Answered by Ustadh Faraz A. Khan
Question: I often get very painful muscle cramps in my feet when I sit between prostrations. Sometimes I can change my position to ease the cramps but it still hurts. Sometimes the cramps are so painful that I have to stop the prayer altogether and do it again later. In this situation, is it better for me to continue praying in this painful state or is it allowed for me to stop the prayer and do it again later? If the time for prayer is about to end, would it be allowed for me to sit and pray on a chair, for example? I’m really concerned about what the correct thing is, I’m worried that perhaps the prayers I have done while in this pain and lack of concentration are not valid?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and states. May Allah grant you ease and a speedy relief.
The Sitting Posture
With regards to the prayer, if you are able to sit in another posture whereby the pain is alleviated, such as sitting cross-legged or even with your legs extended, then that would be allowed considering the pain you experience in the normal sitting position. Also keep in mind that the sitting between prostrations does not have to be long; it is sufficient to be still for a moment, that is, enough time to say “Subhan Allah” once. You could sit in this more comfortable sitting posture for all the sittings of the prayer if the normal sitting position is too painful.
Changing your sitting posture during the prayer would be superior to breaking the prayer altogether. In any case, the prayer would have to performed within its time; such pain would not allow one to delay the prayer past its designated time.
If there is no sitting posture whatsoever whereby the pain is alleviated, then you could pray while sitting in a chair. In that case, you would perform bowing (ruku`) and prostrations (sujud) by head movements, that is, by bending your neck for each. You do not have to exaggerate in bending the neck; slight bending is sufficient. It is a condition, however, that you bend your neck further for prostration than you do for bowing. Failure to do so would render the prayer invalid. Lastly, you do not have to bring a pillow or the like to your head for prostration; doing so is in fact disliked and sinful.
Concern About the Validity of Prayers
Pain, discomfort, and resulting lack of concentration do not render a prayer invalid. Rather, your condition is a test from Allah, and the patience with which you endure the test is a spiritual state that entails a reward that, according to the Qur’an, is “without measure” [39:10]. To persevere and perform the prayer despite such a condition is a reflection of one’s immense spiritual resolve. In fact, some scholars state that an affliction is a sign that the act is accepted. Therefore, you should have hope in Allah that He is indeed accepting your prayers, inshaAllah. Keep a good opinion of your Lord, for verily our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us that Allah says, “I am in the opinion of My servant” (Bukhari). We shall find Allah to be as we think He is, so we should think the very best of Him, Glorified and Exalted.
And Allah alone gives success.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani