According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, schizophrenia means any of a group of psychotic disorders usually characterized by withdrawal from reality, illogical patterns of thinking, delusions, and hallucinations, and accompanied in varying degrees by other emotional, behavioural, or intellectual disturbances. This indicates some sort of mental illness that reduces the person suffering from it to the stage of behaving irrationally and losing consciousness.
Explaining the Shari`ah’s stance on this issue, especially as regard to how far the sufferer is absolved from religious duties, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: “The one who is conscious at one time and unconscious at another has a special ruling in Shari`ah. For example, the insane who is aware at some times and falls unconscious at other times is required to carry out all religious obligations such as salah, fasting, and others when he is aware and knows and understand what he or she is doing; yet he or she is absolved of all these religious practices in case of unconsciousness based on their inability to understand what they are doing.
By virtue of Qiyas (juristic analogy), one who is affected with schizophrenia falls under the same ruling. If schizophrenia reaches the stage of withdrawal from reality and losing one’s consciousness that he or she is no longer different than the insane, unaware of what is going on, then he can be absolved from performing the pillars of Islam. If, however, the situation is just a kind of psychosocial or intellectual disturbance, then he is obliged to pray and perform all his religious obligations just like any other person.”