Can One Pray Sitting Down or in the Car Due to Fear of Harm?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: Because of all the Islamophobia going around, is it permissible to pray either sitting down or in the car if you are afraid that someone might cause harm to you? Also please let me know if there a fiqhi difference in opinion on this issue.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health states.

By and large, the atmosphere for Muslims in the United States is not that bad, by Allah’s infinite grace. Muslims are still able to live in peace, pursue their personal and societal goals, and practice the religion. Overall, we can perform the prayer and attend mosques without persecution, although there have been some unfortunate instances of hate-crimes.

As for your specific question, the main issue is distinguishing legitimate fear (that is recognized by the Sacred Law) from mere delusion or exaggeration. Hence, one could pray sitting only if their fear of harm is legitimate, that is, based on either (a) past experience or (b) a clear and obvious sign, regarding which no two (reasonable) people would disagree over.

If there is legitimate fear, then one would try to pray sitting on the ground while still performing actual prostration (sujud). If that too is legitimately feared, then one would pray with head motions (bending the neck for ruku and bending it more for sujud); this can be done while standing or sitting (on the ground or in a seat), yet while facing the qibla. And if even that is legitimately feared (which is quite far-fetched), then one may leave that prayer altogether until the fear has subsided, after which one must make up the prayer.

[Shurunbulali, Maraqi Falah; Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

And Allah knows best.

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