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I’m a nurse; how am I to pray when I’m handling COVID-19 cases?

With these pandemic  outbreaks spreading throughout the world, frontliners from medical teams to delivery services to cashiers, cleaners, police officers, fire fighters – just to name a few – are skipping their rest to help fight these outbreaks.

What if you’re a nurse or a doctor who can’t have your 5 times a day break for prayers (salah)?  Do you skip the salah?  It’s pretty difficult to take wudu (ablution) so many times when your PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is limited and there’s no excuse but to use as much protection as possible when you’re dealing with cases that are being brought upon you.

Is it permissible for a nurse or a doctor to combine the prayers (Jama’) ?  A medical doctor by the name of  Dr Jefri Irwan Harris shared the rukhsah (concession) regarding this matter.

Yes, it is permissible to combine (Jama’) the salah

Jama’ (جمع) is an act of combining two prayers.  The two prayers that are permissible to be combined are Zuhr and Asr, Maghrib and Isha.  Fajr (Subh) prayer is not included.  To combine prayer means to complete four rakaah of Zuhr, and next to add four rakaah of Asr during either Zuhr or Asr time.  It also means to combine three rakaah of Maghrib and next to add four rakaah of Isha during either Maghrib or Isha time.

This will ensure that the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)  won’t be over used as it can only be used once.

Ibn Abbas reported: 

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The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, prayed noon prayers and afternoon prayers in combination for reasons other than danger or travel. Sai’d ibn Jubayr said, “Why did he do that?” Ibn Abbas said, “The Prophet intended to not cause hardship for anyone in his nation” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 705).

This doesn’t mean the medical practitioners who are involved with COVID-19 cases get to shorten (qasr) their prayer.  The act of shortening prayer is only applicable for those who travel.

Renewing wudu without removing socks, shoes or even hijab.

This only applies to Muslim men and  women who cover up. Before leaving home, make sure you have taken wudu (ablution) and that throughout the conduct of your duty, you didn’t remove your hijab, socks and shoes.  You already have your wudu from home but while waiting for Zuhr or Maghrib time, you went to the toilet – nature calls.

كُنْتُ مَعَ النَّبِىِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم َفِى سَفَرٍ، فَأَهْوَيْتُ لأَنْزِعَ خُفَّيْهِ فَقَالَ: دَعْهُمَا، فَإِنِّى أَدْخَلْتُهُمَا طَاهِرَتَيْنِ. فَمَسَحَ عَلَيْهِمَا 

“Once I was in the company of the Prophet PBUH, he then performed ablution and I dashed to take off his socks. He said, “Leave them for I had put them on after performing ablution”. So, he wiped over them.”  Sahih al-Bukhari (203) and Sahih Muslim (274)

When it’s time to pray, you only have to wash your face, wash your hands from your elbow to the tips of fingers, rub some water on your head and finally rub it on your socks or shoes.  Do this only once, not three times like you would usually do when you take ablution. This is only valid for 24-hours.

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أَتَيْتُ عَائِشَةَ أَسْأَلُهَا عَنِ الْمَسْحِ عَلَى الْخُفَّيْنِ فَقَالَتْ عَلَيْكَ بِابْنِ أَبِى طَالِبٍ فَسَلْهُ فَإِنَّهُ كَانَ يُسَافِرُ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ. فَسَأَلْنَاهُ فَقَالَ جَعَلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم َثَلاَثَةَ أَيَّامٍ وَلَيَالِيَهُنَّ لِلْمُسَافِرِ وَيَوْمًا وَلَيْلَةً لِلْمُقِيمِ

“I came to ‘A’isha to ask her about wiping over the socks. She said: You better ask (‘Ali) son of Abu Talib for he used to travel with Allah’s Messenger PBUH. We asked him and he said: The Messenger of Allah PBUH stipulated (the upper limit) of three days and three nights for a traveller and one day and one night for the resident” (Sahih Muslim, 276).

You can perform your salah without removing your shoes or socks.

PRAYING WITH SHOES ON?

Yes, this is a sunnah that is hardly being practised (especially in countries like Malaysia). Yet, it  is especially helpful for Police or Military forces.

It was narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) that he used to pray wearing his shoes. Anas ibn Maalik (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked, “Did the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) pray wearing shoes?” He said, “Yes.” (al-Bukhaari, 386; Muslim, 555)

HOW ABOUT TAYAMUM?

Tayamum (تيمم‎) is the Islamic act of dry ritual purification using purified sand or dust; or dry ablution.

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” …. The earth has been made for me (and for my followers) a place for praying and a thing to perform Tayammum. Therefore my followers can pray wherever the time of a prayer is due …. ” (Sahih Bukhari 438)

This could save time due to big numbers of patients received and will also decrease the use of new PPE.  Tayamum can also be done without dirt.  Just do it on the surface of the wall, or the top of a  table with dust.

Performing salah while sitting on the chair.

Should a frontliner  worry about the purity (from viruses) of the floor, he or she can always perform the salah while sitting on the chair.  This is also a good practice for those who need to limit their movement in an effort to reduce the risk of infection.  There’s no need to repeat or replace the prayer later.

This rukhsah comes with different opinions. Most scholars agree with it while some don’t.  However, it is vital to understand that in whatever situation, we must never miss our 5 times a day duty to Allah.  Thus, this kind of rukhsah is fair to help those in dire situations, like the COVID-19 outbreak.

(Adapted from Dr. Jefri Irwan Harris)

source of references:  abuaminaelias.com/, islam.qa, islamicfinder.org) 


“..this shouldn’t be a habit and should only be done when there is no other option! “

– Credit to Sir Hamid Hamza, Queensland, Australia.
Farwina Faroque

Author Farwina Faroque

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