How to pray on a plane? Find out 5 simple inflight guides for Muslims to perform prayer on a commercial flight.
Praying five times a day is an act of worship that must be done no matter where we are, including during traveling. When a Muslim is traveling, solat must still be performed on time, even when in flight. Even so, despite the challenges and difficulties, there are some concessions allowed in the Shariah to make it easier for us to pray during the flight. In this article, we will explore five common questions regarding solat on airplanes.
1. What is the first thing that should be done when a Muslim wants to perform solat on the airplane?
The first and most important thing to do is to do some planning before getting on the plane, such as determining prayer times while on a flight. By knowing the prayer time in advance, you can also determine whether the prayer can be performed on the plane or upon arrival at the destination, either at the airport or after arriving at the hotel.
One of the ways to determine prayer times is by downloading a mobile application that can assist us with accurate information regarding prayer times. One useful tool is the Halal Trip app. This application can be downloaded through the play store or apple store for iPhone or Android smartphones. Alternatively, you can also visit their website at https://www.halaltrip.com/prayertimes/inflight/
For this app, you only need to enter the time of departure and arrival along with the name of the airport, including the time of transit, if any. The application will provide prayer times at the destination, including suggestions on when the prayer should be performed on the flight or after arriving at the destination.
In addition, it is also recommended to perform ablution early before boarding the plane. Among the options or alternatives that can be thought of is to bring a small "spray" bottle to fill with clean water to make it easier for us to perform ablution. Nevertheless, you can also perform ablution in the lavatory.
2. How does one determine the direction of the Qiblah (the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca) while on an airplane?
It can be challenging to determine the Qiblah direction in an airplane, especially when already in the air. In addition, most smartphone and digital compass applications require an internet or wifi network. So the best way is to use the relevant smartphone application before boarding the plane, such as ‘Halal Trip’, which also provides Qiblah directions throughout the flight.
Additionally, some airlines, such as Qatar Airways, Saudia Airlines and Emirates, for example, provide qiblah direction indicators on their in-flight entertainment systems. For airlines that do not offer qiblah direction indicators in their system, passengers may use their in-flight entertainment systems to find qiblah direction via Saudi Arabia or gulf countries such as Iraq, Kuwait or Oman, as these countries provide the nearest direction of the Kaabah in Mecca.
3. Is the direction of the qiblah required at all times during prayer in an airplane?
Qiblah is an important condition in prayer. Without it, our prayers will not be accepted by God. In this situation, according to Sheikh Wahbah Al-Zuhayli, in his book, al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh, it is required to face the qiblah at the beginning of the prayer during takbiratul ihram and continue performing their solat, facing any direction afterwards.
In addition, by taking account of the circumstances in an airplane, there is flexibility in facing the direction of the qiblah. According to Sheikh Syawqi Ibrahim 'Allam, as stated in the Dar Al-Ifta’ Egypt website, the allowed difference from the qiblah is only around 90 degrees, which is 45 degrees to the right and 45 degrees to the left.
4. Can one perform solat while seated on an airplane?
Standing upright is a requirement in prayer, according to Islamic rulings (syarak). However, in the state of being in an airplane, there is some flexibility given to pray while sitting. This is based on the Prophet's hadith, when he was asked on how to pray on a sailing boat.
صلّ فيها قائما ، إلا أن تخافَ الغرقَ
"Pray in it while standing, unless you are afraid of sinking."
In this situation, Sheikh Ibn Baz gave an analogy of the situation of praying on a sailing ship with praying on a plane. It means he should stand up. If he is unable, then he is allowed to pray according to his ability by sitting in an airplane, as in the meaning of the hadith.
In his book, Sahih Muslim bi Sharh al-Nawawi, Imam al-Nawawi commented: "If a person performs the obligatory prayer on a sailing ship, he cannot leave the obligation to stand if he is able to stand as he did when he was on land. However, if he is unwell (has an obstacle) such as dizziness and so on, then he can perform obligatory prayers while sitting because he is considered weak." In this case, the obstacle here is the inability to solat in a standing position in an airplane.
The concession for sitting prayer is also based on the hadith,
صَلِّ قائما، فإن لم تستطع فقاعدا، فإن لم تستطع فعلى جَنْبٍ
"Pray standing; if you cannot, then sitting; if you cannot, then lying on your side."
In another hadith, the Prophet s.a.w. said,
وإذَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ بِأَمْرٍ فَأْتُوا منه ما اسْتَطَعْتُمْ.
"If you are commanded with an order, then carry it out with what you can.”
In this regard, there are some airline carriers that allow you to pray standing up on their planes, such as Saudia Airlines and Etihad. You may seek permission to use the space and perform the prayers while standing.
(Image Source: Saudi Moments.Com)
As for the ruku' position, it can be done by simply bowing from the chair. While prostrating or sujud, they should bow lower than the position of ruku’. You can also use a food tablet in an airplane as a place for prostration.
Praying in this way remains valid and does not need to be repeated even if it is not perfect. This is based on Imam Muzani's opinion as quoted by Al-Nawawi in Al-Majmu’, that as long the prayer was performed on its time accordingly, if there is a deficiency, it is not obligatory to repeat (qadha) it.
5. Can someone perform solat jamak and qasar in an airplane?
Yes, as long as the travelling distance fulfilled the requirement of jamak and qasar, which is approximately 90 km, and this includes solat in an airplane. In addition, if you are transmitting in an airport, you can plan such that you will have enough time to pray on land, should you have the ideal flight timing options.
Mohammad Yusri Yubhi Md Yusoff, 2015. Seindah Solat Nabi. Kuala Lumpur: Telaga Biru.