Is It Permissible to Pray in a Moving Vehicle? (Shafi’i)

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: What is the ruling for praying in a moving vehicle such as a train or airplane?

Answer: Assalamu ‘alaykum,

I pray that you are well.

Voluntary Prayers while Traveling

While traveling, it is permissible to perform voluntary prayers while sitting in a moving vehicle.

If it is possible to face the qibla at the initiation of the prayer, one must do so, as well as any other time throughout the prayer.

Otherwise, the qibla for such a person is the direction they are headed in, and remains so.

Such a person would incline forward for ruku’, and more so for sujud, to differentiate between the two.

Obligatory Prayers

It is obligatory to stand and face the qibla. If one is in a car, they must disembark so as to stand, and complete the prayer. If on a boat or a plane, they must stand and face the qibla, and turn towards it, while in the prayer, if the mode of transportation changes course away from the qibla. This is because facing it is a condition of the prayer.

If one cannot be fairly certain that one is facing the direction of the qibla in a plane, they must nevertheless perform the prayer due to the sanctity of the time, and should redo it later when one is certain that this condition can be fulfilled.

Shuaib Ally

Photo: Andrew Kaszowski