Assalamualaikum. There a lot of varieties for praying mat nowadays on the market. Among them is a very fluffy and soft mat of which a person’s forehead will sink in it. Some people are of the opinion that it will increase a person’s khusyu’ (focus or presence of heart) in prayer. Others said that a person’s prayer is invalid for the forehead is not fixed in one place. My question is, is this permissible and is the prayer valid if a person prays on this fluffy and soft praying mat?
Hope for an explanation from Datuk Mufti. Thank you.
Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
First, placing or using an overlay or throw such as a cloth or praying mat is permissible. The reason is it is done by the Prophet PBUH himself as stated in a hadith narrated by Abu Sa’id al-Khudri RA, where he said:
عن أبي سعيد الخدري : أنَّه دَخَلَ على النبيِّ صَلّى اللَّهُ عليه وسلَّمَ قالَ: فَرَأَيْتُهُ يُصَلِّي على حَصِيرٍ يَسْجُدُ عليه
“I visited the Apostle (ﷺ) and saw him praying on a reed mat on which he was prostrating himself. And I saw him praying in a single garment with ends crossed with each other.”
Sahih Muslim (519)
The same is stated in a hadith narrated by Saidatina Aisyah R. Anha, where she said:
كُنْتُ أَنَامُ بَيْنَ يَدَيْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ، وَرِجْلاَيَ فِي قِبْلَتِهِ ، فَإِذَا سَجَدَ غَمَزَنِي ، فَقَبَضْتُ رِجْلَيَّ ، فَإِذَا قَامَ بَسَطْتُهُمَا
“I was sleeping in front of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) with my legs between him and the Qibla. When he prostrated himself, he pinches me and I drew up my legs, and when he stood up, I stretched them out. She said: At that time there were no lamps in the houses.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (382)
Imam al-Bukhari placed the above hadith in the chapter which explained the prayer of the Prophet PBUH on a praying mat (الصلاة على الحصير). Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali when commenting on this hadith said:
هذا يدل على أنه كان يسجد على طرف الفراش الذي كانت نائمة عليه ، وكانت رجلاها عليه
“This hadith shows that the Prophet PBUH prostrated at the end of the bed (mat) on which Saidatina Aisyah R. Anha sleeps on and both of her legs are also on the mat.” (Refer Fath al-Bari Syarh Sahih al-Bukhari, 3:27)
However, the basis the Prophet PBUH has set are seven parts that is obligatory to be placed on the place of prostration which are the forehead, both palms, both knees and toes of both feet. In a hadith narrated by Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas, where the Prophet PBUH said:
أُمِرْتُ أنْ أسْجُدَ على سَبْعَةِ أعْظُمٍ على الجَبْهَةِ، وأَشارَ بيَدِهِ على أنْفِهِ واليَدَيْنِ والرُّكْبَتَيْنِ، وأَطْرافِ القَدَمَيْنِ
"I have been ordered to prostrate on seven bones i.e. on the forehead along with the tip of the nose and the Prophet (ﷺ) pointed towards his nose, both hands, both knees and the toes of both feet and not to gather the clothes or the hair."
Sahih al-Bukhari (812) and Sahih Muslim (490)
This is also stated in al-Syafie fiqh books, among them is Syeikh Hasan al-Kaff who said:
أَن يَسْجُدَ عَلَى سَبْعَةِ أَعْضاءٍ : الجبهة و بطون اليدين و الركبتين و و بطون أصابع الرجلين
A person should prostrate on seven parts which are: the forehead, both palms, noth knees, and toes on both feet. (Refer al-Taqrirat al-Sadidah fi al-Masail al-Mufidah: 221)
Thus, from the above conditions of prostration, then the forehead must be placed firmly on the place of prostration, regardless whether a person is prostrating on the earth or an overlay such as a mat, praying mat or mattress. Furthermore, it is conditioned that when a person is prostrating, he has to firmly fixed his forehead on the place of prostration. Syeikh Hasan al-Kaff said this:
التَحَامُل بِراْسِهِ : بِحيْثُ لَوْ سَجَدَ عَلَى قُطنٍ لانكبست
“It is conditioned to firmly fixed his forehead (on the place of prostration), to a degree of which if he prostrated on wool, then the wool will stick on it (his forehead).” (Refer al-Taqrirat al-Sadidah fi al-Masail al-Mufidah: 221)
Hence, the thickness of the praying mat should be considered and whether the forehead is fixed on the praying mat or otherwise. If the thickness and softness make it so his forehead cannot be in fixed position nor can it be firmly planted on it, as though it is floating due to its fluffiness and softness, then his prostration is invalid.
According to the above discussion and arguments, we conclude that praying on a fluffy and soft praying mat is valid and permissible if a person’s forehead can be firmly fixed on the prostration place. The reason is one of the obligatory conditions of prostrations is placing seven of the prostration body parts which are the forehead, both palms, both knees, and toes of both feet firmly on the place of prostration. Furthermore, it is also conditioned to firmly fixed one’s head so that the forehead is fixed (not moved).
Thus, if the praying mat is too fluffy and soft that it makes it so that one’s forehead is not fixed on the place of prostration and it feels like it is floating, then his prostration is invalid if he prostrated on such a praying mat.
Lastly, you should know that when a person is prostrating, this is when he is closest as slave is with Allah SWT and the Prophet PBUH encourages us to make du’a during this time. The Prophet PBUH said:
أَقْرَبُ ما يَكونُ العَبْدُ مِن رَبِّهِ، وهو ساجِدٌ، فأكْثِرُوا الدُّعاءَ
“The nearest a servant comes to his Lord is when he is prostrating himself, so make supplication (in this state).”
Sahih Muslim (482)
Hence, let us all take this opportunity to supplicate as much as we can when we are prostrating to Allah SWT and not hasten to raise our heads to attend to our worldly affairs. May Allah SWT give us the correct understanding in understanding His commandments as well as guiding us to perform worship only for Him. Amin.