Question: When making niyyah (intention) for a salat, does one have to keep the direction of the qibla and the entry of the time for the salat in mind?
It is okay if one is aware that one is facing the qibla. That is, one is considered to have turned toward the qibla if one can say, “The direction is not correct,” if the prayer rug were laid out in a wrong direction. Besides, one has to know that the time for the salat one is to perform has started. Otherwise, the salat will not be valid if one offers it carelessly without knowing whether the time for it has come.
It is written in the book Se’adet-i Ebediyye:
If a person who does not know the direction of qibla performs salat without seeking it, his salat will not be accepted even if he has found the qibla by chance. But if he understands after the salat that he found the right direction, it will be accepted.
If he has inquired for the qibla but has not performed the salat in the direction which he has decided to be right, he has to perform it again even if he understands that he has found the right direction by chance.
Question: If one is ill or if there is the danger that one’s possessions may be stolen or of being seen by the enemy or if one will not be able to get on the vehicle again when one gets off and it is not possible for one to perform salat by combining them [Salat az-Zuhr with Salat al-Asr and Salat al-Maghrib with Salat al-Isha by following any of the other three madhhabs], either, what should one do in such a case?
Such a person should perform salat in whichever direction he is able.
Question: When one is in a vehicle, on a plane, or in a bus, should one perform salat in the direction one is traveling?
No, one should try one’s best to turn toward qibla.
Question: When a person on Earth is performing salat, he must face the qibla direction. In which direction should he face if he is in space? For example, the USA sent astronauts to Mars. There were Muslims among them. Suppose that they stay on Mars for six months. Where should Muslim astronauts face when performing salat? How should they determine salat times?
When they turn toward the Earth, they will be considered to have turned toward the qibla. They can work out the location of the Earth with the help of the devices they have. Suppose that they do not know where the Earth is. In such a case, they perform salat facing the direction that they guess is most likely to be the direction of the Earth.
Salat times are calculated according to the Sun. It is not difficult for those people with such enormous technical means and knowledge enabling them to travel to Mars to determine the times of salats. If they have the capacity to go to Mars, they can calculate salat times, too.
Question: How much deviation from actual qibla is permissible? What is the qibla angle that prohibits one from spreading one’s legs toward qibla or from relieving oneself in the toilet toward it? How far should toilets of buildings be removed from qibla direction when they are at construction stage?
Salat will be valid if the opening between the crosswise directions of the optic nerves includes the Ka’ba. This angle is approximately 45°. A much more deviation from qibla is permissible if one is ill or fears thieves.
Question: Suppose that a person made a search to find the direction of the qibla and started salat. After he offered one rak’at, a pious Muslim came and said, “You are facing a wrong direction,” and turned him toward the correct direction with his hands. Was the salat of the former valid?
Yes, it is valid.
Question: Our mosque in Europe deviates from the qibla by about 40 degrees. When I said to the imam that we must perform salat in the direction of the qibla, he answered, “Let us make things easy for Muslims. It is not necessary to face the qibla. Let them perform salat without slanting.” The same imam said that he asked the professors coming from Turkey and its Presidency of Religious Affairs the same question and they replied, “You can perform salat in that direction even if the mosque deviates from the qibla by 30 or 40 degrees because you do not live in a Muslim country. The buildings are not constructed in the direction of the qibla in such countries, so you are allowed to perform salat to whichever direction the mosque points.” Does it have any basis?
It seems that there is some misunderstanding. What may the reason be for their answering like that? The imam may have misunderstood them or may have attempted to ascribe his own view to them.
Istiqbal al-qibla is one of the conditions of salat. It means facing the qibla during salat. In the Shafi’i Madhhab, one has to face the qibla exactly without any deviation. According to the madhhabs of Hanafi and Maliki, salat will not be valid if the deviation is more than 45 degrees on the right or on the left.