Al-Maidah · Juz 6 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 6 [Part 4]

Performing Tayammum with Clean Earth When There is No Water and When One is Ill

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,

وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُباً فَاطَّهَّرُواْ وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَى أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ

“If you are in a state of sexual impurity, purify yourselves (bathe your whole body). But if you are ill….” 

The word janaba is from the root letter jeem-noon-ba junub which means to place or put a thing aside, to remove or send a thing far away or far off, alienate someone. When a person is in a state of janaba, he is distanced from Salah and Qur’an. This is major impurity, wudhu is not sufficient. He has to take a bath. This includes four things:

1. Sexual intercourse

2. Discharge due to wet dream or arousal of sexual desire

3. Cessation of menstrual period

4. Post child birth bleeding

Take taharah by washing the entire body. There are two types of taharah: taharah sukhara i.e. minor taharah and taharah kubrah i.e. major taharah.

There are some illnesses where water provides relief and freshens up the person. However, there are certain illnesses where the touch of water can worsen the situation. Therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has provided a relaxation here.

What does one do when water is not available? Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gave us the permission to perform tayyammum. We discussed all of this in Surah An-Nisa.

أَوْ جَآءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنْكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَـمَسْتُمُ النِّسَآءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُواْ مَآءً فَتَيَمَّمُواْ صَعِيداً طَيِّباً فَامْسَحُواْ بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُمْ مِّنْهُ

“….or on a journey or any of you comes from the Gha’it (toilet) or you have touched women and you find no water, then perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands.”

The word Gha’it literally means something that is low. Now days, we have toilets we don’t have to go for the call of nature, but in case you’re traveling, you’re on a highway and there are no stops where you can go and relieve yourself or there’s a child who needs to go. What will you do in such a situation? Find a spot that’s low because Islam promotes modesty and haya. It is better to be covered and hidden from people when relieving yourself. The ground should be soft so that there are no splashes on the person. Moreover, the low ground will protect others; those who are passing by, from stepping into a ground that has impurity.

After touching women whether it is sexual intercourse or just touching of the sexual organs, again purification must be performed. First of all, there’s ghusl but in case there’s no water available or you’re not fit for [due to sickness] to use water then perform tayyammum. Tayyammum must be performed from the top soil and it should be clean. Don’t touch the soil lightly, but wipe your hands over it properly.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says that He doesn’t want to make our life difficult. He has provided us so many relaxations depending on the situation,

مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ

“Allah does not want to place you in difficulty..”

This is why He made things easy and lenient for you. This is why He allowed you to use Tayammum when you are ill and when you do not find water, to make things comfortable for you and as mercy for you. Allah made Tayammum in place of Wudhu, and Allah made it the same as ablution with water for the one who it is legitimate for, except for certain things, as we mentioned before. For example; Tayammum only involves one strike with the hand on the sand and wiping the face and hands. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ends this ayah by saying,

وَلَـكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

“but He wants to purify you, and to complete His favor on you that you may be thankful.”

When a person does wudhu he is cleaning himself physically as well as intangibly. With each wudhu he performs his sins are washed away. How is this a favor? By giving us different commands for varying situations, it shows His being easy, kind, merciful, and lenient as well as the perfection of His legislations.

How does one do Shukr? By using the gift that has be given to us.

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