بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Shaikh al-Albany رحمه الله was asked regarding using an item that is not completely touching the ground as a sutra in the prayer, i.e. a table, chair or perhaps bed whereby the legs of that item are touching the ground however there is a gap of emptiness in between under it with nothing making contact to the ground, the Shaikh responded [paraphrased]:
“Do not pray toward the gap, pray toward the leg of the item”
The questioner then states that there is a hadith where the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم prayed towards a bed as a sutra, so the Shaikh states:
“Ok, but we do not have an illustration or explanation as to what this bed looked like, whether it was covered or empty [i.e. was there a gap under it or not], why therefore do we need to go into such depth? We already know the sutra is any item that goes in front of the one praying, therefore we have to assume the person prays towards a solid object and not a gap, i.e. one of the legs of the bed. Similarly, if a bed has a gap under it however there is a sheet on the bed that falls over the sides and covers the gap then that is fine, since the person is praying towards the sheet that is covering the gap in front of him, and not the gap anymore.
Therefore we understand the hadith in line with the other ahaadith, and do not give it an understanding whereby there becomes conflict”.
The questioner then says, “Ok but Shaikh, the prophet صلى الله عليم و سلم prayed towards a riding animal and that clearly has a gap under its body between its legs?”
Shaikh, “…and was the riding animal floating in the air?! [i.e. it similarly has 4 legs, so we assume the prayer was towards one of the legs touching the ground and not the empty gap under its body], the affair is finished, your speech here is the same as the issue of a table, it has legs and a gap”[therefore pray to the legs, not the gap].
[Cassette 812 silsilatul huda; via Sahab]