After Imaan, Salaah is the first of all the pillars of Islaam. It was the first and foremost practice ordained by Allah and shall also be the first thing to be reckoned for on the Day of Qiyaamah. The importance of salaah in the life of a Muslim cannot be over- emphasised. In the Qur'an Shareef, the command to establish salaah appears about six hundred times. According to the Hadith, whoever establishes salaah has established the Deen (of Allah) and whoever neglects salaah has destroyed the Deen.
"Nowadays it is commonly observed that upon the slightest inconvenience, discomfort or because of a journey, not just one or two, but numerous salaahs are either delayed or discarded.
Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) has said, 'Do not delay in three things: salaah when its time has set in, burial when the bier is ready and marriage of a solitary woman when her match is found.' (Tirmizi) Many people who consider themselves practical Muslims perform a number of their salaahs in combination on returning home, on the very feeble excuses of trade, travel or occupation. To put salaah off till after its set time without a strong excuse like illness, etc. is a major sin."7
An Indispensable wealth The heart of every true Muslim is filled with love and admiration for Hadrat Umar bin al-Khattaab (Radhiallaahu Anhu), the son-in-law of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam), and the second Khalifa in Islaam. His name struck terror in the hearts of the mightiest monarchs of his time. During his khilaafah (reign) he issued a proclamation to all the governors and officials under him saying, 'I regard salaah as the most important duty. A person who guards his salaah is likely to observe other injunctions of Islaam as well; but if he discards his salaah, then the remaining deeds are sure to be found wanting.' (Mu'attaa Maalik)
Sayyiduna Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu) was stabbed at the close of his career, and this same wound caused his death. He bled profusely and remained unconscious for long intervals. But when he was informed of the time of salaah, he would perform it in that very condition, and say, 'There is no share in Islam for a person who discards his salaah.' (Tabraani)
Sayyiduna Ibn Abbaas (Radhiallaahu Anhu) was another great Sahaabi and a cousin of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam). He suffered from cataract of the eye. A doctor told him, 'A treatment is possible, provided you are willing to take precautions. For a few days you must avoid performing salaah in the normal way. You can however do so by making gestures.' He said, 'This cannot be so. I would not say a single rak'ah like that. I have heard Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) saying: A person who intentionally foregoes a single salaah shall have to face Allah's wrath on the Day of Judgement.' (Tabraani)
Commenting on this Hadith, Hadrat Sheikhul Hadith, Moulana Muhammad Zakariyya Khaandalwi (Rahimahullah) writes: Although it is quite permissible to perform salaah in the way advised by the doctors and it involves no direct transgression of the Law of Allah, yet due to his utter devotion to salaah and implicit regard for the warning of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam), Ibn Abbaas (Radiyallaahu anhu) was ready to lose his eyesight rather than allow the slightest modification in the salaah as performed by Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) himself. In fact, the Sahaabah (Radhiallaahu Anhum) would sacrifice the whole world for their salaah. We may dub it as 'fanaticism', or make any other remark about that devoted band, but the verdict in the Hereafter would prove, beyond doubt, that they were the personages who really feared and loved their Creator above everything else in this world.8
Hadrat Abu Hurairah (Radhiallaahu Anhu) relates that he heard Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) say, 'Certainly the first among the actions of a person to be reckoned for on the Day of Qiyaamah shall be his salaah. A person will be successful and saved if his salaah was properly discharged (and accepted) and he will fail and be destroyed if his salaah was ruined (and rejected).' (Tirmizi)
Salaah as a cure We should also realise that not only is Salaah the most important pillar next to Imaan, but it is also a means of deriving tremendous benefit and blessing in this world and the Aakhirah. It is also a means of drawing the help of Allah Ta'ala and a protection against all types of difficulty. Countless examples of this in the lifetime of our beloved Nabi Muhammad (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and that of his illustrious Sahaabah (Radiyallaahu anhum) bear testimony to this fact.
Salaah also has tremendous healing power. Once Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) saw Hadrat Abu Hurairah (Radhiallaahu Anhu) lying on his stomach. He said to him, 'Are you suffering from stomach pain?' He said, 'Yes.' Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, 'Then get up and busy yourself in salaah, for that will heal you.'9
Hadrat Huzaifah (Radhiallaahu Anhu) says that whenever Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) happened to face any difficulty, he would at once resort to salaah. (Abu Daawood)
Hadrat Abdur Rahmaan (Radhiallaahu Anhu), the husband of Umm Kulsoom (Radiyallaahu anha) became ill. On one occasion, he fell into a coma and everyone thought that he had died. Umm Kulsoom (Radiyallaahu anha) got up from her place and started to perform salaah and by the time she had finished her salaah, Abdur Rahmaan (Radhiallaahu Anhu) regained consciousness. He asked the people, 'Did I appear to have died?' They said, 'Yes.' He then explained, "Two Angels came to me and ordered me, 'Come with us into the Court of Allah so that judgement could be made regarding you.' Just when they began to take me away, another Angel appeared and said to them, 'Go away, for he is among those in whose destiny good fortune had been written while he was still in the stomach of his mother. His children have yet to benefit some more from him." Abdur Rahmaan (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) lived for one more month after this and then passed away.10
Some basic rules about the salaah of a sick person Except under certain circumstances, it is fard (obligatory) to perform every salaah on its fixed time.
* If a person is so sick that he cannot even move his head, or he faints for a full day and night or more, then the salaah for such time will be waived. Even when he recovers, it will not be compulsory for him to make up for the missed salaahs.
* However, if he faints for less than a full day and night and then regains the strength to move his head, he must make qadhaa of the five or less salaahs missed.
* Generally when a person is sick and has the strength to stand, then he should perform salaah standing. If he does not have the courage to stand, or if it is very difficult or painful to stand, or if it is feared that standing might worsen his sickness, he can perform his salaah sitting. When making ruku' while sitting, the forehead should be lowered upto the knees.
* If he has the courage to make salaah sitting but cannot perform ruku' and sajdah sitting, then the ruku' and sajdah should be performed by ishaarah (nodding or gesturing with the head). For sajdah, he should bow the head more than for ruku'.
* If a person cannot even sit up, then he should lie down with a pillow, etc. behind his back, with his head slightly raised and his legs towards the Qiblah. However if he can, he should not stretch his legs towards the Qiblah but bend his knees and perform his salaah by ishaarah (head movements). When making salaah by ishaarah, the head should be bent for sajdah more than for ruku'.
* If a person is unable to lie propped against a pillow, then he should lie on his back with his head and chest slightly raised and his feet towards the Qiblah. He should support his head with a high pillow so that he faces the Qiblah and does not remain facing towards the sky. Then he should perform his salaah with ishaarah, and the gesture of sajdah should be a while longer than for ruku'. If he is unable to lie on his back, he should perform salaah lying on his right or his left side, with his face towards the Qiblah.
* If it is feared that by using water to make wudhu, or to wash or make istinjaa11 the sickness might worsen, then he should wipe his body with a cloth and make tayammum12. If he cannot make tayammum by himself, then he could take the help of another person.
* However, if he does not have the courage to even wipe himself, then he should perform his salaah (before its time expires) after making tayammum only.
* If the sick person's bedding is impure (najis or naapaak) and changing it would cause him much inconvenience, then it will be permissible and correct for him to perform salaah on the same bedding.
* If a patient does have has the strength to move slightly, or for instance, he has undergone eye surgery, but the doctor has ordered him not to move his head, then he should perform his salaah lying down.
* A paralysed person or someone who is so sick that he cannot use water for istinjaa, should use toilet paper or something similarly absorbent like lumps of dry clay to clean himself. If he cannot do even this, he should perform his salaah without making istinjaa.