بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔

It is prohibited to face Qibla or have our back against it while attending to nature’s call

Abu Ayub Ansari (RA) narrates that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “When you go to the toilet, while urinating or excreting you should neither face Qibla nor you should have your back against it, however, you can face west or east.”  Abu Ayub Ansari (RA) says, “When we came to Syria we found out that toilets were built facing Qibla. We would change our direction while using the toilet and we sought Allah’s forgiveness” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim). Other than Bukhari and Muslim, this saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is present in other Hadith books namely Tirmidhi, Nasai, IbneMaajah, Abu Daud, Muatta Imam Maalik, Musnad Ahmad, Sahih Ibne Khuzaimah, Sahih Ibne Hibbaan, Sunan Al-Daarami etc. Suffice it to say that there is not a single Hadith book of repute and fame that does have this saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) recorded. Scholars of Hadith agree that this saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the strongest and most authentic Hadith of the chapter (the chapter of Bukhari and Muslim where it is recorded).

Note:In this saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), it has been mentioned that one could sit westwards or eastwards while attending to nature’s call. This statement of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was for people of Madinah because Makkah is located towards the South of Madinah. This is why in Madinah the face towards Qiblaor back against it is in the northern or southern direction, whereas for people living in India and Pakistan the direction is east or west. Therefore in the subcontinent as well as in Riyadh, while attending to nature’s call one would face north or south.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has made a general statement in this Hadith. He has not made any distinction between populated human settlements and desert areas which is why a huge group of jurists and Ulama [which comprises   Abu Hurairah (RA),  Abdullah bin Mas’ud (RA),  Abu Ayub Ansari (RA), Suraqah bin Malik (RA), Mujahid (RHA),  IbraheemNakh’ee (RHA), Ataa (RHA), Imam Auzaaee (RHA), SufyanThauri (RHA), and  Imam Abu Haneefa (RHA) etc.] maintain that at the time of answering nature’s call it is not permissible to have one’s face or back in the direction of Qibla, whether the person is urinating or excreting in his own house’s toilet or he is in some forest or wilderness. Most of the Ulama of India and Pakistan [ who prefer the opinion of Sheikh Nomaan bin Thaabit popularly known as Imam Abu Haneefa (RHA) (born in 80 Hijrah), opinions that are based on the Holy Quran and traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)] have also said the same thing that while responding to nature’s call it is not permissible to face Qiblaor have one’s back against it. Another group of our respected Ulama has said that keeping in mind the aforementioned teaching of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), at the time of answering nature’s call (to the possible extent) we must not face the Qiblaor have our back against it, whether we are using the toilet built inside our homes or are relieving ourselves in some forest or wilderness. However, on the basis of the narration of Abdullah bin Umar (RA) recorded in Tirmidhi (I once went up to Hafsa’s (RA) house and saw Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) answering nature’s call. While answering nature’s call the Prophet (PBUH) faced Syria and he had his back against Kabah) there is some concession with regard to answering nature’s call in human settlements but it is not permissible in the forest. Similarly few scholars have said that while answering nature’s call it is not permissible to face the Qiblabut there is leewaywith reference to having your back against the Qibla.

The narration by AbuAyub Ansari (RA) stands as a law or decree. In comparison to that narration, other narrations and incidents only furnish some details. Therefore, the saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) narrated by  Abu Ayub Ansari (RA) and recorded by Bukhari and Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Ibne Maajah, Abu Daud, Muatta Imam Malik, Musnad Ahmad, Sahih Ibne Khuzaimah, Sahih Ibne Hibbaan and Sunan Al-Daarami etc. is the one that will be followed because in that saying the complete instruction is mentioned. Other incidents will contribute in its interpretation and justification. Moreover, Abu Ayub Ansari’s (RA) narration is verbal which means that in the narration Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH)wording is mentioned. It is an established principle that in case there is an open conflict between two sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),the verbal one will be preferred. As far as the narration of Abdullah bin Umar (RA) is concerned, there are several odds we have to understand. For instance, Abdullah bin Umar (RA) did not see Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) willingly. Instead he accidentally caught a glimpse of the Prophet (PBUH) because of which there is a possibility of error too.Other than this narration there are other reports too that have been used for making the argument but all of those reports are less authentic than the narration of  Abu Ayub Ansari (RA), and in terms of their meaning too they holdall kinds of uncertainty.

Summary:

The entire Muslim community agrees that while answering the call of nature we should, to the best of our capabilities, avoid facing Qibla or having our back against it. While constructing the toilet in our house, we should see to it that while answering the call of nature we do not face Qibla or have our back against it. In case toilets are already built in a way that while answering nature’s call the person either faces Qibla or has his back against it, then the direction of the toilet seat ought to be changed at the earliest. And till the time the direction of the toilet seat is not changed, the person should sit on the seat in such a way that the face and back in some way do not fall in the direction of Qibla. Do remember that in the light of the instruction of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), outlined in the narration of Abu Ayub Ansari (RA), most of the jurists (one that has Imam Abu Haneefa too) consider it impermissible to face Qibla or have back against it while answering the call of nature, whether we are urinating or excreting in the toilet built within our house or we are relieving ourselves in some forest or wilderness and this very statement is based on caution.

Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (www.najeebqasmi.com)