How Does One Pray When Dealing with Health Issues?

3440405641_98f6f70c99_bThe Question

I have some health problems which reduce my mobility to the extent that salah (prayer) is not practical. Where can I find alternatives? I would like to pray but I do not wish to cause offense. I have researched online but cannot find any information.

One of my many health problems includes chronic sepsis, a serious condition that is not expected to heal. This means that I bleed from open wounds in my abdomen and pelvis. I have had this condition for over 10 years, and there is no sign of the bleeding slowing. I am concerned that this will compromise wudhu immediately. Also, I have lost my intestines through disease and therefore require a stoma (my intestine exits through the front of my stomach). Would this also compromise wudhu, and is there a practice that would not cause offense?

The Answer

Islam is a religion of mercy and compassion. It recognizes the plight of people, taking into consideration their abilities and weaknesses. One of the most important principles in Islamic law is “the Removal of Harm.” A Qur’anic verse states, “And He (Allah) did not make any hardship for you in religion.” In a hadith, the Prophet ﷺ said, “Islam is ease.”

In light of these major principles, your situation is considered seriously. While some scholars consider blood as impure, the stronger opinion is that it is not and that one can pray with it on their clothes, especially in the case of illness. In fact, if blood flow is due to illness then the opinion that it is impure is null since the person has no control over its flow.  It is permissible based on the Maliki opinion that one who works around blood, such as a butcher, is exempt from this since keeping his clothes free of blood is impossible. The same applies to you, since it is not possible for you to keep it from yourself or your clothes.

As for your intestinal bag, it is  out of your control. If you are able to keep it from spilling on yourself, or your clothes, then that is best. If not, then you can pray, but it is better to keep some clean garments that you pray with, if possible. This is based on the opinion that when one does not have control over something, he is not obligated by it. The axiom states, “There is no obligation in shari`ah in the face of real weakness.”

If making wudhu will contribute to your illness, then you are exempted from it, according to the scholars of the Maliki rite, and should simply make dry ablution. If you cannot do either, as noted by al-Dasuqi (a well-respected scholar), then your intention for purity is enough and you can pray without it based on the Prophet’s statement “Actions are by intentions” and the axiom “Goals are based on intent.”

As for the prayer itself, it is not advisable for you to attend the masjid in such a state. Thus, you are permitted to pray at home, and if you are unable to stand, then you can pray sitting and if you cannot sit and pray, then you can pray lying down as best you can.

Finally, I would like to remind you that being sick has a number of blessings:

  • Your sins are forgiven.
  • Your stations are raised with Allah (subhana wa ta’ala – glory be unto Him).

We are here as your brothers and sisters in faith. We pray that Allah (swt) will cure you, and we ask that you remember us in your prayers.

Allah knows best.

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  1. sabirah says:

    jazhakallah khair for that. I was just in the masjid today, and the imam was just too fast for the older women in our group. ok, the imam can’t see who’s struggling to get up after the sajda… but i suppose that a 10 min surah and a bouncy sajda race are just too much for the older people trying to come for congregational prayer. I would love to see more of them in the masjid, the youngsters would behave differently. Is it just here or is there a huge void of old people in masjids everywhere else?

  2. Hayaah says:

    This is so humbling, reading this persons question.

    Us with health, pay such less heed to the precision of our actions whilst we pray, in the rush of our everyday… and here is a person, with so many things that stand in his way medically, yet his being yearns to find a way around it just to supplicate and attend to the call fardh upon us!

    sub haan Allah!


    Thank so very much for sharing…

    Question: Is there a way to directly subscribe to your posts, into my email?

  3. Bassmeh says:

    Mash Allaah. May Allaah subhana wa taala bless you in this dunya and the akhira.

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