Question # 354: Can we build a kitchen where there was a bathroom? (That is renovating)

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: The rules of bathrooms stand as long as the bathroom exists. Once it is demolished or converted to something else, then it is not a bathroom anymore. On the other hand, converting a bathroom to something else is permissible. Nevertheless, we would also cover the rules of building bathroom in this answer: the correct scholarly view is that it is haraam to face towards the qiblah or turn one’s back towards it when relieving oneself out in the open, either urinating or defecating, but that is permissible inside buildings or where there is a screen between oneself and the Ka’bah, close in front if one is facing towards the qiblah and close behind if one has one’s back to it. However, so long as the bathroom is still at the building stage, it will be on the safe side to build the toilets in a way that when one is relieving himself/herself, one is not facing the qiblah or turning back towards it, so as to avoid an area of scholarly dispute. But, if it is advanced to a stage that it cannot be altered, then there is no sin involved. 

Long Answer: The rules of bathrooms stand as long as the bathroom exists. Once it is demolished or converted to something else, then it is not a bathroom anymore. On the other hand, converting a bathroom to something else is permissible. (Fatwa of Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah, Member of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America) 

Nevertheless, we would also cover the rules of building bathroom in this answer. 

It is narrated in a sahih report that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) forbade facing towards the qiblah or turning one’s back towards it when relieving oneself. The majority of scholars (including Maalik, al-Shafi’i, and Ahmad, may Allah have mercy on them) are of the view that this prohibition applies to one who is relieving himself in a place where there is no screen between him and the qiblah, but inside buildings they say it is permissible to face the qiblah or turn one’s back towards it when relieving oneself. 

Others (including Abu Haneefah, and Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah, may Allah have mercy on them) are of the view that it is haraam to face the qiblah or turn one’s back towards it when relieving oneself in all cases, whether out in the open or inside a building. (See al-Mughni; Haashiyat Ibn ‘Aabideen; al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah) 

So long as you are still at the building stage, it will be more on the safe side if you build the toilets so that when relieving oneself one is not facing the qiblah or turning one’s back towards it, so as to avoid a matter concerning which the scholars differed. 

The Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas was asked about the ruling on facing towards the qiblah or turning one’s back towards it when relieving oneself, inside buildings or out in the open, then about the ruling on buildings that are currently being used in which there are toilets that face towards the qiblah or have the qiblah behind them, and they cannot be changed except by destroying the bathroom completely or partially in order to make the changes. If we have the plans and the house has not yet been built, and some of the toilets face towards the qiblah or have the qiblah behind them, is it obligatory to change them or does it not matter?  

They replied: “Firstly, the correct scholarly view is that it is haraam to face towards the qiblah (the Ka’bah) or turn one’s back towards it when relieving oneself out in the open, either urinating or defecating, but that is permissible inside buildings or where there is a screen between oneself and the Ka’bah, close in front if one is facing towards the qiblah and close behind if one has one’s back to it, such as a saddle, a tree, a mountain and so on. This is the view of most of the scholars, because it is narrated from Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “When one of you sits to relieve himself, let him not face towards the qiblah or turn his back towards it.” Narrated by Ahmad and Muslim. And Abu Ayyoob al-Ansari narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “When you go to defecate, do not face towards the qiblah or turn your back towards it, rather face towards the east or the west.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim) 

And it was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) said: One day I climbed up on the roof of the house of Hafsah and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was relieving himself, facing towards Syria, with his back towards the Ka’bah. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, Muslim and the authors of al-Sunan. 

Abu Dawood and al-Haakim narrated that Marwaan al-Asfar said: I saw Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) making his camel kneel facing towards the qiblah and urinating in that direction. I said, “O Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman, is that not forbidden? He said, “It is only forbidden to do that out in the open, but if there is something between you and the qiblah that conceals you, there is nothing wrong with it.” Abu Dawood did not say anything about it, but al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar said in al-Fath: Its isnad is hasan

Ahmad, Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah narrated that Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allah (رضي الله عنه) said: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) forbade us to face towards the qiblah when urinating, then I saw him one year before he died, facing towards it.”  

This was also the view of a number of scholars who sought to reconcile the evidence by interpreting the hadith of Abu Hurayrah and similar reports as referring to cases of relieving oneself out in the open without any screen, and the hadith of Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allah and Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them) as referring to cases when one is inside a building or there is a screen between oneself and the qiblah

From this it is known that it is permissible to face towards the qiblah or turn one’s back towards it when relieving oneself in any kind of building. 

Secondly, if the plans for the building have not yet been put into effect, and the toilets in the plan are facing towards the qiblah or have their backs towards it, then it is more on the safe side to alter them so that when relieving oneself one is not facing towards the qiblah or turning one’s back towards it, so as to avoid an area of scholarly dispute. But if they cannot be altered there is no sin involved because of the ahadith quoted above.” (Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah) 

(Most part of the above reply is based on various answers by Islam Q&A, unless stated otherwise)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam