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Turkish Imams Rule Against Mosque Chairs

December 23, 2010 by  


ISTANBUL – Hurriyet Daily News with Radikal

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Seats in mosques and critical claims that their presence causes Muslim houses of worship to resemble Christian churches were the subject of a Dec. 1 meeting of the directorate’s High Board of Religious Affairs.

Seats in mosques and critical claims that their presence causes the Muslim houses of worship to resemble Christian churches were the subject of a Dec. 1 meeting of the directorate’s High Board of Religious Affairs.

The increasing use of seating in Turkey’s mosques “is not compatible with Islamic culture,” the country’s Religious Affairs Directorate has declared, calling on physically healthy Muslims to refrain from sitting while praying.

The board ruled that people who pray while sitting could have “clear consciences” in doing so only if they could perform the salat in no other way.

Minor physical ailments or illness should not be an excuse to incorporate seating into the performance of prayer as it presents an “unappealing image” of Islam and could provoke arguments within the community, the board said.

The Muslim “namaz” style of prayer, performed five times a day, is carried out on a small rug and requires worshippers to stand, bow, kneel and prostrate themselves in the direction of Mecca. Offering seating in mosques is thus incompatible with the culture of Islamic prayer, the board said, adding that even the ill or disabled should pray while sitting on a rug on the floor.

In its decision, the board made clear that a description of how to perform the Islamic namaz was described by the Prophet Muhammad (s) both orally and in practice, but allowed that religious responsibility should be determined according to the ability of the worshipper to do the prayer. The board said a “facilitating principle” existed for instances when the ability of the worshipper to perform the rite is exceeded.

According to the board’s decision, people who can stand, but cannot bow, should start praying in a standing position and perform the rest of the traditional motions while sitting down. It made the same recommendation for people who can stand but cannot get up after sitting. Those who can neither stand nor sit on the floor may sit on a stool or chair, the board said.

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