Fiqh-us-Sunnah - 1.63

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Tayammum, the dry ablution

Definition. Literally tayammum means "aim, purpose." In Islamic law, it refers to "aiming for or seeking soil to wipe one's face and hands with the intention of preparing oneself to pray, and so on."

Proof of its legitimacy

This is proven by the Qur'an, sunnah and ijma' (consensus). The Qur'an says, "And if you are ill, or on a journey, or one of you comes from relieving himself, or you have touched women, and you do not find water, then go to high clean soil and rub your face and hands (therewith). Lo, Allah is Benign, Forgiving" (an-Nisa': 43). From the sunnah we have the hadith related by Abu Umamah in which the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, "All of the earth has been made for me and my nation a pure place of prayer. Whenever a person from my nation wants to pray, he has something with which to purify himself, that is, the earth." (Related by Ahmad.) Finally, there is a consensus that tayammum forms a legitimate part of the shari'ah, as it replaces ablution or ghusl under specific circumstances.

Blessing from Allah

This form of ablution is viewed as a blessing from Allah to the Muslims. Jabir relates that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, "I have been given five things that were not given to anyone before me: I have been made victorious due to fear for a distance of one month's journey; the earth has been made a place of prayer for me--wherever and whoever of my nation wants to pray, he may pray; and the war booty has been made lawfal for me, and this was not lawful for anyone before me. I have been given permission to intercede. The prophets used to be raised for their own people only, but I have been raised for all of mankind." (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

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