An insane elderly person is not obliged to pray or fast

Question: I have a wife who is around 85 years old. She is a righteous Muslim woman who has been suffering from diabetes for the last few years. Her condition has reached the extent that some days she is in a coma in the hospital and some days at home. She cannot speak properly and is not aware of what she is saying. Moreover, she cannot walk except with the help of her children. The problem is that she has not offered Salaah (Prayer) for at least two years. With regard to Sawm (Fast), we pay expiation on her behalf, but with regard to Salaah she does not even know the prescribed times of Salaah or what to say while offering them. The mistakes in her speech are more than that which is correct.

Please answer the following questions for me: Is she required to offer Salaah though her mind is not fully functioning? Are we required to pay expiation on her behalf for the days of Ramadaan that she cannot fast? What should we do about the religious duties that are obligatory upon her? I ask Allaah (the Most Exalted) to grant you good health. May Allaah’s Peace, Mercy, and Blessings be upon you!

Answer: If the case is as you have mentioned, then she is not required to offer Salaah or to observe Sawm, because she is not Mukallaf (person meeting the conditions to be held legally accountable for their actions)… read more here.

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Ransom of Sawm (fast) missed by the deceased

Question: My mother was around 85 to 90 years old. She suffered from hemiplegia on her left side, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease; this was according to a medical report. She lived like this for more than a year; some of which she was at home and some of which she was in hospital, until she finally passed away. She also suffered from amnesia sometimes, and used to ask many repeated questions and ask about people who had died a long time ago, such as her brothers. I do not know if this was a result of her illness or senility. The point that I would like to clarify is that my mother was in the condition I have described during Ramadaan of 1409 A.H.

Was it obligatory upon her to observe Sawm (Fast) then? If it was, can any one or all of her children observe Sawm on her behalf? Or which one should do it for her, or should each one of them take part? Are we obligated to pay Sadaqah (voluntary charity) on her behalf as an expiation for not observing Sawm? If so, what is the best way, from her personal wealth or from the wealth of her children? Please note that she had many children, both sons and daughters. If we have to pay Sadaqah on her behalf, how much do we have to give for every day of Ramadaan, and what type of Sadaqah do we have to give, and how do we give it?

Answer: If the circumstances were as you mentioned, she was not required to do anything due to her dementia. Therefore, you are not required to observe Sawm or pay expiation on her behalf… read more here.

Sawm and Kaffaarah of a heart patient

Question: I am an eighty year old man. I suffer from a disease in my arteries and heart. I was unable to observe Sawm (Fast) during Ramadaan of last year. For this reason, I paid three sacks of wheat to three needy families in our village. The amount of the three sacks was thirty-four Mudd (a dry measure of half bushel, 543 grams). I do not know if I will be able to fast this year or not. I hope your Eminence will answer my question as I will not feel comfortable until I am informed of your legal opinion.

Answer: If the reality is as you mentioned regarding your age and health, and you did not observe Sawm last Ramadaan because of your inability to fast, then you are not to be blamed for breaking your Sawm… read more here.

Salaah and Sawm of an elderly patient

Question: There is a very elderly woman who is around 85 years old. She is bedridden and cannot even get up to answer nature’s call. Is it obligatory on her to perform the Salaah (prayer) and to observe the Sawm (fast)? Please enlighten us, may Allaah reward you well!

Answer: If the reality is as you mentioned, then she is required to perform the Salaah so long as she is sane and comprehends the acts of Salaah, and she does that to the best of her ability even if it is by mere gestures… read more here.

Sawm of a gastric ulcer patient

Question: I was born in 1315 A.H. And I have been suffering from a gastric ulcer since 1380 A.H. Now I am nearly 87 years old. I used to fast the entire month of Ramadaan every year in addition to fasting six days of the month of Shawwaal. This year also, I intend to fast the month of Ramadaan, if Allaah wills, but I fear that I may not be able to complete it. What should I do if I cannot fast? I ask your Eminence to answer my question in this regard. May Allaah reward you well!

Answer: If the reality is as you mentioned regarding your age, then you should fast the number of days that you are able to fast during the month of Ramadaan. If, however, some days you are not able to fast, then you should feed a needy person for every day that you do not fast. You are not required to make up for these days. Allaah (Exalted be He) says: So keep your duty to Allaah and fear Him as much as you can He also says: …and He has not laid upon you in religion any hardshipread more here.

An elderly person and an asthmatic person during Ramadaan

Question: I am a very old man. I am around ninety years old. I suffer from asthma and high blood pressure. I have been able to fast Ramadaan every year up until last year when I was forced to break my fast for sixteen days because I was unable to fast. I intended to make up for these days when my health became better, but my condition has not improved, and I am still unable to make up for these days. I fear that next Ramadaan may come while I am still in such a state. I would like to know the religious ruling of paying in compensation for the missed days of fasting and what I should do next Ramadaan. If I am supposed to pay for the days I could not fast by feeding the needy, what is the amount that I am supposed to give to each needy person? If there are no poor people who can take the food, can I give the equivalent in money instead of food? If this is possible, what is the amount of money I should give? Am I supposed to give it on a daily basis or should I collect it and pay it all as a whole at the end of the month?

Answer: If the reality is as you mentioned that you are ninety years old and suffer from asthma and high blood pressure, then you are not required to make up for the sixteen days of missed fasting during Ramadan as long as you are not able to make up for them. You are also permitted to break your fast as long as you are still unable to fast. You should give half a Saa` (1 Saa`=3 kg. Approx.) for one needy person for every day of Ramadaan that you did not fast. You are permitted to give it out all at once or separately. Allaah (Exalted be He) says: …and He has not laid upon you in religion any hardship You should not give money instead of food… read more here.

Sawm (fasting) of an elderly man

Question: My father is more than seventy years old. For the last three years, he has been inflicted with a disease that I ask Allaah to bestow His Mercy on him, and to make it an expiation for his sins. This disease has made him unable to fast, as fasting will cause him to lose his sight, hearing and his life. Therefore, he cannot observe Sawm (fast) during the month of Ramadaan. Tell us what he should do.

Answer: If the reality is as you mentioned, then he is not supposed to fast during the month of Ramadaan. He has a legal excuse for breaking his fast, but it is Waajib (obligatory) on him to feed a needy person half a Saa` (1 Saa`=3 kg. Approx.) of wheat, dates, rice, etc. Of the foodstuffs whereof he feeds his family for every day of Ramadaan that he is unable to fast. Allaah says: So keep your duty to Allaah and fear Him as much as you can He also says: Allaah burdens not a person beyond his scoperead more here.

An elderly mother who is unable to fast Ramadaan

Question: My mother, who is old and sick, has been unable to observe Sawm (Fast) during Ramadaan for the last three years. What should she do?

Answer: If the reality is as you mentioned, she should feed a poor person for each day of Ramadaan she missed during the last three years. The amount of food to be given should be half a Saa` (1 Saa` = 3 kg. Approx.) of wheat, dates, rice, maize or any other local staple foodstuff… read more here.

Ruling on feeding the needy by those who are unable to fast Ramadaan

Question: I want to ask you about the ruling on feeding the needy for those who are weak in Ramadaan, such as weak elderly men and women, those who are ill and not expected to recover, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers whose milk would dry up if they fast.

Answer: Firstly, anyone who is unable to fast during Ramadaan either due to old age – an elderly man or woman – or anyone who experiences extreme difficulty when they fast, have been granted a concession to break their Sawm (fast). It is obligatory upon them to feed a needy person for every day of Sawm that they missed. They should give each needy person half a Saa` (1 Saa`=3 kg. Approx.) of wheat, dates, rice, or anything similar, from the type of food that they usually feed their family… read more here.