The Prayer of the Sick and the Disabled Person

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Publications Ltd. for permission to print this
excerpt (Ch. 25) from Everyday Fiqh (vol. 1) 
by Abdul Aziz Kamal

1. Regardless of the severity and seriousness of the disease, the daily prayers have to be observed at the prescribed times. If a sick person is unable to perform all the articles of prayer, he may perform only those which he can, and perform others by using symbolic signs.(1)

2. The patient should, as far as possible, perform the prayer in the standing position. Even if a sick or disabled person can stand while the Takbir Tahrimah is pronounced, he should do so and then perform and complete the rest of the prayer in the sitting position. For it is not proper to offer the prayer while sitting when one has the necessary strength to stand up for it.

3. If a person is utterly unable to stand up for the prayer, either due to excessive weakness, or feeling of giddiness, or instability or inability to perform ruku and sajdah properly, he is allowed to offer the prayer sitting.

4. If a person has to offer the prayer sitting, he should sit in the prescribed way, as in the Qa'dah. If this is not possible he may sit in any way he likes. And if he cannot perform ruku and sajdah properly, he may perform these by making symbolic signs.

5. It is not enough to use the eyes and the eyebrows only for the purpose, while performing ruku and sajdah by making symbolic signs, but one should bend the head a little in ruku and a little more in sajdah.

6. If a person is unable to place the head on the ground in sajdah, he may perform sajdah by making a symbolic sign. It is undesirable to lift a pillow or something else and prostrate upon it.

7. If a person cannot pray even sitting, or experiences undue hardship, or is afraid that the disease might worsen if he does so, then he should offer the prayer lying down , in the following way: He should lie down flat on his back with his legs folded, knees upright, feet resting on the ground or bed, and toes pointing to the Qibla, and then keeping his head raised with the help of a pillow, perform ruku and sajdah by making symbolic signs. If this is not possible, he should lie down with his head towards the north, and resting the body on the right, perform the prayer. If this is also not possible, he may offer the prayer in any way he likes, but as far as possible should not miss it.

8. If a patient is too weak to perform a prayer, even by symbolic signs, he may abandon it and offer it later upon recovery as a missed prayer. If this state of weakness persists and he misses five consecutive prayers, he stands exempted and need not offer them later at all. Likewise if the patient has fainted and misses six prayers in this state, he stands exempted and is not under any obligation to offer them later. Similarly if a healthy person has a fainting fit and misses six prayers in this state, he is exempted and need not offer the prayers later.

9. If a person has a fit of illness during the prayer, and he cannot stand for the prayer, he may offer it sitting. If he cannot sit, he may offer it lying down. If he cannot perform ruku and sajdah, he may perform them by using symbolic signs. In short he should complete the prayer somehow.

10. If a person fears that while standing up for the prayer in a moving boat, ship or train, he may lose his balance or feel giddy etc., he may offer the prayer sitting. If, however he can stand without any such fear, he should offer the prayer standing.

11. If a person has missed some prayers when he was perfectly healthy, and then falls ill, he should not wait for recovery to offer the missed prayers, but should offer them somehow, standing or sitting, and pay off the debt as soon as possible.

12. If a patient's bed, etc. is impure and it is not possible to change it, or changing involves undue hardship, he may offer the prayer in the same impure bed. (Bahishti Zevar)


1. The jurists have stressed that even if a woman has started to have labour pains and the prayer time approaches, and she is in perfect control of herself, she should offer the prayer somehow either standing or sitting. For as soon as the Nifas bleeding starts, the prayer would be rendered Qada (missed).

Everyday Fiqh (Vol.1) by Abdul Aziz Kamal ©1986 published by Islamic Publications (Pvt.) Ltd., 13-E Shah Alam Market, Lahore, Pakistan