easy for him, then he must do so, and sitting on a chair will not be permissible for him. The best posture to adopt while sitting on the floor is the Tashahud posture.

If one cannot sit in this posture due to difficulties or pain, then he is allowed to sit in any other suitable posture on the floor. In this regard, it is stated in the books of Fiqh, ‘If a person’s sitting posture is like that when he sits for Tashahud, and this is easy upon him, then this is superior and the best. If not, then he can chose to sit in any suitable position (while on the floor). (Dur Al Muktaar).

In the case of the Nafl Salah, one is allowed to sit on the floor to perform this even though he is able to stand. However, in this case one must still do the Ruku and Sajdah. It will not be permissible for a person to sit on a chair and do Ruku and Sajdah with signs.

(E) The Prophet (S.A.S) has strongly emphasized and instructed that in congregational Salah, the rows must be straight and the gaps must be filled.

When a chair is placed in the middle of the rows, it creates a disturbance and affects the straightening of the rows. Hence, those performing Salah on chairs must not place their chairs inside the rows. They can put the chairs at the end of the first or second rows. If this causes inconvenience to others at the side, or behind, then they should place the chairs in the last row.

With respect to how the chairs should be placed, if the person sitting on the chair does so from the beginning of Salah, then he must place the chair in a manner that when he sits, his body will be in line/level with the row.

If he begins Salah in the standing posture but will sit on the chair afterwards, then he should place the chair in a manner that when he stands, he will be in line/level with the row.

(F) In general, whoever reaches first to any spot/place in the saff (of the Masjid), he is more deserving of it. The Fuqaha have considered it Makrooh for one to fix a place in the Saff for Himself and always sit in that spot believing that he is more deserving of it. (Fatawa Al Hindiya; Kitabul Fatawa Vol. 3, Pg. 115, Zam Zam Publishers, Karachi 2008).

Scholars have however, given an exception to this and have stated that if one is already in the Masjid and then leaves for some valid reason like performing Wudhu or using the washroom and then comes back, then he has more right to the spot. In this case, a person can put his Topi, Tasbih, Chair etc. to indicate that he is returning to his spot after he fulfils his need. This is based upon the tradition of the Prophet (S.A.S) in which he said, ‘Whoever gets up from his place, then comes back to it, then he has more right to it.’ (Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 3179).

If however, the reason for leaving his spot no longer exists, and he comes back late, then he has no right to his spot. Similarly, if the Iqamah for Salah has been given and he has not returned as yet, then he has no right to the spot. In these cases, his Topi, chair, Tasbih etc. would be removed from where he placed them.

Leaving one’s place to go and chat outside the Masjid or to go home, are not valid reasons which will give one the permission to leave something on a spot of the Saff and be rightful of that spot when one returns.

And Allah Knows Best.

Mufti Waseem Khan.

23/9/16.

This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.

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