Is it permissible to pray on prayer mats that have images the Kabah shareef and Masjid Nabawi?
A very similar question was asked to Bahr al-‘Ulūm Muftī ‘Abd al-Mannān (رحمة الله عليه). He writes:
“Respect of someone or something is related to the customs of people (‘Urf). If people regard and act as disrespectful then it will be regarded as disrespectful. And if certain people do not regard is as disrespect then it will be not regarded as disrespect.
Firstly, according to us one should avoid using used such prayer mats on which are images of sacred places. Allāh says in the Holy Qur’an “So it is; and whoever reveres the symbols of Allah – this is then part of the piety of the hearts.”
[Surah 22: verse 32]
Floor is a place of disrespect (meaning to place such sacred images on the floor is a sign of disrespect).
It is in Hidāyah: ‘If there is a picture on a lying cushion/pillow or on a carpet which is spread (on the floor) then Şalāh is not disliked (Makrūh) as it is trampled over and walked over (and not respected), in contrast to when the cushion is placed (on a high place) or if the picture is on a cover because it is a sign of respect.”
[Hidīyah vol.1, p. 145]
Sometimes we have witnessed that people are careless and they sit on the actual image. The same prayer mat is placed on the pulpit and the lecturer sits on that image or has his back to it. These two are classed as disrespect. If people are mindful and they only use the prayer mat for the prayers, thereafter fold and place the mat in a dignified place, then they should only use that mat on which the image is on the top half. If there are images on the whole prayer mat, then the feet should not be placed on those type of prayer mat.”
[Fatāwā-e-Baĥr al-‘Ulūm, vol. 1, p. 158]
Therefore it is better not to use such prayer mats which can be disrespected by others. If the custom of the people is to use such prayer mats, then it will only be allowed if they are not disrespected.
Allah knows best.
Answered by Mawlana Mohamed Husein Qadri