The Manner of Purification and Prayer for the Sick
The Manner of
Purification and Prayer for the Sick
All praise belongs to Allah; we praise Him, seek His assistance and forgiveness, turn to Him in repentance, and seek refuge in Allah from the evil of ourselves and the evil of our deeds. Whoever Allah guides, no one can lead him astray. And whoever Allah leads astray, no one can guide him. I bear witness that there is nothing which deserves to be worshipped except Allah, Alone, and He has no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger - Peace and Blessings be upon him and his family, his companions and those who follow them in goodness.
This is a brief treatise about that which is compulsory in the purification (tahaarah) and the prayer (salah) of the sick people. Verily, there are rules (ahkaam) particularly for the sick in these things (prayer and purification) which the Islamic Law requires to be given consideration due to the condition of the sick person. Indeed, Allah, the Most High, has sent His Prophet with the true and tolerant religion (al-Hanafiyyah as-Samhah) which is built upon yusra : the principle of ease, facility and non-complication.
Allah has said in the Qur'an:“ And He has not laid upon you in the religion any hardship… ”[Qur'an: 22:78]. He also said:“ Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you…”[Qur'an 21:185]. He also said:“ So, keep your duty to Allah and fear Him as much as you can; Hear and Obey…”[Qur'an 64:16].
The Prophet said:“ Verily, the religion is ease”[al-Bukhaaree, Muslim]. He also said:“ What I have ordered you (to do), do as much of it as you can…”[Al-Bukhaaree].
Based on this fundamental principle, Allah has reduced the [amount of] religious duties (worship) for Ahlu-l-A'dhaar (people who have reason to be excused). This is also the case if someone is not able to perform Wudoo (ablution) for himself. In that case, someone else may help him to do so - each one according to his condition, in order to enable him to worship Allah, the Most High, without inconvenience or hardship. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds.
The Purification (Tahaarah) of the Sick Person
- It is mandatory for the sick person to purify himself with water. Therefore, he must perform Wudoo (ablution) from the minor impurities [urine, feces, etc.) and he must perform Ghusl (complete bath or shower) from the major impurities [menses, sexual intercourse, etc]. This is based upon the saying of Allah, the Most High:“ O you who believe! When you prepare for prayer, wash your faces and your hands (including the arms) up to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water), and wash your feet up to [and including] the ankles…”[Qur'an 5:6].
- If he is unable to purify himself with water because of inability (to move) or fear of worsening his condition or delaying his recovery - in that case he may make tayammum (purification with clean sand or the surface soil of the earth). This is based upon the saying of Allah, the Most High:“ But if you are ill, or on a journey, or one of you comes from answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women, and you do not find any water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands (palms, up to the wrists only)…”[Qur'an 5:6].
- At-Tayammum (purification using clean sand or surface soil) is performed by striking the pure earth or clean surface soil with both hands one time, wiping over the whole face, then wiping the palms of the hands, each of them wiping the other.
- If he is unable to clean himself, then someone may help him to perform tayammum. The helping person would strike the clean sand or soil himself with his own hands, then wipe over the face and hands of the sick person.
- If there was a wound in any part of the body that has to be cleaned, then he should wash it with water. But, if the washing with water would affect it, then he can dip his hands in the water and just pass his hand over the wound. And even if just wiping over it would affect it (adversely), then he may make tayammum.
- If there was a broken limb that was wrapped tightly with a bandage or caste (that has to be washed) then he should wipe over the bandage or caste with water rather than washing it. He does not have to make tayammum in this case because the wiping is done in place of washing.
- It is permissible to make tayammum on the wall or anything clean that has dust covering it. If the wall was covered with something other than surface or sand - for example: if it was painted - then he should not make tayammum on it unless there is dust covering it.
- If he was unable to make tayammum on the ground or wall or something that has dust covering it, then there is no harm if he puts some soil or sand in a container or handkerchief and perform tayammum from that.
- If he makes tayammum for prayer and he retains his state of purification until the time of the next prayer, then he may perform that prayer with the first tayammum and he does not have to repeat the tayammum for the next prayer. This is so because he remained in his state of purification and there was nothing which invalidated his state of purification.
- It is mandatory for the sick person to clean his body from all impurities. But, if he is unable then he may pray in this condition and the prayer is correct and he does not have to repeat it. This is based upon the statement of the Prophet:“ What I have forbidden to you, avoid it (completely); and what I have ordered you (to do), do as much of it as you can…”[al-Bukhaaree and Muslim].
- It is also mandatory for the sick person to perform prayer in clean clothing and if his clothing became defiled by impurities then it is obligatory to wash them, or change them for clean clothing. But, if he is unable to do so, then he may pray in this condition and his prayer is correct, and he does not have to repeat it. This is based upon the saying of Allah, the Most High:“ So, keep your duty to Allah and fear Him as much as you can; listen and obey…”[Qur'an 64:16].
- It is mandatory for the sick person to pray on something clean, and if his place became unclean, he must wash it or change it for something clean or lay over it something clean. But, if he is unable to do that, then he may pray in that condition and his prayer is correct and he does not have to repeat it. The proof for this is the previously mentioned verse [64:16].
- It is not permissible for the sick person to delay his prayer until after its proper time because of inability to perform Tahaarah (purification). But, he should purify himself to the extent that he is able, so that he may perform his prayer on time even if there were impurities on his body or his clothing or his place of prayer which he is not able to remove. This is due to the saying of Allah, the Most High:“ …Verily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours”[Qur'an 4:103].
The Prayer (Salah) of the Sick Person
- It is mandatory for the sick person to pray the obligatory prayers standing even if he can't stand up straight or even if he leans on a wall or a stick that he needs to hold him up.
- If he is unable to stand, then he may pray sitting, and it is better if he sits with his legs closed (crossed-legged) in the place of Qiyaam(standing) and Rukoo'(bowing). This based upon the saying of the Prophet:“ Pray standing; but if you are unable (to do so), then pray sitting; and if you are unable (to pray sitting), then pray lying on your side”[al-Bukhaaree]. An-Nasaa'ee reported the additional words:“ And if you are unable, then lying on your back. Allah does not burden anyone except according to his ability”.
- If he is unable to perform the prayer sitting, then he may pray lying on his side facing the Qiblah(direction of Makkah), preferably lying on the right side. If he is unable to face the Qiblah, then he may pray in whatever direction he is facing and the prayer is correct and he does not have to repeat it.
- If he is unable to perform the prayer on his side, then he prays lying flat with his feet towards the Qiblah, and it is preferable that he raise his head a little to direct it toward the Qiblah. If he is unable to point his feet toward the Qiblah, then he may pray however he is and he does not have to repeat the prayer.
- It is mandatory for the sick person to make Rukoo'(bowing) and Sajdah(prostration) in his prayer. If he is unable, then he should make a gesture for both of them by nodding his head lower for Sajdah then he does for Rukoo'. If he is able to perform Rukoo' but not Sajdah, then he should make Rukoo' when it is time for Rukoo' and make a gesture for Sajdah. And if he is able to make Sajdah and not Rukoo', then he should perform Sajdah when it is time for Sajdah and make a gesture for Rukoo'. This is based upon the saying of Allah, the Most High:“ So, keep your duty to Allah and fear Him as much as you can; listen and obey…”[Qur'an 64:16].
- If he is unable to make a gesture by nodding his head for Rukoo' and Sajdah, then he would make a signal by closing his eyes a little for Rukoo' and closing them more for Sajdah. As for pointing with the finger - as some of the sick people do - it is not correct and I don't know if this has any basis in the Qur'an and Sunnah or in the sayings of Ahlu-l-Ilm (Muslim Scholars).
- If he is unable to gesture with the head nor signal by the eyes, then he should pray with his heart by making Takbeer(saying Allahu Akbar) and reading of the Qur'an and making intention for Rukoo'(bowing), Sajdah(prostration), Qiyaam(standing) and Qu'ood(sitting) by his heart, knowing that every person will have [his reward according to] what he intends.
This is based upon the saying of the Prophet - which makes us to know that the reward of the sick will not be less than the reward of the healthy person if he prays according to his condition:“ If someone becomes sick or travels, Allah records for him the reward equal to what he received when he was healthy and resident”[Ahmad and al-Bukhaaree].
Also, the saying of the Prophet:“ Actions are judged by intentions, and every person shall have that which he intended…”[al-Bukhaaree].
- It is mandatory for the sick person to perform each prayer in its proper time, and to do everything that he is able to do of that which is obligatory in the prayer. If it became difficult for him to perform each prayer in its proper time, then he may combine (al-Jam') Zuhr and Asr prayers and he may combine Maghrib and Ishaa' either combining them in the earlier time- whereas he would advance Asr to the time of Zuhr and Ishaa' in the time of Maghrib, or combine them in the later time - delaying Zuhr until the time of Asr, and delaying Maghrib until the time of Ishaa'- according to whichever may be easier for him (i.e. if it is easier to advance the prayer or to delay it). As for Fajr, it is not combined with the prayer before it nor the prayer after it.
- If a sick person is travelling, seeking treatment in another country, then he can shorten (al-Qasr) the four rak'ah prayers so that he will pray Zuhr, Asr and Ishaa' as two rak'ah each, until he returns to his country. And it is the same [equally applicable] whether his journey is for a long period or short period. This is based upon the saying of Allah:“ And when you (Muslims) travel in the land, there is no sin for you if you shorten your prayer…”[Qur'an 4:101].
Allah is the One who imparts Success!
Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-Uthaimeen
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