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A primer to water
By Ust. H A Hannan
21 November 2017

Literally, taharah means to attain purity, be it physical or spiritual. The term taharah in its juristic sense refers to; the ruling pertaining one’s body, place and clothing. This may affect salah, tawaf, tilawat and instances of marital relations.

The types of water permissible for purification are seven: rainwater, ocean water, river water, water from wells, water from melted snow and hail water; upon melting and spring water. As ‘He [Allah] caused rain to descend from the heaven, to clean you therewith’1 . For indeed, Allah loves those who purify themselves.

Types of water

Note, water is divided into five categories.

The first type is water that is pure in of itself and a purifier.

The second type is water that is purifying in of itself but less in quantity; from which a cat or an animal of its like has drunk.

The third type is water that is purifying in of itself; though is not unifying for other things, either it has been already used for removing impurity or purification for gaining nearness to Allah Almighty. Another of its type is used water, referred to as musta’mal water with which purity has been gained. Such type of water cannot be reused to attain purity. Indeed Allah loves those who purify themselves.

Items with which wudhu is not permitted are from one of the following: water extracted from fruits; or water that has lost its essence of taste, smell and colour through boiling or by the water being dominated by another substance. That which overwhelms the water and is of a solid substance and through its mixing it loses its flowing nature then such water cannot be used to attain purity with. However, if after adding the solid substance, its fluidity remains intact then that water is classified as pure.2 As for the water that has been contaminated by another liquid substance; and as a result, it has lost two of its qualities then such water is not deemed permissible for attaining purity. Indeed, Allah loves those who purify themselves.

The fourth type is najis water. This is when filth falls into a small quantity of stagnant water. What is considered as small? That water which its quantity is less than ten by ten arm’s length. Then what is considered as a large amount; it is that which by casting movement on one of its sides does not cause motion on the other. In such a case purity can be gained from a side upon which impurity has not fallen. If impurity falls into flowing water and the signs do not remain then that water is permissible for use.

The fifth type of water is that which is doubtful irrespective of its use. This is water which a donkey or a mule has drunk.

Leftover water

Rules pertaining to leftover water are one of four. Water that has been drunk by a human or any halal animal whose meat can be eaten, is permissible. However, the leftover water of a predatory animal is classed impermissible. The leftover water of a stray chicken, cat or any animal of its like is deemed, makruh. Lastly, the leftover water belonging to a donkey or mule is categorised as doubtful.

Well water

As for the rules pertaining to the purification of the well, they are as follows. Remember, if impurity falls into a well be if less or more it necessitates for all the water to be extracted. Likewise, if a pig falls into the well and manages to come out, the well is to be fully drained. For the same rule applies when a dog, sheep or human dies in the well. What if an animal dies in the well and bloats up? In such a situation drain out all the water, as the impurity has dispersed everywhere. As for spring-fed3 wells, if the case where all the water needs to be drained, estimate its capacity and drain that amount.

The death of a chicken, cat or something of its like will require 40-50 buckets to be drained. If a rat dies or something of its like, then withdraw 20-30 buckets. Note, the death of an animal within a well whose meat is halal for consumption does not contaminate the water. Similarly, in the event of the death of an animal which does not have flowing blood or an animal who lives in the water dies in the water, the same ruling applies.

As for the one who used water from any of the above descriptions for them is to wash all items with which purity was intended. As for their salah, if the time of the death is not known and the animal has not bloated then repeat the salah for one day and it night. However, if the animal has putrefied and no one knows about its occurrence then repeat salah for three days and nights additionally, wash everything that has come into contact with the water. Remember Allah, and he will remember you. For indeed, Allah loves those who purify themselves.


H A Hannan
21 November 2017



Allm Abu Hasan Shurunbulali (d 1069 AH), ‘Nur al-Idhah' pp 131-138 with Allm Tahawi (d. 1231 AH), Hashiyat Tahtawi ala Maraqil Falah pp- 18-42.

  • 1Surah Furqan: 48
  • 2The Prophet (ﷺ) stated the following words regarding the man who fell down from his camel and died ‘Wash him with water and lotus leaves, and shroud him in two garments’ - Sahih al-Buhkari, 1268
  • 3Where there is a continuous flowing in of water
  • Type: Note

  • Subject: Fiqh, Nur al-Idah

  • Author: Ust. H A Hannan

  • Collection: Notebook

  • ID: 180303501

  • Tags: Water

  • Updated: 07-November-2023