Mental and Physical Disabilities

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

Assalaamu’ Alaikum Mufti sahab,

I would like to know (a) if physical and mental disabilities hold the same weight in the sight of Shariah and (b) how to distinguish, when a person reached such physical or mental disability freeing him from the obligation to abide by the Laws of Islam? As not all disabled people are totally out of function so to speak, but it often seems way too difficult for them to practise upon Deen.

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Faqih Abu Layth as-Samarqandi mentions in Tanbihul Ghafileen, that a group of people at the Day of Judgement will rise and make an excuse out of their sickness & illness in Duniya for not worshipping Allah Ta’ala. But Allah will present Sayyidina Ayyub [alayhis salam] and tell them, that their sickness was nothing compared to his and still His slave Ayyub didn’t neglect worshipping Him. To this they’ll have no response and remain silent. Since Faqih Abu Layth mentioned no source, this might not be sufficient as a legal proof. But could the same apply to (partly) disabled persons?

Jazak’Allah, this question is very important to me.


Wa’alaykum as Salām wa raḥmatullāhi wa barakātuhu,

No, there is a vast difference between physical and mental disabilities. If a person is mentally insane, all farāidh fall away. It is narrated in an authentic narration of Sunan an-Nasai that Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم said,

عن عائشة عن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم قال : رفع القلم عن ثلاث عن النائم حتى يستيقظ وعن الصغير حتى يكبر وعن المجنون حتى يعقل أو يفيق (أخرجه النسائي

“The pen has been raised from three: a sleeping person until he awakes, a minor until he reaches the age of puberty and an insane person until he becomes sane or recovers.” (Sunan an-Nasai, 6/156)

As for physical disabilities, a person will still be obliged to carry out the Farāidh according to his ability. If he is blind, for example, there will be no need in him omitting his fasts. If a person cannot pray standing, he should do so sitting. If that too is not possible, then he should pray whilst lying down.

In a narration of Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri it is mentioned,

عن ابن بريدة عن عمران بن حصين رضي الله عنه قال كانت بي بواسير فسألت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم عن الصلاة فقال صل قائما فإن لم تستطع فقاعدا فإن لم تستطع فعلى جنب (أخرجه البخاري في صحيحه

Ibn Buraidah mentions that ‘Imrān bin Ḥuṣain (May Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him) said, “I was suffering from piles, I asked Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم about my prayers and he replied, ‘Pray standing, and if you are unable then sitting, and if you are unable, then on your side.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri, 2/48)

Thus, if a person in physically disabled, he will still be obliged to practice on Dīn according to his ability (irrespective of the difficulty and intensity of his disability). If he has a mental disability, he will be absolved from the laws of Sharī’ah

And Allaah Ta’aala knows best
Ismail Moosa (Mufti)
Iftaa Department,
Euro-Sunni & Islamic Research and Welfare Academy


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