Is Dead Skin a Barrier to Wudu? [Shafi’i School]

Answered by Ustadh Shuaib Ally

Question: As salaamu alaykum,

Shafi’i book “Haashiyat al-Jamal” reads: “.. and we must remove wax that prevents water from reaching the skin, but there is no harm in the color traces of paint or grease, and we must remove dead skin and the dirt that is under the fingernail that prevents water (from reaching the skin).”

What do they mean with dead skin exactly?Is dead skin a barrier to wudu?

Answer: Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

Dead or healing skin is not a barrier to wudu.

Qashaf, as mentioned in Hashiyat al-Jamal, likely refers to the grime (whatever its make-up) that would accumulate on the surface of a person’s skin were he to never wash or clean himself. If that were to form a layer or barrier that prevents water from reaching the skin, it would impugn the validity of his wudu.

Skin that is cut off from the body, but somehow manages to stick onto the skin because of dirt or the like would be considered a barrier to a proper wudu.

Circles of dead skin attached to the body are considered part of the skin, and are washed over. There is no requirement or expectation that it be removed.

Source: Hashiyat al-Jamal

Shuaib Ally