Assalamualaikum ustaz. My mother had a history of a stroke which resulted in her having a memory issue where sometimes she couldn’t recall anything. Is it obligatory for her to pray?
Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.
Allah SWT states:
إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَابًا مَوْقُوتًا
“Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times.”
Surah al-Nisa’ (103)
This verse is one of the evidences regarding the obligation of prayer for every Muslim. Prayer becomes zimmah (a responsibility) of every Muslim until he performs it or reasons permitted by Syarak which abrogates the obligation or facilitates it, and whoever leaves it due to reason permitted by syarak such as he fell asleep or forgets, then he should replace it when he wakes up (conscious) or remembered. This follows the statement of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH narrated by Anas bin Malik RA:
مَنْ نَسِيَ صَلَاةً فَلْيُصَلِّهَا إِذَا ذَكَرَهَا، لَا كَفَّارَةَ لَهَا إِلَّا ذَلِكَ
“He who forgets the prayer should say it when he remembers it, there is no explation for it, except this.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (597), Muslim (684)
Coming back to the above question, we will state:
According to the Ministry of Health Malaysia MyHealth portal, stroke is an attack on the brain and it happens when oxygen transport to the brain is disrupted. The brain which is the main nervous system controls our every action and thought as well as other voluntary and involuntary movements such as breathing.
In order for it to function, the brain needs a continuous supply of blood which transport oxygen and important nutrients. When a blood vein in the brain burst or is clogged, the blood supply will stop and brain cells will experience an oxygen and nutrient deficit. If this continues and parts of the brain start to die, a person will experience a stroke. This happens rapidly and silently. Brain damage will affect a person’s senses, speech and language understanding. One side of the body may be paralyzed, a person’s attitude, way of thinking and memory will also be affected. 
Prayer for a Stroke Patient with Memory Loss Condition
Prayer is one of the pillars in Islam and also the first matter that will be asked by Allah SWT in the hereafter. Hence, we shouldn’t be indifferent in the issue of prayer. Among the valid and obligatory conditions of prayer are:
- Reached puberty
- Rational (sound mind)
- Pure from hadas 
Rational or of sound mind is one of the obligatory conditions of prayer for syarak rulings are closely related to the mind. Thus, it is not obligatory for an insane, unconscious, drunk person and others in a similar condition for at the time their ability to think soundly is gone. This is stated in a hadith narrated by Ali bin Abi Thalib RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
رُفِعَ الْقَلَمُ عَنْ ثَلَاثَةٍ: عَنِ النَّائِمِ حَتَّى يَسْتَيْقِظَ، وَعَنِ الصَّبِيِّ حَتَّى يَحْتَلِمَ، وَعَنِ الْمَجْنُونِ حَتَّى يَعْقِلَ
“There are three (persons) whose actions are not recorded: a sleeper till he awakes, a boy till he reaches puberty, and a lunatic till he comes to reason.” 
Scholars analogically deduced that every person who lost his rationality is the same as an insane person during the duration (whether it is a short or long period). If he is cured, and there is remaining time for him to pray (takbir) then it is obligatory for him to pray. However, it is not obligatory for him to replace his prayer during the time he lost his rationality (sound mind). 
In our opinion for the above situation, the obligation of prayer isn’t abrogated for her and it is obligatory to be fulfilled when her memory is good. However, when she experiences episodes where she couldn’t recall anything, then it is not obligatory for her to perform prayer and it is not necessary for her to replace said prayer.
The division of a person losing his rational mind can be divided into two, which are:
- For a long period: If a person lost his rational mind in a long time considered normally, then at this time, it is not obligatory for him to pray and it is not obligatory for him to replace the missed prayer during this period. However, if he becomes conscious and there is still some time remaining for the prayer, then it is obligatory for him to perform it in the remaining time.
- For a short period of time: If a person lost his rational mind in a short time and this is what is considered normal at the place. Then it is obligatory for him to pray in the remaining time and it is best for him to replace the missed prayer during the period if it doesn’t burden him.
Lastly, may Allah SWT cure all the sickness experienced by the patient and grant us all health so that we can continue our daily worships properly.
Let us supplicate together:
رَبَّنَا لَا تُؤَاخِذْنَا إِن نَّسِينَا أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَا ۚ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْنَا إِصْرًا كَمَا حَمَلْتَهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِنَا ۚ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تُحَمِّلْنَا مَا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِ ۖ وَاعْفُ عَنَّا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا ۚ أَنتَ مَوْلَانَا فَانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ
“Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error. Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us. Our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have the strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Protector, and help us against the disbelieving people.”