Tashil al-Izala
'an Ishkal al-Mughallaza

Facilitating the Removing of the Difficulties of Heavy Impurities By Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti

Al-Hamdulillah, wa-Salat wa-Salam 'ala Rasulillah. Wa Ba'd.

Dear [Fulan A],

Thank you for your letter. May you and your wife be in fine health and spirit.

In answer to your question:

“My question is regarding the filth of dog's saliva in the Shafi'i madhab.
My non-Muslim mother has a dog and when I go to visit her I am faced with many problems. Based on the ruling of the Shafi'i madhab, it seems very difficult to avoid the impurity of dog's saliva even if the dog doesn't actually lick me. Please read the following response that I received from [Fulan B], an American brother who is currently studying in Damascus. Here is his reply:

"I have found no easy answer regarding dog's saliva within the Shafi'i madhab. If someone washes their hand one time, three times or a million times with water and soap, the hand remains mutanaj[j]is and this filth can then move from place to place through wet contact. This problem obviously applies to clothes washed in a washing machine. A modern book in Shafi'i fiqh, Sharh al-Yaqut al-Nafis by Muhammad Al-Shatiri, gives the relied upon (mu'tamamd mufta bihi) opinions of the Shafi'i madhab as well as other opinions within and outside the madhab that may need to be used given life today. He talked about the positions in the school about whether soap or other cleaning agents can take the place of dirt, a position that Al-Ghazali seems to have taken. Al-Husseini in Kifayat Al-Akhyar, states that Imam Nawawi in the original portion of the Rawdah (meaning the sections by Imam Rafi'i) that there is an irregular opinion from the companions of Imam Shafi'i that if a dog makes something filthy that is not used for eating from, that it is treated like other forms of filth and only requires one washing.
Imam Nawawi says that this is very strong from the point of view of evidence."

My question is the following. Can I follow one of these easier positions within the Shafi'i madhab without having to resort to talfiq of the relied upon position of the Hanafi madhab and save myself the trouble of making sure my salah and taharah conform to the Hanafi madhab in such areas that conflict with the Shafi'i madhab such as combining and shortening prayers and other issues. The Hanafi position according to [Fulan B] is to simply wash three times with water.

I thank you very much for taking the time to read this question.

[end of question].”

Your letter raised a number of issues (some are separate from each other while others are related), so I will try to elucidate for you one by one. The title of my letter is: Tashil al-Izala 'an Ishkal al-Mughallaza [Facilitating the Removing of the Difficulties of Heavy Impurities]; may this be of benefit, Amin!

To begin with, I must correct the reference you (and your source, namely your friend who is studying in Damascus) used from the Kifayat al-Akhyar of al-Husayni.

Quote: "Al-Husseini in Kifayat Al-Akhyar, states that Imam Nawawi in the original portion of the Rawdah (meaning the sections by Imam Rafi'i) that there is an irregular opinion from the companions of Imam Shafi'i that if a dog makes something filthy that is not used for eating from, that it is treated like other forms of filth and only requires one washing. Imam Nawawi says that this is very strong from the point of view of evidence."

If this is a paraphrase of the Kifaya, it is off the mark and if it is a translation (even a non-literal one) of the passage from the Kifaya, it is wrong. Instead, what Imam al-Husayni (829 H / 1426; all dates in brackets are dates of death) (may Allah be pleased with him!) said was:

"There is no difference between [something] that becomes impure through the dog's licking [wulugh; its saliva or lu'ab is understood from this], or through its urine, its blood, its sweat, its hair, or any other thing that is a part of it and which comes out of it. [For all of the above] one should wash seven times, one of which must be with earth. [Imam] al-Nawawi in the al-Rawdat [al-Talibin] said: "There is an irregular opinion [Qawl Shadhdh] which says that, except for the licking [of the dog], it suffices to wash once, like the rest of the impurities." In the Sharh al-Muhadhdhab [i.e. al-Majmu'], he said: "This [shadhdh] opinion is clear and strong from the point of view of evidence because the command to wash seven times [due to the licking of the dog] was really to deter them [i.e. the Muslims] from eating with dogs."" (al-Husayni, Kifayat al-Akhyar, 1:44; the reference from al-Nawawi's al-Rawdat al-Talibin is the Fasl in 1:71).

What your friend meant by, "the original portion of the Rawdah" is in fact the Fath al-'Aziz 'ala Kitab al-Wajiz (or better known as the Sharh al-Kabir) written by Imam al-Rafi'i (623 H / 1226). Indeed, the Rawdat al-Talibin wa 'Umdat al-Muftin of Imam al-Nawawi (676 H / 1277) is an abridgement [ikhtisar] of the Sharh al-Kabir. The latter work is, in turn, a sharh [commentary] of the Kitab al-Wajiz fi'l-Fiqh al-Shafi'i of Imam al-Ghazali (505 H / 1111). The Wajiz is itself an ikhtisar of Imam al-Ghazali's two longer works on jurisprudence: the Basit and the Wasit. (Just think of al-Ghazali's immense (and crucial) contribution to Shafi'i fiqh here!) Moreover, the Basit and Wasit are themselves ikhtisar of the work of his teacher, Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni (478 H / 1085), the Nihayat al-Matlab fi Dirayat al-Madhhab in 15 volumes (one riwaya says, 40 volumes) which is a very important commentary on the Mukhtasar of Imam al-Muzani (264 H / 878), the companion and student of our favoured Imam in fiqh, Imam al-Shafi'i (204 H / 820) (may Allah be well pleased with all of them!). However, despite the importance of the Rawda in the Shafi'i school, Imam al-Nawawi's treatment of this issue is very brief. Instead it is in the Majmu' where Imam al-Nawawi elaborates the issue in greater detail:

"There is no difference between the licking of the dog and any other part of the dog. So whenever its urine, its droppings, its blood, its sweat, its hair, its saliva, or any of its bodily parts hit something that is pure while one of the two [meaning either that pure thing or the part from the dog] is moist, then it is obligatory to wash it seven times, one of which must be with earth...It is said that it is sufficient to wash it once, like the rest of the impurities except for the licking [of the dog]. This is the opinion of [Imam] al-Mutawalli and [Imam] al-Rafi'i and others. This opinion is clear and strong from the point of view of evidence because the command to wash seven times for the licking [of the dog] was really to deter them [i.e. the Muslims] from eating with dogs, while this [command] is pointless [for the other impurities from a dog] other than its licking. However, the established opinion [Qawl Mashhur] in the [Shafi'i] school is that it is obligatory [to wash] seven times, one of which with earth, and this opinion is confirmed by the majority [jumhur; of Shafi'i scholars] since this is a more serious deterrence from being near them and from acquiring them. Only Allah knows best!" (al-Nawawi, al-Majmu', 2:538).

It should be clear to you by now that your friend's remarks, "that if a dog makes something filthy [I understand this as the wulugh or licking] that is not used for eating from [? - this is unclear to me], that it is treated like other forms of filth and only requires one washing," is misleading. What the Kifaya means is in fact the opposite. The impurities caused by the wulugh and the saliva of the dog is so serious to the point where even in the irregular opinion, all other impurities coming out from the dog (its blood, its hair, its urine, etc.), can be downgraded - so to speak - but not its saliva. In other words, fiqhi speaking:

1. All impurities from a dog (and more so with pigs and also their offsprings) are classified by our fuqaha' [jurists] as Najasa Mughallaza [the Heavy Impurities]. Impurities from a dog includes anything moist from it and also those parts of it which are dry but later become moist.

2. The Qawl Shadhdh says that all of the impurities coming out from a dog except its saliva can be classified as Najasa Mutawassita [the Middle Impurities]. This is what Imam al-Husayni and Imam al-Nawawi meant when they said: "like the rest of the impurities," meaning that other than the dog's saliva, it should be treated like the Najasa Mutawassita. The Najasa Mutawassita are impurities such as alcohol, pus, blood, carcass, and so on which are other than the Najasa Mughallaza or Najasa Mukhaffafa [the Light Impurities, namely, the urine of an infant baby boy still weaning].

3. Since the way to remove or clean Najasa Mutawassita (the 'ayni ones, i.e. the ones you can see) is by washing only once or more (and to wash three times is better [afdal] than one) until its colour, its taste, and its smell disappear; therefore the Qawl Shadhdh says that the impurities from dogs except for its saliva can also be removed with the minimum one washing.

The reasons for the irregular opinion by Imam al-Mutawalli (557 H / 1163) and Imam al-Rafi'i (may Allah be pleased with them both!) can be explained in that: (1) some of our Imams read the Hadith (of Sahih Muslim) used in this issue literally (thereby not carrying out qiyas), for the Hadith only mentions the wulugh; (2) the saliva is already moist. We can also appreciate why these Imams excluded the saliva of a dog from the category of Najasa Mutawassita when for instance, the most lenient opinion in fiqh at large in this issue is considered, namely, the Maliki school (since for them dogs and pigs are not impurities): yet even the Malikis consider washing seven times when one comes into contact with dog's saliva albeit is only recommended in their school and it is done as a mark of one's piety [ta'abbud] only, while we do it not only because of piety but also to purify the Najasa.

Now, the Qawl Mashhur remains that we have to wash seven times, one of which must be with earth, if we happen to come into contact with anything moist from dogs. Qawl Shadhdh, on the other hand, is considered to be a weak opinion in our school, weaker than the Qawl Da'if. Our scholars are unanimous in saying that we cannot follow, rely nor adopt the really weak opinions for fiqhi judgments. (cf. Ba 'Alawi, Bughyat al-Mustarshidin, 274).

It is interesting to point out here that just because something is strong 'from the point of view of its dalil [i.e., scriptural evidence]', it does not follow that it will be the position that is relied upon [Qawl Mu'tamad]. In the eyes of untrained jurists like many today, it might seem odd why an opinion which is strong with respect to its dalil does not become a strong opinion. This is due to the sophistication of how our fiqh is built upon, for it does not only make use of scriptural proofs (which is what is meant by dalil here, that is, the Qur'an and the Ahadith) but takes into account also of the other, 'non-scriptural' yet also 'canonical' proofs, namely, Ijma' [consensus] and Qiyas [analogy; including aql or reason]. The non-scriptural proofs are also canonical because they represent the Shar'ia in spirit (as opposed to Shari'a in book-form) embodying the living experiences and authentic practices of the followers of the Chief of the Messengers (may Allah bless him and grant him peace and those who follow him!). For what is merely written down cannot embody the whole spirit of Islam whence the need for authoritative teachers as guardians of that spirit.

Therefore we must be careful when we encounter juristic-talk of 'this or that' evidence are 'weak' or 'strong' (as if we understand fully the implications of 'this' or 'that' evidence in the first place, and furthermore, since we cannot make heads or tails with regards to 'this' or 'that' evidence, it becomes irrelevant to us). For the untrained eye, we will assume that all positions need to be based on any 'physical' evidence. This is not so. If the Shafi'i school follows only those opinions with strong 'physical' evidence then we will be no different than the literalist schools. Otherwise we would have followed the opinion that pigs are Najasa Mutawassita even in the face of dogs being Najasa Mughallaza since from the point of view of the stronger evidence, as Imam al-Nawawi makes clear, it is sufficient to wash the impurites from pigs once without earth. (al-Majmu', 2:538). However, the correct opinion in the school remains that we use the equally strong 'non-physical' evidence by extending the qiyas of dogs to pigs due to the rationale that pigs are worse than dogs. So in the same way, this is why we do not follow the Qawl Shadhdh in question, namely, that some 'doggy' parts do not require the seven washing.

Now your question of, "I was wondering if we could follow any alternative positions within the Shafi'i madhab and if this was acceptable," is applicable and allowed only to the issue of ibdal or substituting the maqam of earth with soap and the like but not to the issue of treating the impurities caused by dogs like 'the rest of the impuritites' above. Reference works like the Kifayat al-Akhyar and the khilaf literature of our school should not be read by the non-specialist reader (and if read it should be read together with a reliable specialist) since as we have seen, even your friend, who is a student of knowledge still studying our school in Damascus, could misunderstand what he was reading. Moreover, what is odd is that he did not make use of the opinion regarding the issue of ibdal in the Kifaya (since after all he was already relying on the Kifaya in the first place and more significantly, the Kifaya appears strong in favour of the ibdal position) but used another, this time a modern reference by the Hadrami scholar, the Yaqut al-Nafis of Shaykh Ahmad al-Shatiri (1360 H / 1941) (may Allah be pleased with him!) and the commentary by his son, Shaykh Muhammad al-Shatiri (may Allah protect him!). What is worrying is the inaccuracy of your friend's statement that the ibdal position is, "a position that Al-Ghazali seems to have taken," which does not appear in the Yaqut: "Some of the Shafi'is say: "[it is obligatory to wash seven times, one of which must be] with earth or [it is allowed] to substitute the place of earth with anything else like soaps (such as cleaning agents). This is a sound opinion [Qawl Qawi] as opposed to the clearer opinion [Qawl Azhar]." (Sharh al-Yaqut al-Nafis, 1:140). In any case, the Qawl Qawi of Yaqut al-Nafis is the Qawl Sahih found in the Kifayat al-Akhyar. So let us look again at what Imam al-Husayni has to say:

"Are soaps and Ushnan [derivatives from plants and fruits that produce foam; i.e. cleaning agents] [allowable] substitutes in place of earth [when washing seven times]? There are a number of opinions in this issue. The first opinion is, yes [the substitution is allowable], in the same way as one might substitute stone with another substance as in the case of Istinja' [cleaning oneself in the toilet] or substituting Shabb [alum] and Qaraz [laurel-like leaf used in cooking] in the case of tanning [Dibagh]. This opinion is considered by [Imam] al-Nawawi to be sound [Qawl Sahih] in his Ru'us al-Masa'il. [The second opinion] is the clearer opinion [Qawl Azhar] according to [Imam] al-Rafi'i and according to [Imam al-Nawawi] in the Rawdat [al-Talibin] and the Sharh al-Muhadhdhab [i.e., al-Majmu'] which says that soaps and the like cannot be substitutes for earth. For, purification [here] has [a special] connection to earth, so there can be no other substitutes in place of earth like in the case of Tayammum. The third opinion is, if earth is available, soaps and the like cannot be substitutes for it, but if it is not available, they can be substitutes for it. There is also an opinion [i.e., the 4th opinion] which says that soaps and the like can be substitutes for earth in cases where the earth might cause damage to the thing washed such as clothing but not vessels [i.e., not to things which it does not cause damage to such as our body]." (al-Husayni, Kifayat al-Akhyar, 1:44; cf. Rawda 1:71; cf. al-Majmu' 2:536).

It is clear that there is an alternative position in our school with regards to substituting earth with another substance like soaps and the like. Nevertheless the muta'akhkhir Imams and works of our school from Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (974 H / 1567) and Imam al-Ramli (1004 H / 1595) (may Allah be pleased with them both!) onwards present the non-ibdal position as the strongest and all later scholars consider the Qawl Azhar position as the Mu'tamad opinion [the reliable opinion] (this explains why later authoritative Shafi'i manuals are silent about this khilaf). Even Imam al-Nawawi himself makes strong the position of not doing ibdal in the Majmu' and to a lesser extent in the Rawda but seems to have supported the ibdal position only in his Ru'us al-Masa'il. In any case, it appears therefore that later scholars have come to an agreement in the school for the non-ibdal position, giving primacy to the qiyas of not substituting the earth with anything else as in the case of Tayammum since the earth is considered to have special significance in purificatory matters (as opposed to the qiyas in the ibdal position with Istinja' and tanning of animal skins). However, unlike the earlier issue of treating impurities caused by dogs like 'the rest of the impuritites', the issue of ibdal is not one of Qawl Shadhdh. Rather, it is among the sound opinions [Qawl Sahih or Qawl Qawi; and both these Qawl are of the same degree] but it did not ultimately become a Qawl Mu'tamad. The technical term for this class of opinion is called Qawl Marjuh [the alternative opinion]. The issue of following any alternative opinions in the school is summarised in a collection of Shafi'iyya fatwas by the blessed Mufti of Hadramawt, 'Abd al-Rahman Ba 'Alawi (1251 H / 1835) (may Allah be pleased with him!), the Bughyat al-Mustarshidin. In brief, it is permissible for the muqallid [follower; i.e. the general public] to follow the Qawl Marjuh if there is a darura [necessity] such as when there is great hardship [mushaqqa] to follow the strongest opinion. This can only be done with the following conditions: (1) that one does not seek out rukhsa [easiness] when there is no excuse for it; (2) that the great hardship is not the norm; and (3) that the Qawl Marjuh must not be used for da'wa or teaching in that the person who follows this opinion does so by himself and for himself only. Scholars [ahl tarjih], on the other hand, should only follow the stronger opinion since they are capable of investigating the issue further and see for themselves which opinion is the strongest. (cf. Bughyat al-Mustarshidin, 8-9).

Due to this, for those who have a need to do so can follow the Kifaya's Qawl Sahih or the Yaqut's Qawl Qawi (i.e., the Qawl Marjuh in our case) instead of the Qawl Mu'tamad, intending thereby to take a rukhsa such as when there is great hardship and with the condition that this is used only for yourself (and the family you're responsible for) and only in that particular situation (place, i.e. the non-Muslim family home in question; and time, i.e. when you visit them). If you choose to adopt the ibdal position, it will only be allowed as a matter of rukhsa (which is therefore not normal and therefore should not be the norm) and falls under one of the 7 takhfif categories, namely, that of Takhfif Ibdal [Alleviation due to Substitution].

Outside this particular circumstance, only the strongest opinions (either Qawl Mashhur, Qawl Asah, Qawl Azhar, Qawl Rajih, or Qawl Mu'tamad - all of which are of the same degree) should be relied upon for fiqhi judgments and practiced. However, to not take the rukhsa and to adopt strictness ['azima] is still better [afdal] in our school because of the qa'ida [legal maxim]: al-maysuru la yasqutu bi'l-ma'suri [what is easy to carry out is not cancelled because of what is difficult; i.e., what is easy to carry out does not cancel what is difficult]. So even though following the alternative opinion is allowed in our school, it is nevertheless not something that is encouraged by our scholars.

The third issue has to do with the division of a particular impurity into Najasa 'Ayniyya and Najasa Hukmiyya: that which is perceptible and not perceptible to our senses, respectively. Each of the 3 degrees of impurities (Mukhaffafa, Mutawassita, and Mughallaza) when coupled with these two pair concepts gives us a systemised Shafi'ian six-fold division of Najasa: (1) Mukhaffafa 'Ayniyya; (2) Mukhaffafa Hukmiyya; (3) Mutawassita 'Ayniyya; (4) Mutawassita Hukmiyya; (5) Mughallaza 'Ayniyya; and (6) Mughallaza Hukmiyya. This six-fold division represents a map of how to purify what and so on. So an example of a Najasa Mughallaza Hukmiyya is the urine of a dog that is now dry so that there are no more traces of its colour, its smell, or its taste (or those 'doggy' parts which are dry but somehow later become moist). If you are certain [yaqin] of the existence of this Najasa somewhere on a particular area of the floor for example, even when for all intents and purposes, no physical traces of it remains (because it is now dry), you still have to wash the place seven times, one of which must be with earth. This is more so for the 'Ayniyya of Najasa Mughallaza since its traces are obvious to our senses. So in actual fact there are no differences between the 'Ayniyya and Hukmiyya of the Mughallaza (and also for the Mukhaffafa). In fact our scholars only differentiate between Mutawassita 'Ayniyya and Hukmiyya insofar as how to purify them. Anyway, the point of this issue is to make clear the procedure on how one would make a judgement of the existence of such impurities for example, in a house where you know there is a dog.

The obligation of washing seven times, one of which must be with earth is based on the certainty that the Mughallaza is there, whether hukmiyya or 'ayniyya, and whether this certainty is a result of your own witnessing it or someone (whom you trust is telling the truth) telling you about it. Our theologians [mutakallimun, i.e. scholars of Tawhid] divide knowledge or perception of something as follows: 100% as certainty [yaqin]; 75% as zann [supposition]; 50% as doubtful [shakk]; 25% as wahm [estimation]; and of course 0% as jahl [ignorance]. Anything less than yaqin will not do. This is crucial when making a judgment with respect to impurities you cannot see (i.e., the hukmiyya ones). So if you only think or suppose it to be true, that there was heavy impurity where you are sitting for example, then you need not wash it seven times since the asl [the original state] of that place (despite your doubts, estimation, or supposition) is pure.

This is based on one of the 5 legal maxims, principles or qa'ida that our school is said to be built upon: al-yaqin la yuzalu bi'l-shakk [certainty is not removed by doubt]. From this main qa'ida we get the derivative principle: al-Aslu al-'Adamu [the original state is the absence of it]. In other words, the original state of anything pure is the absence of anything impure. So since the original state of anything is pure until it is contaminated by anything impure, then you judge by what is originally there (that it is pure) unless if there is something to qualify this judgement, such as 100% certain knowledge that the thing is now impure.

Even when the dog roams freely inside and outside of the house, it is most likely dry, most of the time. We have a good example of how our fuqaha' went at length to point out that we should not hastily judge something that is originally pure to be in a state of impurity, as long as the possibility of it being pure exists. A classic example is the example of a cat who killed a rodent (i.e., an impurity since it now becomes a carcass): if we saw a cat eating a rodent, for example, and then at a later time we saw it drinking from a container of pure water that is less than a qullatayn (if it is more than a qullatayn then there is no question of it being impure in the first place even if a dog drinks from it and as long as the remaining water after the dog drinks from it remains more than the qullatayn), that water is not and cannot be judged impure. This is because, during the cat's absence before coming back to drink the water from that container, there is the possibility of the cat drinking somewhere else (even if in reality, it did not drink somewhere else but you did not know this fact) and thereby removing the impurity from its mouth. You cannot judge the water to be impure because of that possibility exists, no matter how small or unlikely it is. The only ground to judge that water to be impure is if we have 100% certain knowledge that it is contaminated, such as if we saw the cat after killing the rodent, immediately licking that water, or either the colour or the smell or the taste of that water changes. This is the extent our scholars went to uphold the rule of judging things by its al-asl. [cf. Rawdat al-Talibin, 1:73, 1:60; al-Majmu', 2:540, 1:226-7].

The following is a good illustration of this qa'ida in the Kifayat al-Akhyar:

"If a dog inserted his head into a container of [pure] water - while one does not know whether he had licked the water or not - so that when he moved [his head] out [from the container], his mouth is [found] dry, then the water cannot be judged as impure. According to the preferred opinion [Qawl Rajih], this ruling is also the same if after moving [his head] out [from the container], his mouth is [found] moist. This is because, the original state [asl] is the absence of the licking [of the dog], and therefore the water remains pure. As for the dog's mouth being moist, [it can be explained by the fact that] it is possible that it might be due to his saliva. For, the original state cannot be removed by doubt. Only Allah knows best." (al-Husayni, Kifayat al-Akhyar, 1:45).

A sensible precaution you should take when you are in your mother's house is to use the Muslim prayer mat [sajjada] when you pray in order that your heart be at ease and to prevent such waswasa [the whisperings of Shaytan or some devilish insinuations and misgivings, or simply paranoia] come to you. Another sensible precaution is to tell your family not to allow the dog into your room during the remainder of your stay there. These, and other common sense precautions, if taken, will not only save you from a lot of worry but will even make it feasible without much difficulty for someone to live with a person who owns a dog.

It is said by our Shafi'i scholars that living beings - other than jinns - are divided into 4 kinds. When arranged according to their degree of 'purity', they are as follows: (1) those that are pure both when alive and when they die such as human beings; (2) those that are pure when alive but are impure when they die except if they are ritually slaughtered [dhabh] such as chickens and sheep; (3) those that are pure when alive but are impure when they die, even if they are religiously slaughtered such as donkeys and cats; (4) those that are impure both when alive and when they die such as dogs and pigs and their offsprings. (al-Fatani, Bughyat al-Tulab, 1:67). It is only with respect to the last kind in this chain of being that we are asked to physically purify ourselves in a special manner - a ritual symbolising a means of taqarrub and to be near to the purest of purest - whenever we come into contact with that which represents the impurest of things and closest to this material world. Yet, being impure, and coming into contact with things impure, does not result in sin as it is not Haram to come into contact with them (for it is only Makruh [disliked]). What is Haram however, is to come into contact with them when there is no need or necessity for it, or if you purchase or acquire them (since it is Haram to buy or sell Najasa), or to eat things which are impure. Now, if we happen to come into contact with Najasa Mughallaza, the minimum requirement is that we only need to make sure that we are purified before our next prayer [Salat] which means that it may be possible for one to be in a state of being contaminated by these impurities for some time still, albeit is Makruh.

The ritual of washing seven times, one of which must be with earth is not difficult as one might suppose. The kayfiyya [procedure] is as follows (and this is intended to be a useful tip, not a must do, so any 'should' or 'must' in the following list is not Wajib unless stated otherwise). The kayfiyya is drawn up from among the various reliable manuals for beginners in our school, including the Hashiya (1:105-6) of Imam al-Bajuri (1276 H / 1860) and the I'anat al-Talibin (1:118-9) of Sayyid al-Bakri (1302 H / 1886), the student of the illustrious Mufti of the Shafi'is in Makka, Sayyid Zayni Ahmad Dahlan (1304 H / 1886) (may Allah be pleased with all of them!):

1. Be prepared for a bit of gardening (therefore out with your trowel!). Find some purifying earth [turab tahir] as you would for the earth used for Tayammum. This is basically earth that is not contaminated or mixed with any impurity [turab mutanajjis]; nor earth that has already been used to purify something in an earlier washing [turab musta'mal]; nor earth that can no longer be called earth if, for example, mixed with cement. Wahl or mud that is deposited after a rain for example is also acceptable, as it is with clay (even potter's clay) and fine sand (as long as it makes the water cloudy). The purifying earth is usually something that one can easily acquire from one's back garden. You don't need much earth, less than 1/2 a cup-full will do (depending of course on the amount of the thing that needs purifying).

2. Once you have accumulated some purifying earth, prepare a container of pure water.

3. It is preferable [awla] to mix the purifying earth with water in the first washing and it is not preferable [khilaf awla] to mix it in the last washing. The solution should appear kadar [muddy or cloudy] depending on the kind of soil you use. If it is sand for example, it would not be as cloudy as when a darker soil is used.

4. Once the water-earth solution is ready, use it to clean (or rather treat) the contaminated area or the area affected by the impurity [mahall mutanajjis]. The method of washing can vary (the one I am giving you is 1 out of 3 possible kayfiyyat). Since we have already mixed the water with earth, you will be pouring the solution to all of the affected area (the water here acts as the wasita [means or medium] for bringing the earth to the impure area). You can of course skip #3 above and mix the two later such as water is poured first on the affected area and the earth is added later on. However, for practical reasons it might be easier to mix the water with the purifying earth first.

5. The washing must continue until the impurity (its colour, its smell, and its taste) disappears (i.e., it loses its Najasa 'Ayniyya status), no matter how many washing it takes. So, for example, even if it took you 6 so-called washings to remove the impurity by which point the 'ayn of the impurity is removed, then this is considered to be your first washing. So you still have a remainder of 6 washings to perform.

6. If during the washing (and if you still have not added purifying earth to the affected area), parts of the impurity moves to another place due to the sprinkling or the splattering affect of water, then the new place must [Wajib] be treated with purifying earth. This is why it is preferable to mix the earth with water in the first washing and thereby treating and removing the 'ayn in the first washing.

7. If the washing is done in places where there is a lot of water (i.e., more than the qullatayn) and the water is not moving [ma' rakid; such as in a swimming pool], then it is sufficient to move the affected area 7 times back and forth (each movement whether back or forth counts as one). If one is submerged and keeps still, then that is considered one washing even if it lasts for a long time. If the washing is done in areas of running water [ma' jari; such as a sink], then it suffices to pass the water by the affected area 7 times. Of course, in all of the above situations, the rule of 'it counts only as one washing until the 'ayn disappears,' applies. So if the river is clear for example, then it would be necessary [Wajib] to apply purifying earth onto the affected area either by muddying the water (from the riverbed) or doing it before you enter the stream.

A brief point regarding the 'problem' with automatic washing machine brought up by your friend: "I have found no easy answer regarding dog's saliva within the Shafi'i madhab. If someone washes their hand one time, three times or a million times with water and soap, the hand remains mutanaj[j]is and this filth can then move from place to place through wet contact. This problem obviously applies to clothes washed in a washing machine."

There is really no great difficulty in using washing machines with clothes contaminated by Heavy Impurities. All you have to do in order to prevent the impurity from contaminating other non-Mughallaza items is to simply neutralise the Mughallaza first before you put them into the machine. Think of it as treating the particular garment(s) in question in the same way as you would when you manually apply a special conditioner to those garment(s) requiring special attention. This is no different (in fact it is better because purifying Mughallaza is a mark of ta'abbud but applying special conditioners to your favourite garments is not). So once the 'ayn is removed (by the kayfiyya above) then just throw it into the machine for automatic washing!

In short, let me summarise for you the issues you raised regarding purification of effectively, the Najasa Mughallaza:

1. There is no adoptable alternative position in our school in differentiating the parts of dogs, pigs, and their offsprings. Therefore, all of them and their parts are in totu, Najasa Mughallaza.

2. There is an alternative position in our school with respect to substituting the earth with some other cleaning agent. However, because this position is not the strongest in the school (and also not the official line - so to speak), there are reservations in adopting it.

3. After taking all the sensible precautions, it is even workable to live with someone who owns a dog since all things are judged to be in their original state until there is some qualifying factor that will change the original state and that factor must be yaqin, certain, and indubitable. This rule applies whether you take the alternative opinion above or not; therefore this is crucial. If you reflect upon this carefully, it is this rule (and not actually the Qawl Marjuh at #2) that will make the difference between whether it is going to be 'easy' or not for you; for it is this judgement on your part that is going to decide whether you have to wash the Mughallaza in the first place.

4. The strongest position in our school is not difficult to carry out as it might at first appear. Only through experience and familiarity with the kayfiyya will make it relatively easy, as Imam al-Ghazali would say, "you cannot experience something until you've tasted it!" [la yu'rafu shay'un illa bi-l-dhaqwi]. So try it first and see how it goes. Insha' Allah, things can only get easier if you start from the 'difficult' position. Moreover, Allah the Most High says in the Qur'an: "Yet hardship will bring ease. Indeed, hardship must bring ease!" (al-Inshirah, 94:5-6). [fa-inna ma'a l-'usri yusran inna ma'a l-'usri yusran]

5. The answer is, it is feasible to follow the Shafi'i school in the modern world. So in the end, there is no need to perform talfiq [i.e., to follow another school temporarily] as a matter of rukhsa if you find that by following the strongest opinion of the school in fact turns out not to give you much hardship or that you are able to carry out your worship. If not, then it would be a personal decision on your part to take the rukhsa by following a less reliable opinion of the school. If all else fails, talfiq is the remaining option. However, talfiq in itself is not an 'easy' option since you have to learn the qawa'id and shurut of the other school and it takes time to be familiar with its rulings and to be comfortable with it in order that you may do the 'amal with ease. Indeed, according to the Mufti of the Shafi'is in Madina, Imam al-Kurdi (1194 H / 1780) (may Allah be pleased with him!), it is preferable [awla] to follow a less reliable opinion in our school than to follow another school. (Bughyat al-Mustarshidin, 10). If you are still up to it though, I suggest talfiqing the Maliki school instead of the Hanafi or the Hanbali school (this is only a mere suggestion since this is the standard or quoted talfiq position of our school in this issue (such as the talfiq of the Shafi'is with the Hanafis in the issue of wudu' during Hajj), and also, the Maliki position is the most lenient in this issue). There is a catch though: if you happen to believe and know that our arguments and position is stronger, then you cannot effectively perform talfiq!

May this letter facilitate (tashil) you in removing (izala) the doubts and problems (ishkal) you had regarding Najasa Mughallaza so that you may now find it easy to remove this impurity.

Let us end by reciting the du'a:

Allahumma aj'alna mina'l-nasirin wa'l-nashirin li shari'ati
sayyidi'l-mursalin fi khayrin wa lutfin wa 'afiyatin!

[O Allah! Make us among those who support and spread the Shari'a of the
chief of Messengers, in goodness, in kindness, and in well-being.]

Wallahu wa rasuluhu a'lam wa ahkam bi'l-Sawab.

May this be of benefit.

Peace of the heart from Oxford,

Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti ©
1 Muharram 1423
15 III 2002


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al-Nawawi. al-Majmu' Sharh al-Muhadhdhab. Edited by Mahmud Matraji. 22 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1996.

al-Nawawi. Rawdat al-Talibin wa-'Umdat al-Muftin. Edited by 'Abdullah 'Umar al-Baduri. 10 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1995.

al-Shatiri, Muhammad b. Ahmad. Sharh al-Yaqut al-Nafis. 3 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Hawi, 1997.

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