Simple Summarized Fiqh: Part 5 - An Overview of Purification (The Definition)
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Friday, October, 03 2014 and filed under Purification

Purification is the first of the affairs studied in fiqh because it is the key to the prayer, which is the greatest obligation after the first pillar. So since purification affects the performance of this obligation (and some other forms of worship), it is a must to know its rulings. Connected to this are many other affairs such as a) what does one purify with? b) what enters a person in a state of impurity? c) what are the pure and impure things or substances?

Let's begin with the definition of (الطهارة), purification, it is defined as (رفع الحدث), "raising the state of hadath from the body" and (إزالة النجاسة), "removing impurity (from the body, clothing and place)". So there are two issues here, which when combined provide the purification desired and sought, which enables performance of the acts of worship that require the state of purification.

Removing Hadath
Removing Impurity
So the first is (رفع الحدث), "raising the state of hadath from the body", what is hadath? This refers to what emanates from the body of wind, urine, stool, seminal fluids, menstrual blood or post-natal bleeding. When these things emanate from the body, then the body is in the state of "hadath" and the ruling of purification is removed from it. So it is a change of state of the body. And in this state, the performance of certain obligations (like the prayer) are prevented (and invalid), until the body has regained the state of purification, and there are types of ways and means in which this is done which are to be discussed. The state of "hadath" can be minor which requires ablution (wudhoo) in the case of passing wind, urine and stool or major which requires bathing (ghusl) in the case of intercourse, release of seminal fluids and menstruation and post-natal bleeding.
And as for the second (إزالة النجاسة), "removing impurity" then this is the cessation and removal of material, physical things that take the ruling of being "impure" (نجس) such as urine, faeces, menstrual blood, dog's saliva and so on, and the place where they are found (body, clothes, place) is cleansed through the types of ways and means which are to be discussed.

So what are the ways and means through which the state of "hadath" is removed? The use of a) water, and when it is not available or possible, then b) dust, sand. So water and dust, sand are the means and mechanisms of attaining purity, and they used for either ghusl (bathing) wudhoo (ablution) (in the case of water) or tayammum (dry ablution) (in the case of dust, sand) as an alternative to water where it is not possible to use water. And either method can be used to remove both the minor and major states of "hadath." This will be elaborated upon in detail in what is to come.

And what are the ways and means of putting an end to impure matter (najaasah) that is found on the body, clothing or surrounding (such as the floor or utensils)? They include:

  • water: a) example, wash thrice with it when urine found on body, a container or a wall, b) wash with it when blood or urine found on clothing c) sprinkle and soak with it when urine of male infant who has not started eating yet soils clothing or place d) wash with it after dried menstrual blood has been rubbed off clothing e) pour it (copiously) on a place soiled with urine f) wash one's private parts with it after relieving oneself.
  • stones: for al-istinjaa (washing oneself after relieving oneself)
  • stones followed by water: used for al-istinjaa (washing oneself after relieving oneself)
  • sand and water: when a dog has licked a utensil or vessel, wash seven times with water after first washing with sand (dust)
  • tanning: for purifying the hides (skins) of animals which can then used for beneficial purposes.

The affairs raised above in this basic introduction will be elaborated upon in detail in articles to follow inshaa'Allaah.

Adapted from (الملخصات الفقهية الميسرة) "Simple, Summarized Fiqh Principles" (Imaad Ali Jumu'ah, 1434H, Dar al-Nafaa'is).