Tayammum Q&A

                                                           TAYAMMUM (according to the FATAWA of Ayatullah al-Uzama Sayyid Ali al-Husaini Sistani Dama-Dhilluhu)

Sources: Islamic Laws, Minhaj al-Salihin, Jurisprudence Made Easy, and The Ritual and Spiritual Purity by  Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi (unless otherwise specified)

Imam Hasan Al-Askari (a.s.) has said: A time will come when people's faces will be lit up with smiles but their hearts black, dark and evil. The sunnah will be bid'ah to them and bid'ah the sunnah. The faithfuls  would be humiliated and the sinners honored and revered. Their leaders would be ignorant and oppressive and scholars under the thumbs of such tyrants and oppressors. (Mustadrak al Wasail)


Tayammum is also an act of worship consisting of wiping the forehead and the two hands. It is a substitute for wudu and ghusl. The Holy Qur'an says:

“O you who believe! ... If you are sick, or on a journey, or one of you has come from toilet, or you have `touched' (i.e., had intercourse with) your women and you cannot find water, then you should do Tayammum on the pure earth by wiping a part of your face and your hands.” (4:43, also see 5:6)

The Justifications for Tayammum

The factors that make Tayammum permissible all possess the excuses that call off the obligation to purify oneself with water. 

 Q)        What is Tayammum

A)        Tayammum is also an act of worship consisting of wiping the forehead and the two hands. It is a substitute for wudu and/or ghusl. It is a dry ablution, i.e. using dry objects instead of water to perform wudu (ablution). 

Q)        On what substances or things can Tayammum be performed? 

A)        1. Earth (fine or compacted).

2. Sand.

3. Lump of clay.

4. Pebbles or stone - other than mineral or precious stones. 

It is not permissible to do Tayammum on something for which the term earth cannot be applied, even if it originates from it, such as ashes without earth, plants, and some minerals such as gold and silver. 

 Tayammum should be done on earth, sand, lump of clay or stone provided that each one of these should be Tahir and not usurped.  The recommended precaution is that if earth is available Tayammum should not be performed on anything else.  If earth is not available, then it can be performed on sand or a lump of clay, and in absence of these on a stone.

 NOTE: That which is used for Tayammum must leave traces in your hands.  Thus it is not permissible to use smooth stone with no dust covering it.   

 Q)        Are there any conditions attached as regards to the items on which tayammum is performed? 

A)        All the items of Tayammum must have the following conditions:- 

1. It must be dry as much as possible.

2. It must be tahir (pure).

3. It must be mubah (lawful).

4. The place where the above mentioned things are also must be mubah.



Q)        When does Tayammum become applicable? 

A)        Tayammum should be performed instead of Wudhu or Ghusl in the following seven circumstances. 

i)          when it is not possible to find sufficient water to perform either Wudhu or Ghusl. 

ii)         when a person is unable to get water because of old age, sickness, weakness, fear of danger or it becomes intolerably difficult. 

iii)        when a person fears that the use of water is harmful because of sickness, etc. 

iv)           when using up water for Wudhu or Ghusl will cause intolerable hardship only in the following three circumstances: 

(a)  if he fears that by using up the water for Wudhu or Ghusl he will suffer an acute thirst which may result in his illness or death, or it may cause unbearable hardship. 

(b)  If he fears that his dependants whose protection is his responsibility, may become ill or die due to thirst. 

(c)  If he fears that others, human beings or animals, may die or suffer some illness or become unbearably restless and distressed due to lack of water. 

v)         when there is only enough water to purify (make tahir) one’s body or dress. But if he does not have anything upon which he would do tayammum, then he should use the water for Ghusl and/or Wudhu, and pray with najis body or dress. 

vi)        when the only water or the container for water available is not permitted to use, i.e. usurped (ghasbi). 

vii)       when there is insufficient time to make Wudhu or Ghusl to be able to perform either the whole or part of the Salaat within its prescribed time, i.e. before the Salaat becomes qadha.


Q)        If a person whose duty is to perform tayammum cannot find any form of earth to do tayammum, what are his alternatives?


A)        If a person cannot find earth, sand, lump of clay or stone, he should perform tayammum on mud, and if even that is not available, then on the dust (that had gathered on the floor or the ground, on a carpet or a cloth). 


NOTE:  If he can make mud dry and obtain earth from it, then tayammum on wet mud is not permissible.


And if none of the above mentioned things is available, he should, on the basis of recommended precaution, pray without tayammum, but it will be obligatory for him to repeat the prayers later as qadha.


Q)        What are the conditions for the validity of tayammum?

A)       The validity of tayammum depends on certain conditions. These conditions are five in number:

1.         Niyyah.

            Make intention of performing tayammum instead of wudu or ghusl.

2.         Continuity (muwalat).

            The acts of tayammum must follow each other.

3.         Order (tartibi).

            All the acts must be done in the order set down.

4.         The parts of the body relevant to tayammum (i.e., fore-head and the two hands) must be tahir and there shouldn't be any type of cover on them, e.g., ring, nail­ polish, etc.

5.         Under normal circumstance, a person must do tayammum by himself. But in case of disability, someone else may help him. In the latter case, the helper should take the hands of the helped and strike them on the earth and do the tayammum; if this is not possible, then the helper should strike his own hands on the earth and then wipe the fore-head and the hands of the helped. In the first instance, the Niyyah for tayammum by the person himself will be sufficient, but, as an obligatory precaution, both he and his helper should make the Niyyah in both case.

NOTE:            The things which invalidate wudu invalidate the tayammum performed instead of wudu also.



Q)        How is Tayammum performed? 

A)        There are four obligatory acts to be performed:           

i)          Intention (Niyyah) 

ii)         Striking both palms together on the object on which Tayammum is valid. 

iii)        Wiping or stroking the entire forehead with both palms, i.e. with the ends of the palms begin the stroking/wiping of the forehead from where the hair grows, over the eyebrows up to the bridge of the nose. 

Note:  The forehead means that area which is even.  And what is meant by the side of the forehead (jabin) is that which is between the even area and the edge of the eyebrow to the place where the hair begins to grow.

It is obligatory to raise hair hanging on the forehead and wipe the skin under it.  As regards the hair growing on it, one can be content with wiping it.  

iv)        Passing the left palm over the back of the right hand from the wrist-joint to the end of the fingers and then the right palm over the back of the left hand from the wrist-joint to the end of the fingers.

            It is recommended to strike the hands on earth the second time and repeat passing the palms on both hands as described above.


1]         As a precaution, the forehead and the backs of the hands should be wiped downwards from above.  

 2]        Continuity (muwalat). The acts of Tayammum must follow each other.  

3]         Order (tartibi). All the acts must be done in the order described above.  

4]         While performing Tayammum one should remove the ring if he is wearing one and also remove any obstruction which may be on his forehead or on the palms or back of his hands (e.g. if anything is stuck on them). 

5]         The things which invalidate Wudhu or Ghusl, invalidate the Tayammum performed instead of Wudhu or Ghusl also.


Q)        Is the tayammum performed for an act sufficient for performance of other acts which require wudu or ghusl?

A)        Tayammum is a sufficient purification; a person who has done tayammum is permitted to do all those things whose validity depend on wudu or ghusl, e.g., entering a mosque, touching the writings of the Qur'an, etc. as long as his tayammum and excuse remain. However, if his excuse was shortage of salaat time, or if he performed tayammum for Salatul Meyyit, then his tayammum is valid for its intention and purpose only.

Q)        If more than one ghusl become wajib, is it necessary to perform separate tayammum for each ghusl

A)        If more than one ghusls are wajib on a person, then a single tayammum with the niyyah of all those ghusls will suffice, but the recommended precaution is that for each of those ghusls he should perform a separate tayammum.

Q)        Is a person permitted to pray during its prime time with tayammum performed due to unavailability of water?

A)        If there still is ample time for prayers, then one is not allowed to perform his salaat with tayammum unless he becomes sure of water's non-availability until the lapse of Salaat time.  If one has given up hope of it, then there is no ishkal in the permissibility of saying the prayers without delay. If prayers are said having given up hope of it, then it is not necessary to repeat it despite the removal of the excuse within the time of prayer.

Q)        What happens if water becomes available after one has performed the salaat with tayammum?

A)        There are two situations:

i]          If a person is sure that he cannot get water and does not, therefore, go in search of water and offers his prayers with tayammum, but realizes after prayers that if he had made an effort he would have fetched water, he should, as an obligatory precaution, do wudhu  and repeat the prayers.

ii]         If a person could not get water after a search and prayed with tayammum, and then learns later after offering prayers that water was available at the place where he had searched, his prayers are valid.


Q)        If a person performs tayammum in place of ghusl for a valid shari’i  reason, is he required to perform wudu also?

A)        A person on whom ghusl janabat is wajib has to do one tayammum instead of the ghusl; there is no need for him/her to do another tayammum for wudu. But if a ghusl other than ghusl janabat is wajib on that person, then he/she has to do tayammum, and as a recommended precaution he/she should do wudu also.  And if he/she cannot do wudu, he/she should do another tayammum instead of wudu.

Q)        If a person performs tayammum instead of ghusl of janabat and later he commits an act which makes his wudu void, what is his shari’i obligation for later prayers?

A)        If he can perform ghusl he should do so.  But if he still cannot do ghusl for later prayers, he should do wudu, and as a recommended precaution, perform tayammum also.  And if he cannot do wudu, then as a recommended precaution, he should do tayammum with a hope that his responsibility is discharged.


Q)        If a person doubts that there may be present an impediment in some areas of Tayammum, is he required to make certain that there is no obstruction before performing Tayammum? 

A)        If there is a doubt about the existence of an obstacle in some areas of Tayammum, then it is necessary to investigate until certainty or the assurance of its absence is acquired.


Q)        If a person performs Tayammum instead of Ghusl due to an excuse and it so happens that an impurity requiring Wudhu occurs, what is he required to do? 

A)        If a person in a state of ritual impurity requiring Ghusl – such as Janabat, etc. – performs Tayammum due to an excuse, and the impurity requiring Wudhu occurs, then his Tayammum is not invalidated.  He should then perform Wudhu if possible, otherwise Tayammum instead of Wudhu. 


Q)        If it becomes obligatory for a person to perform Tayammum instead of Wudhu or Ghusl because of sickness, he still performs Wudhu or Ghusl, will his Wudhu or Ghusl be valid? 

A)        If Tayammum is obligatory due to the absence of certain conditions for Wudhu or Ghusl, and a person does Wudhu or Ghusl forgetfully or neglectfully or out of ignorance, it is not valid.


Q)        Kindly, explain as to how one should go about performing Tayammum if he has a wound on his forehand which is bandaged? 

A)        If a person has a wound on his forehead or on the back of his hands and if it is tied with a bandage or something else which cannot be removed, he should wipe his hands over it.  And if the palm of his hand is wounded and bandaged which cannot be removed, he should strike his bandaged hands on a thing with which it is permissible to perform Tayammum and then wipe his forehead and the back of his hands.


Q)        Can one perform a Mustahab Tayammum in lieu of a Mustahab Ghusl? 

A)        There is no Mustahab Tayammum per se.  However, in one case Mustahab Tayammum can be performed, i.e. as it is recommended to perform Wudhu before climbing into bed to sleep at night, if someone forgets to perform the Wudhu or the Wudhu breaks, then one can perform the Mustahab Tayammum in lieu of the Wudhu in bed in the hope of earning divine pleasure (raja’), even if he is able to use water.

            (Sheikh Fadhel Sahlani – Al-Huda) 


Things on which tayammum is allowed:  

Return to  Main Tayamum page

TAYYAMUM (masala # 674 to 689-ayatullah sistani’s tauzeeh 2008 edition) 

Things on which Tayammum is permissible Details    /Jin cheezon par tayyamum karna sahih hai 

1. Matti    (Agar in may koyi aisi cheez mili ho jispar tayyamum jaiz nahi masalan ghaas, to is par tayyamum jaiz nahi   LAIKIN Agar woh cheez itni kam ho ke na hone ke barabar ho to us par tayyamum sahih hai)

2. Bareek bajri     (jisko matti kaha jasake)

3. Dhele

4. Rait     (Agar in may koyi aisi cheez mili ho jispar tayyamum jaiz nahi masalan ghaas, to is par tayyamum jaiz nahi LAIKIN Agar woh cheez itni kam ho ke na hone ke barabar ho to us par tayyamum sahih hai)

5. Pathar

6. Ehtyat e Mustahab ki bina par ikhtiyar ki halat main in par tayyamum na kare:

           Jipsum + paka jipsam

           Choone ka pathar

           Gard o Ghubar jo qaleen, kapde etc par jama hojati hai( jo urf may matti shumar ho)

           Pakki eent

           Ma’adani pathar (aqeeq waghaira)



7. Tar  matti (Agar use khushk karke sookhi matti hasil karsakta ho to tar matti par tayyamum batil hai)


8. Ghubar jo narm matti na kehlaye (Agar kapda, qaleen etc jhaar kar matti muhayya hosakti ho to jama huwi gard par tayyamum batil hai) 

 NOTE: Agar in may say koyi cheez dastyaab na ho to Ehtyat e Mustahab ki bina par baghair tayyamum namaz parhe—aur wajib hai ke baad main namaz ki qaza kare.


 Ref of english terms: www.al-islam.org, islamic laws (Ayatullah sistani)

 matti: earth

 rait: sand

 dhele: lump of clay

 pathar: stone

 choone ka pathar: limestone

 ma’addi pathar: mineral stones

 tar matti: mud

 gard o ghubar: dust particles

 narm matti: soft earth

 ghaas: straw

 ghasbi: usurped

 garhe: pit

 raaste ki matti: street dust

 shoor zameen: saline earth

 namak ki teh: layer of salt