Should One Stand or Remain Seated throughout the Prayer If One Cannot Prostrate but Can Stand?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Muhammad Carr


Should one stand or remain seated throughout the prayer if one cannot prostrate but can stand?

I always thought that one must do whatever one can in prayer and only use the dispensation like sitting, etc., for what you cannot do. However, the imam at our local mosque says you must remain seated for the entire prayer.

What is the position of the Shafi’i School on this matter?


Thank you for your question.

 According to the Shafi‘i School, if an individual is capable of standing but unable to bow (ruku‘) or prostrate (sajda), they are required to stand. They should bow and prostrate to the extent of their capability. [Nawawi, Minhaj al-Talibin]

The Imam’s advice may align with the Hanafi School, which opines that for an individual who can stand but cannot bow or prostrate, sitting throughout the prayer is preferable.

Since the Imam’s advice has a sound basis, there is no need to draw battle lines. This should not be a cause for religious anxiety. Knowing the above could facilitate the tempering of one’s renunciation if there arises a need to do so.

Proof of  The Shafi‘i Position

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “When I command you to do something, then do of it what you can.” This narration proves that an individual who can stand must do so despite not being able to bow or prostrate.

The Shafi‘is also employ the maxim: That which is easy does not fall away on account of that which is difficult. [Shirbibi, Mughni al-Muhtaj]

The Hanafi Position  

For an explanation of the Hanafi position, please have a look at the following link:

Do I Need To Stand In Prayer If I Have a Medical Condition?

And Allah alone gives success.

[Shaykh] Muhammad Carr

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Muhammad Carr has dedicated his life to studying and transmitting our beautiful deen. His studies have taken him around the globe, where he has benefitted from many luminaries. Under the guidance of his teachers – Shaykh Taha Karan, Shaykh Yaseen Abbas, Shaykh Muadh Ali, and many others – Shaykh Muhammad has grown to appreciate the beauty and benefits of diverse scholarship. He completed his memorization of the Qur’an at Dar al-Ulum Zakariyyah in September 1997 and received an Alimiyya Degree in 2006 from DUAI (Darul Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah). He is also affiliated with Masjid Auwal in Bo Kaap, Cape Town (the oldest mosque in South Africa), where he serves as a co-imam, and Dar Al-Safa, where he has taught since 2018. As a teacher, he imparts the wisdom of our heritage and tradition by opening the door for students. As an imam, he has the unique opportunity to serve his community in daily life. 

In addition to his roles as a teacher and imam, Shaykh Muhammad Carr has contributed significantly to the administrative and advisory aspects of Islamic institutions. Since 2023, he has served as the Administrative Director at The Imam Kurani Institute, contributing to the institution’s growth and development. He continues to pursue traditional Islamic Sciences, possessing a keen interest in Islamic Contract Law and Finance. Shaykh Muhammad has been a Shari’ah Board Member for Islamic Asset Management & Insurance Companies since 2001, aligning financial practices with Islamic principles.