Shafaqna (Shia International News Association) – The Grand Ayatollah Sistani answered some questions regarding Salat: the ritual prayer.According to Shafaqna the questions and answers are as follows:
Question: If a traveller leaves his home town immediately after the adhan of noon prayer, i.e. without saying that prayer, and reaches his destination after sunset, has he committed a sin? And is it obligatory on him to make up for noon prayer?
Answer: Yes, he has committed a sin by neglecting the obligatory prayer in its appropriate time, and he has to make it up.
Question: Is the ink that had dried [on our hands, for example] a barrier to perform wudhu or ghusl?
Answer: If it does not form a mass that would prevent water from reaching the skin, the wudhu and ghusl is valid. However, if one has doubt whether it forms a mass or not, it must be removed.
Question: Is it permissible for a Muslim to involve in pleasure by continuing to watch an entertaining movie even, though salat time is due, and then he goes to say his prayers just before it becomes overdue (qadha)?
Answer: It is not appropriate for a Muslim to delay the saying of salat from its preferred time (i.e., at the beginning of its time span) except for an excuse; what has been mentioned in the question is not an acceptable excuse.
Question: Is cream a barrier to water reaching the skin, and if so should it be removed prior to wudhu and ghusl?
Answer: Apparently the effect left on the skin after it is applied is nothing but just moisture, and so it does not constitute a barrier to water reaching the skin.
Question: Some women let their nails grow longer than necessary for beauty. Sometimes a nail breaks up, requiring a cover that must be placed over the broken nail. Knowing that such a cover prevents water from reaching the nail in wudhu and ghusl, is it permissible to use it? How should wudhu and ghusl be performed with that cover?
Answer: Wudhu and ghusl with such a cover over the nail is not valid; therefore, it is necessary to remove it for ablutions. And the purpose mentioned above for the cover is not justifiable.
Question: When should one say his salat full (tamam) and when should one say it qasr (two rakat instead of four)? Is the general perception about a person being resident of a city sufficient for him to say his salat fully [in that city]?
Answer: The conditions for qasr in travelling have been mentioned in the Manual of Islamic Laws. When a person considers residing in a city for a long time, and in the general perception it is considered as such, he is not considered as a traveller (e.g., if he intends to reside in that city for year and a half, it will be considered as his home-town after one month). But if he intends to stay in that city for a short while only and is considered, in the general sense, as a visitor, he should pray qasr.
Question: How can we know the time of mid-night? Do 00.00 hours the point of mid-night as it is commonly held by some people?
Answer: Midnight is halfway between sunset and true dawn. So if the sun sets at 7 p.m. and the true dawn begins at 4 a.m., then midnight will be at 11:30 p.m. The criteria for determining midnight are the timings of sunset and true dawn, which differ according to place and season.
Question: A person who believes that he will not be able to wake up for dawn prayer if he goes to sleep, is it obligatory on him to stay awake till the time of prayer? Is he committing a sin if he sleeps and does not wake up for dawn prayer?
Answer: It is possible for him to ask someone to wake him up for dawn prayer or use an alarm clock, etc, for this purpose. If these means of waking up are not possible, then he is not committing a sin by going to sleep unless it is considered, as is widely believed, an insult to, and neglect of, the salat.
Question: How can we say our obligatory prayers in an aircraft, especially if we do not know the direction of the qiblah taking into consideration the instability of the floor [because the plane is in motion]?
Answer: As for the qiblah, it is possible to identify its direction by asking the captain or the airhostesses because their answers usually carry validity and are a source of assurance. One should therefore act accordingly.As for the stability of the floor where salat is to be performed, that condition will be waived when it is not possible to achieve it. However, other conditions of prayers should, wherever possible, be observed. Under no circumstance should the prayer be delayed beyond its appropriate time span.
Question: How should we say our salat in trains and cars? Is it necessary to do prostration (sajda) on something or is it not necessary, in that would bending of the neck be sufficient?
Answer: It is obligatory to say salat in the usual way where possible. So, one should face the qiblah in all stages of the salat; if not, at least while saying the opening takbir. Otherwise the condition of facing the qiblah will be dropped. Similarly, if it is possible to do the bowing (ruku’) and prostration (sajdah) normally (e.g., in the aisle of the bus or the train), those parts of salat should be done normally. But if it is not possible, then one should try to bow normally for ruku’ and sajdah [for example, from a sitting position on the seat or the berth of the train].For sajdah, one has to put the forehead on an item on which sajdah is valid, even if by lifting that item to the forehead. If bowing normally is not possible, one should just indicate by bending the neck [halfway for ruku and fully for sajdah].
Question: If the time for salat has come while the student is still on his way to the university. When he reaches the university, he realizes that the time of salat has ended. In this case, is it permissible for him to say salat in the car although there are places in which he could pray, yet by going to those places he may risk becoming late [for his university]?
Answer: The delay in getting to the work place [or university] is not a good enough reason for praying in the car. This is because it involves non fulfillment of some of its conditions while it is possible to get down and pray normally on the earth with all the conditions fulfilled. However, if the delay is going to cause him considerable harm or put him in an untenable situation, it is permissible for him to pray in the car, (without being able to fulfill some of prayer’s conditions).
Question: It happens that the time of salat sets in while the Muslim worker is at his work-place, – noting that finding work is not easy – thus, he finds it difficult to leave the work for salat. Sometimes he ends up losing his job because of his insistence on saying salat. Is he allowed to say his prayers as qadha? Or must he say them [on time], even if it leads to him losing his job?
Answer: If the need to work at that place reaches the level of necessity, then he should pray in time in whatever way possible: even just by indicating [by lowering the neck halfway for ruku’ and fully for sajda]. However, such a situation would arise only exceptionally. So he should fear Almighty Allah and not accept a job which leads to neglecting the pillar of faith; thus, he should remember the words of the Almighty: “And whosoever fears Allah, He will make a way out for him [from difficulties] and provide for him from where he does not expect.” (65:2)
Question: Many big companies and business in the West employ large numbers of employees who work in offices about whose ownership they have no idea. So what is the ruling on: Praying in those offices and using the water for wudhu? If praying there is problematic, what would become of past prayers said in those places?
Answer: There is no problem in praying in those places nor in using the water for wudhu as long as it is not known to have been usurped. If it becomes clear after saying the salat that the property was usurped, the past prayers are valid.
Question: If I pray with a leather belt or a wallet made from leather of a mayta and realize it during the salat or after finishing it but before the end of its time span or after the ending of its time span-what would become of that prayer?
Answer: The prayer with a wallet made from leather of a mayta is valid just as it is acceptable to pray with a belt made from such a leather, provided that the probability of it being from zabiha is not a very low probability that would be ignored by sensible people.In the second case [of very low probability], if he was ignorant [of this rule] and realized during salat, he should take it off immediately and his salat would be valid. The same rule would apply if he forgot [that he had the wallet or the belt on him] and remembered during salat, provided that his forgetfulness was not a result of carelessness and indifference. In other cases, he will have to repeat salat in time or qadha as a matter of obligatory precaution.
Question: One of the famous trousers these days is the one known as jeans. It is made in non-Muslim countries. It has a piece of leather used as a label. It is not known whether the leather is that of an animal slaughtered Islamically or non-Islamically-is it permissible to say salat with these trousers?
Answer: Yes, it is permissible.
Question: Is salat valid if the person uses cologne? Is cologne ritually pure?Answer: Yes, it is pure. Question: Is it alright to do sajdah on concrete or on mosaic?
Answer: Yes, it is alright. Question: Some prayer-mats are made of synthetic material; is it permissible to do sajdah on them?Answer: Sajdah on such items is not good enough.
Question: Is it permissible to do sajdah on writing paper and on paper tissues, especially, if is not known whether or not the raw material they are made of was from items on which sajdah is valid?
Answer: It is not permissible to do sajdah on paper tissues, only after ascertaining that they have been made from items on which sajdah is allowed; it is permissible to do sajdah on paper if it is made from material on which sajdah is allowed or from cotton or flax.
Question: A reciter of the Holy Qur’an recites a verse of wajib sajdah, on hearing it from a cassette player, is it obligatory on us to do sajdah in this case?
Answer: It is not obligatory.
Source: Ayatollah Sistani