Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel
My uncle (who lives a few doors from me, and I grew up with him around) is paralyzed (linked to meningitis), mainly the whole body (paralyzed for many years). He gets placed in a bed or a wheelchair and can move one of his arms, I think; as for his head, I’ve heard he can slightly move it up and down, but if it tilts to one side, he can’t push it to the other way. As for moving it up and down, my mother said if he feels up for it, he does, but if not, i.e., stiffness of the body, I heard that he might be asked to nod.
All these years, I haven’t heard anyone talk about my uncle praying; I don’t know if anyone is going to help Wudu and Tayammum (and I’ve been around my uncle and family since and before his paralysis), nor do I know of anyone moving his position specifically for prayer. I read about the paralyzed person and prayer and asked about my uncle’s head movement. What should I do in light of being told this and the situation?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
I pray you are well. Allah (Most High) reward you for asking for further details about this issue. May He grant your uncle ease and relief, make his test a means for the continuous raising of status with Allah (Most High) and closeness to Him, Amin.
There is a principle that a person is only able by their ability. If a person can neither do wudu or tayammum unassisted, stand or sit down and pray neither on both sides, or use head movements, then he does not pray, and he will become absolved, like in the case of your uncle. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
Allah Most High says in the Quran, “Allah does not tax any soul but what it can bear.” [Quran, 2.286]
Allah does not make a person responsible for more than one is able. This demonstrates Allah’s kindness, compassion, and generosity towards His creation. [Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir]
I want to advise you to continue and, whenever possible, go and assist your uncle in any way. Put a recitation of the Quran, talk, or various remembrances near him, so he can keep himself engaged mentally and allowed and facilitated to continue the worship of Allah (Most High) in other ways possible.
I want you to watch the video (8 min) linked in the answer below.
The sunna way of praying when injured or unable to stand
I pray this helps with your question.
[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied within UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan and Turkey.
He started his early education in UK. He went onto complete hifz of Qur’an in India, then enrolled into an Islamic seminary in UK where he studied the secular and Alimiyyah sciences. He then travelled to Karachi, Pakistan.
He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for a number of years. He has taught hifz of the Qur’an, Tajwid, Fiqh and many other Islamic sciences to both children and adults onsite and online extensively in UK and Ireland. He was teaching at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences.
He currently resides in UK with his wife. His personal interest is love of books and gardening.