Question # 62: I know that tayammum is permitted when one cannot find water, or the amount one finds is insufficient for ablution. How about the case when one is ill or the water is cold enough to physically harm?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: It is permissible for the one who thinks that using water will harm him, to do tayammum, whether that is because of cold or of his/her illness.

Long Answer: The Qur’an says, “And if you are ill, or on a journey, or one of you comes from relieving himself, or you have touched women, and you do not find water, then go to high clean soil and rub your face and hands (therewith). Lo, Allah is Benign, Forgiving” (Soorah an-Nisa’a, 4:43). [Therefore,] if one is [injured or ill]… and believes water will worsen it (he does not have to be absolutely sure, but may base his opinion on past experience or what a knowledgeable person has told him), he may perform tayammum. Jabir (رضي الله عنه) said, “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 died. When they came to the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم), they informed him of what had transpired. He (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, ‘They killed him, Allah will 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.” This is related by Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, ad-Daraqutni and Ibn as-Sakin, who said it is sahih.

[Tayammum is also permitted,] if the water is cold enough to physically harm the user… on the condition that he can find no one to heat it, or is unable to use the public bathrooms. ‘Arur ibn al-‘Aas (رضي الله عنه) narrated that he was participating in an expedition. He had a wet dream during an extremely cold night, and was afraid that if he performed ghusl he would die. He prayed the Morning Prayer with his companions. He then went to the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) to ask him about this. He (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “O ‘Arur, did you pray with your companions while you needed a post-nocturnal bath?” ‘Arur mentioned the verse, “Do not kill yourselves, Allah is merciful to you” [(Soorah an-Nisa’a, 4:29)] to the Prophet. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) just laughed and didn’t say anything. (Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Hakim, ad-Daraqutni, Ibn Hibban and al-Bukhari in mu’allaq form) This example illustrated the Prophet’s tacit approval. (‘Fiqh Us-Sunnah’ by As-Sayyid Sabiq)

[In effect,] the one who is unable to use water comes under the same ruling as one who cannot find any water. (Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn Baaz)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.