As Muslims enter Ramadan, it now becomes incumbent to conserve water during ablution and ghusl and for masajid to remind their congregants of this responsibility. This week, Western Cape dam levels stand at 20,7%. With the last 10% of the water mostly being unusable, dam levels are effectively at 10,7%. The drought has been described as the worst in 100 years. Authorities have escalated water restrictions to Level 4 and the Western Cape has been declared as a disaster zone.
VOC has received numerous queries regarding the permissibility of tayammum during a crisis of this nature, where water conservation is the priority of every citizen. Given the concerns, the mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council’s Fatwa Committee, Maulana Taha Karaan has tabled alternatives with regards to water usage for religious obligations.
These relate to the application of Masa’h on socks, washing the limbs of Wudhu once and the option of Tayammum due to our water situation.
Masa’h is the act of ritually cleaning the head or feet with a small amount of water, running the wet hands over the head or feet before salah.
According to Maulana Karaan, Masa’h is allowed on socks that are strong enough to allow for walking around in them (without shoes) in one’s daily activities and thick enough to prevent water from penetrating when poured over them.
The above is the ra’jih position. In alternative marju’h views, it would be allowed even if it would prevent water seepage when wiped over (as opposed to when water is poured over them, or even if they do not prevent water seepage at all.
Both these alternative opinions may be practiced upon.
Masa’h is not allowed on socks that are so weak that they would tear or break when one walks around on them without shoes. “Weak” in this context does not necessarily equate to thin, as socks made of nylon, for example, may well be both thin and strong.
Washing the limbs once whilst making wudhu is perfectly permissible.
Considering the current situation with Cape Town’s water supply, Tayammum is not yet an option.
In Arabic, the word Tayammum literally means an ‘aim’ or ‘purpose.’ In Islamic Law, it refers to: ‘Aiming for or seeking soil to wipe one’s face and hands with the intention of purification and preparing oneself to pray, and so on.”
A Muslim should be thrifty and cautious in the usage of water at all time; not only during a drought. Even if one should find himself or herself at the bank of a river, it is not permissible to squander the water and use it as one likes. Only that amount must be used which suffices for one’s needs.
The sending down of water is a mercy to mankind as attested by the following verses of the Quran:
Maulana Karaan has listed measures that must be considered for the purpose of conserving water. These include:
– Filling a vessel (like a jug) and pouring or scooping water from it.
– Not keeping taps running continuously during wudhu, but only opening the tap to fill the cupped palm/s with an amount of water sufficient for the next washing. VOC