Small amount of dirt on body excused in ablution and Ghusl
Fatwa No: 358009

  • Fatwa Date:2-1-2018 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 15, 1439
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Question

I want to ask a question about fatwa no. 278056. You said that "some scholars said that a small amount of dirt which is hard to remove is excused". By "hard to remove," do you mean that the process of removing it is hard, like some dirt under one's nails, or do you mean that it is easy to remove but hard to avoid and hard to remember removing it before every Ghusl (ritual shower) and ablution, or both? And you said, "Some scholars said that a small amount of dirt which is hard to remove is excused," but that quote could be understood to mean that every small thing which prevents the water from reaching the skin is excused. My question about this is: is every small thing excused, or only the things which are hard to remove? When someone reads the quote, he could think that every small thing is excused. May Allah reward you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

Scholars held different views in this regard; some scholars maintained that the small amount of dirt is not excused under any circumstances, while others, like the Hanbalis, held that the small amount of dirt is excused when it is difficult to avoid it, such as the dirt under the fingernails or the like. Other scholars held that any small amount of dirt is excused. This is the opinion chosen by Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him. The Hanbalis were lenient regarding what is under the fingernails and the like because it is quite common and difficult to avoid.

The apparent indication of Ibn Taymiyyah's view is that the insignificant dirt is excused in analogy with the insignificant dirt under the fingernails, whether it is difficult to remove it or not, because it is common and difficult to avoid.

Sharh Al-Iqnaaʻ reads:

"Chapter: then he washes his hands up to the elbows based on the relevant text, thrice based on the hadeeth narrated on the authority of ‘Uthman and other ahaadeeth, including the fingernails, even if they are long, because they are attached to the body and are considered part of the hand. There is no harm if there is insignificant dirt under the fingernails, even if it blocks the water from reaching the skin, because that is quite common. Had the ablution been considered invalid in the presence of insignificant dirt under the fingernails, the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would have clarified it, because it is not permissible to delay the clarification beyond the time of need. The Shaykh (i.e. Ibn Taymiyyah) held that the same ruling applies to any insignificant thing on the body that prevents water from reaching the skin, like blood, dough and the like, and he drew an analogy between it and the insignificant dirt under the fingernails. The statement cited in Al-Muntaha and other books implies that this applies to what is under the fingernails and the similar things; so the same ruling applies to the cracks on some body parts." 

That said, it is more prudent to remove any dirt wherever it is. It should be noted, though, that there is no harm on the person who follows the opinion of a trustworthy scholar.

Allah knows best.

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