What are the decrees about awrah places being opened while performing prayers? Is it permissible to perform prayers wearing a garment with a hole as big as a walnut a bit over the knee?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Prayers performed with this garment are valid.

It is a necessity to cover awrah places in prayer. The organs that are fard to cover while performing prayers and that are not permissible to be seen by others are called  "awrah places". Awrah places of a man are between his navel and his knees. Kneecaps are also included in awrah places.

If the whole of the one of the awrah places or one-fourth of it is uncovered, prayer is invalidated. According to Imam Abu Yusuf, prayer is not invalidated unless half of an organ that is regarded among awrah places is uncovered.

An example: If less than one-fourth of the thigh is uncovered in prayer, prayer is invalidated. According to some scholars, the thigh and kneecap are regarded as one organ. Prayer is not invalidated when only the kneecap is uncovered because the kneecap is less than one-fourth the organ.

Whether the state of an organ is regarded as awrah or not in terms of invalidating prayer is according to others not the person himself. It is enough to cover the awrah organs so that others will not see it. Therefore, if a person sees his own awrah parts through his wide collared garment, his prayer is not invalidated. If others see his awrah parts, his prayer is invalidated.

If a person whose awrah place is unintentionally opened while performing a prayer covers that part immediately, his prayer is not invalidated. However, if he does not cover it for a long time enough to perform a part of the prayer like qiyam and ruku, his prayer is invalidated according to the sound view.

The same decree is valid for removing immediately or keeping the impurity that pollutes the clothes of a person who is performing a prayer. However, if deeds like those that prevent prayer are done deliberately, prayer is invalidated at once.

If a person has clean clothes and has the power to put them on but does not put them on and performs prayers nakedly in the darkness, his prayer is not permissible according to all scholars.

Awrah places are not regarded to have covered by wearing a garment that is thin enough to show the color of the skin. Therefore, prayers performed wearing such thin clothes are not valid. If awrah places become distinct due to wearing tight clothes, prayer is valid but it is a bad thing.

A naked person who hopes to find clothes needs to wait until he fears that the time period for that prayer ends. A person who hopes to find a clean place needs to do the same thing.

A person who cannot find any clothes to cover his body needs to turn toward the qiblah, sit, straighten his legs and perform the prayer with gesture. This is the best form of performing prayers for such a person because this state is more appropriate for being covered. In that case, first the front and back private parts are covered. Then, men cover their thighs and knees; women cover their abdomens after thighs, backs, knees and then the remaining parts. 

They all show that prayer is a very important fard in religion and that it needs to be performed in any case.

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