I want to ask whether an ablution of a Muslim woman would be invalid if she has physical contact with a non-Muslim woman? The reason is I have a lot of non-Muslim friends in my office. I feel bad if I refuse to shake hands with them, for I want to maintain my ablution. Hope to get an explanation from you. Thank you.
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
We will start with the statement of Allah SWT:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ
“O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles.”
Surah al-Maidah (6)
Syeikh al-Sa’di said that there are numerous rulings (that could be extracted) from the above verse. Among them is the commandment of prayer, setting one’s intention to pray and the valid condition of purifying oneself for prayer, as well as it is not wajib to purify oneself when the time of prayer begins but it is wajib when a person wants to perform prayer and others. (See Tafsir al-Sa’di, pg. 222)
Matters That Invalidate Ablution
In concluding this issue, Habib Hasan bin Ahmad al-Kaff said in his book that there are four matters that invalidate ablution:
- Something is excreted from the private parts (anus, vagina or penis) with the exception of semen. The reason is for semen if it is ejaculated then it is wajib for a person to perform the obligatory bath and it is the prioritized purification.
- Loss of one’s consciousness or rationality, whether because he falls asleep or others. The exception is when a person sleep while sitting where his bottom is stationary on his sitting place.
- Direct skin contact between ajnabi man and woman (permissible to get married).
- Touching private parts using one’s palms
(See al-Taqrirat al-Sadidah, pg. 103)
Physical Contact Between Opposite or Same Gender
First of all, we should know that the final opinion of madhhab Syafie states, direct skin contact between non-mahram of opposite genders (such as a woman and an ajnabi man) invalidates ablution. Allah SWT states:
وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُوا ۚ وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَىٰ أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَامَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوا صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًا
“And if you are in a state of janabah, then purify yourselves. But if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and do not find water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and hands with it.”
Surah al-Maidah (6)
Imam al-Nawawi states in his book:
أَنَّ الْتِقَاءَ بَشَرَتَيْ الْأَجْنَبِيِّ وَالْأَجْنَبِيَّةِ ينتقض سواء كان بشهوة وبقصد أم لا ولا ينتقص مَعَ وُجُودِ حَائِلٍ وَإِنْ كَانَ رَقِيقًا
“Indeed, physical contact between ajnabi man and woman invalidates ablution regardless of whether it is with desire or otherwise. However, the contact does not invalidate ablution if it is not a direct contact if there is barrier between them even if it is a thin cloth.” (See al-Majmu’ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 2/30)
For more information on the discussion of this issue, refer to our previous articles as the following:
- Al-Kafi li al-Fatawi (1118): Physical Contact Between Husband and Wife Invalidate Ablution?
- Al-Kafi li al-Fatawi (1281): Physical Contact with Children of Opposite Gender Invalidates Ablution?
Coming back to the question asked, we found that physical contact that invalidates ablution involves two opposite genders (non-mahram). As for physical contact of the same gender does not invalidate ablution. The same for physical contact between people of the same gender even if they are of different religions.
Syeikh al-Islam Zakaria al-Ansari said that humans are honoured. The implication from their honour is that they are not considered as najis even after their death, regardless of whether they are Muslims or otherwise. As for Allah SWT’s statement in surah al-Taubah verse 28: “O you who have believed, indeed the polytheists are unclean,” Unclean (najis) in this verse refers to their belief as well as the commandment to avoid their belief and not that their physical body is considered as najis. (See Asna al-Matalib, 1/10)
According to the above discussion, we conclude that physical contact through handshakes or others among people of the same gender even of different religions does not invalidate ablution.
Islam never prohibits us from being polite and doing good towards the non-Muslims. In fact, we are commanded to be fair and show our good character and conduct towards everyone. Hopefully, it will be the reason for them to approach and get closer to Islam. Allah SWT states:
لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّـهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ
“Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.”
Surah al-Mumtahinah (8)
Lastly, we pray that Allah SWT gives us all a good understanding in practising His religion. Amin.