June 22, 2024

Purification of Impure Water

Imam ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi (may Allah have mercy on him) said in al-Muqni:

And when a large amount of pure (purifying) water joins with impure water, it purifies it, provided that observable traces of impurity cease to exist. And if the impure water is in large quantity and its
change has been removed either by itself or by draining, then what remains after that is considered pure, provided that it is large in quantity. And if a small amount of water or something other than water is added to make it a large quantity of water, and the change is removed, it does not become pure. While some scholars consider it pure. The “large quantity” refers to an amount that reaches two Qullahs, while the “small amount” refers to anything less than that. Two Qullahs is equivalent to five hundred Ratls according to the Iraqi measurement, and four hundred according to another
narration. Is this an approximation or a precise measurement? There are two opinions regarding this.

Impurity of Water

In the Hanbali Madhab, the impurity of water is classified as Najasah Hukmiyah, which means it is an
impurity that can be removed by taking certain measures. This classification is important in determining the rulings and guidelines related to purification and the use of water in various religious practices.

According to the Hanbali Madhab, if water becomes impure due to the presence of an impurity, there are specific actions that can be taken to remove the impurity and restore the water to its pure state. The removal of
impurities is based on the principles of purification established by Islamic jurisprudence.

It is important to note that the Hanbali Madhab recognizes that impurity can vary in its
severity and extent. They consider factors such as the quantity of water, the nature of the impurity, and the possibility of purification. These factors are taken into account when determining the appropriate actions to be taken for purification.

Ways to Purify Impure Water

There are two possibilities when water comes in contact with some impurity:

When there is no visible change in the properties of water

When any one property of water is changed

When there is no visible change in the properties of water

According to the teachings of the Hanbali Madhab, when a small quantity of water comes into contact with a minor amount of impurity, and there are no visible changes in the properties of the water, it can be purified by adding two Qullahs of purifying water. This principle emphasizes the importance of maintaining purity and cleanliness in matters of water usage and purification.

[Muntaha al-Ieadat, Kashaf al-Qina’a]

The concept of purifying a small amount of water through the addition of two Qullahs is based on the belief that the larger quantity of purifying water has the ability to overpower and neutralize any impurities present in the smaller quantity of water. By introducing a substantial amount of pure water,
the impurities are effectively diluted, leading to the purification of the water.

When any property of water is changed

There are three possible ways to purify impure water if anyone property of water is changed.

By Mixing Large Amounts of Water

In the Hanbali Madhab, there is a belief that when a substantial quantity of the purifying water mixes with
impure water, it has the potential to purify the impure water, given that observable traces of impurity cease to exist. This principle is based on the understanding that the purifying water has the ability to remove impurities and
restore the water to a state of purity.

When purifying water combines with impure water, the larger quantity of purifying water is considered to have an effect on the impure water. This is because the purity of the larger quantity is seen as overpowering the impurity and eliminating its presence. However, it is crucial to note that for this purification to occur, observable traces of impurity must cease to exist. This means that any visible signs or physical remnants of impurity should no longer be present in the water.

The condition of observable traces of impurity ceasing to exist serves as a measure of the effectiveness of the purification process. It ensures that the water has been thoroughly cleaned and is free from any impurities that may affect its suitability for various purposes, including ritual purification.

Indeed, according to the understanding of the ruling in the Hanbali Madhab, the purification of water by adding two Qullahs of purifying water is not dependent on the nature of the impurities present. Whether the impurities are human waste, carrion, blood, or any other type of impurity, as long as there are no visible changes in the properties of the water, the addition of two Qullahs of purifying water is considered sufficient for purification.

This ruling highlights the principle that impurities in the water can be overcome and eliminated by introducing a significant amount of pure water. The emphasis is placed on dilution and neutralization, rather than the specific nature or type of impurity. The intent is to restore the water to a state of cleanliness and purity, making it suitable for various
purposes, including ritual purification.

By not differentiating between different types of impurities, the ruling simplifies the purification process and provides a general guideline for dealing with impure water. It allows individuals to focus on the quantity of pure water required for purification, rather than engaging in detailed assessments of the impurities themselves.

However, earlier Hanbali scholars viewed that if human waste is mixed with a large amount (two qullahs or more) of
water, it remains impure even if there is no change in the properties of water. In their opinion, such water can be purified only by mixing a very large amount of water that cannot be shifted easily. But the Fatwa is in accordance with the later scholars. Allah knows the best.

If the change disappears by itself

In the Hanbali Madhab, it is understood that if traces of impurity gradually dilute and their effects disappear in water, the water is deemed pure and purifying. This concept emphasizes the principle of dilution and the eventual elimination of impurities through the natural process of diffusion and dispersion.

When impurities mix with water, their presence may initially affect the water’s properties, such as its color, taste, or odor. However, over time and with proper dilution, these impurities disperse and their effects diminish until they become undetectable. As a result, the water reverts to its original state of purity.

This understanding aligns with the broader Islamic principle of purification, which emphasizes the removal or
neutralization of impurities to restore cleanliness and ritual purity. It recognizes the natural capacity of water to cleanse itself through dilution and the dissipation of impurities.

The focus on gradual dilution and the disappearance of impurity effects highlights the importance of allowing sufficient time for the purification process to take place. It also encourages individuals to exercise caution and patience when determining the purity of water, particularly when traces of impurity may be present but no longer perceptible.

By Draining Out Impurities

According to the Hanbali Madhab, if impurities are properly drained out from a water source, and the remaining water is of a large quantity, it is considered pure and purifying. This ruling emphasizes the significance of effectively removing impurities and the volume of water remaining as determining factors for its purity.

When impurities are present in water, it is necessary to eliminate them in order to restore the water’s purity. This can be achieved by draining out or separating the impure water from the source or container. Once the impurities have been properly removed, the water that remains is evaluated based on its quantity.

The emphasis on the quantity of water highlights its cleansing and purifying properties. When a significant amount of
water remains after the removal of impurities, it indicates that the impurities have been effectively eliminated, and the remaining water can serve as a suitable medium for purification and various ritual practices.

It is important to note that this ruling applies when the impurities have been completely drained out or separated,
ensuring that the remaining water is free from visible signs of impurity. If any traces of impurities are still present or if the water shows visible changes in its properties, it would be considered impure and not suitable for purification.

This understanding underscores the importance of proper purification methods and the significance of an ample quantity of water in ensuring its purity. By adhering to these principles, individuals can maintain cleanliness and fulfill their ritual obligations in accordance with the teachings of the Hanbali Madhab.

Measurement of Two Qullahs

Regarding the measurement of two Qullahs, which indicates a large quantity of water, there is a discussion regarding its precise measurement. Two Qullahs can be understood as either an exact measurement or an approximation, and there are two opinions on this matter.

The official opinion suggests that the measurement of two Qullahs is an approximation rather than an exact
measurement. It signifies a substantial amount of water that is considered significant in volume. It is often quantified as five hundred Ratls according to the Iraqi measurement approximately.

The other opinion argues that the measurement of two Qullahs should be understood as a precise measurement. According to this viewpoint, the measurement of two Qullahs corresponds to a specific volume of water. These measurements provide a more precise and standardized understanding of the large quantity of water. The measurement of two Qullahs can be understood in terms of its volume, which is equivalent to a cube with each side measuring one Dhira’a (Cubit) and its quarter. This description provides a more visual representation of the measurement and helps in comprehending the magnitude of the volume. [Al-Insaf]

A Dhira’a, in the historical context, refers to a unit of length commonly used in ancient Arabia. Its exact
measurement may vary depending on different interpretations and historical sources. However, for the purpose of illustration, let’s consider a Dhira’a as a unit of length that corresponds to the length of an average forearm or
approximately equal to the span from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow.

Based on this understanding, when we talk about a cube with each side measuring one Dhira’a and its quarter, we
can imagine a cubic shape where each side is one Dhira’a in length and an additional quarter of a Dhira’a. In other words, each side of the cube would measure 1.25 Dhira’as.

By constructing this cubic shape, we can visualize the volume it occupies, which is equivalent to two Qullahs.
The specific numerical value of two Qullahs may vary depending on the measurement system used, such as the Ratl or other local measurements, but the concept of the volume remains consistent.

To expand on the explanation, considering the average measurement of one Dhira’a (Cubit)
as approximately 52.92 centimeters, we can calculate the length of one Dhira’a and its quarter. One Dhira’a would be approximately 52.92 centimeters, and adding a quarter of that length would be an additional 13.23 centimeters.

Therefore, one Dhira’a and its quarter would have a total length of approximately 65.15 centimeters (52.92 + 13.23 =

Now, to calculate the volume of two Qullahs, we need to consider the cubic shape formed by these measurements. Each side of the cube would have a length of 65.15 centimeters. When we multiply the length of one side by itself twice (65.15 x 65.15 x 65.15), we get the volume of the cube, which is approximately 274,859.44 cubic centimeters.

To convert this volume into liters, we divide the cubic centimeters by 1,000 (since 1 liter is equal to 1,000 cubic
centimeters). Therefore, the volume of two Qullahs is approximately 274.86 liters or 274.86 dm³ (cubic decimeters).

In Arabian culture, there were different measurements for the Dhira’a (Cubit). These measurements varied among different regions and historical periods. The Dhira’a could be measured in digits, and there were three main types commonly used, measuring 24, 28, and 32 digits.

When discussing the measurement of two Qullahs, specifically in the context of Hanbali scholars, it is worth mentioning that Imam ibn Qudamah and most of the Hanbali scholars preferred the middle measurement of the Dhira’a, which is 28 digits. This indicates that they considered the Dhira’a to be 28 times the length of a digit. We took Dhira’a equal to 28 digits in our previous calculations.


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