Are There Any Rulings Unique to Sea Captains in the Sacred Law?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch


I am a Turkish brother who recently took the college entrance exam and will most likely study to be a marine captain. This work demands at least four months of travel. So I wanted to know if there was any ruling about salah, fasting, or other things I should know.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

There are no rulings particular to Sea Captains per se, only those that pertain to any Muslim traveling by sea. Such rulings have to do with prayer and purification, even though many other issues may generally fall into this question.

Prayer at Sea

Standing in the Prayer:

When praying on a boat, standing for the prayer may be difficult. Whether sailing in the sea or docked in turbulent waters, one is permitted to pray sitting if it is difficult to stand without falling or one becomes dizzy when attempting to stand. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

Note that one still performs prostration on the ground, not merely with head gestures. This person is still permitted to lead the prayer. [Ibid.]

If the boat is docked in calm waters and able to exit the boat to the dock, it is incumbent to exit the boat and perform the prayer on the ground. [Ibid.]

Direction of the Prayer (Qibla):

It is incumbent on those praying in a boat to face the direction of prayer (Qibla). If the boat turns from the Qibla, one turns their direction to remain facing the Qibla. [Ibid.]

Praying in Congregation:

It is permissible to pray in the congregation on the boat as long as all parties are on the same boat. If two boats are tied to one another, these two boats have the ruling of one boat, and the passengers of each can pray together. [Ibid.]

If, however, they are not tied together, prayer in the congregation between the passengers of each boat is impermissible. [Ibid.]

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch teaches Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he completed four years at the Darul Uloom Seminary in New York, where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences.

He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he studied for three years in Dar al-Mustafa under some of the most outstanding scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib.

In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Quran and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Quranic exegesis, Islamic history, and several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.