#495: Prostrating on Soft Cushioned Praying Mat

Question:

Assalamualaikum w.b.t. Is it valid if a person prayed on a soft cushioned praying mat that his forehead sunk in it when he prostrated? Hope for an explanation.

 

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam w.b.t.

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.

Definition of prostration

Prostration lexically means inclination or humbling oneself. Whereas, from the terminology point of view, it is an act of putting a part of one’s forehead to the prostration place. [1]

The meaning of prostration according to syara’ is the forehead of a person praying should directly come into contact with the place of prostration.

Prostration is one of the requisites in prayer. Without prostration, it is not named prayer. Likewise, if it doesn’t fulfil its conditions, it is not named prostration. The sanctioning of prostration is sabit in al-Quran, hadith and ijmak of scholars.

Allah SWT states:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ارْكَعُوا وَاسْجُدُوا

“O you who have believed, bow and prostrate,” [2]

In a hadith narrated by al-Bukhari, a man entered a mosque and prayers, but he was later rebuked by the Prophet PBUH saying that his prayer is invalid and the Prophet PBUH asked him to repeat his prayer. It continued until the Prophet PBUH rebuked him thrice and at last, the man asked the Prophet PBUH to teach him how to pray. In part of the answer, the Prophet PBUH said:

ثُمَّ اسْجُدْ حَتَّى تَطْمَئِنَّ سَاجِدًا ثُمَّ ارْفَعْ حَتَّى تَسْتَوِيَ وَتَطْمَئِنَّ جَالِسًا، ثُمَّ اسْجُدْ حَتَّى تَطْمَئِنَّ سَاجِدًا

“…then prostrate and remain calmly in that position for a moment, then rise up and sit calmly, then prostrate and remain calmly in that position for a moment;” [3]

Likewise, this is what has been agreed by the ijmak of the muslimin from among the salaf and khalaf and none contradicts this.

The valid conditions of prostration

The prostration is one of the fi’li (action) requisites from the requisites of prayer. For every requisite, each has its own conditions. Regarding the requisite of prostration, we present several hadiths of the Prophet PBUH which become the istidlal of madhhab Syafi’e. Among them are:

إِذَا سجَدْتَ فمَكِّنْ جَبهَتَك، وَلَا تَنْقُرْ نَقْرًا

“When you prostrate, place it firmly and not too fast.” [4]

Rasullullah PBUH said:

‏ أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَسْجُدَ عَلَى سَبْعَةِ أَعْظُمٍ: عَلَى الْجَبْهَةِ – وَأَشَارَ بِيَدِهِ عَلَى أَنْفِهِ – وَالْيَدَيْنِ، وَالرُّكْبَتَيْنِ وَأَطْرَافِ الْقَدَمَيْنِ

“I have been commanded to prostrate on seven bones; on the forehead – and he pointed at his nose, the hands (the palms), the knees and the tips (toes) of the feet.” [5]

In fiqh books of madhhab Suafie, there are 7 valid conditions of prostration which are:

  • One should perform the prostration with the seven body parts
  • One’s forehead must be open
  • Places one’s forehead on the place of prostration with a slight pressure
  • There is no other intention except the intention of prostration
  • Do not prostrate on something that will move when one moves
  • The position of one’s backside is higher than one’s head
  • Thama’ninah [6]

Imam al-Nawawi said: “Indeed, there are seven body parts involved in prostration and a person should prostrate with all these seven body parts, as well as prostrating with his forehead and nose and all. The forehead should be exposed and placed on the floor and sunnah to place on a part of one’s nose. If he doesn’t place his nose on the floor, then his prostration is valid, however, if his forehead doesn’t touch the floor, then his prostration is invalid. This is the opinion of madhhab al-Syafi’e, Malik and most scholars.” He further added, “Jumhur stated the apparent from the hadith mentioned the seven body parts, however, if they are counted, the forehead and nose, the total will be eight, hence. The nose is sunnah in the body parts involved in prostration.[7]

In a hadith narrated by Abu Humaid RA, he said:

أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ إِذَا سَجَدَ أَمْكَنَ أَنْفَهُ وَجَبْهَتَهُ مِنَ الأَرْضِ، وَنَحَّى يَدَيْهِ عَنْ جَنْبَيْهِ، وَوَضَعَ كَفَّيْهِ حَذْوَ مَنْكِبَيْهِ.

“When the Prophet would prostrate, he placed his nose and his forehead on the ground, and he held his forearms away from his sides, and he placed his hands parallel to his shoulders.” [8]

Imam al-Tirmidzi after narrating this hadith said, “In this chapter, it is also narrated from Ibn Abbas R.Anhhuma, Wail bin Hujr RA, Abu Sa’id RA. This hadith from Abu Humaid is as hasan hadith. Scholars stated that a person must prostrate with his forehead and nose, however, if he prostrated with his forehead and not his nose, then his prostration is valid. While other scholars said that it is invalid except if he prostrated with his forehead and nose.[9]

Syeikh al-Mubarakfuri in his commentary said: “Jumhur of scholars said that it is obligatory for a prostration with one’s forehead without with one’s nose.[10]

Some hadiths state Rasullullah PBUH didn’t mention the nose in prostration, among them is a narration from Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma, who said:

أُمِرَ النَّبِيُّ صلّى الله عليه وسلم أَنْ يَسْجُدَ عَلَى سَبْعَةِ أَعْضَاءٍ، وَلاَ يَكُفَّ شَعَرًا وَلاَ ثَوْبًا: الجَبْهَةِ، وَاليَدَيْنِ، وَالرُّكْبَتَيْنِ، وَالرِّجْلَيْنِ

“The Prophet (ﷺ) was ordered (by Allah) to prostrate on seven parts and not to tuck up the clothes or hair (while praying). Those parts are: the forehead (along with the tip of nose), both hands, both knees, and (toes of) both feet.” [11]

In this hadith, the nose isn’t mentioned, there is also a hadith narrated from Jabir RA, he said:

رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَسْجُدُ بِأَعْلَى جَبْهَتِهِ عَلَى قِصَاصِ الشَّعْرِ

“I saw Rasullullah PBUH prostrated on his upper forehead on his hair (at his forehead hairline).” [12]

Syeikh ‘Ubaidillah bin Muhammad Abd al-Salam al-Mubarakfuri cited a narration from Tamam in his fawaid and others: “When the Prophet PBUH prostrated on the upper part of his forehead, then his nose didn’t touch his place of prostration.[13]

Hence, it can be understood that most scholars stated that the obligatory body part in prostration is one’s forehead while the nose is sunnah, without us denying the opinion of some scholars who said that both of these body parts are obligatory.

Prostration on a Soft Cushioned Praying Mat

As we have explained above, basically, Rasullullah PBUH has set seven body parts that must touch the place of prostration when one prostrates and they are one’s forehead, both palms, both knees and both the toes of both feet. In a hadith narrated by Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas, Rasullullah PBUH said:

أُمِرْتُ أنْ أسْجُدَ على سَبْعَةِ أعْظُمٍ على الجَبْهَةِ، وأَشارَ بيَدِهِ على أنْفِهِ واليَدَيْنِ والرُّكْبَتَيْنِ، وأَطْرافِ القَدَمَيْنِ

“I have been commanded to prostrate on seven bones; on the forehead – and he pointed at his nose, the hands (the palms), the knees and the tips (toes) of the feet.” [14]

This matter is the same as mentioned in fiqh books of madhhab al-Syafie. Among them is Syeikh Hasan al-Kaff who said: “A person must prostrate with his seven body parts which are: forehead, both palms, both knees and both toes of one’s feet.[15]

Thus, from the above valid conditions, the forehead must be placed on the place of prostration, regardless of whether the person prostrates on soil or praying mat or mattress. Furthermore, it is conditioned when one prostrates to put slight pressure and firmly places his head on the place of prostration. Syeikh Hasan al-Kaff stated the following:

التَحَامُل بِراْسِهِ : بِحيْثُ لَوْ سَجَدَ عَلَى قُطنٍ لانكبست

“It is conditioned to places one’s head (firmly places one’s forehead on the place of prostration), that is at the rate of if he prostrated on wool, the wool will be attached on his forehead.” [16]

Hence, one should consider the thickness of the praying mat, and whether one can place one’s head firmly without it moving when one is prostrated or not. If it is too thick and cushiony that one cannot place one’s head unmoving and cannot feel a slight pressure because it is too soft that one feels like he is floating in clouds, then his prostration is invalid.

Conclusion

According to the above discussion, we conclude that the ruling of prostrating on a soft and cushioned praying mat is valid and permissible if the forehead can feel slight pressure and the forehead can be firmly placed on the place of prostration unmoving. The reason for this is that among the valid conditions of prostration is by placing all the seven body parts of prostration which are the forehead, both palms, both knees, and toes of both feet in the place of prostration. Moreover, it is also conditioned to put slight pressure on one’s head so that it doesn’t move and is firmly placed on the place of prostration.

Hence, if the praying mat is too soft and cushioned that one’s forehead couldn’t be placed firmly and he feels as though he is floating, then his prostration on the praying mat is invalid.

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] See Nihayah al-Muhtaj1/509

[2] Surah al-Haj: 77

[3] Narrated by al-Bukhari (6667)

[4] Narrated by Ibnu Hibban (1884)

[5] Narrated by Bukhari (779) and Muslim (490)

[6] See Nail al-Raja’, pg. 179 and al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 1/136

[7] See Syarh al-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, 4/208

[8] Narrated by al-Tirmidzi (270)

[9] See Sunan al-Tirmidzi, 2/59

[10] See Tuhfah al-Ahwadzi, 2/125

[11] Narrated by al-Bukhari (809)

[12] Narrated by al-Darqutni (1320)

[13] See Mir’ah al-Mafatih Syarh Misykah al-Masabih, 3/205

[14] Narrated by al-Bukhari (812) and Muslim (490)

[15] See al-Taqrirat al-Sadidah fi al-Masail al-Mufidah, pg. 221

[16]  Ibid

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