How can a person who cannot move his feet and stand on his feet make taharah and wudu, and perform prayers?

The Details of the Question

- I have a brother who cannot move his feet and stand on his feet; he wants to start to perform prayers. How can he make taharah and wudu, and perform prayers?
- Will you explain it in detail and in a way that we can understand and practice?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

People are held responsible for what they can do. Our religion does not place a burden on a person greater than he can bear. It is Allah who gives people illness and responsibilities. Therefore, a person is obliged to do what he can. (see al-Hajj, 22/78; al-Fatih, 48/17)

Allah states the following in the Quran: “On no soul doth Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear...” (al-Baqara, 2/286)

That principle is valid for the obligation of deeds of worship as well as the way of performing those deeds of worship.

Taharah

Taharah (cleanliness/cleaning) from najasah (material dirt/filth) is a prerequisite for some deeds of worship.  

A Muslim who has a disabled organ tries to clean himself as much as he can and is held responsible for only what he can do. He is not held responsible for what he cannot do. It will not harm his deeds of worship; for example, the prayers he performs are valid.  

Wudu

Wudu is defined as follows: “To wash certain organs with water and to wipe certain organs with the wet hand duly.” (Marghinani, al-Hidaya, I, 93-94)

The following is stated in the Quran related to wudu: “O ye who believe! When ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles. … and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands.” (al-Maida, 5/6) 

The Prophet (pbuh) showed the Muslims how to make wudu (Marghinani, al-Hidaya, I, 102) and stated that no prayer (salah) without wudu would be accepted by Allah. (Bukhari, Wudu, 2; Ibn Majah, Taharah, 47)

All Sunni fiqh madhhabs agree on the four fard deeds of wudu expressed in the verse above.

Accordingly, lack of some wudu organs annuls the decree related to them. A Muslim who cannot move his feet as it is stated in the question acts accordingly.

Thus, if a person can wash his wudu organs without the help of others, he makes wudu and performs the prayer.

If a person cannot wash his wudu organs and if there is nobody to help him, he can perform prayers by making tayammum.

If a person who cannot make wudu and tayammum due to lack of his arms and feet and if there is nobody to help him, he does not have to make wudu and tayammum. He will be regarded as a person who has wudu and he can perform his prayers to the extent that he can. He does not have to perform those prayers again as qada. (Ibn Nujaym, al-Bahr, I, 151, 246-249; Ibn Abidin, Raddul-Muhtar, I, 185, 423)

A person who cannot wash his feet due being physically disabled should try to fulfill that fard with the help of another person in a way that will not harm himself and that person. The Prophet (pbuh) allowed receiving help due to some excuses such as illness.  (Bukhari, Wudu, 35)

He can make wudu with the help of another person freely or by paying him if he is rich enough. If it is not possible, he can complete wudu by wiping over (masah) his feet or if he cannot do that either, he can make tayammum. If he cannot make tayammum, he can perform the prayer without washing his feet. As it is stated in Majallah, “if something turns out to be difficult, it is made easy.” (Majallah, article 18; Ali Haydar, Durarul-Hukkam, I, 32)

Prayer

In our religion, responsibilities are determined according to the power of the slave (see al-Baqara, 2/286); the principle of making things easy is introduced for the states beyond the power of a person. (see al-Baqara, 2/185)

The illnesses that prevent fulfilling any part of the prayer are regarded as reasons for making things easy. (see Abu Dawud, Salah, 181)

Accordingly, physically disabled people should act as follows based on their situation:

a) Slight bodily illnesses that do not prevent performing prayers duly are not regarded as legitimate excuses. The report of a specialist and the personal conviction are of great importance regarding the issue.

b) A person who cannot perform prayers by standing should perform prayers by sitting if he can without sitting on a stool or chair. He can sit on his knees like the sitting in prayer, if not, by sitting cross-legged; if he cannot do it, he should sit and stretch his legs toward the qiblah. If a person can perform prayers like that by performing prostration (sajdah) duly, his prayer by sitting on a stool or chair is not valid.

c) A person who can stand and who can sit and then stand up but who cannot prostrate due to an illness should start prayer by standing. After ruku’, he should stand up and then sit; he should perform prostration bowing down his head a bit while sitting. Then, he should stand up and complete his prayer by doing the same things.  

d) A person who can stand but who cannot stand up after sitting should start prayer by standing. He should sit after ruku’ and prostrations. He should perform the ruku’s of the remaining rak’ahs by bowing down his head a bit while sitting and he should perform prostrations duly.  

e) A person who can stand but cannot perform ruku’ and prostration does not have to stand. However, it is more appropriate for such a person to perform ruku’ by bowing down his head while standing and then sit and perform prostration by bowing down his head while sitting. If he can stand up, he should perform the remaining rak’ahs in the same way. If he cannot stand up, it is permissible for him to continue his prayer by sitting.   

f) A person who can stand and perform ruku’ but cannot sit on the ground/floor should start the prayer by standing. Then, he should perform ruku’ and sit on the stool or chair. Then, he should perform prostrations by bowing down his head a bit. He should stand (qiyam) and perform ruku’ duly and perform prostration by bowing down his head a bit.

A person who performs prayers on a stool or chair in congregation should act carefully so as not to distort the ranks of the congregation. He should not place the stool on the place where the people behind him prostrate. He should place the stool in alignment with the rank he is in.

g) A person who cannot stand and who cannot sit on the ground/floor should perform prayers by sitting on a stool, chair, etc.; he should bow down his head a bit for ruku’ and a bit more for prostration.

h) A person who cannot perform prayers by sitting should perform them by lying on his back. In that case, the feet should face the qiblah. If he cannot do it, he should perform prayers by turning his face toward the qiblah. In that case, he should perform ruku’s and prostrations by moving his head a bit.   

ı) According to Hanafi madhhab, a person who cannot gesture by his head does not have to perform prayers. According to other fiqh scholars, he should perform prayers by moving his eyelids or by making intention with the heart.

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