At-Tayammum – The Symbolic Ablution (Using Earth for Purification)

At-Tayammum - The Symbolic Ablution

The Word Tayammum

Jayammum is an Arabic word which means ‘to turn to, to aim at, to head for, to intend’. The relevance of the term in the Islamic Law [sharee’ah] is that when water is either not available or when its use is likely to cause harm one should ‘turn to’ clean earth with the intention of offering salaah and other acts of worship which require wudhoo. Toyammum is, therefore, a symbolic ablution. It is a way of obtaining purification when water is not available.

Permission to Perform Tayammum

Allah the Almighty says, «And if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and find no water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and your hands [with it].» (Quran, 4:43)

The Prophet (pbuh) also said, “Pure earth is fit for purification for a Muslim even if he does not find water for ten years.” (Authentic hadeeth reported by an-Nasaa’ee and Ibn Hibbaan)

When does Tayammum become Lawful?

  1. When there is no water after one searches for it;
  2. When there is danger or one is unable to reach the place of water, and one cannot find anyone to help one bring it;
  3. When one is unable to use it due to illness; and
  4. When one fears using water will make the illness worse or prolong it.

What Acts can we do with Tayammum?

We use toyammum instead of doing wudhoo’ or taking ghusl (complete ritual bath), for the same reasons of doing wudhoo’ or taking ghusl.

With toyommum, we can perform the prayers, do the towoof around the Ka’bah and do anything else that needs to be done with wudhoo’.

Things that Make Tayammum Invalid

Anything that makes wudhoo’ invalid also makes tayammum invalid. For example, the breaking of wind, defecation, urination, deep sleep, insanity or losing consciousness, and touching the private parts with bare hands.

Tayammum also becomes invalid when water becomes available. If someone has performed tayammum as a result of not finding water, for example, this tayammum becomes invalid as soon as water becomes available, However, if one has completed his prayer with tayammum and then one discovers water, one’s prayer is valid and is not required to repeat his prayer.

How to Perform Tayammum

  1. Intend to perform Tayammum without expressing this intention.
  2. Say An ‘bismillaah’, which means “In the name of Allah”.
  3. Strike the clean earth (sand, dusty stones, etc.) gently with the palms of you hands. You can blow on the hands slightly to blow off any excess dust on your palms.
  4. Pass the palms of your hands over the face once.
  5. Then wipe over the hands up to the wrists once by passing the palm of your left hand on the back of your right hand and then the palm of your right hand on the back of your left hand.

As scholars have different opinions regarding whether or not one can use tayammum to offer more than one prayer as long as one does not break it, it is recommended to perform tayammum for every prayer.

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