Question of Fatwa:
Dear scholars, As-Salaam `Alaykum. I suffer terribly from flatulence and in Ramadan it is particularly very bad. I cannot keep Wudu’ for 5 minutes. Many times I cannot maintain Wudu’ long enough to pray the Fard (obligatory prayers). I currently make many repeated Wudu’s but it has become a severe hardship. At times I miss the prayer because I cannot perform adequate Wudu’. During the Tarawih prayers in Ramadan it is extremely hard and I concentrate more on not passing gas than on the prayer. Is there a remedy that I could follow? Please explain in detail. Jazakum Allah khayran.
Content of Reply
Wa`alykum As-Salaamu Warahmatullahi Wabarakaatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear questioner, may Allah reward you abundantly for your interest in knowing the teachings of your religion, Islam! We would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.
First and foremost, we’d like to make it clear that the religion of Islam seeks not to cause any hardship to its adherents or burden them beyond their capabilities. Easiness and facilitation are of the main characteristics of Islam. Almighty Allah says: “Allah would not place a burden on you, but He would purify you and would perfect His grace upon you, that ye may give thanks.” (Al-Ma’idah: 6)
“Allah tasketh not a soul beyond its scope.” (Al-Baqarah: 286)
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way.”
This concept of facilitation and easiness in Islam are clearly manifest in its simple and flexible legislations. Islam bears into consideration people who have certain excuses, thus it facilitates its rulings in a way that such people will not face any hardship when abiding by Shari`ah precepts. The question in point, serves as an example of how Islam seeks facilitation in its legislations.
In his well-known book, Fiqh As-Sunnah, Sheikh Sayyed Sabiq states:
“People with unusual circumstances (i.e. women with "prolonged flows of blood"), people who cannot control their urine, people with flatulence, and so on, should perform one ablution for each prayer whether their problem exists all or part of the time or not. Their prayers will be acceptable even while their problems are occurring.”
Elaborating on this issue, Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Muslim lecturer and author, states the following:
“The person who suffers from incontinence should make a new and separate Wudu’ for each prayer when the time comes, even if he has just made Wudu’ for another prayer a short time before.
This is because the Prophet taught the woman who suffers from Istihadah (prolonged non-menstrual vaginal bleeding) to do this. ‘A’ishah said: “Fatimah bint Abi Hubaysh came to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I am a woman who experiences Istihadah and I do not become clean from bleeding. Should I forget about Salah?’ He said: ‘No, that is from a vein; it is not menses. When your period starts, then stop praying, and when it ends, wash the blood from your body and pray again.’” In another version, Abu Mu`awiyah said: “He, peace and blessings be upon him, said: ‘Do Wudu’ for each prayer, until the time for the next prayer comes…’”
Abu ‘Isa said: “The Hadith of ‘A’ishah is a Sahih Hasan (good and authentic) Hadith, and this is the opinion of more than one scholar among the Companions of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and the Tabi`in (successors of the Companions). It is also the opinion of Sufyan ath-Thawri, Malik, Ibn al-Mubarak and ash-Shafi`i that when the woman who suffers from Istihadah finishes her regular period, she should do Ghusl, then do Wudu’ for each prayer.” (Sunan at-Tirmidhi, 116; the hadith is reported by al-Bukhari).
Ibn Hajar, may Allah have mercy on him, said: “The ruling on non-menstrual blood (Istihadah) is the same as the ruling on anything that breaks Wudu’: she should do Wudu’ for each prayer, but she should not pray more than one Fard (obligatory) prayer with that Wudu’, whether she is praying on time or is making up the prayer later, because of the apparent meaning of the hadith, “You should do Wudu’ for each prayer.” This is the opinion of the majority of scholars. (Fat-h al-Bari)
The same ruling applies to the person who suffers from continual incontinence or wind. You can pray as many Nafl prayers as you like with the Wudu’ you made for a Fard prayer, until the time for that fard prayer is over.”
However, performing only one Fard prayer is the opinion of the Shafi`i scholars. The Hanafi and Hanbali scholars are of the view that people with such unusual circumstances should make a new Wudu’ for the time of each prayer and then they can perform whatever they like of obligatory and supererogatory prayers as long as the time of the prayer did not elapse.
Based on the aforementioned facts, we’d like to state that if you cannot keep Wudu’ due to flatulence which causes you such hardship and great suffering as you mentioned, then you have an excuse not to make Wudu’ repeatedly. You need only to make a new and separate Wudu’ for each prayer when the time comes. However, we recommend you to consult a physician who may find you a medical solution to your problem.
Allah Almighty knows best.