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”.


This act of ritual cleansing is proven by the Quran, Sunnah (prophetic tradition), and Ijmaa (consensus of Muslim scholars). Allah SWT says:
“…And if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women, and find no water, then seek clean earth and wipe ove your faces and your hands (with it). Indeed, Allah is ever Pardoning and Forgiving.” [Quran 4:43]
From the Sunnah, we have the Hadeeth related by Umamah R.A in which the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“All the earth has been made a pure place of prayer for me and my nation. Whenever a person from my nation wants to pray, he has something with which to purify himself, that is, the earth”.
Finally, there is a consensus that Tayammum forms a legitimate part of Islamic Law, as it replaces ablution with water or Ghusl (ritual bathing), under specific circumstances.
This kind of ablution is a gift by Allah to the Muslims. Jabir ibn Abdullah (R.A) said that the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“I have been given five things that were not given to anyone before me: I have been made victorious due to fear of a distance of one month’s journey, the earth has been made a place of prayer for me and a source of purification. wherever and whenever any member of my nation wants to pray, they may pray, and the war booty has been made lawful to me. Allah gave me permission to intercede. Prophets before me used to be sent to their own people only, but Allah sent me to all mankind”. [Bukhari & Muslim]


Aisha (R.A) lost a necklace. Everybody was looking for it. They were on a journey, and they did not have any water left. The necklace belonged to the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) mother of the believer Aisha (R.A). She narrates this in Sahih Bukhari:
“We set out with the Prophet (PBUH) on one of his journeys, until we reached Al-Baida or Dhatul-Jaish, my necklace was lost. The prophet (PBUH) remained there to look for it, and so did the people that were with him. There was no water there, so the people went to Abu-Bakr As-Siddiq and asked: “Don’t you see what Aisha has done? She has made Allah’s messenger and the people stay where there is no water, and they have no water with them”. Abu Bakr came while the Prophet was sleeping with his head on my thigh, he said to me: “You have detained Allah’s messenger and the people where there is no water, and they have no water with them”. So he warned me and said what Allah wished him to say and hit me on my flank with his hand. Nothing prevented me from moving but the position of the Prophet on my thigh. Allah’s messenger got up when dawn broke and there was no water. So Allah revealed the divine verses of Tayammum. So they all performed Tayammum. Usaid ibn Hudair said: “O the family of Abu Bakr! This is not the first blessing of yours”. Then the camel on which I was riding moved from its place and the necklace was beneath it”. [Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 7, Number 330]
These verse of the Quran descended:
“And if you are sick, or on a journey, or one of you came from the privy or you have touched women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth, then wipe your faces and your hands; surely Allah is Pardoning and Forgiving”. [An-Nisa:43]


Tayammum is an alternative to water ablution in case one is legally unable to use it. Purification with Tayammum also allows a Muslim to conduct all acts of worship that require ablution with water, such as, prayer, Tawaf, reciting the Quran, etc.
This is because Allah ordained Tayammum as a legal replacement for water purification. The prophet (PBUH) also said:
“…And its clean earth has been made (by Allah) as a purifying mean for us”. [Sahih Muslim 1165]
The situations in which Tayammum replaces water purification
  • Availability of water but insufficient: If the water available is sufficient only for drinking, cooking, and other needs. And purification with water could cause it to run out.

  • Probability of harm: When purification with water is likely to cause harm due to a sickness or cause a delay in recovery. Allah SWT says:
“…But if you are ill…then seek earth..” [Quran 5:6]
  • Inability to use water due to illness: If one is unable to use water because of an illness that keeps them from going to get water, and there is no one to help them perform ablution.
  • The fear of catching a cold: When one is afraid to catch a cold if they did ablution with water, provided that one is unable to heat it. Allah SWT, says:
“…And do not kill yourselves (or one another)…” [Quran 4:29]
In previously mentioned cases, one can do Tayammum and pray. Additionally, if the water is only enough to wash some of the organs, one may use it and then do Tayammum for the rest of the organs. Allah SWT says:
“So fear Allah as much as you are able” [Quran 64:16]
In addition, if there is a wound that hurts if it is washed, one should perform Tayammum for that wound and continue performing ablution with water for the rest of the organs.


  • Minor ritual impurities that annul Tayammum such as, feces, urine, etc.
  • Major ritual impurities that necessitate ritual bathing such as, Janabah, menstruation, and postnatal bleeding.
  • when water is found
  • When there is no longer a legal excuse such as illness and the like.


First, one must have the intention of doing ablution and purifying himself, then he says the name of Allah, hits the ground with his hands, then wipes his face and hands up to his wrists, beginning with his right hand. Nothing is more genuine and clear than that linked to Ammar (R.A). He said, “I once was sexually impure and had no water, so I rolled in the dirt and prayed”. This mentioned to the Prophet (PBUH) who said: “This would have been enough for you”, and he struck the earth with his hands, blew in them, and then wiped his face and hands with them”. [Bukhari & Muslim]
This Hadeeth indicates that one strike of the earth is enough, and one only wipes the arms to the wrists. It is an act of Sunnah that one who makes Tayammum with dirt should blow in his hands first.


After completing Tayammum, one is pure and may perform all the religious practices that require prior ritual purification, such as praying and touching the Quran. He may pray as many prayers as he desires, exactly as one does in the case of regular ablution. Abu Tharr (R.A) reported that the prophet (PBUH) said: “The soil is a purifier for a Muslim, even if he does not find water for ten years. Then, if he finds water, that is to make ablution, it becomes incumbent upon him to use it.” [Ahmad & At-Tirmidhi]


To sum up everything that has been stated so far, there is no excuse for prayers. Even though one doesn’t find water, they should perform Tayammum and pray.
Allah is merciful towards all mankind and doesn’t command us to do anything above our limits.
Islam is the most natural religion (the natural religion of man). It is a substitute for any issue we face.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the best example to follow.

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