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Praying on a Plane

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Qibla.com

Answered by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed

Is prayer valid on an airplane when it is no longer connected to the ground? If it is not valid, then is it still obligatory for Muslims to pray because of the sanctity of the prayer-time and then repeat later? Is it obligatory for someone praying to face the qibla, stand, bow, and prostrate in the normal manner if he is traveling on an airplane, a bus, or the like?

Answer:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

 

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله رب العالمين و صلى الله على سيدنا محمد و على آله و صحبه و سلم أما بعد

 

The reply to this question is detailed, so the questioner should pay careful attention.
An obligatory prayer is not valid on an airplane when it is in flight because one of its conditions is being firmly settled (istiqrar), as Ibn al-Muqri explicitly states in al-Rawd. His words (along with Shaykh al-Islam [h: Zakariyya al-Ansari’s] commentary) are as follows:

Related Point: Being firmly settled, facing the qibla, and completing the integrals are conditions for (ZA: the validity of) an obligatory (ZA: prayer) (al-Rawd, 1.136).

al-Shihab al-Ramli said in his supercommentary:

His saying that being firmly settled is a condition of an obligatory prayer [h: implies that] if two people carry him and stand in mid-air or if he prays on a moving animal inside a howdah (hawdaj), it would be invalid.

 

It has been related that this is what that the great scholar and jurist of exacting verification, Habib Zayn b. Sumayt al-Hadrami al-Shafi‘i, gives fatwa according to.
So whoever is in flight on a plane when the time for an obligatory prayer enters upon him and fears the exiting of the prayer time must (1) pray the obligatory prayer however he is able to and (2) then repeat it later when he is firmly settled. If they are able to, Muslims must take precautions in their journeys by choosing to travel at a time that does not result in missing a prayer. They must also pray the obligatory prayer before take-off if the time enters. If they are unable to do so, they should travel, pray in the plane, and then repeat afterwards, as indicated above.
As for a supererogatory prayer, it is valid while on an airplane in flight, but there are some details [h: that should be noted]: if one is able to face the qibla and perform a complete bowing and prostration, one must do so. Indeed, this is [h: normally] possible in some areas of the plane. If one is unable to do so, it is only obligatory for one to face the qibla when performing the opening Allahu Akbar (since this is easy for one to do) and one may bow and prostrate by nodding.
As for prayer on a moving bus, it is obvious that it is difficult to face the qibla and complete the integrals [h: both of which have been listed as conditions for the validity of the obligatory prayer above], so one does not pray the obligatory prayer in it. If one fears that the prayer time will exit, one prays however one is able to and then repeats later, as with the airplane. As for the supererogatory prayer, it is valid on a bus, and one faces the qibla when making the opening Allahu Akbar and bows and prostrates by nodding.

Amjad Rasheed
Amman, Jordan
(Translated by Hamza Karamali)

السؤال :
هل تصح الصلاةُ في طائرة إذا انفصلت عن الأرض ؟ وإذا لم تصح فهل يجب على المسلم أن يصلي لحرمة الوقت ثم يعيد ؟ وهل يجب على المصلي أن يأتي باستقبال القبلة والقيام والركوع والسجود على الصور المعروفة إذا كان مسافراً في نحو طائرة أو باص ؟
الجواب :
جواب هذا السؤال فيه تفصيل فليعتنِ به السائل ، فأقول : لا تصح صلاةُ الفرض على الطائرة وهي في الهواء ؛ لأنه يشترط في صحتها الاستقرارُ كما صرح به ابنُ المُقْرِي في “الروض” وعبارته مع شرح شيخ الإسلام زكريا (1/136) :” ( فرع : يشترط في ) صحة صلاة ( الفرض الاستقرارُ والاستقبالُ وتمامُ الأركان ) “. قال الشهاب الرَّمْلي في “حاشيته” :” ( قوله يشترط في الفريضة الاستقرار ) فلو حمله رجلان ووقفا في الهواء أوصلى على دابة سائرة في هودج لم تصح”. اهـ وهذا ما نُقل عن العلامة الفقيه المحقق الحبيب زَيْن بن سُمَيْط الحَضْرَمي الشافعي أنه يفتي به .
   
فعلى من أدركته صلاةُ الفرض وهو في الطائرة في الهواء وخاف فوت الوقت أن يصلي الفرض بحسب حاله ثمَّ يعيده إذا استقرَّ ، وليحتاط المسلمُ في سفره فليتخير السفرَ في وقت لا تفوته فيه الصلاة إن استطاع ذلك ، وليصلِّ الفرضَ قبل الإقلاع إن دخل وقته، فإن لم يستطع سافر وصلى في الطائرة وأعاد كما تقدم .
    أما صلاةُ النافلة فتصح على الطائرة وهي في الهواء ، لكن في ذلك تفصيل وهو : إن كان قادراً على استقبال القبلة في جميع الصلاة وإتمام الركوع والسجود لزمه ذلك – وهذا متصورٌ في بعض الأماكن في الطائرة إن أمكنه ذلك – وإن لم يمكنه ذلك وجب عليه الاستقبالُ عند تكبيرة الإحرام فقط ؛ لأنه يسهل عليه ، ويومئ بركوعه وسجوده .    
    أما الصلاةُ في الباص وهو سائر فيعسر معه استقبالُ القبلة وإتمامُ الأركان كما لا يخفى، فلا يصلي فيه الفرض ، فإن خاف فوت الوقت صلاه بحسب حاله وأعاد كما في الطائرة ، أما النافلة فتصلى في الباص ويستقبل القبلة عند تكبيرة الإحرام ويومئ بركوعه وسجوده .

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