Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
I have been diagnosed with what was then called “Asperger’s Syndrome.” This is co-morbid with a few other mental illnesses I have. During a meltdown, I oftentimes black out, becoming unaware and anxious.
Does my condition exempt me from going on Hajj?
Answer: Wa alaykum assalam. Thank you for writing in. May Allah increase in your desire to fulfil your obligations despite the hardships you’re facing, and grant you an easy way to make it to His House.
Hajj is obligatory on every Muslim who has reached adulthood, is sane, and has the means. If one does not have the means, or is not sound in mind, Hajj is not obligatory.
Sickness as an exemption
Sicknesses that lift the obligation of Hajj are chronic or terminal illnesses of which there is no hope of recovery, and it is not deemed possible that they will ever be able to make the pilgrimage. [Bushra al Karim]. For any other form of sickness, the obligation remains.
Your specific situation
In your specific case, despite the understandable fear of a blackout, it is a valid concern but it is not certain that it will happen. For this reason, the obligation of Hajj would still remain, if you have the means, though sensible measures should be taken when preparing for the pilgrimage.
If, however, a qualified, upright, Muslim physician tells you that, should you go on Hajj, you will definitely have one of the blackout episodes as you have described, then this would be a valid exemption for the obligation of Hajj to be lifted from you.
If this is the case, then Allah will reward you for your intention to make the pilgrimage despite not being able to perform it. Performing the ‘Umrah instead would indeed be desirable if possible (in the Shafi’i school, Umrah is also obligatory once in a lifetime, so it would be obligatory to do, if able).
Should the obligation of Hajj remain, then plan your trip carefully and take into account the following:
1. Inform the group that you go on Hajj with of your condition and discuss what support they can offer and precautionary measures they advise. Many of the people involved in the Hajj groups are extremely helpful and will sacrifice a lot to help pilgrims fulfil the Hajj.
2. Take a family or friend who is willing to be a companion throughout the rites of the Hajj, for support and assistance.
3. Make a note of all the signs and symptoms you usually get before a blackout and share it with the group leaders and your Hajj companion.
4. If you know of certain things you need to help prevent the blackouts (such as water, certain foods etc.) then plan ahead with these.
5. Take a course on the fiqh of Hajj with a teacher, paying particular attention to the minimum needed to fulfil each act of the pilgrimage.
6. Listen to these valuable talks by Sh. Nuh Keller. They cover the minimum fulfilments, as well as tips that make the hajj quicker and on how to avoid to the crowds and busy periods, such as walking to the different places at night. This should help a great deal with your concerns and anxieties.
7. Of course, make plenty of du’a to Allah to lighten the obligation for you, and enable you to fulfil this fifth pillar of Islam with serenity and success.
May Allah accept your efforts and grant you every ease. If you do go on Hajj, please do remember us in your du’as on your journey, in Mecca, and when visiting the beloved Prophet ﷺ in Medina.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
This is general religious counsel. We encourage you to consult both expert medical opinion, and a reliable local scholar about the specific details of your case.
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.