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Home » Worship and Jurisprudence » Purification

Rulings on Purification for the Sick
All praise be to Allaah, the Lords of the Worlds, and may peace and blessings of Allaah be upon the noblest of the Prophets and Messengers, our Prophet, Muhammad and upon all his family and Companions. As for what follows:

Verily, Allaah, the Most Glorified, Most High has legislated purification for every prayer, because the elimination of impurity and the removal of pollution - whether on the body, the clothes or the place of prayer - are two of the conditions of prayer. So when the Muslim wishes to pray, he must perform the well known ablution (Wudhu) to purify himself from minor impurity, or make Ghusl if the impurity is of the major kind. And before making ablution, Istinja' must be performed with water, or Istijmar by the one who has urinated or defecated in order that the purification and cleansing be complete. What follows is an explanation of some of the rulings related to this.

Istinja' with water is obligatory every time something is discharged from the bowel and bladder, such as urine or faeces. But it is not necessary for the sleeper or one who passes wind to perform Istinja'. He is only required to perform ablution, because Istinja' is only prescribed for the removal of impurity, and there is no impurity in this situation.

Istijmar is performed using stones, or another material in its place (such as wood, paper etc.) It must consist of three clean stones, as proved by the Hadith of the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) which states that he said:

"Whoever performs Istijmar, let him make it Witr (i.e. use an odd number of stones)." [Abu Dawud no.35 and Ibn Majah no. 337]

And he (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) also said:

"If any of you goes to defecate, he should take with him three stones, for they will be sufficient for him."

Muslim narrated that he (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) forbade Istijmar with less than three stones. It is not permissible to make Istijmar with animal droppings, bones or food or anything which contains some forbidden material. It is preferred for a person to perform istijmar with stones, or the like such as tissues etc. After which, he should use water, because the stones remove the essence of the pollution, but the water purifies the area and is therefore more thorough. A person has a choice of Istinja' with water, or Istijmar with stones or the like. It is reported on the authority of Anas, may Allaah be pleased with him, that he said:

"The Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) entered the toilet and I and a young boy like me carried materials, including water and 'anaza (a short spear) and he would perform Istinja' with the water." [al-Bukhari no.152 & Muslim no.271.]

It is reported on the authority of 'Aishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, that she said to a group of women:

"Order your husbands to clean themselves following defecation with water, for I am too embarrassed to do so, and the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) used to do so." At-Tirmidhee said that it was authentic [At-Tirmidhee no.19]

If a person wants to use only one of them (i.e. stones or water), it is preferred to choose water, because it cleans the area removing the essence and the traces and it is more thorough in cleansing. If he chooses to only use stones, he should content himself with three, if it cleanses the area, but if it is not enough, he may use four or five (or more) until he has cleaned the area, but it is better to finish with an odd number, based upon the saying of the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam):

"Whoever performs Istijmar, let him make it Witr." [Abu Dawud no.35 and Ibn Majah no. 337]

It is not permissable to make the Istijmar with the right hand, according to the Hadith of Salman, may Allaah be pleased with him, in which he said:

"The Messenger of Allaah forbade us from performing Istinja' with the right hand." And he said:

"None of you should hold his penis in his right hand while he is urinating. nor should he wipe himself with the right hand after answering the call of nature." [Al-Bukhari no.153 & Muslim no.267]

But if his left hand has been cut off, or is broken or there is some disease in it, he may use his right hand, and there is no objection to that.

Because the Islamic law is based upon facility and ease, Allaah, the Most Glorified, Most High has lightened the burden of worship on those who have some excuse, according to the excuse. He, the Most High says:

"And (He) has not laid upon you in religion any hardship." [Surah al-Hajj 22:78]

And He says:

"Allaah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you." [Surah al-Baqarah 2:185]

And He says:

"So keep your duty to Allaah and fear Him as much as you can." [Surah at-Taghabun 64:16]

And the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:

"If I order you to do something, do it as much as you can." [Al-Bukharino.7288 & Muslim no.1337]

And he (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:

"Verily the Religion is ease." [Narrated by al-Bukhari]

If a sick person is unable to cleanse himself of minor impurity with the water by making ablution, or he is unable to purify himself of major impurity by making Ghusl, due to weakness, or fear of making his illness worse, or delaying his recovery, he may perform Tayammum [Dry ablution using sand or dust.]

This is done by striking his hands in clean dust once, then wiping his face with the palms of his hands and his fingers slowly, based upon the Words of Him, the Most High:

"And if you are ill, or on a journey, or one of you comes after answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women (by sexual relations) and you find no water, perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands (Tayammum). Truly, Allaah is Ever Oft-Pardoning, Oft-Forgiving." [Surah An-Nisa 4:43]

The ruling on those who are unable to use water is the same that of those who are unable to find water, according to the words of the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam):

"The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended." [Al-Bukhari no. 1]

A sick person may fall into one of a number of categories:

1. If his illness is a simple one and he does not fear to use the water, such as an ailment from which there is no fear that using the water will delay his recovery, or increase his pain, or cause any infection, such as a headache, toothache and the like, or he is able to use warm water without harm, then it is not allowed for him to make Tayammum. Because the permission to perform it is in order to prevent harm, and there is no fear of harm to him, and because he can find water, therefore he must use it.

2. If he fears from an illness which he fears may - should he use water - cause his death or harm one of his organs, or may lead to some illness which might cause his death or harm one of his organs, or cause the loss of some faculty, then it is permissible for him to perform Tayammum, based upon the words of the Most High:

"And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, Allaah is Most Merciful to you."[Surah an-Nisa' 4:29]

3. If he is suffering from some illness which makes him unable to move, and he finds no one to bring him water, it is permissible for him to perform Tayammum.

4. Anyone suffering from a wound, an ulcer or fracture, or any illness which will be exacerbated by using water, and who becomes Junub [in a state of sexual impurity] is allowed to perform Tayammum, based upon the above evidences. If he is able to wash the healthy areas of his body, he must do so and make Tayammum for the rest.

A sick person who is in a place in which he finds neither water nor dust, or anyone who can bring him either one of them, may pray whatever condition he is in, and he is not allowed to delay the prayer, as Allaah, the Most High say:

"So keep your duty to Allaah and fear Him as much as you can." [Surah at-Taghabun 64:16]

6. An invalid afflicted with incontinence of urine, who is not cured by his treatment, must make ablution for every prayer after the start of its prescribed time, wash off any urine that has affected his body, and wear a clean garment for his prayer, if this is not a burden on him. But if it is, he is excused from it, based upon the Allaah Words:

"And (He) has not laid upon you in religion any hardship." [Surah al-Hajj 22:78]

And His Words:

"Allaah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you." [Surah al-Baqarah 2:185]

And He says:

And the words of the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam):

"If I order you to do something, do it as much as you cable." [Al-Bukhari no.7288 & Muslim no.1337]

He must try to the best of his ability to prevent the spread of the urine to his clothes, or his body, or the place in which he will pray. And everything that invalidates ablution also invalidates Tayammum, and in addition, the ability to use water or its presence. And Allaah knows best.

Shaykh `Abdul-`Azeez Bin Baz
Fatawa Islamiyah, Vol. 2, p17-23, DARUSSALAM.
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