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The Secrets Revealed | Unit 1 | Ritual Purification | Section 1
SECTION 1Categories of Water
Taharah (Purification) in Shari’ah refers to two meanings:
(a) Avoiding filth (all the materials that inhibit performing Salaah, if they are on the body or clothes)
(b) Removing Hadath by using water or dust, as directed by Shari’ah.
Allah Almighty says:
“Purify your clothes, and keep yourself away from filth.” [74:4-5]
“Surely Allah loves those who turn to Him in repentance and keep themselves clean.” [2:222]
“Certainly the Masjid founded on piety from the very first day is more deserving that you should stand to offer Salah in it; for in it there are men who love to be purified; and Allah loves those who purify themselves.” [9:108]
Several Companions of the Prophet (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him) reported that Allah’s Apostle (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him) said, “Purification equals to the half Eeman (faith).”
[Musnad Imam Ahmad:H.18476, 23461, 23487, 23527, 23547, Jami at-Tirmidhi:H.3519]
Hadath or Ritual Impurity means anything that obligates Wudhu or Ghusl. Ritual impurity is of two types:
(a) Hadath Akbar /Major Impurity i.e post-sexual impurity, menses, and post-partum bleeding
(b) Hadath Asghar /Minor Impurity i.e. when a person‘s ablution has been nullified. [Kashaf-ul-Qina’a, vol.1, p.26]
The author of al-Muqni’ Imam Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi al-Hanbali, may Allah have mercy on him, said:
"Water is classified into three categories: (i) purifying water. This refers to water that remains in its original state, and any change that occurs in it due to staying or being mixed with a substance that cannot be protected from it, such as algae and tree leaves, or substances that do not mix with it, such as agar-wood, camphor, and oil, or substances whose origin is water, such as sea salt. And water that is affected by an unpleasant smell, heated by the sun, or mixed with a purifying substance, all of this is considered purifying water that removes impurities and is recommended for use. And if it (water) becomes warm by burning an impurity, is it disliked to use it? There are two narrations (from Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal) about this issue."
In terms of the classification of water based on ritual purification, it can be divided into three categories: purifying, pure but not purifying, and impure.
It is the clean water, acquired from natural sources like rain, sea, river, lake, canal, well, etc. Generally, it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless; however, in some cases, it may be salty or muddy. It is not only clean and pure itself but has the ability to purify.
(a) Rain Water: Allah Almighty says:
“And He it is Who sends the Winds as heralds of glad tidings going before His Mercy and We send down purifying water from the sky.” [25:48]
“Remember He covered you with a sort of drowsiness to give you calm as from Himself and He caused rain to descend on you from heaven to clean you therewith to remove from you the stain of Satan to strengthen your hearts and to plant your feet firmly therewith.” [8:11]
(b) River / Canal Water: Allah Almighty says:
“See you the water which you drink? Do you bring it Down (in the rain) from the Cloud or do We?” [56:68-69]
It is already mentioned that rainwater is clean. This rainwater flows in the form of rivers and streams.
(c) Sea Water: Allah Almighty says:
“And two seas are not alike: this, fresh, sweet, food to drink, this (other) bitter, salt. And from them both, you eat fresh meat and derive the ornament that you wear.” [35:12]
Of course, drinking water from sweet aquifers in the sea is clean and the sanctity of seafood (Fresh Meat) proves that sea water is clean.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that a man said to Allah’s Apostle (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him), “ O’ Allah’s Apostle! We travel through the sea, and we have a little (sweet) water; if we perform Wudhu (ablution) with that water, we shall be left thirsty, so may we perform Wudhu with seawater? Allah’s Apostle ( May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him) said, “Sea water is a purifier and (eating) its dead (animal) is permissible.”
[Musnad Imam Ahmad:H.7232, 8720, 8899, 9088, 9089, Sunan Abu Dawood:H.83, Jami at-Tirmidhi:H.69, Sunan Ibni Majah:H.386,3246, Sahih Ibni Khuzaimah:H.111, Sahih Ibni Hibban:H.1243]
(d) Underground Water: Allah Almighty says:
“And there is not a thing but with Us are the stores thereof. And We send it not down save in appointed measure. And We send the winds fertilizing and cause water to descend from the sky, and give it to you to drink. It is not you who are the holders of the store thereof.” [15:21-22]
“And We send down water from the sky according to (due) measure and We cause it to soak in the soil, and We certainly are able to drain it off.” [23:18]
Both the verses mentioned above allude to the underground water, that comes from the sky, and diffuses down through filtration making underground oceans. This underground water is drawn out through wells or water pumps.
Ali bin Abu Talib (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Apostle (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him) ordered to fetch a container of water from Zamzam well, drank its water, and performed Wudhu with it.
[Musnad Imam Ahmad:H.564]
Water Changed for Staying a Long Time
The water that is altered by remaining stagnant for a long time, either in a container or a water body like a pond, is permissible to use for purification.
Algae and Aquatic Plants
Aquatic plants and animals or falling leaves of nearby trees in water may change the properties of the water body, but this change is inevitable, so much water is permissible to use for purification.
Missing Something Insoluble in Water
The substances mentioned in the text (wood, camphor, and oil) are insoluble in water, so they do not change the natural properties of water altogether.
Umm, Atiyya al-Ansariya (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated:
Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) came to us when his daughter died and said, "Wash her thrice or five times or more, if you see it necessary, with water and Sidr and then add camphor or some camphor at the end; and when you finish, notify me." So when we finished it, we informed him and he gave us his waist sheet and told us to shroud the dead body in it. [Sahih al-Bukhari: H.1253. Sahih Muslim: H.939f]
Mixing Something which Originates in Water
Sea salt and other substances that originate in water do not affect the purifying capability of water. As we mentioned before that sea water is permissible to use for ritual purification without any offensiveness.
Water Affected by Unpleasant Smell
It is agreed upon among Muslim scholars, that air coming from the side of the carrion does not pollute the water present on the way of that air.
So water affected by unpleasant smells does not lose its ability to purify
[Manar al-Sabeel, vol.1, p.28]
Water Heated by Sun or Burning Clean Fuel
Water heated by sunlight is analogous to water heated by burning clean fuel.
Asla’a bin Shareek (may Allah be pleased with him) reported, “I used to prepare the she-camel of the Prophet (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him) for traveling, while I got impure due to Janbah (post-sexual impurity) in a cold night I had to prepare the Prophet’s she-camel, but I disliked to do this in the state of post-sexual impurity. I was afraid of death in case of bathing in cold water. So I put stones (for making a stove), heated water and took a bath. Then I met the Prophet (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him) and on asking about the preparation, I told him the whole story.
Aslam, a liberated slave of Umar (May Allah be pleased with him), reported that the water was heated in Qumqumah (a narrow-necked container) for Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) and he took a bath with it.
[Musannaf Ibni Abi Shaybah:H.256, Sunan Al-Bayhaqi:H.11]
The narration that Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) disliked taking baths with water heated by sunlight, is extremely weak, while the Hadith narrated by Ayesha (May Allah be pleased with her) regarding the prohibition of this action is fabricated. (Mawdhua’at Ibn al-Jawzi)
Using water from a bathhouse for purification is permissible because the Companions of the Prophet (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him) used to visit bathhouses.
Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him) used to visit bath-house (Hammam).
[Musnnaf Abd al-Razzaq: H.1148]
Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Abbas also visited the bathhouse in Juhfah.
[Sunan al-Bayhaqi, Kitab al-Hajj]