Contemporary Legal Rulings in Shi'i Law
I - Ibadat
Ritual Purity (taharah)
Q1: It often happens that I shake hands with someone while my hands are wet. I do not know whether the one with whom I shook hands is a Muslim or an unbeliever (kafir), who is not regarded as ritually pure (tahir). Is it obligatory for me to ask him in order to make sure?
A: Certainly not. It is not obligatory for you to ask him. You may say "the hand with which I touched his hand was ritually pure." (FM, pp. 398-99)
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Q2: A university student, businessman, tourist or some such person travels to a non-Muslim country, say, Europe, such that scarcely a day passes without direct contact with its Christian and Jewish inhabitants, with the attendant moisture exchange in the cafe, or at the barber shop, doctor's office, dry cleaner's, etc. making it difficult to count (the places). What should he do?
A: He should assume the ritual purity of their bodies as long as he does not know that their ritual impurity (najasah) was acquired from an external source. (FM, p. 399)
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Q3: If I move into a place which was inhabited before me by people who are not judged to be ritually pure, is it correct for me to consider everything ritually pure?
A: Yes, consider everything ritually pure if you do not know or are unsure of its ritual impurity. (FM, p. 399)
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Q4: An electrically-operated washing machine can dry clothes, after the water supply is cut off from it, due to the power of spinning rather than squeezing. Is that enough for their ritual purification (tathir)?
A: Yes, that is enough for their ritual purification. (FM, p. 398)
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Q5: Some people throw newspapers, magazines and some respected books in the garbage, although they contain some verses of the Qur'an or names of Allah (s.w.t.).
A: This is not permissible and it is obligatory to take them out of such places and to purify them if they have come into contact with some ritual impurity. (FM, p. 419)
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Q6: Some types of soap which are imported from outside contain lard in their ingredients but at the end, only 5% remains in them. In that case, is the ruling of transformation (istihalah) applicable (to it) and (is the soap) ruled to be ritually pure, or does it remain ritually impure?
A: It remains ritually impure. God knows best. (MMS, p. 17, Q17)
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Q7: What is the ruling on blood that coagulates under the fingernail, this being the result of a blow or some other cause? This blood then moves gradually to the outside and it is not possible to remove it. Is this blood ritually impure or ritually pure? And how is it treated if it is considered ritually impure?
A: If it does not change (into something other than blood), it is to be considered ritually impure, and it is obligatory to remove it if there is no difficulty in doing so. But if it presents a problem, then that which seems apparent is to substitute tayammum for wudu' and ghusl. God knows best. (MMS, p. 21, Q33)
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Q8: Some food items given to poultry are mixed with 30% pig bones which helps the chicken gain weight at the rate of about 2 kg in 40 days. What is the ruling on this and is there any objection to it?
A: This precludes neither the permissibility of consuming its meat nor its ritual purity, if it is slaughtered in the Islamic manner. But it is preferable to keep animals away from these food items. God knows best. (MMS, p. 27, Q50)
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Major Ablution (ghusl)
Q9: What is the ruling on someone who performs one of the obligatory ghusls and, after completing the ghusl or a few hours thereafter, he finds something that prevented the water from reaching a finger of his left hand or a toe of his left foot. Is he obligated to repeat the ghusl of the entire left part, or is it adequate to wash only that spot with the intention of ghusl?
A: It is enough to wash that spot only and, based on obligatory precaution, he should combine it with wudu' if a hadath has taken place during that time. God knows best. (MMS, p. 19, Q25)
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Menstrual Bleeding (hayd)
Q10: A woman has regular periods and on the seventh day she is free of menstrual blood. But after relations with her husband, blood returns and continues until the tenth day and then stops. In this case, is there any sin or is expiation obligatory for her?
A: There is no sin on her part and no expiation is needed in the hypothetical question. God knows best. (MMS, p. 20, Q28)
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Q11: If a woman with regular menstrual cycle notices, during 2 or 3 days of her cycle, intermittent blood which has none of the characteristics of hayd. Then, she sees blood with the characteristics of hayd for 5 days -- which altogether makes 7 (days). What is the ruling on her?
A: The intermittent blood is not hayd because the minimum number of days for it to be hayd is 3 days. However, what she sees in the 5 days is considered hayd. (MMS, p. 35, Q73)
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Irregular Bleeding (istihadah)
Q12: Is a woman with light (qalilah) or moderate (mutawassitah) bleeding (istihadah) obligated to perform the wudu' between two prayers even if no blood is found between them (the prayers)? How about tawaf and its prayer?
A: It is not obligatory, assuming that the blood has stopped and the cotton was not stained by it. (MMS, p. 21, Q31)
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Q13: Is a man permitted to have relations with his wife after her nifas period lasting 10 days has ended, while being aware that blood continues, with the characteristic of istihadah, to flow from her for more than 18 days?
A: It is permissible, although it is preferable to take precautions from the 10th until the 18th day. (MMS, p. 20, Q29)
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Bleeding after Childbirth (nifas)
Q14: Is nifas applicable only upon giving birth? Or is it deemed to occur simply because of a delivery, regardless of whether it is full-term or not -- such as the miscarried foetus with a soul or without a soul, or the miscarried mudgah (lump of flesh) or 'alaqah (blood-clot)?
A: The ruling of nifas between a full-term creation and others to which the term "birth" can be applied do not differ in their implementation. As for the blood that exits with the mudgah and 'alaqah, applying the ruling of nifas to them is problematic, rather forbidden. (MMS, p. 21, Q30)
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Ritual Prayers and Fasts
Q15: Is it permissible for a person to delay his prayers from their earliest time by participating in the commemoration ceremonies (majalis) of (Imam) Husayn established during the ten days of Muharram?
A: It is permissible, but it is best to perform the prayers at their earliest time, and the organizers of the majalis ought to arrange them in such a way as to avoid conflict with the performance of prayers at their earliest time. (MMS, pp. 35-36, Q74)
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Q16: Is it permissible for a person who wakes up a few minutes before the time of morning prayer to go back to sleep if he knows or considers it a strong possibility that he will not wake up again before sunrise?
A: If this is considered a sign of contempt or trivialization with regard to prayers, then it is not permissible. (FM, p. 400)
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Q17: A woman is performing prayer and she is unaware that some of her hair is outside of her head-cover. Is it obligatory for me to inform her of this during or after her prayer?
A: Certainly not. It is not obligatory for you to inform her. Even if she does not become aware of it until her prayer is complete, her prayer will be valid. If she becomes aware of it during (the prayer) and hastens to cover it (her hair), again her prayer will be valid. (FM, p. 400)
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Q18: What about another (woman) who offers prayer while the upper part of her feet are exposed.
A: This is permissible for her since it is allowed for the upper part of the feet and the soles to be exposed in prayers. (FM, p. 431)
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Q19: What is the ruling on a person who used to pray and fast but committed several mistakes in the major ablution (ghusl). He is absolutely sure now that some of his previous ghusls were void, but he does not know how many. As a result he is not aware of how many invalid prayers and fasts he offered with them.
A: His fasts are valid even if his ghusl is invalid. However, it is obligatory for him to offer qada of all the prayers he offered with the invalid ghusl. If he is unsure about the minimum and the maximum, he may limit himself to the minimum. (FM, p. 399)
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Q20: A person fasts in the month of Ramadan for several years and he does not know, due to ignorance, that the ghusl of janabah is obligatory, so he does not perform ghusl.
A: His fast is correct and no expiation (kaffarah) is obligatory for him. (FM, p. 402)
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Q21: Some allergy sufferers use an apparatus which we call an "inhalator" to assist them in easy breathing. After its placement in the mouth and pressing it, this apparatus emits what is like pressurized gas. Can this apparatus be used at the time of fasting?
A: Yes. One who uses this (apparatus) remains on his fast and his fast is valid. (FM, p. 402)
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Q22: Food or serum in a plastic bag containing water, sugar and some medication is administered to a patient by injection directly into the blood -- due to sickness or some other reasons such as to provide nourishment. Is the fasting person obliged to avoid it?
A: It is not obligatory, although it is more appropriate (for him) to do so. (FM, p. 403)
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Q23: Is it permissible to offer meals to those who are not fasting -- that is, those with and without an excuse for not fasting in the month of Ramadan -- whether in restaurants or in homes, if this offering is not considered disrespectful to the sanctity of the noble month?
A: It is permissible (to offer meals) to those who have an excuse (for not fasting) [but not to the others]. (FM, pp. 402-3)
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Friday (jumu'ah) Prayer
Q24: Does performing Friday (jumu'ah) prayer compensate for noon (zuhr) prayer or not? Is Friday prayer superior to the noon prayer?
A: Performing Friday prayer in such a way that all appropriate conditions are fulfilled, according to the shari'ah, is superior to performing noon (prayer). If the mukallaf performs it (Friday prayer) as such, then it (Friday prayer) replaces it (zuhr). (MMS, p. 11, Q5)
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Q25: Is one entitled to object to the holding of Friday prayer by claiming that the marjas of the Muslims in Najaf and Qum do not establish it, while knowing that in the city in which the mukallaf resides, most of the residents perform Friday prayer on the basis of their fiqh?
A: One is not entitled to do that. As for non-holding of Friday (prayer) by the marjas, who are of the opinion that it (Friday prayer) is superior to zuhr (prayer) and the former replacing it (zuhr), may be due to personal excuses or the like. This does not prevent others from establishing it (Friday prayer). God knows best. (MMS, p. 12, Q6)
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Q26: The views of the ulama differ regarding the (direction of the) qiblah from New York and similar places in North America. Can you explain in some detail how we are to face the qiblah from there?
A: Facing the qiblah from distant places which have the curvature of the earth between them and the revered Ka'bah is determined by the parallel lines that commence from the front of the body of the person praying and the lines of curvature that arch around the surface of the earth in the direction of the revered Ka'bah, in such a manner that the lines end there (the Ka'bah), even if it is only by probability. The direction of the lines may be established on a globe by connecting the position of the person praying to the revered Ka'bah by a thread -- ensuring that it remains on a direct course, rather than veering left or right. According to our tests, the direction of this thread from areas such as New York in North America is to the East, yielding to the North by the degree indicated by the aforementioned thread.
As for those who say that Mecca lies beneath the 22nd parallel, New York falls above the 40th parallel, and this requires that the person in New York must face the direction of the honored Ka'bah by bearing to the South rather than to the North, the answer to this is as follows:
This holds true if one uses a flat map as opposed to a global one. The change in the direction of the abovementioned thread on a global model is a result of the portions lying between the two points, if it is viewed in relation to the North and South poles. The support for this is that, if we neglect and do not take into consideration the four cardinal points on the globe, and we turned around a global map putting Mecca in the summit, as if it were the North Pole, we would observe that the direction of the abovementioned thread (in a situation for a person in New York) would be exactly the same as that obtained by the earlier mentioned thread. The person in New York who wants to face the direction of the revered Ka'bah must take this direction and not veer towards the right.
In short, in our opinion, what is more likely in the method of facing the direction is as explained in the foregoing. It is clearly the better position also with regard to the necessity of observing the imaginary line that passes through the earth directly between the position of the person praying and the Ka'bah. Since it is not possible to face the direction of this (imaginary) line during prayer, it is necessary to follow the direction of the line of curvature parallel to it, and which goes over the surface of the earth. The parallel line just mentioned is the same as that which we already pointed out, whose direction from New York is towards northeast. Even so, however, the prayer of a person facing southeast would be valid if he is acting on a firm shar'i proof in his possession to that effect. God knows best. (MMS, pp. 9-11, Q1)
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Q27: A man is wearing a watch whose strap is made of natural leather imported from a non-Muslim country and he does not know whether the leather is from the skin of an animal slaughtered in the Islamic manner or not. The belt on his pants is made from the same kind of leather. Does he have to remove them when he intends to offer prayer?
A: His prayer is valid with them as long as there is a strong probability that the strap or the belt is from the skin of an animal whose flesh is edible and that was slaughtered in the shar'i manner. (FM, pp. 397-98)
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Q28: What about a wallet placed inside the pocket during prayer if it is made of the same leather as the strap previously mentioned?
A: One is permitted to offer prayer with it. (FM, p. 398)
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Q29: Suppose that he is confident that the strap or the belt is made from the skin of an animal that was not slaughtered in the Islamic manner but he prays with it due to forgetfulness and then remembers while praying, and immediately removes his watch or belt.
A: His prayer is valid unless his forgetfulness is due to carelessness and not
giving due importance to the matter [in which case he is obliged to repeat his
prayer]. (FM, p. 398)