By Abul Layth
Years ago I did research on the opinion of the Shafi’i Madh-hab’s (guild) view of touching a woman nullifying wudhu’. Unfortunately, I have lost the article that was actually a letter to brother Salf (Abu Adam), May Allah bless him. Umm Layth, a Shafi’i in fiqh, told me that she did not understand the position of the school very well. So I decided I was going to write for her a research paper regarding her school’s position. I had only remembered a few of their proofs and so when I revisited this topic, I was overwhelmed with the proofs presented. I am sure many of you will be as well. I hope that Umm Layth and those studying this madh-hab benefit from this research as much as I have.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلاةِ فاغْسِلُواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُواْ بِرُؤُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَينِ وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُباً فَاطَّهَّرُواْ وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَى أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاء أَحَدٌ مَّنكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لاَمَسْتُمُ النِّسَاء فَلَمْ تَجِدُواْ مَاء فَتَيَمَّمُواْ صَعِيداً طَيِّباً فَامْسَحُواْ بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُم مِّنْهُ مَا يُرِيدُ اللّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَـكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهَّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
The key words in this verse used by the Shafi’i school are:
أَوْ لاَمَسْتُمُ النِّسَاء
“…or ye have been in contact with women…”
They maintain that the word “lamastum”, translated here as ‘contact’ is touching by the hand. Imām Ash-Shāfi’ī stated in Al-Umm, “Lams (touching/contact) is done by the hand.” Their opponents disagree and argue that it is reference to coitus. That however is not our discussion. What is their proof that “lamastum – contact” means with the hand? Firstly, the Shafi’is recite this without the elongation of the Alif after the lam. So it is recited as: لمستم (lamastum). The literal meaning alludes to the touch that is less than coitus. Both recitations are reported authentically.
Their supporting proof is the authentic statement of Ibn ‘Umar that is reported by Imām Ash-Shāfi’ī in his “Al-Umm” that states,
أَخْبَرَنَا مَالِكٌ عَنْ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ عَنْ سَالِمِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ عَنْ أَبِيهِ قَالَ قُبْلَةُ الرَّجُلِ امْرَأَتَهُ وَجَسُّهَا بِيَدِهِ مِنْ الْمُلَامَسَةِ فَمَنْ قَبَّلَ امْرَأَتَهُ أَوْ جَسَّهَا بِيَدِهِ فَعَلَيْهِ الْوُضُوءُ
Imām Ash-Shāfi’ī reports the following narration: Mālik reported from Ibn Shihāb from Sālim ibn Abdullah ibn Umar from his father (Abdullah ibn Umar) that he said,
Imām Al-Bayhaqi states after this report, “In the report of Ibn Bukayr it states,
فَقَدْ وَجَبَ عَلَيْهِ الْوُضُوءُ
“…Then wudhu’ is obligatory upon him…” ((Kubrā 1/124 ))
Imām Al-Bayhaqī reports in his Sunan Al-Kubrā the report from Ibn Mas’ūd that he said,
القبلة من اللمس وفيها الوضوء، واللمس ما دون الجماع
“Kissing is from touching (lams), and regarding it is wudhu’. And Lams (touching) is whatever is less than sexual intercourse.” ((Kubrā 1/124 ))
In another narration:
أَخْبَرَنَا أَبُو عَبْدِ اللَّهِ الْحَافِظُ وَأَبُو سَعِيدِ بْنُ أَبِى عَمْرٍو قَالاَ حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو الْعَبَّاسِ : مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يَعْقُوبَ حَدَّثَنَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بْنُ مَرْزُوقٍ حَدَّثَنَا عُثْمَانُ بْنُ عُمَرَ عَنْ شُعْبَةَ عَنْ مُخَارِقٍ عَنْ طَارِقِ بْنِ شِهَابٍ أَنَّ عَبْدَ اللَّهِ يَعْنِى ابْنَ مَسْعُودٍ قَالَ فِى قَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى (أَوْ لاَمَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ) قَوْلاً مَعْنَاهُ مَا دُونَ الْجِمَاعِ.
“Ibn Mas’ūd said regarding the words of Allah “…Or coming into contact with women…” ‘It is what is less than sexual intercourse.’” ((ibid ))
Imām Al-Bayhaqī used as proof the hadīth of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa ‘alā Ālihi wa sallam) that is found in Sahīh Muslim,
اليد زناها اللمس
“The hands zinā (fornication) is touching.”
The proof is that sexual intercourse is actually distinguished from the “lams / touching” of the hand. Therefore the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa ‘alā Ālihi wa sallam) made a distinction between intercourse and ‘touching’ of the hands.
Another proof used by Imām Al-Bayhaqī in his Al-Kubrā is the story of the companion Mā’iz ibn Mālik that fornicated and came to the Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa ‘alā Ālihi wa sallam) and told him that he committed adultery. The Prophet turned away from several times, and finally asked him,
لَعَلَّكَ قَبَّلْتَ أَوْ لَمَسْتَ
“Maybe you kissed her or just touched her (lams).” ((Sunan Al-Kubrā 1/123-124 ))
This is proof that lams (touching) is what is less than sexual intercourse.
Imām Al-Bayhaqī also quotes the following narration from ‘Umar ibn Al Khattāb (radhiya allāhu ‘anhu wa ‘alayhis salām):
أَخْبَرَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ الْحَافِظُ أَخْبَرَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ بْنُ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ الْفَضْلِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ الشَّعْرَانِىُّ حَدَّثَنَا جَدِّى حَدَّثَنَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بْنُ حَمْزَةَ حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الْعَزِيزِ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ يَعْنِى ابْنَ عَمْرِو بْنِ عُثْمَانَ عَنِ الزُّهْرِىِّ عَنْ سَالِمٍ عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ أَنَّ عُمَرَ بْنَ الْخَطَّابِ رَضِىَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ : إِنَّ الْقُبْلَةَ مِنَ اللَّمْسِ فَتَوَضَّئُوا مِنْهَا.
‘Umar said, “Verily, kissing is from touching, so make wudhu’ from it.” ((ibid ))
So the tafsīr (Qur’anic exegesis) of Umar ibn Al-Khattāb, Abdullah ibn Mas’ūd and Abdullah ibn ‘Umar all point to the word ‘lams – contact or touch’ is in reference to the touching of the hand.
As for the reports of the Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa ‘alā Ālihi wa sallam) kissing or touching his wives then going to Salāh without making wudhu’ the Shāfi’īs deal with them in several ways:
A) They weaken them as did many major a’immah.
For example the hadīth found within the Sunan of Abū Dāwūd and An-Nasā’ī that states from Ibrāhīm At-Taimiy from Ā’ishah (radhiya allāhu ‘anhā) that she said that the “The Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa ‘alā Ālihi wa sallam) used to kiss his some from his wives then go and make Salāh without making wudhu’.”
Abū Dāwūd says after it, “It is Mursal. Ibrāhīm At-Taimiy did not hear from ‘Ā’ishah.” Imām An-Nasā’ī said, “There is nothing in this chapter (i.e. regarding the non-nullification of wudhu’) that is better than this hadīth, and it is mursal.” Imām At-Tirmithī reports from Imām Al-Bukhāri, “Muhammad ibn Ismā’īl Al-Bukhārī weakened this hadīth.” And many other major huffāth and scholars weaken similar reports.
B) The authentic narrations thereof, such as ‘Ā’ishah saying that the Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa ‘alā Ālihi wa sallam) touched her leg while He was making Salāh, then regarding these they say this narration is abrogated by the verse of the Qur’an. Ibn Hajr, in his Fat-hul-Bārī, brings two other arguments: a) That the Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa ‘alā Ālihi wa sallam) touched her with a barrier, and if that is not the case b) it is specific for the Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa ‘alā Ālihi wa sallam). The first opinion definitely seems stronger. And Allah Knows Best.
Some statements of the Shafi’i A’immah:
Imam An-Nawawi states in his Minhaaj,
“The third (nullifier of wudhu’) is the touching of skin by a man and a woman, except for the mahram (permanently unmarriageable persons; example – Mother) according to the strongest opinion. And the one touched is just like the one being touched according to the soundest opinion. A young child, hair, teeth, do not nullify wudhu’ according to the correct opinion (in the school).” ((Page 13 of Siraaj Al-Wahhaaj Sharh Al Minhaj ))
Imam Ahmad ibn Naqib Al-Masri states nearly the same except that he adds “…a severed limb…”
May Allah bless our beloved Prophet Muhammad, his family, his companions, and those that followed them in righteousness. Āmīn
Thanks to Sidī Surāqa & Umm Layth for some help with this article. If there are any mistakes I take full responsibility for them.