Tayammum, is an Islamic ritual to subsidise wudu or ghusl in the absence or impossibility of the usage of water. It is one of the special gifts to this Ummah. The Messenger of Allah (saws) said (in the meaning):

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 “ “I have been given five things which no one before me has been given: … (and he mentioned) The earth has been made for me a place of worship and ceremonially pure, so that when the time of prayer comes any man may pray.” [Agreed Upon]

In another narration by Hudhaifah (ra):

  “And its earth has been appointed for us as a means of cleansing when we do not find water.” [Muslim].

In another hadeeth reported by ‘Ali (ra):

 “ ” The earth has been made for me as a means of cleansing.” [Ahmad].

At-Tayammum is the action of wiping ones hands and face with pure soil. The Sunnah is to hit both hands on the soil then wipe over the face, as reported in the following hadeeth of ‘Ammar bin Yaasir (ra) who said (in the meaning):

 “ ” The Prophet (saws) sent me on some errand, I had a wet dream and I did not find water (to get washed). Therefore, I rolled myself on the ground just as an animal does. When I came back to the Prophet (saws) and mentioned that to him. He said (in the meaning): “It would have been enough for you to do with your hands thus.” He (saws) then struck the ground with his hands once, then wiped the right hand with the left one, the outside of the palms of his hands and his face.” [Agreed upon]. The sequence of wiping the hands first or the face first is not an essential issue. This means that whichever is started with, will be sufficient as other hadeeths reported the starting with the face then the hands next as is the case in the following hadeeth: “…And he (saws) struck the ground with the palms of his hands, blew into them, then wiped his face and the palms of his hands with them.” [Bukhari].

There has been an argument between scholars as to how many times should one strike the soil with his hands. Some of them said once, while others said twice. The latter based their argument on the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar (ra) who said that the Messenger of Allah (saws) said (in the meaning): “At-tayammum is two strikes: One for the face and the other for the hands up to the elbows.” [Ad-Daraqutni]. However, this hadeeth has been classified as inauthentic by a great number of scholars. While the other group of scholars base their argument on the above mentioned hadeeth of ‘Ammar bin Yaasir (ra). The most authentic practice and that is also a matter of agreement between the majority of scholars is, once is enough. Which is also the Sunnah, for this is what the Prophet (saws) did and taught ‘Ammar bin Yaasir (ra).

With what can one make tayammum:

Allah (swt) said in Al-Qur’an (in the meaning):

  “…And you find no water, then perform tayammum with clean soil and rub your faces and your hands therewith.” [4:43].

Most scholars agree that the ‘clean soil’ here refers to at-Turaab (dust of the earth). They say, tayammum can only be made with at-Turaab. That means, we can’t make tayammum with something that doesn’t have dust, such as the inside wall of a house and so on.

When is it permissible?

Tayammum can be performed in both states of impurity, ghusl or Wudu. This means, if one is in a state of major impurity and does not find water, one can perform tayammum. The same also applies for the one who wants to make wudu and does not find water, he can perform tayammum.

Inability, absence or insufficiency of Water:

The absence and insufficiency of water entitles one to perform tayammum. For Allah (swt) said (in the meaning): “…And you find no water, then perform tayammum…” [4:43]. As for the inability to use water due to an illness or an extreme cold weather, one should bear in mind that the fear for one’s health must be certain and not imaginative. The scholars consider the illness which entitles one to tayammum as that which might add to one’s physical injury. It does not necessarily mean that it has to be a near fatal illness.

When tayammum is done because of extreme cold weather, it is allowed only when water can not be warmed up. Nowadays hot water is widely available, but should one face a situation where the water is extremely cold and that making wudu with it will be harmful, then one can resort to tayammum. It’s been reported in an authentic hadeeth that once ‘Amr bin Al-‘Aas (ra) who said (in the meaning):

 “ ” I had a sexual dream on a cold night in the battle of Dhat as-Salasil. I was afraid, if I made a ghusl, I would die. I, therefore, performed tayammum and led my companions in the Fajr prayer. They mentioned that to the Apostle of Allah (saws). He said: ‘Amr, you led your companions in prayer while you were sexually defiled? I informed him of the cause which impeded me from washing. Then I said: Allah said (in the meaning): ‘Do not kill yourself, for Allah is merciful to you.’ The Apostle of Allah (saws) smiled and did not say anything.'” [Abu Dawood].

However, one should not take the religion of Allah lightly and start playing the lazy and say the water is too cold when if fact it is not!

As for the insufficiency of water, such as where someone does not have enough water for his daily intake and Salat, one should make tayammum for Salat and use the water for his needs. Imam Ahmed – May Allah have mercy on him, said (in the meaning): “Many of the companions performed tayammum to save their water for drinking.”

What does tayammum allow:

After performing tayammum, a person become pure and may do any of the acts which normally require prior purification such as praying, etc. It does not have to be performed during the time of prayer and one may pray as many prayers as one wishes (until it is nullified). What nullifies Wudu nullifies tayammum.

When tayammum and Wudu can be joined:

There are times where both tayammum and Wudu are needed to complete one’s purification. Such is the case where a person has an injury in one of the parts that need to be included in Wudu. For instance, someone has got a wound on one arm, which if it is touched by water will worsen. Such person, must perform the normal Wudu for the other parts, and when he is finished, he must perform tayammum for that wounded part. This is based on the following hadeeth of Jabir bin Abdillah (ra) who said (in the meaning):

 “ “We were on a journey and one of us got injured. Later, he had a wet dream. He asked his companions, ‘Can I perform tayammum?’ They said, ‘No, not if you have water.’ He performed ghusl and (as a result of that) died. When they came to the Messenger of Allah (saws), they informed him of what had happened. He said, ‘They killed him, may Allah kill them. Do you not ask if you do not know? The rescue of the ignorant person is the question. He could have performed tayammum and dropped water on his wound or wrapped it with something and wipe over the wrapping, and wash the rest of his body.'” [Abu Dawood & Ibn Majeh].

It is worth knowing that if someone started his prayer with tayammum and while in the middle of his prayer, water becomes available, such person must not stop his prayer and should carry on praying.

If one prays then finds water, there is no need to repeat that prayer again. Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri (ra) said (in the meaning): ” Two men went out on a journey. The time of prayer came and, as they had no water during that prayer time, they performed tayammum. Then they found some water during the time of the same prayer. One of them repeated his prayer with ablution, the other one did not. When they saw the Prophet (saws), they asked him about the proper procedure in such a case. He said to the one who did not repeat his prayer: ‘You have acted according to the Sunnah and your prayer is sufficient for you’, then said to the other: ‘You will get a double reward.'” (the double reward comprises the reward for having performed the prayer on time and the second reward because he made Ijtihaad but failed to reach the right practice, and thus he got the reward for that.) [Abu Dawood and An-Nasa’ee].

One can perform tayammum as long as water is unavailable, regardless of the length of time it might take. The Prophet (saws) said (in the meaning):

 “ ” The clean earth is a means of ablution for a Muslim, even if he does not find water for ten years; but when he finds water, he should fear Allah and make it touch his skin.” [Al-Bazzar].

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at

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