The Official Website of the Office of His Eminence Al-Sayyid Ali Al-Husseini Al-Sistani

Question & Answer » Qibla

1 Question: In European countries, public baths are built with certain considerations. Whether or not it is in the direction of qibla is not one of their considerations unlike the situation in Muslim countries:
1. Is it permissible for us to use such facilities, if we do not know where the direction of the qibla is?
2. And if we know the baths do face the direction of the qibla, is it permissible for us to use them? If it is not permissible, what is the solution?
Answer: In the first case, based on obligatory precaution, it is not permissible to use them except after failing to know the direction of the qibla and that it is not possible to wait or that waiting would entail harm and place the person in difficulty.
In the second case, based on obligatory precaution, it is necessary —while using the bathroom— to refrain from facing the qibla or turning one’s back to it. However, in the event of emergency, one should sit with their back towards the qibla. This is based on obligatory precaution.
2 Question: If a person goes to the moon, to which direction should he pray?
Answer: He should pray in the direction of the earth planet .
3 Question: How should we say our salat in trains and cars? Is it necessary to do prostration (sajda) on something or is it not necessary, in that would bending of the neck be sufficient?
Answer: It is obligatory to say salat in the usual way where possible. So, one should face the qiblah in all stages of the salat; if not, at least while saying the opening takbir. Otherwise the condition of facing the qiblah will be dropped. Similarly, if it is possible to do the bowing (ruku') and prostration (sajdah) normally (e.g., in the aisle of the bus or the train), those parts of salat should be done normally. But if it is not possible, then one should try to bow normally for ruku' and sajdah [for example, from a sitting position on the seat or the berth of the train].
For sajdah, one has to put the forehead on an item on which sajdah is valid, even if by lifting that item to the forehead. If bowing normally is not possible, one should just indicate by bending the neck [halfway for ruku and fully for sajdah].
4 Question: How can we say our obligatory prayers in an aircraft, especially if we do not know the direction of the qiblah taking into consideration the instability of the floor [because the plane is in motion]?
Answer: As for the qiblah, it is possible to identify its direction by asking the captain or the airhostesses because their answers usually carry validity and are a source of assurance. One should therefore act accordingly.
As for the stability of the floor where salat is to be performed, that condition will be waived when it is not possible to achieve it. However, other conditions of prayers should, wherever possible, be observed. Under no circumstance should the prayer be delayed beyond its appropriate time span.
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