By: Fatema Makki

A friend of mine had recently had a reconstructive facial surgery after being in a car accident. During the recovery period, the doctor asked her not to allow any water to touch her face until all of the wounds have healed. In this case, forming ablution (wudu’) is an impossible task. After contacting our offices, she realized that she can resort to Tayamom.

From Islamic Rulings, A Guide of Islamic Practice by His Eminence, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra)

What is Tayamom?

Tayamom is purification in a certain way and is resorted to in exceptional cases in which the person is incapable of ablution or washing; such cases justify Tayamom.

What are the conditions that justify Tayamom? 

It is justified for a person to abandon ablution or washing in the following cases:

First: When water is lacking in the area in which the person is staying and the area is approximately 220m radius in rough terrain, or approximately 440m radius in plain terrain. The person has to search for water by himself or with the help of others until he becomes absolutely certain or satisfied that water is not available. However, if he comes to know that water is available beyond the distance by a distance that is not difficult to cover, it is obligatory to go there.

If it is ascertained that water is lacking, and the person has the time and the potential to search for water, yet performs Tayamom and prays believing that his act is allowed, it is considered that his prayer is valid.

Second: When it is not possible to use water and this includes the following cases:

a-      If the water is impure or has been usurped.

b-      If it is impossible to reach the water because of old age or disability, or because of fear of an enemy or a thief, or if it involves doing a forbidden act such as trespassing into other people’s land.

c-      If the person needs the water for something that is more important than ablution, such as the case of intense thirst, or if it would harm others if the water has to be shared and using it would leave others without water, and if the water is needed to purify the mosque, his body or dress from impurities, he should use the water for this purpose instead.

d-     A psychological obstacle such as the fear of humiliation when requesting water from its owner.

e-      A financial obstacle such as if obtaining water requires spending a lot of money that would harm the person; but if this would not cause any harm, spending it becomes obligatory, even if the price is high.

f-       The obstacle relates to the time of prayers so that ablution or washing would push the prayer, wholly or partially, outside the time; this needs only to be reasonably probable.

What are the things that one can use for Tayamom?

Tayamom must be carried out using things that may be called earth, which includes:

a-      Natural earth such as soil, sand, rock, dry mud, etc…

b-      Baked earth, such as cement and limestone, mosaic and tiles provided that their exposed surfaces are not plated with a non-earthy material that is regarded as a cover.

c-      Iron, gold, turquoise, diamonds, salt, kohl, and elements made from oil are not allowed to be used in Tayamom. In addition to glass, wood, plants and the like.

Is something suitable for Tayamom is mixed with another thing that is not, then if the amount of the latter was so small that would not negate the name of earth from the mixture, Tayamom may still be done using it, otherwise not.

If a person cannot find anything suitable for Tayamom, but he can find mud, he may dry it out and use it. And if he cannot find that but can find thick dust and is able to collect anough of it until it becomes like soil, he has to collect it and use it; and if he cannot find hat but can find mud wet with water but cannot dry it out, he should use it if possible; and if he cannot find any of that, he should use it if possible; and if he cannot find any of that, he should pray without Tayamom, and does not need to repeat later.

How to perform Tayamom?

Performing Tayamom is as follows:

First: Strike the ground with the two palms together; placing them without striking is not sufficient or striking one before the other.

Second: wipe with the two palms the whole of the forehead and its sides, between the edges of the hair to the top of the nose, it is better to include the eyebrows.

Third: Wipe the outer side of the right hand with the palm of the left hand, then the outside of the left with the palm of the right hand.

When wiping the forehead and the hands, it is not necessarily to do this from top to bottom; it is allowed to do the reverse in Tayamom, whether on the face or the hands. Also, it is not obligatory to wipe with the whole of the palm; wiping with part of it is acceptable. It is also sufficient to wipe the outer side of the hand and not the areas between the fingers as well.

Just one strike for both the face and the hands is sufficient. If the person cannot strike, just placing the palms is acceptable, and those who cannot wipe with the palms may wipe with the outer side.

Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty” (2:185)…