Jurisprudence Made Easy

Dialogue on ritual purity (Taharah)

Before my father came to attend this session, I had been meditating. I was trying to find applications to the theoretical information, I gleanedfrom the Dialogue on Najis Things, in my daily life. In so doing, I mightbe able to rectify my misconception of najasah. I was eager to know fromtoday’s session how purity is restored to things after they have been contaminated.

No sooner had my father arrived, I started by asking him:

* Yesterday, you told me that things become tainted if they meet withnajasah. I wonder how lost purity is restored to these things?

- “The First” of purifying agents is water. By washing najis thingswith water, you render them tahir again. That is why we should start ourdiscussion with water.

Water is of two kinds: pure and diluted.

* What is pure water?

- Pure water is that which we and animals drink, and irrigate plantationswith. The water of oceans, seas, rivers, streams, wells, and that which weuse at our homes through mains supply is pure water. For example, the waterof rivers and brooks remains pure, even though it may contain some impurities,such as soil and sand.

* What then is diluted water?

- Diluted water is known by the additional name you give it to qualifythe type of water. For example, you say rose water, grape water, melon waterand so on. However, this is not a matter that concerns us. As you may havenoticed, our discussion revolves around the water we drink and use to washand clean things that became najis.

Moreover, pure water is of two types: immunized (mu’tasim) and thatwhich is not immunized.

* Immunized! What precisely do you mean?

- Immunized water is that which does not become najis when najasahmeet with it, except when either its colour, taste, or smell changes as aresult. Water that is not immunized is that which turns najis as soon itcomes into contact with anything najis, even though none of its three attributesis affected by the pollutant.

* Could you tell me more about immunized waters?

- 1. Abundant water that satisfies the capacity of a kurr (a unitof size, equivalent to 384 litres) or larger, such as the water connectedto our homes through the water grid, the water of storage tanks installedin our homes, if they were of a kurr capacity, and smaller water storage tanks,if they were directly connected to mains water supply.

2. Well water.

3. Running water, such as that of rivers, tributaries, streams, andsprings.

4. Rainfall.

These are the immunized waters.

* What then are waters that are not immunized?

- These are waters found in small reservoirs, utensils, bottles, tumblers,etc. that are stagnant, apart from well water that is less than kurr, andthat which is termed “little water”. By now, you know they become najis oncontact with najis things.

* What about diluted water?

- It is judged by the same criterion as that applied in the case of“little water”. However, it becomes najis on contact with najis things, irrespectiveof its quantity. An example of water that comes under this banner is thatof tea. Liquids that may come under the same definition are milk, kerosene,medicinal liquids, etc. They turn najis when they meet with najasah.

Moreover, when “abundant water” is connected to “little water”, thelatter can be regarded as abundant whereby it remains immunized as long asit is fed from an abundant source of water. To give you some examples, yourdomestic storage tank that is normally connected to water mains supply becomesabundant; likewise, if you placed a bowl or a saucepan under the running waterof a sink tap, the water in it becomes abundant, and so on. That is, as longas the water remains running.

* Fine. What, if a drop of blood falls in the water of a tank thesize of a kurr, that is not connected to the mains?

- It will not become najis, unless blood keeps dripping that the colourof the water changes to yellowish, for example.

* What, if it falls in a small plate?

- It will render it najis.

* What, if we turn the tap on, thus restoring the original purityof the water?

- The water in the plate will become tahir. [However, it will becomenajis again, if you turn the tap off. This is because, if the plate becomesnajis, it becomes tahir only when it is washed three times], as shall be explainedto you later.

* If we were to pour water from a pitcher, or watering can, onto somethingnajis, does the water become najis?

- No, because najasah does not climb the water column. Accordingly,neither the cascading water nor the water in the can becomes najis.

* How would rain water render najis things tahir?

- When rain continues to fall on things that had become najis, bethey floor, garments, mats, utensils, etc. in such a quantity that it soaksthem, they become tahir.

* Is it sufficient that rain pours on such najis objects once to renderthem tahir?

- Yes, except in the case of the human body and garments that becamenajis through contamination with urine. They need to be washed a number oftimes. [The same goes for najis utensils].

* Does rain water render tahir other water that became najis?

- Yes, when they mix.

* How do we render tahir objects that had become najis, if we havelittle water?

- We can render tahir anything najis by washing it once with water,be it abundant or little. However, when washing with a limited quantity ofwater, you need to separate the water from the najis thing.

* Can all things that turned najis be rendered tahir in this way?

- Yes, except the following:

1. Cutlery that became najis through contamination with alcohol shouldbe washed three times so that they become tahir again.

3. Objects that became najis through contamination by nursing babiesshould be rendered tahir by soaking the affected parts with water; therewill be no need for wringing the garments, for example.

4. Utensils licked or lapped by dogs should first be scrubbed withsoil or dust. They should then be washed with water twice. If, however,dog’s saliva falls in such utensils, or they meet any part of the dog’s body,[they should be wiped with soil first, then washed with water three times].

5. Garments contaminated with urine should be washed with running wateronce. They should be washed twice if the water used was that of taps, kurr,or little water; they should also be wrung. As for garments that became najisthrough other means, they should be washed with either little water and wrungor with abundant water without the need for wringing.

6. Restoring the purity of the body, that became najis by urine, shouldbe done following the way outlined in the preceding paragraph. However,if the water was little, you should separate the water used for purificationfrom the body as is customary.

7. If the interiors of utensils have become najis as a result of anysource of najasah, other than those of alcohol, dogs, licking by a pig, deathof a rodent, they should be washed three times with little water, or [threetimes too] with abundant water, running water, or rain water.

* What, if the interior of utensils become najis in the same way?

- They should become tahir again, if they were washed once, even withlittle water.

* How can I render my hand tahir after it has become najis, if I havelittle water?

- If it was not made najis through urine, you can pour water on itonce. As soon as the water becomes separated from your hand, it becomes tahiragain.

The Second purifying agent is the sun.

* What are the najis things, that the sun can render tahir again?

- It renders ground and buildings - apart from doors and other woodenmaterial - straw rugs, not the strings used in making them, and bamboo matstahir again. [Other things that are not covered are trees and their leaves,plantations, and fruits before they are picked, etc.].

* How does the sun render the floor and buildings tahir?

- It does so by drying them up, provided that the actual najasah isremoved.

* What, if the najis ground was dry, how can we restore its originaltaharah?

- By pouring water on it. Once sun light causes the water to evaporate,it becomes dry and thus tahir.

* What, if the ground became tainted with urine, then the sun shoneon it and it became dry?

- The ground restores its taharah, if no trace of urine was left.

* Suppose things like shingle, stone, soil, and mud, that are consideredpart of the earth, became contaminated with urine. They were then rendereddry by sun light. Should they be considered tahir?

- Yes, they should be considered tahir.

* What about nails used in buildings?

- [They are not covered by the same principle, i.e. they are not renderedtahir by sun light].

The Third purifying agent is the removal of najasah from certain partsof the human body, and those of animals, that have become contaminated.

* Could you give me an example?

- Removal of blood from the mouth, ear, and nose is a removal of thenajasah.

In other words, as soon as the blood is removed they become tahir,i.e. there is no need to use water.

* What about an animal’s body?

- The same rule applies. For example, if the blood disappears fromthe beak of a chicken, or the mouth of a cat, the beak and the mouth shouldbecome tahir again.

* Does the needle, used in injecting medicine into the body of a humanor animal, become najis as a result of meeting blood inside the body?

- No, it does not become najis, if it comes out uncontaminated withblood. This is because najasah does not materialize through meeting najisthings inside the body per se.

The Fourth purifying agent is earth:

Whatever comes under the definition of earth, such as stones, sand,soil, flooring with bricks or cement - not tarmac, has a purifying quality. It is, however, conditional that the earth should be [dry] and tahir.

* How can I ascertain that it is tahir?

- As long as you do not know that it was najis, it is tahir, and thereforecan be considered a purifying agent.

* What are the najis things that the earth renders tahir?

- The soles of feet and shoes are rendered tahir by walking or rubbingthem against earth, provided that the material najasah is removed as a resultof walking or wiping. It is to be noted, however, that the najasah shouldhave originated from the earth, be it through walking or in any other way. [If it has come about from other sources, earth cannot serve as a purifyingagent].

The Fifth purifying agent is the state of belonging or affiliation.

* For example?

- If the unbeliever, who is deemed najis, becomes a Muslim, he isrendered tahir. Subsequently, his young offspring become tahir. The samegoes for the grandfather, grandmother, mother, and their young babies, afterthey have embraced Islam. This should be the case regarding the young child,as long as it is under the guardianship of those who converted to Islam. That is, the child should not be in the company of an unbeliever.

Also, if alcohol turns into vinegar it becomes tahir. As a resultthe bottle or glass that contains it becomes tahir too.

The dead body becomes tahir, when it undergoes three types of ghusl. As a result the hands and clothes of the person conducting the ghusl becometahir, and so does the bench on which the body was laid for washing.

If a najis garment was washed with little water, for instance, it wouldbecome tahir, and so would the hands that did the washing.

The Sixth purifying agent is Islam.

* How does Islam work as a purifying agent? And whom does it rendertahir?

- Islam renders tahir an infidel who was deemed najis. That is, afterhe had embraced Islam.

Accordingly, all parts of his body become tahir.

The Seventh purifying agent is the absence of a Muslim who is adultor a discerning youth.

* What do you mean by the absence of a Muslim?

- The Muslim who is physically not around.

* How does his absence work as a purifying agent?

- When a Muslim is away, all his belongings should be considered tahir,if you think that he rendered them tahir.

* Could you give me an example?

Suppose the shirt of your brother was najis. He does not know whetherit was najis or not. However, you may know it is the case, irrespective ofwhether or not he was a practising Muslim. Your brother has gone away andreturned. To the best of your knowledge, your brother has rendered his shirttahir, in which case, you should assume that the shirt be tahir, withoutthe need to ask him.

The Eighth purifying agent is transfer.

* For example?

- Human blood that was sucked by a mosquito. If you had smashed theinsect and your clothes became tainted with that blood, it is tahir.

The Ninth purifying agent is istihala (transformation).

* What is transformation?

- Transformation is a complete change of something to something else,not only by name, but also through change of its properties, or dispersalof its parts.

* Could you give me an example?

- If a najis wood, or the dried animal dung used in fire, is burnedand subsequently turned into ashes, the latter is tahir.

The Tenth purifying agent is the blood trapped inside the carcass ofanimals slaughtered according to Islamic law.

The Eleventh purifying agent is the change of alcohol into vinegarbecause, while in the process of fermentation, it turns najis. If it turnsinto vinegar, it becomes tahir.

The Twelfth purifying agent is weaning the animal that developed ahabit of eating human excrement. This is because the meat of such an animalbecomes haraam to consume, so does drinking its milk. Its urine, dung, ordroppings, and sweat become najis too.

* How do we achieve the weaning of this animal?

- It could be achieved by preventing it from eating human excrementfor such a period that it could be said that it reverted to its natural self.

* If this was achieved, what then?

- We can then deem its meat, milk, etc... tahir.