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Questions on Tayammum

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣālih al-ʿUthaymīn

Common questions involving the act of Tayammum and the circumstances surrounding its performance and validity.

The Questions:

  1. If Someone Finds Water After Performing Tayammum and Praying, Must He Repeat His Prayer?
  2. The Issue of Performing Tayammum in the Vicinity of Water Due to Forgetfulness
  3. Should One Abandon His Ṣalāh After Performing Tayammum if Water Is Found?

1. If Someone Finds Water After Performing Tayammum and Praying, Must He Repeat His Prayer?1

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣālih al-ʿUthaymīn (d. 1421 AH) said:

If someone performs tayammum, prays, and then finds water, he does not have to repeat his ṣalāh. However, this does not mean that his tayammum is still valid. The evidence for this is the ḥadīth narrated by Abū Dāwūd concerning the two men who performed tayammum and prayed. Then, they came upon water within the time for the ṣalāh they had just prayed. One of them did not repeat his ṣalāh while the other performed wuḍūʾ and prayed again. They then came upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and related to him what had transpired. He said to the one who had not repeated his ṣalāḥ: “You have enacted the Sunnah.” He said to the one who repeated his ṣalāh: “You have attained the reward of praying twice.”2

[Q]: If someone was to say: Then I should repeat my ṣalāh like the ṣahābī in this ḥadīth so that I may attain reward twice as well?

[A]: We answer: If you are knowledgeable of the Sunnah, then you are not deserving of reward twice. Rather, you would be considered an innovator.

The person who repeated his ṣalāh and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said to him: “You have attained the reward of praying twice,” was not aware of the Sunnah at the time. He was considered a mujtahid [a person who strives to reach the truth in an Islamic judicial issue] and thus attained the reward of two actions: his first ṣalāh and the second.

From this ḥadīth, we can also gain an important lesson which is that emulation of the Sunnah is superior to carrying out a multitude of actions. For example, it is not legislated for a person to pray many rakaʿāt of nawāfil between the adhān and iqāmah of Fajr because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) never used to carry out such an action. Or, for example, if someone was to lengthen his recitation, rukūʿ and sujūd for the two rakʿahs of Sunnah before Ṣalāh al-Fajr because between the adhān and the iqāmah is a blessed period in which invocations are not rejected, we would say: You have behaved in a manner that is contrary to the truth as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to shorten these two rakʿahs.3 Another example would be if someone was to pray four rakʿahs behind the Maqām Ibrāhīm4 after performing ṭawāf or to pray [the legislated] two rakʿahs but lengthens them, we would say: This is a mistake because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to shorten them and never prayed more than two rakʿahs after performing ṭawāf.5

2. The Issue of Performing Tayammum in the Vicinity of Water Due to Forgetfulness6

If someone knows of a source of water like a well close to him but he forgets its exact location, so he performs tayammum and prays but then remembers its place, he must repeat his ṣalāh.

[Q]: If it is said: Why must he repeat his ṣalāh when Allāh has said:

رَبَّنَا لَا تُؤَاخِذْنَا إِن نَّسِينَا أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَا ۚ

“Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error”
(al-Baqarah, 2:286)

[A]: The current issue pertains to a prerequisite [i.e. state of purification for the purpose of ṣalāh]. Prerequisites are not foregone due to forgetfulness. Also, there is a degree of carelessness that has occurred here. For if he had contemplated and fully deliberated, he would have remembered [the location of the water prior to praying].

It has also been said: He does not have to repeat his ṣalāh. This is because he did not intentionally oppose the order of Allāh [to purify himself before praying]. When he prayed, the extent of his knowledge was the absence of water in his vicinity.

The more encompassing opinion is that he repeats his ṣalāh. If the scholars say ‘more encompassing,’ they do not mean that it is obligatory. Rather, this denotes that piety is either in carrying out or leaving a particular action such that a person does not present himself for punishment. Here, we have differentiated between the more encompassing opinion and the opinion which has full certainty. This was mentioned by Shaykh al-Islām (Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله).

3. Should One Abandon His Ṣalāh After Performing Tayammum if Water Is Found?

Many scholars have taken the opinion that tayammum7 does not automatically become invalidated due to the appearance of water while a person is in ṣalāh [after performing tayammum to pray that ṣalāh]. There is a narration from Imām Aḥmad— although it was said that he (رحمه الله) rescinded it— ‘I used to say that the ṣalāh of such a person is not invalidated, then I found the aḥādīth that prove it invalid.’

Position 1: The Invalidation of Ṣalāh if Water Becomes Available After Making Tayammum

The evidence to support the opinion of the Ḥanbalī madh`hab is as follows :

  1. The encompassing nature of the saying of the Most High:

    فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوا

    “And if you find no water, then perform Tayammum”
    (al-Māʾidah, 5:6)

    The person who performs tayammum and prays and, while praying, water is found has technically found water. Thus, the ruling of tayammum is invalidated. If tayammum is invalidated, ṣalāh must also be invalid because his state of minor impurity would have effectively returned.

  2. His (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saying: “If he finds water, then let him fear Allāh and touch his skin with it.”8 This person has found water. So, he should fear Alllāh and wash his skin with it. This stipulates that his tayammum is invalid.
  3. Tayammum is effectively a substitute for purification when one cannot find water. If water is then found, the substitution and the ruling attached to it should cease. Upon this occurring, he should leave his ṣalāh, perform wuḍūʾ, and repeat that ṣalāh from the beginning.

Position 2: Ṣalāh Is Not Invalidated if Water Appears After Making Tayammum

The evidence of the second opinion is as follows :

  1. This person has already begun the goal and end-point of purification which is ṣalāh. He performed tayammum with the express purpose of praying. As long as the matter is thus, he has already started praying in a manner that is permissible from a judicial standpoint. He is performing an obligatory action among the ones that have been made obligatory upon him. Therefore, it is impermissible for us to obligate abandonment of that act (i.e. ṣalāh) except with clear evidence that would necessitate such an exodus. The aforementioned aḥadīth may be interpreted as referring to the circumstance where water is found before one actually begins his ṣalāh. As long as there is a possibility of this interpretation, those aḥādīth may not be considered valid evidence.
  2. Allāh, the Exalted in Might, said:

    وَلَا تُبْطِلُوا أَعْمَالَكُمْ

    “And render not vain your deeds.”
    (Muḥammad, 47:33)

    The ṣalāh the person has commenced represents an act of righteousness which is rooted in sharīʿah validation. Thus, he may not render it invalid except in consideration of clear evidence. Such clear evidence is non-existent in this matter.

The Problem of Contrasting Fiqh Positions in the Sharīʿah

This issue is quite problematic because there is no safe, encompassing course of action that could be taken [that would render one sinless according to the adopters of both opinions]. This is because if we say: the more precautionary, safe course of action would be to consider the ṣalāh as invalid, one could also argue: what is more precautionary than that is to not abandon an already commenced obligatory action.

Another issue in which there is no safe, encompassing course of action is the most famous opinion of Abū Ḥanīfah that the time for Ṣalāh al-ʿAṣr begins when the shadow of an object is twice its size. While the consensus of scholars [i.e., the three other imams] hold the view that such a time is considered late for performing this ṣalāh. If you say: the more safe course of action is to wait until the shadow of an object becomes twice its size to perform ʿAṣr, then you are sinful according to the consensus of scholars [because you would have delayed performing the ṣalāh]. If you say: the more safe course of action is to offer ʿAṣr at the beginning of its time [i.e., before the shadow of an object becomes twice its size], then you are sinful according to Abū Ḥanīfah [because, according to him, you would have prayed ʿAṣr before its time]. Thus, we must examine this issue very carefully to determine which opinion is closer to the evidence provided from the Qurʾān and Sunnah.

The more apparent opinion—and Allāh knows best—is that the Ḥanbalī madh`hab is closer to the truth in this issue. This is because, in this situation, water has been found and he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “If water is found then fear Allāh and touch your skin with it.” If one leaves ṣalāh because water is found, then his abandonment of it is for the purpose of the completion and perfection of that ṣalāh, not simply to invalidate it. This is similar to the opinion of some scholars that if someone starts praying on his own and then a congregation is commenced, he may abandon his ṣalah to pray with that congregation.9


[1] al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ, 1:406-407
[2] Authentic: Narrated by Abu Dāwūd: 338 and al-Nasāʾī: 431. Graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in ‘Ṣaḥīḥ Sunan al-Nasāʾī’:420.
[3] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 1171 and Muslim: 724.
[4] Maqām Ibrāhīm: Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz said: “Maqām Ibrāhīm is a stone that he (عليه السلام) stood on while erecting the Kaʿbah. When he had finished, he placed it under the wall of the Kaʿbah. When the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was raised as a prophet, he was ordered to pray behind it. Allāh ordered him with this and said:

وَاتَّخِذُوا مِن مَّقَامِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ مُصَلًّى

“And take you (people) the Maqām (place) of Ibrāhīm (Abraham) [or the stone on which Ibrāhīm (Abraham) stood while he was building the Kaʿbah] as a place of prayer (for some of your prayers, e.g. two rakʿat after the ṭawāf of the Kaʿbah at Makkah)”

This stone used to be close to the Kaʿbah until ʿUmar (رضي الله عنه) moved it away from the Kaʿbah to its known position today.” See “Fatāwá Nūr ʿalá al-Darb’ 17:293.
[5] Authentic: narrated by Muslim: 1218.
[6] al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ, 1: 387
[7] See:
Shaykh Ibn ʿUthaymīn said when describing tayammum: “It should be performed as far as I surmise in accordance with what is apparent from the sunnah. This is to hit the earth once with both hands without splaying the finger of the hands. Then, wipe your face with the palms of your hands. Then, wipe each hand with the other. In doing so, tayammum is finished. It is also sunnah to blow in your hands as this was narrated from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), except that some of the scholars have limited this to when excessive amounts of dirt attach to the hands after hitting the earth.” See al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 1:416.
[8] Authentic: narrated by Aḥmad 5:146, Abū Dāwūd: 332, al-Tirmidhī: 124 and Ibn Ḥibbān. Graded authentic by al-Tirmidhī, Ibn Ḥibbān, al-Nawawī and others. See ‘al-Khulāṣah’:549.
[9] al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 1:404-406

Published: July 1, 2023
Edited: July 3, 2023

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