Praise be to Allaah.
If a person reaches a stage
of senility and feeble-mindedness, loses his or her mental capacity and is
no longer aware, the obligations of fasting and prayer are waived, and he
does not have to offer expiation, because one of the conditions of being
accountable is that one should be of sound mind.
The Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The Pen has been lifted from three:
from the sleeping person until he wakes up, from the minor until he grows
up, and from the insane person until he comes to his senses.” Narrated by
Abu Dawood (4403), al-Tirmidhi (1423), al-Nasaa’i (3432), Ibn Majaah (2041).
Abu Dawood said: It was narrated by Ibn Jurayj from al-Qaasim ibn Yazeed
from ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) from the Prophet SAWS (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him). He added “and the senile”.
This hadeeth was classed as
saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
It says in ‘Awn
al-Ma’bood: Senility refers to when the mind becomes no longer sound
because of old age. What is meant here is the old man has lost his mind
because of old age. The elderly person may become confused and lose his
power of discernment, which means that he is no longer qualified to be
regarded as accountable, but he cannot be called insane. End quote.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may
Allaah have mercy on him) said: Fasting is not obligatory unless certain
conditions are met: (i) being of sound mind; (ii) being an adult; (iii)
being a Muslim; (iv) being able to do it; (v) being resident (i.e., not
travelling); (vi) being free of menses or nifaas (post-partum bleeding), in
the case of women.
With regard to the first,
being of sound mind – the opposite is loss of reason, whether it is due to
insanity or senility, meaning old age, or an accident which causes a person
to lose consciousness and feeling. Such a person does not have to do
anything, because he is no longer of sound mind. Based on this, this elderly
person who has reached the stage of senility does not have to fast or feed
the poor, because he is not of sound mind. End quote from Liqa’ al-Baab
With regard to the past, if
she was in this state, and was not aware and could not understand anything,
then she does not have to fast or offer expiation.
If she was aware and could
understand, but she did not fast because she was sick, then one of two
scenarios must apply:
If at that time she was hoping
to recover from her sickness, but the sickness continued, then she does not
have to do anything, because what she had to do was make up the fasts when
she recovered, but she did not recover.
If at that time there was no
hope of recovery, then she should offer expiation for each day, which is
feeding one poor person, half a saa’ of the local staple food. If she did
not offer this expiation, then you must offer it now from her wealth.
We ask Allaah to heal her and make her well, and to guide and help you.
And Allaah knows best.