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Purification by Clean Soil: Tayammum

This is an episode from the era of the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).  For a battle known as “Ghazwah as-Salasil” the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) despatched an army of fighters under the command of Hadrat Amr Bin A’as. While on march all went to sleep at night. Hadrat Amr had a wet dream. The night was extremely cold. He apprehended that if he used cold water for bath he might become fatally sick. So he performed tayammum and led the dawn prayers. On their return, the people mentioned this to the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). He called for Hadrat Amr Bin A’as and asked the reason for his doing so. He explained himself by referring to this Ayat of the holy Quran:

وَلا تَقْتُلُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُمْ رَحِيماً (النساء : 29)

(Translation of meaning) [“Don’t kill yourselves; Verily Allah is greatly Merciful towards you” (Nisa: 29)]. On hearing this the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) smiled and said nothing (Abu Dawood).

Tayammum is a substitute of bath and ablution with water provided that either water is not available or there are valid reasons for not using water. Such valid reasons may include:

  1. Non-availability of water.
  2. Water may be available but its quantity is barely sufficient to meet the cooking and drinking needs.
  3. A person is sick and fears that the use of water may exacerbate his affliction.
  4. Water may be available but it is so chill as to make one sick to death.
  5. If time available for salat is short and it is feared that if the arrival of water is awaited or water is searched for time will be over and the salat will be missed.

Method of Performing Tayammum

Hadrat Ammar Bin Yasir (RadhiAllahu Anhu) narrates that once he was in a state of major pollution. There was no water available to take bath. So he rubbed himself against the ground and performed his salat. Later, he mentioned this to the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) who said: This was enough for you. Then he struck both of his hands on the ground, blew over them, and then rubbed both his palms over his face and hands (Al-Bukhari &Muslim).

Arkan (Basic Elements) of Tayammum

  1. Intention
  2. To rub the face and the hands
  3. Sequence: First to rub the face then both hands.
  4. Continuity: The process should be done continuously without any pause or break
  5. Purity of the ground or soil.

Sunan (Sunnah Practices) of Tayammum

  1. To recite “Bismilah”.
  2. To dust off the soil from the hands.
  3. To spread all the fingers so that soil penetrates the spaces between the fingers.
  4. To face the Ka’bah (According to some scholars).
  5. To delay the process in the expectation of availability of water.


Undesirable Acts of Tayammum

  1. Rubbing multiple times
  2. To put soil into mouth and nose
  3. To leave out the conventional parts

Nullifiers of Tayammum

All of the nullifiers of wadhu and ghusl hold true in case of tayammum as well.

However, the following points are also included in the conditions that nullify tayammum.

  1. Unexpected availability of water:

Hadrat Abu Said Khadri (RadhiAllahu Anhu) narrates that once two persons proceeded on a journey. They had no water so they performed tayammum and prayed. Then water became available within the time-limit of the salat. One of them repeated his salat while the other did not. On their return they mentioned this to the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). To the person who did not repeat his salat he said “you acted according to my practice”. To the person who had repeated his salat he said: You will get double compensation for your act (Abu Dawood, Nasai). Nevertheless, if water becomes available during the course of the salat one should break it and perform afresh with wudhu as availability of water nullifies tayammum.

  1. When the reason for tayummam is removed, for instance if water becomes available or the sick recovers from his sickness.
  2. When anyone of the occasions which necessitate ritual bathing recurs.