Indiscernible Najasa (Filth)

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by

Answered by Sidi Moustafa Elqabbany

  What is the proper way to deal with najasa that has no discernible characteristics (e.g. a small amount of urine that has dried on clothing and is no longer visible or has any smell)?  Is it sufficient to take these clothes and hand-wash them in a sink where the whole garment is soaked and then wrung?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate. All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all things. May Allah bless and grant peace to our Master Muhammad, his family, and companions.

Scope of this answer

The following answer assumes that the filth in Question is not from dogs or pigs. It also assumes that the water being used is always less than qullatayn (approximately 216 litres).

How do I remove the filth?

Filth can only be removed with plain water, as it comes from nature, that has never been used for wudu or removing filth. One must scrub and wring the affected area (if necessary) to remove the filth. If it is only possible to remove the filth by using detergent, then one must do so. However, one must still flowplain water over it afterwards. [Reliance, e1.5;Nayl-ur-Raja, p. 53]

Filth is of two types: physical (`ayniyya) and ritual (hukmiyya). Physical filth has discernible characteristics, such as taste, colour, and odour. Ritual filth doesn’t have discernible characteristics. An example of ritual filth is a drop of urine that has dried and is no longer noticeable. Also, if physical filth is washed away with anything other than plain water, it becomes ritual filth.

To purify one’s garment from physical filth, all of its taste, colour, and odour must be removed. Colour or odour that is very difficult to remove is excusable. However, if both colour and odour remain, this is inexcusable. Similarly, any taste remaining is also inexcusable.

To purify one’s garment from ritual filth, plain water has to flow over the contaminated area. [Reliance, e14.10-11]

What about the runoff after washing the filth?

Case 1: Plain water is poured over the filthy garment

If, after pouring plain water over the filth:

  1. the water hasn’t been changed by the filth, and
  2. the water hasn’t gained any mass, and
  3. the filth has been completely removed, then

the water is pure, in the sense that it will not contaminate anything it touches. However, it is no longer plain water, and cannot be used for wudu or removing filth.

If any of the above conditions is not true, then the water is filthy and contaminates whatever it touches. [Reliance, e1.7(3), e14.14]

Case 2: The filthy garment is dropped in a basin of plain water

The water in the basin, as well as anything it touches (including the formerly clean part of the garment), is now filthy. Reliance, e1.15]

Case 3: The filth is removed by something other than plain water

The liquid used to remove the filth, as well as anything it touches, is now filthy. [Reliance, e14.13]

Hence, soaking a garment contaminated by najasa in a sink will contaminate the entire garment. Rather, one should pour plain water over it.

What if I lose track of the filth?

If one is sure that a garment has been contaminated by filth but has lost track of the exact location, one must purify the entire garment. [Reliance, f4.10]

Allah the Exalted knows best and He alone gives success.

Moustafa Elqabbany
Metro Vancouver, Canada

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