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COLLECTIONLetters from the Universal House of Justice
TITLEPhysical disability preventing genuflections of Long Obligatory Prayer
AUTHOR 1 Universal House of Justice
ABSTRACTHow can a believer with physical disabilities say the Long Obligatory Prayer, which requires genuflections. Preceded by original question asked.
NOTES Transmitted by email. Submitted by and posted with permission of recipient.

See also illustrations (prepared by an individual, not The House) showing the positions to adopt when reciting this prayer: bolhuis_prayer_positions.pdf.

TAGSDisability; Exemption; Genuflections; Obligatory prayer; Obligatory prayer, Long

1. Letter to the Universal House of Justice

Dear Friends,

I have some questions regarding the Obligatory Prayers.

The following was written on behalf of the Guardian:

"Whichever obligatory prayer is chosen to be used should be followed in full. If one cannot perform the postures necessary in connection with the long obligatory prayer, he may choose another if ill, or just the very short one.
      (12 July 1955 to an individual believer) "

I was born with a spinal cord malformation that makes me partly paralyzed. I can stand, but if I do, I cannot concentrate on the prayer. Therefore I have been sitting down while reciting the Short Obligatory Prayer.

But sometimes I find myself in places where I cannot recite this prayer between noon and 6 pm (as we in the north have been prescribed to do, since we have long days in the summer and short days in the winter). I have tried to recite the Long Obligatory Prayer instead of the Short one whenever I have had the opportunity to recite a prayer, but cannot do the necessary genuflexions accociated with that prayer.

I would greatly appreciate guidance in this matter.

      Thank you in advance,
      In His Service, ...

2. Response from the Universal House of Justice

8 October 2000

Dear Bahá'í Friend,

      The Universal House of Justice has received your emailed letter of 19 August 2000 requesting guidance, in light of your physical incapability, about the requirements of the Obligatory Prayers. With regard to your query, we share with you below extracts from two letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi in response to similar questions.
      With reference to your question regarding the three daily obligatory prayers: the Bahá'í worshipper is not required to recite them all each day, but has to choose one, and should also strictly conform to any instructions revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in connection with its recital, such as the raising of hands, various genuflexions, etc. Those who for some reason or other, especially when physically unable to observe these regulations owing to illness or some bodily defect, cannot conform to these instructions should preferably choose the short prayer, which is exceedingly simple.
      (7 December 1939 to an individual believer)

As regards the questions about the proper use of the Long Obligatory Prayer: All the writings of the Faith may be read and should be read for the instruction and inspiration of the friends. This includes the specific prayers. If a believer is physically incapable of performing the genuflexions accompanying one of the prayers, and yet he longs to say it as an obligatory prayer, then he may do so. By physically incapable is meant a real physical incapacity a physician would attest as genuine.
      (17 February 1955 to a Local Spiritual Assembly)
It is hoped that these quotes will provide the clarification you seek.

      With loving Bahá'í greetings,
      Department of the Secretariat
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