Is It Mandatory That One’s Knees Touch the Ground While Sitting in Prayer?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

During the iftirash sitting between the two prostrations, is it mandatory for the knees to touch the ground? I sit as usual, but minor tailoring in my garment puts one of my knees slightly removed from the ground. If one looks from the outside, it is just a normal iftirash. I would like to know if it is enough or If I have to make my knees touch the ground?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which is pleasing to Him.

It is not required to have one’s knees perfectly on the ground. The iftirash posture is a sunna, not obligatory, as long as the fundamental forms of these postures are maintained, and Allah knows best.

Sitting

Between the two prostrations, sitting is an integral. It is obligatory to sit motionlessly for at least a moment and intend nothing but sit by one’s movement.

The optimal way is to sit in ifirash, placing the left foot on its side and sitting upon it while keeping the right foot resting on the bottom of its toes, heel up. Also, to place one’s two hands on the thighs near the knees, fingers extended and held together.

There are two other ways of sitting back (iq‘a’) between the two prostrations or the first and second Testifications of Faith (Tashahhud). One way is to sit back on the heels with the bottom of the toes and knees on the ground. This is recommended between the two prostrations, though iftirash is better.

The other way is to sit on the ground, palms down simply, and knees drawn up. This is offensive in any prayer.

During the final sitting posture in the prayer, one sits back (an integral) at the last of one’s prayer for the Testification of Faith in the tawarruk style of sitting, with one’s left posterior on the ground and left foot on its side, emerging from under the right side, which is vertical. The wisdom in the difference between the ways of sitting during the two Testifications of Faith, namely, iftirash in the first and tawarruk in the second, is that a latecomer to group prayer may know by observing the former that the prayer has not finished and by the latter that it nearly has.

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.