Question # 365: Assalam mu alaikum, wanted to know is it allowed to pray namaz in car with travelling in city. As the car turns and direction of qibla changes.

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: It is mandatory to stand and face qiblah throughout the obligatory (fard) prayer. Hence, praying in cars, planes, trains or other means of conveyance, where one cannot face the qiblah or pray standing, is not permissible unless two conditions are met: a) There is a fear that the time for the obligatory prayer will end before reaching the destination; and b) It is not possible to get off and pray on the ground. As for supererogatory (naafil) prayers, the matter is more relaxed; it is permissible to pray sitting as well as face any direction because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to pray naafil prayers on his mount no matter what direction it was facing. However, it is better to face the qiblah when starting to pray a naafil prayer, if that is possible when travelling.

Long Answer: Performing prayers at the right time is a trust and an obligation, because Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “Verily, al-Salaat (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours.” (Soorah an-Nisa’a, 4:103).

Delaying the prayer past its appointed time is a grave major sin, as Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “So woe unto those performers of salaat (prayers) (hypocrites), who delay their salaat from their stated fixed times.” (Soorah al-Maa’oon 107:4-5)

Some scholars state that the person who deliberately misses one prayer and leaves it until the appointed time is over, with no excuse, is a kaafir. Claiming that one cannot find a place to pray is not a valid excuse, because … the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The (whole) earth has been made a mosque (or a place of prayer) and a means of purification for me, so wherever a man of my ummah may be when the time for prayer comes, let him pray.” (Reported by al-Bukhari) According to a report narrated by Muslim, he said: “The (whole) earth has been made good for me, a means of purification and a mosque (or place of prayer); so wherever a man may be when the time for prayer comes, let him pray wherever he is.” (Saheeh Muslim)

The entire world is a suitable place to prostrate oneself; the scholars have made no exceptions except very few, such as graveyards and lavatories. Wherever a Muslim is when the time for prayer comes, he should pray.

Praying in cars, planes, trains or other means of conveyance, where one cannot face the qiblah or pray standing, is not permissible in the case of obligatory prayers unless two conditions are met:

  1. There should be the fear that the time for the obligatory prayer will end before reaching your destination. But if you [are certain that you] will reach your destination before the time for prayer is over, you should wait until you get there to pray.
  2. It should not be possible to get off and pray on the ground. If it is possible to do so then you must do that.

If these two conditions are met, then it is permissible to pray in the vehicle. The evidence for it being permissible to pray in this case is the general meaning of the verses in which Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an:

  • “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope” (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:286)
  • “So keep your duty to Allah and fear Him as much as you can” (Soorah al-Taghaabun, 64:16)
  • “And [Allah] has not laid upon you in religion any hardship” (Soorah al-Hajj, 22:78)

And the hadith, where the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “If I have commanded you to do something, do as much of it as you can.” (Reported by al-Bukhari)

If it is said, If I am allowed to pray in these vehicles, should I face the qiblah and should I pray sitting even though I am able to stand? The answer is: If you are able to face the qiblah throughout the prayer, then you must do that, because it is a condition of an obligatory prayer being valid whether one is travelling or not. If it is not possible to face the qiblah throughout the prayer, then fear Allah as much as you can and do your best, because of the evidence narrated above.

With regard to offering obligatory prayers sitting down when one is able to stand, that is not permissible because of the general meaning of the verse in which Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “And stand before Allah with obedience” (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:238) and because of the hadith of ‘Imraan ibn Husayn, according to which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said to him: “Pray standing; if you cannot, then sitting; and if you cannot then lying on your side.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari)

The [above] has to do with obligatory prayers. With regard to supererogatory (naafil) prayers, the matter is more relaxed; it is permissible for the Muslim to pray in the vehicles mentioned no matter what direction they are facing, even if he could get down on the ground at some times, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to pray naafil prayers on his mount no matter what direction it was facing. Jaabir narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) “used to pray voluntary prayers when he was riding without facing the qiblah.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari). Also, Ibn ‘Umar said: “The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to pray when travelling on his camel, no matter which direction it was facing, and he would gesture with his head to indicate the movements of the night prayer, apart from the obligatory prayers, and he would pray witr on his camel too.” (Reported by al-Bukhari) But it is better to face the qiblah when starting to pray a naafil prayer, if that is possible when travelling. (Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah)

(The above answer is based on various answers provided by Islamqa.info on similar topic)

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