Fiqh As-Sunnah
Prayer (Salah)

The shari'ah has divided water into four kinds:

1. mutlaq water,
2. used water (for purification),
3. water mixed with pure elements and
4. water mixed with impure elements. We shall discuss each of them separately.

Mutlaq water:
This kind of water is considered pure because of its inherent purity and as such, it can be used by an individual to purify him or herself. It consists of the following categories:

Rain water, snow, and hail:
These substances are pure because Allah says so: "And sent down water from the sky upon you, that thereby He might purify you..." (al-Anfal 1), and "We send down purifying water from the sky" (al-Furqan 48). This is also supported by the following hadith: Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, used to be silent between the (opening) takbir of the prayer and the verbal Qur'anic recitation. Abu Hurairah asked him, "O Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you, why do you remain silent between the takbir and the recital? What do you say (silently during that time)?" He said, "I say, 'O Allah, make a distance between me and my sins similar to the distance you have made between the East and the West. O Allah, cleanse me of my sins in the manner that a white garment (is cleansed) from dirt. O Allah, wash my sins from me with snow, water, and hail."' This hadith is related by the "group", except for at-Tirmidhi.

Sea water:
Sea water's purity is based on the following hadith: Abu Hurairah related that a man asked the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, "O Messenger of Allah, we sail on the ocean and we carry only a little water. If we use it for ablution, we will have to go thirsty. May we use sea water for ablution?" Said the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, "Its (the sea) water is pure and its dead (animals) are lawful (i.e., they can be eaten without any prescribed slaughtering)." This hadith is related by "the five." At-Tirmidhi calls it hassan sahih, and al-Bukhari says it is sahih.

Water from the well of Zamzam:
'Ali narrated that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, called for a bucket that contained water from the well of Zamzam. He drank from the bucket, then made ablution (with its water). This hadith is related by Ahmad.

Altered water:
This involves water whose form has been altered because of its being in a place for a long period of time, or because of the place in which it is located, or because of its being mixed with a substance that cannot be completely removed from it (i.e., water mixed with algae, tree leaves, and so on). The scholars agree that this type of water falls under the heading of mutlaq water.

The rationale is simple: everything that falls under the general term of water, without any further qualifications, is considered pure, for the Qur'an says, "...and if you find not water, then go to clean, high ground..." (al-Ma'idah 6).

Used water:
This category refers to water which drips from the person after he performs ablution or ghusl. It is considered pure because it was pure before its use for ablution, and there is no basis to think that it has lost its purity. This statement is supported by the hadith of Rab'i bint Mu'wadh which describes the ablution of the Messenger of Allah. She states, "He wiped his head with (the water) remaining on his hands from his ablution." This hadith is related by Ahmad and Abu Dawud. Abu Dawud's version is, "The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, wiped his head with the extra water that was in his hand." Abu Hurairah also reported that the Messenger of Allah met him alone in the streets of Madinah while he was in post-sex impurity. He therefore slipped away, made ghusl and returned. The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, asked him "Where have you been, Abu Hurairah?" He answered, "I was in post-sex impurity and did not want to sit with you while I was in that condition." The Prophet replied, "Glory be to Allah. The believer does not become impure." This is related by "the group."

This is based on the rationale that since a believer never becomes impure, the water he uses for purification also does not become impure. Thus, a pure object touching a pure object cannot result in one's becoming impure. Ibn al-Mundhir said that it is related that 'Ali, Ibn 'Umar, Abu Umamah, 'Ata, al-Hassan, Makhul and anNakha'i said that if a person forgot to wipe his head while making ablution, it is sufficient for him to wipe his head with any water remaining in his beard. Ibn al-Mundhir stated that this proves that they took "used water" as pure. This opinion comes from one of the narrations attributed to Malik and ash-Shaf'i. Ibn Hazm ascribes it to Sufyan al-Thauri, Abu Thaur, and all scholars of the Dhahiri school of thought.

Water mixed with pure elements:
This category includes water that has been mixed with substances like soap, saffron, flowers, and so on, that is, objects considered pure by the shari'ah. Such water is considered pure as long as it has not been so mixed with other substances that one can no longer call it water. If this is the case, the water is still considered pure, but it cannot be used for purification. Umm 'Atiyah narrated that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, entered her house after the death of his daughter Zainab and said, "Wash her three or five or more times--if you see fit to do so--with water and dry tree leaves. For the final washing, use some kafoor or something from kafoor. When you are finished, inform me." She did so, after which he gave the women his outer garment and told them to wrap Zainab in it. This was related by "the group."

The deceased should be washed with something that may purify a live person. Ahmad, an-Nasa'i and Ibn Khuzaimah record from Umm Hani that the Messenager of Allah and Maimunah washed themselves from one (water) container that had a trace of dough in it. In both of these hadith, we find that the water was mixed with another substance, but since the other substance was not substantial enough to alter its nature, it remained fit for consumption.

Water mixed with impure elements:
We can divide this category into two sub-categories:

1. The impure substance alters the taste, color or odor of the water. In this case, it can not be used for purification. According to Ibn al-Mundhir and Ibn al-Mulaqqin, there is a consensus on this point.

2. The liquid is still considered water, meaning that the impure substance has not altered its taste, color or odor. Such water is considered pure and may be used for purification. This is based upon the following hadith: Abu Hurairah reported that a bedouin urinated in the mosque. The people stood to get him (and stop him). The Prophet said, "Leave him and pour a bucket of water or a container of water over his urine. You have been raised to be easy on the people, not to be hard on them." This hadith is narrated by "the group," except for Muslim.

Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri asked the Prophet, "Can we make ablution from the well of Buda'ah (i.e., a well in Madinah)?" The Prophet, upon whom be peace, told him, "Water is pure and nothing makes it impure." This hadith is related by Ahmad, ash-Shaf'i, Abu Dawud, anNasa'i and at-Tirmidhi, who classified it as hassan. Ahmad said, "This hadith is sahih and Yahya ibn Ma'een and Muhammad ibn Hazm classified it as such." This is also the opinion of Ibn 'Abbas, Abu Hurairah, al-Hassan al-Basri, Ibn al-Musayyab, 'Ikrimah, Ibn Abu Laila, al-Thauri, Dawud adh-Dhahiri, an-Nakha'i, Malik and others. Says al-Ghazzali, "I wish ash-Shaf'i's opinion was like Malik's."

There is also a hadith from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar in which the Messenger of Allah is reported to have said, "If there are at least two buckets of water, it will not carry any impurity." This hadith is related by the "five." However, this hadith is mudhtarab in its chain of narrators and text. Ibn 'Abdul-Barr said in at-Tamheed, "As to the opinion of ash-Shaf'i which is based on this hadith, it is weak on scrutiny and is not confirmed by historical reports."

Leftover water:
"Leftover water" is what remains in a pot after some has been drunk. There are five different types of leftover water.

Water leftover after people have drunk from the pot:
According to the shari'ah, such water is considered pure regardless of whether the one who drank from the pot was a Muslim, an unbeliever, a person in post-sex impurity or a menstruating woman. Although Allah says in the Qur'an, "Verily, the idol worshippers are impure" (at-Taubah) this is a reference not to their physical state, but to their false beliefs and creed. They may come into contact with dirt or impurities, but this does not mean that their possessions or bodies are impure. In fact, they used to mix with the Muslims. Their emmissaries and delegations used to visit the Messenger of Allah and enter his mosque. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, did not order that the objects they touched be cleansed. As for mensturating women, 'Aishah said, "I used to drink (from a container) while I was menstruating. I would then pass it to the Messenger of Allah and he would drink from the same spot where I had put my lips." (Related by Muslim.)

Water left in a container after an allowable animal has drunk from it:
Such water is considered pure. Since the animal qualifies for consumption, its saliva is also pure. Abu Bakr ibn al-Mundhir said, "The scholars are agreed that such water is permissible to drink or use for ablution."

Water remaining in a pot after it has been drunk by a donkey, mule, beasts of birds of prey:
Such water is also considered pure, based on the hadith of Jabir in which the Messenger of Allah was asked about making ablution with drinking water left by donkeys. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, answered, "Yes, and from the drinking water left by any of the beasts of prey." This hadith was related by ash-Shaifi, ad-Daraqutni and al-Baihaqi who said, "When its different chains are put together they become strong." It has also been related from Ibn 'Umar that the Messenger of Allah went out at night while he was on a journey. He passed by a man who was sitting by a pond. Said 'Umar, "Did a beast of prey drink from your pond tonight?" The Messenger of Allah told him, "O owner of the pond, do not inform him. It is not necessary, for him (the beast of prey) is what he carried in his stomach and for us is what he left, water to be used for drinking and purifying." This is related by ad-Daraqutni. Yahya ibn Sa'eed reported that once 'Umar was among a group that included 'Amr ibn al-'Aas and, when they came upon a pond, 'Amr said, "O owner of the pond, have the beasts of prey discovered your pond?" 'Umar said, "Do not inform us, since the people drink after the wild beasts and the wild beasts after the people." This is related by Malik in al-Muwatta.

Water left in a pot after a cat has drunk from it:
Such water is also considered pure. This is proven by the hadith of Kabshah bint Ka'b who, when she was under the care of Abu Qatadah, entered the room to pour some water for him. A cat came, drank some of the water, and Qatadah proceeded to tilt the container so the cat could drink more. Kabshah said, "He noticed that I was watching him." He asked, "Are you surprised, O niece?" I answered, "Yes." He said, "The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said, 'It (the cat) is not impure. They intermingle with you."'

Water left in a pot after a pig or dog has drunk from it:
Such water is considered impure and must be avoided. Al-Bukhari and Muslim have recorded, on the authority of Abu Hurairah, that the messenger of Allah said, "If a dog drinks from one of your containers, wash it seven times." Ahmad and Muslim also have this addition, "Cleanse one of your containers if a dog licks it by washing it seven times, the first washing being with dirt." As for the leftover water of a pig, it is clearly considered filth and impure.

Purifying the body and clothes:
If the clothes or body are contaminated with impurities, it is obligatory to wash them with water until they are cleansed of the impurities. This is especially the case if the impurity is visible, such as blood. If there are some stains that remain after washing which would be extremely difficult to remove, they can be overlooked. If the impurity is not visible, such as urine, it is sufficient to wash it one time. 'Asma bint Abu Bakr related that a woman came to the Prophet, upon whom be peace, and said, "Our clothes are contaminated with menstrual blood. What should we do about this?" He said, "Scrape it, rub it with water, pour water over it and then pray in it." (This is related by al-Bukhari and Muslim) If impurities get on the lower portion of a woman's dress, it is purified by dust as she trails along. A woman said to Umm Salamah, "I have a long dress that drags on the ground, even when I walk through places that contain filth. What should I do about it?" Umm Salamah answered her, "The Messenger of Allah said, 'What comes after it purifies it."' This is related by Ahmad and Abu Dawud.

Purifying the ground:
If there are impurities on the ground, it is purified by pouring water over it. This is proven by Abu Hurairah's hadith, mentioned earlier, about the bedouin who urinated in the mosque. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said all that needed to be done for purification was to pour water over it. Said Abu Qulabah, "The drying of the ground is its purification." 'Aishah said, "The purification of the ground is its becoming dry." (Related by Ibn Abi Shaibah.) This, of course, refers to the case where the impurity is a liquid. If the impurity is a solid, the ground will only become pure by its removal or decay.

Purifying clarified butter and other similar substances:
Ibn 'Abbas relates from Maimunah that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, was asked about a mouse that fell into a pot of clarified butter. He said, "Take (the mouse) and what is around it out, and throw it away. Then eat (the rest of) your clarified butter." This is related by al-Bukhari.

Commenting on the subject, al-Hafedh Ibn Hajr says, "Ibn 'Abdul Barr reported that there is agreement that if a dead animal falls into a solid matter, what the dead animal touches and what is around it must be thrown away, provided that one can make sure that the animal did not touch the remainder. As for a liquid substance, there is some difference of opinion. The majority say that the entire liquid becomes impure; az-Zuhri, al-Auza'i, and some others disagree with that opinion.

Purifying the skin of dead animals:
Tanning purifies the skin and the fur of a dead animal. This is based on the hadith of Ibn 'Abbas, in which the Prophet said, "If the animal's skin is tanned, it is purified." (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

Purifying mirrors and similar objects:
Mirrors, knives, swords, nails, bones, glass, painted pots and other smooth surfaces that have no pores are purified by simply wiping them and removing any impure remains. The companions of the Prophet used to pray while wearing swords smeared with blood, and they used to just wipe the swords to purify them.

Purifying shoes:
Shoes may be purified by rubbing them against the ground, as long as the remains of the impurity are removed. Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said, "If one of you stepped in some filth, the dirt will purify his shoes." Related by Abu Dawud. In another narration it states, "If one of you steps in some filth with his shoes on, the dirt will purify them." Abu Sa'eed reported the Prophet, upon whom be peace, saying, "When a person comes to the mosque, he should look at his shoes. If he finds any filth on them, he should wipe them against the ground and pray in them." (Related by Ahmad and Abu Dawud.) Since shoes are repeatedly exposed to filth, it is sufficient just to wipe them against the ground. This is similar to the case of defecation. In fact, it is stronger than that case, as defecation usually occurs only two or three times a day.

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