Bad Knees: Can I Sit Down In a Chair For Prayer?

14 August, 2017
Q My mother is not able to prostrate for sajda because of her knees. She sits on a chair for it. She wanted to know about the qiyaam and ruku: Is she required to do them sitting even though she's able to stand and do them normally?


Asalamu Alaikum,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani from SeekersHub addresses this question in the video below:


Shaykh Faraz Rabbani:

So, if someone is unable to prostrate then they’re not required to stand.

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The legal explanation of it is somewhat nuanced, but… certainly in the Hanafi school, the standing in prayer is understood to be a means of prostrating.

And if the end is lifted then the means to that end is also lifted. And you see that in the prophetic practice as well.

When the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, prayed with head movements, he’s understood not to have stood in that, and this is the reasoning for which it’s understood.

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So, if one is able to stand and prostrate, then one prays standing. If one cannot… or one cannot without undue hardship, then one prays sitting down with prostration. So that’s a second degree.

One prays standing with prostration if one can. If one can’t pray standing with prostration then one prays sitting on the ground with prostration.

“Prostration” means to place one’s forehead on the ground. If one can’t pray sitting down with prostration, then one prays with head movements as best one can.

And this third level of Prayer—when you cannot prostrate, then praying with head movements—you can sit however is facilitated for you.

And you do you do not lose any reward if this is due to inability or undue hardship.

In that situation, when you pray with head movements, you bend your head just slightly for the bowing for the ruku’ (bowing) and slightly more for the prostration.

And you’re not expected to bow deeply. It’s actually against the prophetic Sunnah to make a deep bowing in that case.

And we have a few answers on how does the person who is sick or unwell pray. I’m including a video answer that details some of the considerations…

[…] A useful thing to know is that ability a lot of Allah most high tells us in the Quran : Allah does not make a person responsible for more than they are able.

So from that, the scholars of Islam took the principle that a person is only able with their own ability.

So, for example, if someone’s in hospital and had some operation if they are not able to go and make wudu (ablution with water) by themselves or they’re able to, but only with undue hardship, then they’re not expected to.

And they don’t have to take the means of asking others to bring them water etc although if it’s easy then then that’s fine. But you’re not accountable with the ability of another.

So in a situation, even if the washrooms are down there, down the hall, you can make dry ablution, you can make tayammum.

And we have a number of answers explaining how the dry ablution is done

One takes just a small pebble, rubs it with the intention of being able to pray and rubs the face completely… one rubs it a second time and one wipes both arms fully and completely, and that’s the dry ablution.

Of course you don’t do it over your clothes, you do it over your arms.

I hope this helps answer your question. You can also check out more from SeekersHub at the link here.

Walaikum Asalam. Please keep in touch.

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