Evaluate the Risk of Telling Particular People
Sheikh `Abdel As-Sattaar Fathallah As-Sa`eed, professor of Qur'anic Exegesis, at Al-Azhar University, states the following:
“If you know that telling your family about your embracing Islam will not bring about great harm to you, then you should tell them and declare your faith. However, if this will cause you great harm, then you should hide this until such a time you find yourself able to leave the place for a perfect environment where you can feel at ease to practice Islam and live with your sisters in faith. Meanwhile, it is important you confide in your close friends and people you deem trustworthy in your location. This is because if you die, you will need someone to prove that you are a Muslim so that your body will be washed according to Islamic rules, and offered a funeral prayer, and buried in a Muslim cemetery.”[i]
What if I can’t openly practice things such as prayer, dress, and diet without exposing my conversion?
How to Practice in Secret
The basic principle is that the one who enters Islam is required to follow all the teachings of the religion, doing what is enjoined, and avoiding what is prohibited. Allah, may He be exalted, says:
“O you who believe! Enter perfectly in Islam (by obeying all the rules and regulations of the Islamic religion) and follow not the footsteps of Shaytaan (Satan). Verily! He is to you a plain enemy” (Qur’an 2:208).
Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Here Allah instructs His believing slaves who follow His Messenger that they should adhere to all the teachings of Islam, act in accordance with all its instructions and avoid everything that it prohibits, to the best of their ability.” (Tafseer Ibn Katheer 1/565)
Based on that, if one becomes Muslim, they are obliged to comply with all the commands, which includes offering prayer and wearing hijab. They are also obliged to avoid everything that is prohibited, which includes eating pork.
If they are not able to do some of that, or is incapable of doing any of that, and fears that they will be harmed or persecuted, and that they may try to make her give up their religion, then in that case, it is permissible to conceal their Islam whilst doing whatever they can of the obligatory duties and avoiding whatever they can of things that are prohibited, and whatever they are unable to do, they will be forgiven by the Most Gracious, Most Merciful, in sha Allah.
With regard to wearing hijab, if a girl is not able to do that, she should try to wear clothes that are as close as possible to it, that she can wear without any fear of persecution. She should cover whatever she is able to of her body and hair, and whatever she is not able to do, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Kind. But she should try hard to avoid going out of the house except in the case of need. [ii]
Sheikh As-Sa`eed, states the following: “It is important for you to know that your embracing Islam does mean that you are supposed to abide by the teachings and behests of this religion. Wearing Hijab is an obligation like any other obligation in Islam. However, in your case, given the hardship you suffer and the necessity of supporting the family, you may put off wearing Hijab under the following conditions:
First: You have to bear in mind that it is a grave sin for a Muslim woman to uncover part of her `awrah. This should be in mind always. Therefore, given your case, you need to seek Allah's Forgiveness, and to deem it as a transitional stage until such a time you find yourself able to wear Hijab without being subject to persecution.
Second: Try to look for a Muslim husband who will protect you and make things a bit easier, in sha’ Allah.
Third: It is highly recommended for you to look for a place where you can work and support your family and at the same time wear Hijab.
Thus, putting off Hijab is deemed here the lesser of two evils, and something resorted to in order to avoid more hardship, based on the juristic rule which states: “The lesser harm can be suffered in order to fend off greater harm.”[iii]
Similarly, they should try to avoid eating pork as much as they can, and eat other things, or they can pretend that they do not feel like eating it, or other excuses that may be acceptable or that will not cause conflict with her family and the people around her.
Over and above all that, one should seek the help of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, to make their steadfast in adhering to His religion, and to avert from them all pressures to make them give up Islam, both apparent and hidden, and to grant her a way out.[iv]
A Muslim is obliged to offer the five prayers every day and night, and it is not permissible to omit any of them, no matter what one’s excuse, so long as one is of sound mind.
If you are not able to do each prayer at its proper time, then you may put two prayers together: so you may pray Zuhr and ‘Asr together, and Maghrib and ‘Isha’ together, and pray Fajr on time on its own. If you are not able to do that, then you should offer whatever of the prayers you can on time, and the rest they should pray whenever you are able to do so, even if the time for any particular prayer has ended, and even if you are compelled to offer all five daily prayers together at one time, when you are alone and safe from prying eyes.
If you cannot pray particular prayers for fear that your family may find out that you are a Muslim, then you should not avoid praying, but you can do the following:
1- Join Maghrib and ‘Isha’ at the time of the earlier or later prayer, and pray them in secret. Reciting out loud in the prayers in which Qur’aan is recited out loud, such as Fajr, Maghrib and ‘Isha’, is Sunnah, not obligatory. The same applies to raising the hands when saying the opening takbeer and when saying the takbeers when changing posture, and placing the right hand over the left when standing. All of these are Sunnah actions.
2- You may limit yourself to doing the pillars and essential parts of the prayer. So you may recite al-Faatihah and not recite a soorah after it, and you may recite just one tasbeehah when bowing and prostrating. Thus you will be able to do the prayer in a few minutes. Girls are usually able to close the door of their rooms for a few minutes, such as when they change their clothes and the like, so girls can do the prayer during that time.
3- If you want to do wudoo’, you can do wudoo’ in the bathroom where no one can see you, as if you is relieving herself. If you are unable to do wudoo’ then you can do tayammum (dry ablutions), even if you use the wall or furniture of the house and prays with this tayammum.
4- If we assume that you cannot hide from your family even for a few minutes in which to pray, and are afraid that if they find out you are a Muslim and will suffer real harm, then it is permissible for you to pray whilst sitting, gesturing for the bowing and prostrating. If that is not possible then you may pray sitting and intending in her heart to bow and prostrate, whilst facing the qiblah. If you are unable to face the qiblah, then you may pray facing in any direction. If we assume that you can only pray whilst lying down, then you may do that. The point is that prayer is not waived for one who is accountable, under any circumstances.
The basic principle concerning that is the verse in which Allah says: “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope” (Qur’an 2:286) and the words of the Prophet pbuh: “Pray standing, and if you cannot then sitting, and if you cannot then on your side.” (Bukhari 1117) and (Abu Dawood 952).
The fuqaha’ mentioned some cases in which the requirement to face the qiblah and bow and prostrate is waived, such as when fleeing from a wild animal or a flood or when fighting breaks out on the battlefield, when there is not enough time to do the prayer properly with all its essential parts.
Ibn Qudaamah said in al-Mughni (1/258): To sum up: if the fear is so intense that one cannot pray facing the qiblah or one needs to walk or is unable to do some of the essential parts of prayer, either because of permissible flight from an enemy, flood, wild beast or fire and the like, which one can only escape by fleeing, or when engaging in fighting the enemy or when fighting breaks out on the battlefield, and there is a need to charge and retreat and stab and strike and chase, then he may pray according to his situation, whether he is walking or riding, facing the qiblah if possible, or facing any other direction if that is not possible.
If he is unable to bow and prostrate, he may gesture to indicate them, and lean forward more for prostration than bowing, according to what he is able to do. If he is unable to gesture, then it is waived. If he is unable to stand or sit and so on, then they are waived. If he needs to stab and strike and charge and retreat, he may do that. He should not delay the prayer until the time for it is over because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And if you fear (an enemy), perform Salaah (pray) on foot or riding” [al-Baqarah 2:239]. And Maalik narrated from Naafi’ that Ibn ‘Umar said: If the fear is greater than that, they may pray walking, standing on their feet, or riding, facing the qiblah or otherwise. Naafi’ said: I do not think that Ibn ‘Umar narrated it from anyone but the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).”
Indeed the fuqaha’ have stated that the prisoner or the one who is afraid that his being Muslim will be discovered should still pray.
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Mughni (2/140): “If he flees from an enemy in a permissible sense, or he flees from a flood or wild animal or fire, and he cannot escape it except by fleeing, then he may pray in the manner that is permitted in the case of extreme fear, whether he fears for himself or his property or his family. If a prisoner fears for his life if he prays, or if someone is hiding in a place, then they should pray however they are able to. This was stated by Ahmad with regard to the prisoner. If the one who is hiding is sitting and cannot stand, or he is lying down and cannot stand up or move, then he should pray according to his situation.” This is the view of Muhammad ibn al-Hasan. Al-Shaafa’i said: “He should pray and repeat it (later on), but this is not correct, because the one who is afraid should pray according to what he is able to do, and he does not have to repeat it, as is also the case for one who is fleeing. It makes no difference whether one is travelling or not, because what makes it permissible is fear of death, and that is the same in both cases.
Whenever he can find a refuge to do his prayer, such as if the one who is fleeing from a flood can climb to a high place and the one who fears an enemy can enter a fortress where he will be safe from the enemy’s attack and from harm, then he should pray there then come out, and he does not have the right to offer the prayer of extreme fear, because that is only permitted in cases of necessity, so it is only to be done when necessary.”
To sum up: you are obligated to offer the five prayers, and it is not permissible for you to omit any of them, but you may perform the prayer in whatever way you can, which includes offering the prayer of extreme fear if necessary.[v]
In the event of extreme or unusual difficulty in performing some religious duties, then Allah will make it easier for you (by granting concessions). Because Islam enjoins the Muslim, for example to pray, no matter what the circumstances, but there may be some concessions with regard to the rulings about how to do it. So you should do whatever you can, and whatever you cannot do or is too difficult for you to do, is waived in your case.
[iv] Islamqa - Note: Summarized, removing unrelated text for topic.
[v] Islamqa Note: Summarized, removing unrelated text for topic.