» 2nd March 2012
Surah an-Nisa, 43
"O those who believe do not go near Salah when you are intoxicated until you know what you say, nor in a state of 'major impurity' [Stands for Janabah which signifies a ritual impurity caused by sexual intercourse or seminal discharge, in passion or dream, after which it becomes obligatory to take a bath. ] - save when you are traversing a way - until you take a bath. And if you are sick, or in travel, or one of you has come after easing himself, or you have touched women, and you find no water, go for some clean dust and wipe your faces and hands (with it). Surely, Allah is most-pardoning, most-forgiving." (4:43)
The Background of this Revelation
This is about an incident relating to Sayyidna 'Ali Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him which has be en mentioned in Tirmidhi. It was before liquor was forbidden that Sayyidna 'Abdul-Rahman ibn 'Awf Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with himhad invited some Companions for dinner at this home. As customary, liquor was served before dinner. When everybody had finished eating, time came for the Maghrib salah. Sayyidna 'AliRadhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him was asked to lead the prayer. He made a grave error while reciting the well-known Surah al-Kafirun in the salah under the effect of intoxication. Thereupon, this verse was revealed in which warning was given that salah should not be performed in a state of intoxication.
Commands Prohibiting Liquor Came Gradually
Allah Almighty has blessed the Shari'ah of Islam with a particular distinction - its rules have been made easy. One such rule in this golden chain concerns drinking which was an old addiction in Arabia. This was a national habit, and pastime, involving everyone but a particular few who had a sort of God-given distaste and abhorrance for liquor all along. Naturally right-minded, they never went near this foul habit. One such example is that of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him. He never touched liquor even before he was called to prophethood. And everyone knows that habit, any habit, the urge and compulsion to have something, is really difficult to leave. This is all the more true about the habit of drinking or getting intoxicated by some other means. It so overpowers man in its clutches that he just cannot think otherwise. To him a farewell to drinking means a welcome to death.
Drinking has always been unlawful in the sight of Allah and when people entered the fold of Islam, saving Muslims from it was very much in order. But, had it been declared unlawful all of a sudden, people would have found obedience to this command extremely hard to carry out. So, the shift was gradual. First come partial prohibition. People were warned of the evil effects of drinking which aimed at motivating them to abandon the habit. As a result, the instruction initially given in this verse was limited to asking people not to go near salah while in a state of intoxication. The purpose here was to emphasize that salah is fard, an obligation - when the time for salah comes, one must rise, intend and offer it as due, and that one should not be drunk during salah timings. This approach helped Muslims realize that drinking is really something bad for it stops them from performing salah properly. There were many blessed souls among them who made a spot decision to abandon the habit once and for all. There were others who started thinking seriously about its evils. Finally, when the verse of Surah al-Ma'idah carrying the absolute command which declared liquor as impure and unlawful was revealed, drinking was forbidden under all conditions.
Based on the rule that performing salah in a state of intoxication is forbidden, according to some commentators, it is also not correct to perform salah when one feels so sleepy that one cannot control what one says. This restriction appears in a hadith as follows:
'If one of you feels drowsy in salah, he should go to sleep for a little while so that the effect of sleep disappears, otherwise he would not know that, rather than seeking forgiveness (from Allah), he may (actually) be cursing himself.' (Qurtubi)
[In the original book there was no explanation of other rules mentioned in the verse. The exteemed author has felt it sufficient that these rules are mentioned in the Urdu translation. For the benefit of English readers, I have added this note - Muhammad Taqi Usmani.]
Although the verse was initially revealed to prohibit offering salah in a state of intoxication, however, some other situations have also been dealt with in which offering salah is not permitted. These are the states of impurity which are of two kinds. The first kind is the state of 'major impurity' or 'janabah' which is caused by sexual intercourse or by ejaculation with sexual desire by whatever means. This state of impurity has been referred to in the above verses by the word which is derived from janabah and has been translated as 'major impurity'. In this state one cannot offer salah unless he purifies himself by having the prescribed bath (ghusl).
The second kind of impurity is called 'minor impurity' which is caused by any act breaking the wudu', like easing oneself or passing a flatus etc. In this state also one is not allowed to offer salah, but the way of purifying oneself from this kind of impurity is much easier. Instead of having a bath one can release himself from it by making wudu' (prescribed ablution). In both situations it is necessary to use water, either for having a bath or for making wudu'. But there may be situations where the use of water is not possible due to its unavailability or is extremely difficult due to illness.
In both these situations the above verses have provided an easier alternative for having a bath or making wudu'. The alternative is to strike the hands on a clean dust and then wipe the face and the wrists with it. This procedure is called 'Tayammum' and has been taken by the Shari'ah as a symbol of ritual purification where the actual act of purification through water is not possible or is extremely difficult. After making tayammum one is held to be purified for a temporary period until he is able to use water. The procedure of tayammum, being the same for both major and minor impurities, it has been prescribed in one sequence for both kinds. The words ('i.e. or one of you has come after easing himself) refer to the 'minor impurity' while the words (i.e. 'or you have touched women') stand for having sexual intercourse [This explanation is based on the Hanafi view.] causing major impurity. In both situations, it has been laid down that if someone is too sick to use water, or is on journey where he does not find water, he can have recourse to making tayammum.
The above discussion may explain the rules of impurities and their purification as laid down in the above verses. However, one point needs further elaboration:
While the Holy Qur'an has prohibited to 'go near salah' in a state of major impurity the rule has been made subject to one exception which is expressed in the words (i.e. 'save when you are traversing a way'). This exception has been interpreted by the Muslim Jurists in different ways. According to the most commentators, including the Hanafi jurists, this exception refers to the state of travelling when water is not available. It, therefore, means that one cannot go near salah in a state of major impurity without having taken a ritual bath (ghusl), however, if he is 'traversing a way' in the sense that he is on journey and does not find water, he can offer salah without taking bath after making tayammum as explained in the next sentence.
Conversely Imam al-Shafi'i rahmatullaahi 'alaih interprets the exception in a totally different manner. He says that 'going near salah' means 'entering a mosque' and it is prohibited for a person to enter a mosque in a state of 'major impurity'. However, if he intends to go somewhere else, but passes through a mosque as a passer-by, he can do so. The Hanafi jurists do not accept this view. Based on the first interpretation, they say that the verse has no relevance with 'entering the mosque'. It refers to offering prayers, as is evident from the background in which it was revealed. The prohibition of entering a mosque in the state of impurity is based on some other sources, and it is not allowed, even for a passer-by, to enter a mosque with intention to go somewhere else. (Editor).
The Rule of Tayammum is a Blessing, and a Distinction of the Muslim Community
It is certainly a great favour granted by Allah Almighty that He, in His mercy, has made something else to take the place of water, something which is much more easily available than water. Obviously enough, land mass and dust are available everywhere. It appears in a hadith that this is a convenience bestowed upon the community of Muhammad Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him exclusively. As for necessary rules governing the making of Tayammum (also referred to in English, and interestingly too, as the 'dry ablution'), these are commonly available in books on salah, (in English as well). Standard juristic works can be consulted for further details. [Ma'ariful Qur'an]
» posted by Seifeddine-M on 2nd March 2012 - 0 comments