Schizophrenia – Fiqh Ruling
Shaykh Salman Younas is asked about the level or degree of religious responsibility of a person who is diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
I have schizophrenia as diagnosed by a doctor who is not Muslim. Am I held responsible in terms of prayer, fasting etc?
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
We ask Allah to grant you health, well-being, and the strength to cope with this test.
It is not possible to give a definite answer without knowing and observing the details of your condition, especially in light of the fact that schizophrenia is a spectrum disorder.
Generally speaking, being sane and in control of one’s rational faculties, as well as being able to understand the message of God, are conditions for moral responsibility. Someone who is not sane or suffers from deficits in cognitive abilities that renders him unable to understand and carry out divine commands is not under any responsibility to fulfill these commands.
If an individual suffers this condition on a temporary basis, scholars state that he will not be morally responsible for that temporary period. Thus, someone suffering from schizophrenia may find himself not morally responsible for long stretches of time, while he may be obliged at other times, i.e. when his symptoms subside and are not as severe, to perform his daily obligations.
One should note, however, that this is the legal ruling on the matter. From a broader perspective, we recognize that God is infinitely merciful. He is not an entity merely checking off requirements given to us in an exam. God knows the struggles people are undergoing, the challenges we face, the hardship, that we slip sometimes and succeed on other occasions, etc., and He approaches and judges us accordingly.
Suffering in This World
Suffering in this world may seem like an eternity, but it will pass and eventually the door to actual eternity will be opened, and it is here that our suffering will, in the words of one of our teachers, “dwindle to nothing before the next [world] not only quantitatively, because of its eternity, but qualitatively because of its nature.” The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, described this saying:
The person who had the most pleasing life in this world, of any of the people of hell, will be summoned on Resurrection Day and utterly plunged into the hellfire, then asked, ‘O human being, have you ever beheld any good at all; have you ever felt a single joy?’ and he will say, ‘No by God, my Lord.’ And the most miserable sufferer in this world, of any of the people of paradise, will be summoned and utterly plunged into paradise, then asked, ‘O human being, have you ever seen any bad at all; have you ever experienced a single misery?’ and he will say, ‘No by God, my Lord: I have never seen any bad or suffered a single misery.’ (Muslim)
All we are tasked to do is try our best in the situation we find ourselves in and in the little time we are given. One should not lose hope. We should continue striving as best as we can and continue turning to God.
Finally, in your case, I would advise you to connect with family, local scholars, members of the community, and mental-health professionals in your area. Having people around one who care and encourage us to live our lives meaningfully is important because it gives us the strength to persevere. Given the stigma surrounding your condition, this may seem challenging and intimidating, but finding a trusted group of people who support you will be invaluable and necessary.
We ask Allah to make things easy for you and give you the strength to live a life that is pleasing to Him.
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.