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Schizophrenia – Fiqh Ruling

Shaykh Salman Younas is asked about the level or degree of religious responsibility of a person who is diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Question:

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?

Answer:

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.

General Ruling

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.

Going Forward

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.

Salman

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Do Mental Disorders Lift the Obligation of Hajj? (Shafi’i)

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).

Sensible measures

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.

Warmest salams,
[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.