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Chapter of Water | Book of Purification | Umadatul Fiqh

This text, Umdatul Fiqh was penned as a response by Imam Ibn Qudamah to a request from students for a brief manual on Fiqh for beginners. It is meant to be extremely concise with a few proofs mentioned in each chapter from which the student could derive what is needed.

Water was created pure and this is something known by the consensus of the scholars. Water which is pure is that which maintains or retains the nature in which it was created.

وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ الرِّيَاحَ بُشْرًا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ رَحْمَتِهِ وَأَنزَلْنَا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً طَهُورًا

And it is He who sends the winds as good tidings before His mercy, and We send down from the sky pure water. [Surah al-Furqan, Ayah 48]

Tahur water purifies from spiritual impurities (hadath) as well as physical impurities (khabath). A person in such a state cannot do acts of worship until they are removed.

The purification according to the madhab and the majority will not happen unless it is by the means of Water. Allah mentions in the Quran:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُوا وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَىٰ أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَامَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوا صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًا فَامْسَحُوا بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُم مِّنْهُ مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَٰكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of janabah, then purify yourselves. But if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and do not find water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and hands with it. Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful. [Surah al-Ma’idah, Ayah 6]

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَقْرَبُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنتُمْ سُكَارَىٰ حَتَّىٰ تَعْلَمُوا مَا تَقُولُونَ وَلَا جُنُبًا إِلَّا عَابِرِي سَبِيلٍ حَتَّىٰ تَغْتَسِلُوا وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَىٰ أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَامَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوا صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًا فَامْسَحُوا بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَفُوًّا غَفُورًا

O you who have believed, do not approach prayer while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying or in a state of janabah, except those passing through [a place of prayer], until you have washed [your whole body]. And if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and find no water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and your hands [with it]. Indeed, Allah is ever Pardoning and Forgiving. [Surah an-Nisa, Ayah 43]

If anything else would purify, then surely Allah would have mentioned it before moving on to purification using clean earth.

Other scholars opine that other fluids can be used as long as the eye of the impurity is removed for that is the essence intended by the Shariah. Likewise detergents used today which don’t require water to clean an object are used. This is fine as it fulfils the requirement of uplifting the physical impurity. But as for the madhab, only water is allowed to purify and nothing else can replace it.

If the water reaches a specific quantity of qullatain, it cannot become impure. This ‘qullatain’ may vary from area to area. In Damascus it is 108 pounds or 500 pounds in Iraqi measurements. In another mode of measurement it is one and a quarter cube of a Dira’a. A Dira’a is measured from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow. This is roughly about 190 litres of water.
So if the water is 190 litres or more or it is running water, then the water won’t become najjis (impure) if an impurity falls into it. The condition to it is that as long as one of the 3 primary characteristics of smell, colour and taste of the water doesn’t change, it is considered to be pure. Such a water can be used to remove spiritual impurity (by means of wudhu or ghusl) as well as physical impurities.

If impurity falls into water that is qullatain in measurement or more and it changes in any of the 3 primary characteristics, then it is deemed impure.

Whatever is less than the measurement of qullatain and impurity falls into it then as per the madhab, even if it doesn’t change any of the 3 primary characteristics of smell, taste and colour, the water is deemed impure.

If one cooks in the water something, which is tahir (pure – such as meat) then this water also becomes tahir and cannot be used for removing spiritual and physical impurities. Based on this, anything which is put in water which changes any of the 3 primary characteristics or it can no longer be called water, then this cannot be used for removing spiritual and physical impurities.

If the water was used for making wudhu or ghusl and the water of that was collected to be reused then as per the madhab this water cannot be used for purification as this water is no longer tahur, but only tahir now. It has lost its ability to purify.

If someone doubts the status of the purity of the water then they should resort to what they are certain about. This employs an important Fiqh principle which is used in many other upcoming chapters also which is:

اليقين لا يزول بالشك

(al-yaqeenu la yazoolu bi-l-shak)

Certainty is not removed by doubt.

 Always return to that which is primary, established and sure rather than that which is doubtful and uncertain. This qaidah is derived from the Sunnah. On the authority of Abu Muhammad al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib رضى الله عنه, the grandson of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and the one much loved by him, who said:

I memorized from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ:

دَعْ مَا يُرِيبُك إلَى مَا لَا يُرِيبُك

“Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.” [at-Tirmidhi and an-Nasai]

Ex: If you are sure that the bucket of water is pure but you doubt that some impurity must have fallen into it then such a doubt shouldn’t be paid any attention to. Stick and adhere to that which is certain and use the water.

 

If a person doubts which of his clothes the impurity has touched then he should wash them till he is certain that no impurities remain.

If a person has only two containers of water available where one of them is tahur (pure and purifying) while the other is najjis (impure) and the person doesn’t know which is which; then the person should avoid using both and resort to tayammum. It is as though the person doesn’t have any water.

If a person has only two containers of water available where one of them is tahur (pure and purifying) while the other is tahir (pure) and the person doesn’t know which is which; then the person should wash the limbs once with water from one bucket and another time the same limb with water from the other bucket. By this a degree of certainty is guaranteed that a person must have used tahur water atleast once in his purification.

If a person is confused about which of his clothes an impurity fell on (and there is no means of purifying them), and there might be one that is pure, then the person should pray in each piece of clothing the number of clothes effected plus one.

Some scholars say that this would be difficult for a person if the clothes are large in number. So a person should do ijtihad to the best of his ability regarding the cleanliness of the clothes and go ahead with the prayer.

 

The filth or impurity of the dog and the pig is to be cleaned 7 times with water where one of them is with soil. This is a heavy type of impurity. According to the Sunnah, the impurity of the dog and its method of purification is mentioned in Bukhari and Muslim. Scholars through qiyas say that since the pig is higher in impurity than the dog, this ruling applies to it also.

Narrated by Abu Huraira رضى الله عنه: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said:

طَهُورُ إِنَاءِ أَحَدِكُمْ إِذْ وَلَغَ فِيهِ اَلْكَلْبُ أَنْ يَغْسِلَهُ سَبْعَ مَرَّاتٍ, أُولَاهُنَّ بِالتُّرَابِ

“The cleansing of the utensil belonging to one of you, after it has been licked by a dog, is to wash it seven times, and using soil for cleaning at the first time.” [Muslim].

Another version has: “he should spill the content”. At-Tirmidhi’s version has “using soil at the first or last time”.

As for other impurities then they are to be washed away a minimum of 3 times as per the madhab. If the impurity or it’s traces are not removed, then more washes can be used till it is certain that purity has been obtained. Other scholars opine that as long as the impurity has been removed, then even a single wash is valid and enough.

If the impurity was on land then in this case one bucket of water being poured over it is enough to make it pure to be prayed upon etc.

In the case of the impurity (urine) of a young child who is 2 years or less who doesn’t eat solid food, then water can be sprinkled over the effected place to purify it. This is a case of light najjasa.

Likewise, as per the madhab, Madhiy (pre-seminal fluid) is also cleansed by sprinkling water over it.

Another narration in the madhab classifies it as a normal impurity instead of a lighter impurity which in turn necessitates it to be washed a minimum of 3 times with water.

Combining between both we say that if the madhiy is less then it is considered a lighter impurity which is sufficed by sprinkling water over it. But if it is large in quantity then it is considered as a normal impurity and should be washed 3 times with water.

Small quantity of blood and it’s likes (pus etc) falling on clothing etc are forgiven or overlooked by the concession provided by the Shariah.

The Mani’ (semen) of a human being is pure and not najjis and this is also forgiven.
It was narrated that ‘Aisha said: “I remember when I found it (semen) on the garment of the Messenger of Allah and I scratched it off.” [Ibn Majah]

The urine of the animals, which are Halal are also considered pure.
Narrated Anas رضى الله عنه: The climate of Medina did not suit some people, so the Prophet ﷺ ordered them to follow his shepherd, i.e. his camels, and drink their milk and urine (as a medicine). So they followed the shepherd that is the camels and drank their milk and urine till their bodies became healthy. Then they killed the shepherd and drove away the camels. When the news reached the Prophet ﷺ he sent some people in their pursuit. When they were brought, he cut their hands and feet and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron. [Bukhari]

Anas reported رضى الله عنه: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to pray in the folds of the sheep and goats before the mosque was built. [Muslim]

For sure the housing of these animals would have some droppings etc around them yet the Prophet allowed it. If it was najjis then the Prophet wouldn’t have ordered the travellers to use it. Based on this if the impurity of a Halal animal falls on one’s clothing then it’s not an issue for it is pure.

 

The following are notes transcribed based on the commentary of Umdatul Fiqh by Sheikh Mashhoor Muhammad al-Suhaibi. 

Anyone wishing to join the classes or access the recordings for the class may visit:

https://t.me/UmdatulFiqh_ShMashhur

 

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