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Tirmidhi s1.2: Virtue of purity
By Mft. M. Saifur Rahman Nawhami
25 Muharram, 1442 AH / 13 September 2020 CE

Wudu cleanses the self of impurity both physically and spiritually. Each part when it is washed, it washes away minor sins from that part of the body. If the believer is conscious of the sins they committed and are sincerely repentant at the time of washing, even major sins may get washed away. The hadith on this matter is reported by many sahabah including Abu Hurayrah RA whose real name was Abdullah according to Imam Bukhari but the majority suggest it was Abdur Rahman. There is a fuller version of this hadith which is reported by Sunabihi. But this narration may be marfuʿ according to some and mursal according to others.


حَدَّثَنَا إِسْحَاقُ بْنُ مُوسَى الأَنْصَارِيُّ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا مَعْنُ بْنُ عِيسَى الْقَزَّازُ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا مَالِكُ بْنُ أَنَسٍ (ح) وحَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ، عَنْ مَالِكٍ، عَنْ سُهَيْلِ بْنِ أَبِي صَالِحٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: إِذَا تَوَضَّأَ الْعَبْدُ الْمُسْلِمُ، أَوِ الْمُؤْمِنُ، فَغَسَلَ وَجْهَهُ خَرَجَتْ مِنْ وَجْهِهِ كُلُّ خَطِيئَةٍ نَظَرَ إِلَيْهَا بِعَيْنَيْهِ مَعَ الْمَاءِ، أَوْ مَعَ آخِرِ قَطْرِ الْمَاءِ، أَوْ نَحْوَ هَذَا، وَإِذَا غَسَلَ يَدَيْهِ خَرَجَتْ مِنْ يَدَيْهِ كُلُّ خَطِيئَةٍ بَطَشَتْهَا يَدَاهُ مَعَ الْمَاءِ، أَوْ مَعَ آخِرِ قَطْرِ الْمَاءِ، حَتَّى يَخْرُجَ نَقِيًّا مِنَ الذُّنُوبِ

هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ , وَهُوَ حَدِيثُ مَالِكٍ، عَنْ سُهَيْلٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ. وَأَبُو صَالِحٍ وَالِدُ سُهَيْلٍ هُوَ أَبُو صَالِحٍ السَّمَّانُ، وَاسْمُهُ ذَكْوَانُ، وَأَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ اخْتُلِفَ فِي اسْمِهِ، فَقَالُوا: عَبْدُ شَمْسٍ، وَقَالُوا: عَبْدُ اللهِ بْنُ عَمْرٍو، وَهَكَذَا قَالَ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ إِسْمَاعِيلَ، وَهَذَا الأَصَحُّ

وَفِي الْبَابِ عَنْ عُثْمَانَ، وَثَوْبَانَ، وَالصُّنَابِحِيِّ، وَعَمْرِو بْنِ عَبَسَةَ، وَسَلْمَانَ، وَعَبْدِ اللهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو

وَالصُّنَابِحِيُّ هَذَا الَّذِي رَوَى عَنْ أَبِي بَكْرٍ الصِّدِّيقِ، لَيْسَ لَهُ سَمَاعٌ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَاسْمُهُ عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ عُسَيْلَةَ، وَيُكْنَى أَبَا عَبْدِ اللهِ، رَحَلَ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقُبِضَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَهُوَ فِي الطَّرِيقِ، وَقَدْ رَوَى عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى للَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَحَادِيثَ. وَالصُّنَابِحُ بْنُ الأَعْسَرِ الأَحْمَسِيُّ صَاحِبُ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، يُقَالُ لَهُ: الصُّنَابِحِيُّ أَيْضًا، وَإِنَّمَا حَدِيثُهُ قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، يَقُولُ: إِنِّي مُكَاثِرٌ بِكُمُ الأُمَمَ فَلاَ تَقْتَتِلُنَّ بَعْدِي

Ishaq b. Musa Ansari -> Maʿn b. ʿĪsa Qazzāz -> Malik b. Anas - > Suhayl b. Abu Salih -> Abu Salih -> Abu Hurayrah -> The Prophet ﷺ

Qutaybah -> Malik b. Anas -> Suhayl b. Abu Salih -> Abu Salih -> Abu Hurayrah -> The Prophet ﷺ

When a Muslim (or Mu'min) slave [of Allah] has done wuḍu and then they washed their face, all the slights they have seen with their two eyes leave their face with the water (or with the last drop of the water or something to that effect). When they wash their arms, all the slights they committed with both their hands leave their arms with the water (or with the last drop of the water). So much so that they finish purified of sins.

This is hadith is 'hasan sahih' as in the hadith of Malik -> Suhayl -> his father -> Abu Hurayrah. Abu Ṣāliḥ is the father of Suhayl. He is Abu Ṣaliḥ al-Sammān and his name is Zakwān. The are diffences [of opinion about] the name of Abu Hurayrah. Some said, 'Abd Shams' and some said, 'Abdullah b. ʿAmr'. This [latter name] was said by Muhammad b. Ismaʿīl [Bukhari] and it is more correct (أصح).

On this issue, there are reports from: Uthman, Thawban, Ṣunabiḥi, ʿAmr b.ʿAbasah, Salmān and Abdullah b. ʿAmr.

The Ṣunabiḥi who narrates from Abu Bakr Siddiq does not have anything heard from the Prophet ﷺ; his name is Abdur Rahman b. ʿUsaylah. His kunya is Abu Abdullah. He travelled to the Prophet ﷺ but the Prophet ﷺ passed away whilst he on the road [to him]. He narrates ahadith from the Prophet ﷺ. Ṣunābiḥ b. Aʿsar Ahmasi is a companion of the Prophet ﷺ. He is also called Ṣunabiḥi.He has a hadith in which he says, 'I heard the Prophet ﷺ say, "أني مكاثر بكم الأمم فلا تقتلن بعدي" (I will have the largest of the ummah, do not fight after me)'.


طهور / Lit: cleanliness / It is allowed to pronounce it tahūr or tuhūr.

المسلم أو المؤمن / The narrator is in doubt (ترديد) which word was used; Muslim or Muʾmin. When reciting one should read add 'قال' after the 'أو' to highlight that the meant narrator said one of the two rather than both (تنويع). Therefore one would read 'المسلم أو قال المؤمن'. The virtue is applicable to both men and women as per the standard of the language; masculine form is not limiting.1

خرجت / Lit: exited / Sins are not physical. It is queried how can physical attributes be applied to something that is non-physical. The nature of sins belongs to a realm beyond this world, hence, we need not quandary the physical limitations to it as the discussion will lack validity. Nevertheless, the issue has a broader historic and theological appeal. Mufti Umar Faruq Lawharwi discusses this matter in great detail in his book, 'The Last lesson of Sahih Bukhari' as he addressed those who deny the weighing of actions because of the apparent non-physical nature of actions.

خطيئة / Lit: sin, error, slight / Some simply translate it as sin whilst others are a bit more nuanced. The root of the word has خطاء (mistake). It seems to signify an error in judgement which arose from ignorance or carelessness rather than insolence and disobedience.

مع الماء / Lit: with water / Referring to wuḍu water washing away sins as the water leaves the body parts or when it finishes leaving.

أو آخر قطر الماء / Lit: or with the last drop of the water / The narrator is in doubt about which set of words were used. It can mean that the sin washes away as the water leaves the body or it can mean that the sin washes upon the completion of wudu.

بطشت / Lit: To take something roughly, to be heavy-handed / An act which they unjustly did with their hands.

ذنوب / Sing. ذنب / Lit: sin, fault / This is similar to khatiʾah (خطيئة) albeit perhaps slightly lighter. It seems to refer to faults which occurred not due to ignorance, carelessness or insolence. Rather it is something that happened for which they must give an account but it is free of malice.

Usul Hadith

Imam Tirmidhi has declared the hadith 'hasan sahih'. This is his unique terminology and different from that used by later scholars according to whom hasan and sahih are mutually exclusive (cf Kitab al-ʿIlal). Simply put, Imam Tirmidhi considers hasan and sahih in a spectrum. He considers this hadith to be somewhere between hasan and sahih on account of Suhayl b. Salih. Overall the hadith is sahih. Imam Muslim also reports this hadith via Imam Malik's chain in his sahih.

Ishaq b. Musa Ansari (d. 244). He is a senior reliable scholars of hadith. When Imam Tirmidhi simply quotes Ansari he is referring to him. Maʿn b. ʿĪsā (d. 198) is a leading expert and one of the foremost authority on Imam Malik. Although Ansari's sanad has one extra person in the chain than Qutaybah's sanad, the inclusion of Maʿn gives it added weight.

Suhayl b. Abu Salih is reliable but his memory became poor later in life due to which some have criticised him. Imam Malik acquired the ahadith from him in the earlier part of his life and as such the sanad is not affected. His father is Abu Salih Samman Zayyat Madani (d. 101). He is reliable.

Abu Hurayrah RA is a well-known sahabi, one of the most prolific narrators of hadith and amongst those who issued fatwas.2 He became so well known as Abu Hurayrah that scholars are differed as to what was his actual name. There are 20 to 40 names suggested by scholars3 of which three have more substance; Abd Shams b. Sakhr, Abd al-Rahman b. Sakhr and Abdullah b. Amr. It is likely that Abd Shams was his name before he accepted Islam in 7AH. Imam Bukhari asserts that his name was Abdullah. Imam Tirmidhi agrees. However, Imam Nawawi, Hakim Nishapuri4 and the majority have given his priority to his name being Abd al-Rahman. Read Tadrib al-Rawi (nawʿ 50) for further discussion on his name.5 We will discuss Abu Hurayrah RA in detail6 in 'Bab Manaqib Abu Hurayrah' iA.

Ṣunābiḥi is one of the people who narrated a hadith on this issue. There are three instances of Sunabihi in the biographical dictionaries; Sunabih b. Aʿsar Ahmasi (sometimes called Ṣunābiḥi), Abu Abdullah Sunabihi and Abdullah Sunabihi. Ṣunābiḥ b. Aʿsar RA is a sahabi and we only have one hadith from him7 which is 'مُكَاثِرٌ بِكُمُ الأُمَمَ فَلاَ تَقْتَتِلُنَّ بَعْدِي'. Hence, he is not the Ṣunābiḥ to whom Imam Tirmidhi is referring. Abu Abdullah Ṣunābiḥi (Abd al-Rahman b. ʿUsaylah) was alive at the time of Prophet ﷺ but he did not meet him8 All agree that he was a tab'i. As for Abdullah Sunabihi, Imam Bukhari, Ibn Muʿīn et al are of the opinion that Abdullah and Abu Abdullah Sunabihi are the same person. Imam Malik considers Abdullah Sunabihi as a separate person and a sahabi. Sh. Zakariyya Khandalwi affirms this and provides supporting evidence. See Awjaz al-Masalik for further details.9

In short, Imam Malik et al. state that the Abdullah Ṣunābiḥi (the Sahabi) narrated the hadith which is similar to the hadith in this section, hence, it is marfuʿ. Imam Bukhari et al. the Ṣunābiḥi who reported the hadith is a tabiʿī, hence, the report is mursal.

In the narration of Imam Malik via Abu Hurairah RA, the narrator is unsure if it is 'مسلم' or 'مؤمن'. However, in the narration of Imam Malik via Ṣunābiḥi he affirms 'مؤمن'. Furthermore, there is no reference to 'مع الماء' or 'مع آخر قطر الماء'. Also, there is mentions of sins leaving the nails, nose, ears, and head when washed or wiped.

This hadith has also been reported in Mu'atta Imam Malik, Musnad Ahmad, Sunan Darimi, Sahih Muslim, Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah, Sahih Ibn Hibban, Sunan Bayhaqi among others.

Fiqh Hadith

The following discussions arise from the hadith

  • Types of sin that are forgiven
  • The purity of used water

Types of sin that are forgiven

Only minor sins are forgiven automatically with wuḍu. Major sin (kabāʾir) require one to repent consciously. Allm. Anwar shah outlines four grades of sins: zanb (ذنب), khaṭiʾah (خطيئة), sayyiʾah (سيئة) and maʿsiyyah (معصية). Other than the last, all the rest are minor sins. In this hadith and all hadith similar to it use the words zanb or khatiʿah, hence it is referring to minor sins. This is the view of the majority.

Imam Gangohi states that wuḍu can lead to both major and minor sins being forgiven so long as the wudu is done properly and it is coupled with repentance. The point overall is valid but it may not be extendable from this hadith. The forgiveness of major sins in the case described would be the result of repentance and not necessarily wudu.

The purity of used water

Does sin make the leftover water (ماء مستعمل) impure from wudu? All say that sin does not make the water impure rather it is pure.10 However, there is a difference of opinion on whether water used to remove hadath or gain reward (ثواب) can be reused for wudu. If the used water is little and the fresh is a lot, it can be used according to all. Imam Malik states that used water (ماء مستعمل) can be reused for wudu irrespective of quantity but it is better avoided. The Ahnaf and the Shawafi' state that used water (ماء مستعمل) cannot be used for wudu if the water is less11 and the used water constitutes the majority.

The water is deemed used when it leaves the body.

Further reading

Awjaz al-Masalik Sharh Muatta Imam Malik li Zakariyyah Khandalwi. p 411 v.1


  • 1See Nūr al-Anwar
  • 2See Difaʿ ʿan Abi Hurayrah li Abd al-Muʿim Ṣāliḥ ʿAli al-ʿAzzi. 1981/1393. Dar al-Qalam; Beirut, Lebanon.
  • 3See Tahzib al-Kamal li Mizzi
  • 4روي الحاكم في مستدركه قال ابن إسحاق
  • 5Tadrib al-Rawi p. 771
  • 6See Difaʿ ʿan Abi Hurayrah li Abd al-Muʿim Ṣāliḥ ʿAli al-ʿAzzi. 1981/1393. Dar al-Qalam; Beirut, Lebanon.
  • 7Tahzib li Mizzi v. 13 p.235
  • 8He travelled to meet the Prophet ﷺ but whilst in Dhul Hulayfah (outskirt of Madinah), he found that the Prophet ﷺ passed away a few days before.
  • 9Awjaz al-Masalik Sharh Muatta Imam Malik li Zakariyyah Khandalwi. p 411 v.1
  • 10Imam Abu Hanifah at first was of the opinion that it was impure but he later retracted that view.
  • 11The fuqaha are differed on what constitutes less water. Discussion on this will come later sections.
  • Type: Note

  • Subject: Hadith, Sunan Tirmidhi

  • Author: M. Saifur Rahman Nawhami

  • Collection: Notebook

  • ID: 200913501

  • Updated: 07-November-2023