Can you pray without a prayer mat?
Praying on a mat is not a requirement of the prayer. You do not have to pray on a prayer mat or rug. As long as the place is clean and free from impurities you can pray there and you don’t need a mat.
The floor of the mosque of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was made of sand and dust. The Prophet (peace be upon him) would pray in the sand without a prayer mat.
Sometimes it would rain and the sand would get muddy and wet. The Prophet (peace be upon him) would prostrate in prayer in the muddy wet sand. This proves to us that you can pray without a prayer mat.
Narrated by Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him):
I saw Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) prostrating in mud and water and saw the mark of mud on his forehead.
[Sahih Al-Bukhari • Book 10, Hadith 229 • Graded Sahih (Authentic)]
In the sharia dirt and dust from the earth are not considered impure. So you may pray without a prayer mat on any clean surface.
Urine and feces (or faeces) are impure in the sharia. So if you know the place where you intend to pray has urine or feces. Then you must clean the area before praying or find another place to pray. Other than that the entire earth can be used to pray except the graveyards and the washroom.
Allah’s Messenger (upon whom be peace) said: “All of the earth is a mosque except for the graveyard and the washroom.”
[Jami’ at-Tirmidhi • Book 2, Hadith 169 • Graded Sahih (Authentic)]
How to Pray without a Prayer Mat in Islam
To pray without a prayer mat first make sure that the place is clean and free from any impurities. You can pray in any clean place except the graveyard or washroom.
If you are indoors you can pray on the carpet at home without a prayer mat.
If you are outside then you can pray on the grass, on the sand or on the side road. Just make sure that you are not causing an obstruction. Also make sure you are not praying anywhere where you can be in danger to yourself or others.
Usually when I am travelling on the highway and the time for prayer arrives. I park my car and pray on the side where it is safe and clean to pray. I also follow the Sunnah and pray with my shoes on.
Once you have found a safe and clean place to pray you can pray with the normal actions of prayer.
What can be used for a Prayer Rug?
You can use any clean material as a prayer rug. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a prayer mat with Islamic inspired patterns.
If you prefer not to pray on the floor then you can use any clean cloth or even your coat or jacket to pray.
What does the Prayer Mat Symbolize?
The prayer mat symbolizes a Muslims dedication to worshiping Allah. Most Muslims have a dedicated prayer mat to offer their five daily prayers. The prayer mat is used as a clean material to pray on.
The prayer mat is usually about three to four feet long and about two feet wide. This space is enough for an average man or woman to bow down and prostrate in prayer.
Prostration is an essential part of the prayer and a symbol of humility and servitude to Allah (God). So when Muslims prostrate they use a prayer mat to place their face on a clean surface.
The prayer mat is something that was used by the Prophet (peace be upon him). All Muslims strive to follow the examples of the Prophet of Islam.
Narrated by Maimuna (may Allah be pleased with her)
“Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) used to pray on a Khumra“.
[Sahih al-Bukhari • Book 8, Hadith 31 • Graded Sahih (Authentic)]
A khumra is a small mat. Sufficient enough for the face and the hands to be placed while prostrating during prayers.
Can you Throw Away a Prayer Mat?
The prayer mat is not sacred in Islam. So if the prayer mat has become old and worn out you may throw it away and buy a new one.
It is a good sign when a prayer mat is used so much that it has become worn out. It is proof that you are a humble slave of Allah and have devoted your years to prayer.
I still remember when my grandmother passed away (may Allah have Mercy on her). Her prayer mat had completely worn out that it had holes around areas when she would stand and prostate. In sha Allah, this will be a testimony for her on the Day of Judgement that she dedicated her life to prayer, amen.
You may also choose to wash the prayer mat if it has become dirty. This would depend on each prayer mat. You would need to check the label of each mat to see what the washing instructions are.
Sleeping on the Prayer Mat?
Older people often get tired and fall asleep on their prayer mat while praying. This is completely normal and acceptable. There is nothing wrong with falling asleep on the prayer mat.
10 Facts about the Prayer Mat
- Most Muslim use a prayer mat to offer their five daily prayers.
- The prayer mat is NOT a necessity for the prayer to be complete. A Muslim can pray in any clean place.
- The prayer mat provides a clean and soft surface for prostrating.
- The prayer mat is usually made from soft woven material such as wool and cotton.
- It is NOT permissible to have images of living creatures on the prayer mat.
- It is sin to write verses of the Holy Qur’an on the prayer mat. Since it is placed on the floor and people put their feet on it.
- Prayer mats are usually covered in Islamic inspired geometric and motif patterns. You can find various rug design originating from different Muslim cultures. From Turkish prayer rugs to Moroccan prayer mats. Each culture will have its own unique design and embroidery.
- The Indo-Pak community often refers to the prayer mat as Musalla (place of prayer). Or with the Persian word Ja’namaz (The Rug).
- Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) prayed on dry sand of the mosque. He would also use a prayer mat at times.
- Mosques around the world have especially designed carpets that have prayer mat designs imprinted on them.
You can pray without a prayer mat. Any place that is clean and free from impurities can be used to pray and you don’t need a mat.
Share this resource with others so they can also learn about praying without a prayer mat.
All evidence provided are from authentic (sahih) of the Prophet (peace be upon him)
And Allah the Most Wise Knows Best.
How do you Pray if you don’t know which way is the Qibla?
One of the conditions for your prayer to be accepted is that you must face towards the Qibla. If you are travelling and you do not have access to a compass to know the direction of the Qibla. Then you can pray facing the direction most likely to be the Qibla.
You can determine the direction of the Qibla based on the position of the sun in the sky. The sun rises from the east and sets in the west.
So if you are in the United States (west) and it is time for the evening maghrib prayer. Then you should know that the Kaaba is in a southern-easterly direction to the USA. So as the sun is setting in the west you should face opposite to the sun and face east. Then turn your body a little to your right. This would place you in a southern-easterly direction facing the Qibla and you can pray.
The most difficult prayer time to judge with the above method would be the dhuhr prayer.
The direction of the Qibla does not need to be precise to the degree. Just make your best effort to find the direction of the qibla and pray. You do not need to repeat your prayer if you pray in this way.
Most people carry a smartphone with them. There are compass apps that can tell you the direction of the Qibla based on your location. You can also always stop someone and ask them to use their phone to check the direction.
Can you Pray without Wudu?
You cannot pray without being in the state of wudu. Your prayer will be invalid if you do not do wudu before praying.
If you are travelling and you do not have access to clean water then you should do Tayammum. Tayammum is a dry ritual purification done with dust or dirt from the earth.
In the sharia the dust and dirt from the earth are not considered impure. When clean water is not available you should do the actions of wudu with dry earth or dirt.
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that:
The Messenger of Allah said: “the earth has been made for me a place of worship and a means of purification.”
[Sunan Ibn Majah • Book 1, Hadith 610 • Graded Sahih (Authentic)]