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In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Prayer for the Sick

This is an excerpt from "Rules of Salah and Taharah for the Sick" by Shaikh 'Abd al 'Aziz ibn Baz

Since Islamic shari'ah is based on facility and easiness, Allah subhannahu wa ta'ala has eased matters of worship ('ibadah) for people according to their excuses and disabilities so that they may successfully perform the 'ibadah of Allah without hardship or burden. Allah has said: "...and He has not laid upon you in 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 2:185) The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said: "When I command you to do something, do it as much and as best as you can." He is also reported to have said: "Verily, the religion is ease."

How Does a Sick Person Perform Salah?

The consensus among the scholars is that whoever cannot pray standing can pray sitting down, and if one is not able to pray sitting down, then he/she can pray on his/her side facing qiblah. It is preferred that the person be on his/her right side. If, however, unable to pray on his/her side, then he/she prays lying down. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said to 'Imran ibn Husain: "Pray standing; if you are not able, then sitting down; if you are not able to do so, then laying on your side." (related by Bukhari) Al Nasa'i added, "and if you are not able, then laying down." Whoever is able to stand up but is unable to make ruku' (bowing) or sujud (prostration), standing cannot be waived for him/her. He/She should pray standing and then make a movement with his/her head (nodding) for ruku', then sit down and make a movement with his/her head for sujud. Allah subhannahu wa ta'ala said: "...And stand before Allah in obedience." (Qur'an 2:238)

If a person has a disease in his/her eyes and trustworthy physicians say, "if you pray laying down we may be able to treat you, otherwise your disease cannot be treated", then he/she can pray laying down. If the person is unable to make ruku' and sujud, then the person moves his/her head for each, making sujud lower than ruku'. If he/she is unable to make sujud, thenhe/she makes ruku' and a gesture for sujud. If unable to bend his/her back, then bend the neck. If the person's back is crooked, as if in a state of ruku', then when making ruku' he/she bendsfurther and gets as close to the ground as possible during sujud. If someone is unable to move his/her head, then intention and recitation will be sufficient.

Salah is not waived by any means for any sane person. If during salah the sick person becomes able to do what he/she was previously unable to do, then he/she should start doing it and consider the first part of the salah valid and complete the rest. If a sick or sound person sleeps during the time of salah or forgets salah, then salah should be performed as soon as one wakes up or remembers it. It is not permissable to wait until a similar salah is due. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever sleeps through the time of prayer, then he should pray it when he remembers it, and there is no expiation save that." Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited the ayah: "...and establish salah for My remembrance". (Qur'an 20:14)

If it is hardship for anyone to pray every salah at its prescribed time, then it becomes permissable to combine Zuhr and 'Asr, then Maghrib and 'Isha', either at the time of the earlier or the later salah, whichever is easiest. Fajr prayer cannot be combined with any other salah that occurs before it or after it.

These are some of the issues related to conditions of the sick with regard to his/her salah. I ask Allah subhannahu wa ta'ala to cure the ill Muslims and forgive their sins and to confer forgiveness and good health upon all of us in the world and the heareafter. He is Generous and Noble. May Allah bless and grant peace to our beloved Prophet Muhammad and to his family and companions. Amiin.

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