Explanation of the Hadith in Umdat al-Ahkam

The collection Umdat ul-Ahkam by Abdul-Ghani al-Maqdisi collects the ahadith of fiqh that are agreed upon between Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. So, every hadith in it is Muttafaqun Alaih and in the highest degree of authenticity.

The majority of my explanation is taken from Ihkam al-Ahkam by Ibn Daqiq al-Id who goes into the detail of how rulings are derived from ahadith. However, I will use a diverse amount of sources when I wish In sha Allah.

My intention in writing this is to gain the pleasure of Allah by providing information and guidance for people learning the meaning of ahadith. I will aim to add one hadith and its explanation daily In sha Allah.

Book of Intentions

Hadith #1

عَنْ عُمَرَ بْنِ الْخَطَّابِ قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ﷺ يَقُولُ «إنَّمَا الْأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّاتِ» وَفِي رِوَايَةٍ: «بِالنِّيَّةِ وَإِنَّمَا لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مَا نَوَى، فَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ إلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ، فَهِجْرَتُهُ إلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ، وَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ إلَى دُنْيَا يُصِيبُهَا أَوْ امْرَأَةٍ يَتَزَوَّجُهَا، فَهِجْرَتُهُ إلَى مَا هَاجَرَ إلَيْهِ»

Umar (RA): I heard the Prophet saying: ⟪Actions are only with intentions.⟫ (In another version: with an intention), ⟪and every person will only have what he intended. So, whoever’s hijrah was to Allah and His Messenger, then his hijrah is to Allah and His Messenger. And whoever’s hijrah was to some [part of the] world he was getting or a women he was marrying, his hijrah is to whatever he did hijrah towards.⟫

Hijrah: Migration

Sahih Bukhari 1, 54, 2529, 3898, 5070, 6689, 6953
Sahih Muslim 1907
Sunan Abu Dawud 2201
Sunan Tirmidhi 1647
Sunan Ibn Majah 4227


This hadith about intention is extremely important in almost every subject of Islamic law. That is why many hadith collections begin with this hadith.

Only the companion Umar (RA) narrated this specific hadith. However, this hadith has plenty of support in the Quran and other ahadith.

Allah says ⟪And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion⟫ (98:5) and being sincere to Allah in religion is intention.

Allah also says ⟪And whatever good you [believers] spend is for yourselves, and you do not spend except seeking the countenance of Allah.⟫ (2:272) and ⟪Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in prayer], seeking bounty from Allah and [His] pleasure.⟫ (48:29)

Meaning of Only

⟪Actions are only with intentions.⟫

The word إنَّمَا or “only” is used to indicate some exclusiveness of a quality or person. It can be used for a complete or limited exclusivity.

Complete exclusivity is like saying “There is only Zaid in the masjid” when no one but Zaid is in the masjid. Another example is Allah saying ⟪Your god is only Allah⟫.

Limited exclusivity is like Allah saying ⟪You [O Prophet] are only a warner⟫. The Prophet (SAW) is many more things than a warner, like being a bringer of good news. But, in a limited context, for the disbelievers who reject him, he is nothing more than a warner.

When there is no contextual indication that the exclusivity is limited, it is understood to be complete. That is the case in this hadith.

Meaning of Actions

⟪Actions are only with intentions.⟫

The word الْأَعْمَالُ or actions can technically include acts of the body, speech, and acts of the heart. Although that is technically possible, the usual apparent meaning of the word does not seem to include “acts” of the heart. So, the apparent seems to be about acts of the body and speech.

Meaning of ⟪Actions Are Only With Intentions⟫

There needs to be an implied mudaf in this sentence because the sentence doesn’t seem to make sense without it.

The scholars differed about how to interpret this mudaf. Some possibilities:

  1. The reward of actions is only with intentions
  2. The validity of actions is only with intentions
  3. The judgement/consideration of actions is only with intentions
  4. The perfection of actions is only with intentions (i.e. actions are better and more perfect when done with intention)

Those who required intentions in actions fell into opinions 1 to 3. That is the view of all the major scholars. Those who didn’t require intentions in actions fell into opinion 4.

The first view is correct because the Prophet chose to replace the mudaf with just the word ⟪actions⟫ itself, which indicates the mudaf was some major or central part of the ⟪actions⟫ to the point of being replaced by itself. Things like “validity” and “consideration” make more sense to replace with ⟪actions⟫ itself than “perfection” that is optional.

Another possible explanation without using an implied mudaf is that: “Actions are inevitably associated with intentions, so people will only get what they intended.”

Meaning of ⟪Hijrah⟫

⟪So, whoever’s hijrah was to Allah and His Messenger⟫

Hijrah can refer to migration or to leaving something. It has been applied to a few things:

  1. The first hijrah of the Muslims to Abyssinia when they were being persecuted
  2. The second hijrah, from Makkah to Madinah
  3. The third hijrah, the hijrah of tribes to the Prophet (SAW) so they could learn the religion and go back and teach their people
  4. The fourth hijrah, the hijrah of the Makkans who became Muslim and came to the Prophet to learn then returned to Makkah
  5. Leaving what Allah prohibited us

The meaning and ruling of the hadith includes all of these. However, the context indicates that it was originally said about the hijrah from Makkah to Madinah.

Context of the Hadith

It is narrated that a man migrated from Makkah to Madinah only to marry a woman named Umm Qais. He was called the muhajir of Umm Qais. So, it is reported that the hadith was said in his context and that this is why the hadith mentions migrating for women rather than any other example of worldly desires.

Meaning of ⟪Then his hijrah is to Allah and His Messenger⟫

The meaning is: Whoever’s hijrah was to Allah and His Messenger in intention, then it is actually considered to be to Allah and His Messenger in Allah’s account or reward.


There is a difference between the following two statements:

  1. Whoever intends something won’t get anything other than what he intended.
  2. Whoever does not intend something won’t get it.

The meaning of the hadith could be both. The first and last part of the hadith more strongly indicate the first possibility, and the middle statement ⟪every person will only have what he intended⟫ more strongly indicates the second. But, all statements could mean either of the two.

Both are true meanings according to us.

What Intention Does

There are four things intention does:

  1. Differentiates between a common act being rewarded worship or simply aadah (a normal unrewarded human action)
  2. Differentiates between an act of worship being rewarded or sinful
  3. Differentiates between types of worship
  4. Determines the level of reward an action gets

The following are four examples for each of these respectively.

First Case: If someone eats food because he is hungry, that is only aadah. If someone eats food to preserve his body for the sake of Allah, he can get rewarded.

Second Case: If someone prays for the sake of Allah, he will be rewarded. If someone prays to be called pious by people, he will not be rewarded. He will rather be sinful.

Third Case: If two people pray two rakahs, one person intending optional prayers and the other intending Fajr Salah, they will each get what they intended.

Fourth Case: If a person prays for the sake of Allah with weak concentration and another person prays with strong conviction and strong intention, the second person will be more rewarded than the first.

Book of Taharah

Hadith #2

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ﷺ «لَا يَقْبَلُ اللَّهُ صَلَاةَ أَحَدِكُمْ إذَا أَحْدَثَ حَتَّى يَتَوَضَّأَ»

Abu Hurairah: The Prophet (SAW) said: ⟪Allah does not accept the Salah of any of you if he had hadath until he does wudhu⟫

Sahih Bukhari 135, 6954
Sahih Muslim 225
Sunan Tirmidhi 76

Meaning of ⟪Acceptance⟫

The scholars used the negation of acceptance as evidence that something would be invalid in many cases. Examples include this hadith and the hadith ⟪Allah does not accept the Salah of an adult women without a khimar⟫ (Tirmidhi 377).

However, there are examples of ahadith where the negation of acceptance is not actually meant as invalidity according to the agreement of the scholars of fiqh. An example is the hadith that the Salah of a person who drinks wine will not be “accepted” for forty days. The Salah will be valid if he does it properly according to everyone.

How to reconcile this?

Acceptance linguistically means getting the intended result of an action. If you apply to a school, acceptance would be for your application to be successful and for you to gain admission to the school.

Based on this, one possibility is to say “acceptance” in both cases means getting the reward in return for prayer. That is because reward is the intended result of prayer and other acts of worship.

So, the negation of acceptance would be a negation of the underlying reward. Then, since the reward is normally linked to the prayer being valid (a valid prayer earns reward and an invalid prayer fails to earn reward), the negation of reward also indicates a negation of validity.

However, in some abnormal cases, the reward and validity could be delinked as a punishment, so the negation of acceptance only means a negation of reward and not a negation of validity. Meaning, the person’s prayers do not gain reward despite being valid, as a punishment.

How do we know when a hadith falls into which category? Every case I know of in this subject has agreement of the scholars of fiqh, so we can know which the hadith falls into from the agreement of the scholars.

Then, you might ask: How did the scholars realize which of the cases a hadith falls into?

As we said, negation of acceptance and reward being negation of validity would be the default. So, the default would be to consider these ahadith negation of validity unless there is good reason.

But, the scholars probably looked at the some cases and realized that they are about a sinner being given a punishment. And that punishment is not something he can overturn with any easy or direct action of his own. After all, no one can go back in time and change his sin of drinking wine!

So, the scholars realized that if we claimed the case of wine referred to actual validity, it would entail someone being unable to repent and pray to Allah. But, Allah says ⟪O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins.⟫ (39:53) and ⟪But whoever repents after his wrongdoing and reforms, indeed, Allah will turn to him in forgiveness.⟫ (5:39)

So, this case of punishment, they classified as only negation of reward. Meaning, the person would still pray and his prayer would be valid but the reward of his prayer would be diminished or zero because of the sin he committed. But, as for the normal case, they classified it as referring to negation of validity.

The agreement of the scholars is binding because Allah said ⟪And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him and follows other than the way of the believers – We will give him what he has taken and drive him into Hell, and evil it is as a destination.⟫ (4:115)

Meaning of ⟪Hadath⟫

Hadath can refer to three related things: 1) The things that exit which causes the state of hadath, 2) the act of that thing exiting, and 3) the state of hadath which prevents people from certain actions until they purify themselves with wudhu or ghusl.

The scholars of fiqh in their terminology divided hadath into minor and major. Minor hadath is the one that necessitates wudhu, and major hadah is the one that necessitates ghusl.

In that terminology, this hadith refers to minor hadath, since it talks about wudhu.

This is not the place to go into the detail of what exactly breaks wudhu since that is discussed in books of fiqh for each school.


In some versions of the hadith, it is mentioned that Abu Hurairah (RA) was asked by his students, “What is hadath?” He replied, “Passing gas.”

Hadath is, however, broader than passing gas. It is possible Abu Hurairah (RA) specifically talked about that because of something in the circumstances. Maybe the other things that break wudhu were already well-known. Or perhaps hadath specifically meant passing gas in their time. But, Allah knows best.


Although the apparent of a part of the Quran ⟪O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces […]⟫ might lead to the idea that wudhu is necessary before every Salah, this hadith proves that wudhu is only needed if it is broken by hadath. That is the view of all four schools.

So, the same wudhu can be used for multiple Salah, but it is recommended to do wudhu before every Salah.

Some people report that it was originally obligated in early Islam that wudhu should be before every Salah, then that law was abrogated and replaced with the law we have today that wudhu only needs to be done if it is broken by hadath.

And Allah knows best.

Hadith #3

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرِو بْنِ الْعَاصِ وَأَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ وَعَائِشَةَ قَالُوا: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ﷺ «وَيْلٌ لِلْأَعْقَابِ مِنْ النَّارِ»

Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-Aas, Abu Hurairah, and Aisha (RA): The Prophet (SAW) said: ⟪May the heels beware of the fire.⟫

Sahih Bukhari 60, 96, 163, 165
Sahih Muslim 241
Sunan Abu Dawud 97

Note: The narrations of Abdullah ibn Amr and Abu Hurairah are in both Bukhari and Muslim, and the narration of Aisha (RA) is only in Sahih Muslim.


The context of this hadith is reported in the narration of Abdullah ibn Amr.

The Prophet (SAW) and some companions were on a journey, and the Prophet (SAW) lagged behind. When he came to the companions, they were performing wudhu in a hurry. He saw them doing something wrong when washing their feet, so he said, “May the heels beware of the fire.”

There are two versions of the hadith that talk about what they were doing wrong. One version says, “We were wiping over our feet.” Another version says, “Their heels were dry.”

A way of combining the two is to say they were wiping over the feet instead of washing it entirely hence their heels remained dry.

Washing Entirely

This hadith is proof that we need to wash the whole of any limb that is washed in wudhu. As for the specification of heels, that is only there because of the context of the hadith.

Washing Instead of Wiping

Some scholars, including Imam Bukhari, used this hadith as evidence that we must wash the feet, not wipe them.

This evidence depends on using only the version of the hadith that mentions they were wiping over their feet. It is possible Bukhari had reason to believe this was the stronger version of the hadith.

On the other hand, if we combine the versions, this would not be a very strong proof to prove that we must wash rather than wipe the feet. Rather, the hadith would then specifically be about covering all the feet rather than leaving the heels or any other part dry.

Hadith #4

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ: أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ﷺ قَالَ «إذَا تَوَضَّأَ أَحَدُكُمْ فَلْيَجْعَلْ فِي أَنْفِهِ مَاءً، ثُمَّ لِيَنْتَثِرْ، وَمَنْ اسْتَجْمَرَ فَلْيُوتِرْ، وَإِذَا اسْتَيْقَظَ أَحَدُكُمْ مِنْ نَوْمِهِ فَلْيَغْسِلْ يَدَيْهِ قَبْلَ أَنْ يُدْخِلَهُمَا فِي الْإِنَاءِ ثَلَاثًا فَإِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ لَا يَدْرِي أَيْنَ بَاتَتْ يَدُهُ» . وَفِي لَفْظٍ لِمُسْلِمٍ «فَلْيَسْتَنْشِقْ بِمَنْخِرَيْهِ مِنْ الْمَاءِ» وَفِي لَفْظٍ «مَنْ تَوَضَّأَ فَلْيَسْتَنْشِقْ»

Abu Hurairah: The Prophet (SAW) said ⟪When one of you does wudhu, he should put water into his nose then blow it out. And whoever does istijmar should make it odd. And when one of you wakes up from his sleep, he should wash his hands three times before entering them into the vessel because he doesn’t know where his hand spent the night.⟫

In the wording of Muslim: ⟪He should sniff (istinshaq) water into his nostrils⟫.

In another wording: ⟪Whoever does wudhu should do istinshaq⟫.

Istinshaq: Sniffing water a bit into the nose and blowing it out.

Istijmar: Using rocks to clean private parts after using the washroom.

Sahih Bukhari 162, 161
Sahih Muslim 178
Sunan Abu Dawud 103
Sunan Tirmidhi 24

Istinshaq: Obligation vs. Recommendation

⟪When one of you does wudhu, he should put water into his nose then blow it out.⟫

Those who considered istinshaq in wudhu to be wajib (like Imam Ahmad) took this hadith as evidence.

Those who considered istinshaq in wudhu to be recommended only (Abu Hanifah, Malik, and Shafi’i) interpreted this hadith as recommendation. They said only the parts of wudhu mentioned in the Quran are obligatory, because Allah would mention if there were any other obligations in wudhu.

Allah says in the verse of wudhu: ⟪O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles.⟫ He does not mention istinshaq.

They also used as evidence a hadith where the Prophet reportedly said when teaching Salah to a new Muslim, “When you stand up to pray, do wudhu like Allah commanded you.” So, the Prophet (SAW) also limited his teaching to what Allah said in the verse rather than adding any other obligation when teaching new Muslims.


⟪And whoever does istijmar should make it odd.⟫

It is necessary for people to clean their private parts when they use the washroom, either through water or through something dry or both. Doing both is recommended, then using just water, then using just something like pebbles. Nowadays, people use toilet paper.

Istijmar means using rocks to clean your private parts after using the washroom. It comes from the word jamarah which refers to a pebble. They used to use pebbles most commonly, that is why the Prophet (SAW) mentioned that specifically despite the fact that anything dry can be used.

It is recommended but not obligatory during istijmar to wipe an odd number of times. I do not know anyone who understood this hadith ⟪whoever does istijmar should make it odd⟫ as an obligation. Some scholars, like the Shafi’is, said one needs to wipe a minimum of 3 times or until the impurity is gone, whichever is larger. However, that view is not derived from this hadith but other ahadith.

Washing Hands In the Start of Wudhu

⟪And when one of you wakes up from his sleep, he should wash his hands three times before entering them into the vessel because he doesn’t know where his hand spent [the night].⟫

People at the time used to use vessels of water for wudhu. Nowadays, we use taps.

Based on this hadith, one group of people said it is wajib to wash your hands before entering into the vessel for wudhu whenever you wake up from sleep. Their evidence is the command form in the hadith.

Within this, one group (Imam Ahmad) said it is only wajib when you wake up from sleep at night. His evidence for limiting it to sleep at night was that the Prophet (SAW) used the word بَاتَتْ which means “spent the night.” Another evidence is that the Prophet (SAW) said ⟪his sleep⟫ which may also indicate the common sleep people have at night.

Others said it is wajib from all sleep.

Another group of people (the other three schools) said this hadith is only recommendation. Their evidence is the fact that it is not mentioned in the verse of wudhu, the hadith where the Prophet only taught a new Muslim to follow what is in the Quran for wudhu, and a logical argument.

The logical argument is that doubt generally cannot give obligations. We are not forced to act on doubt. Generally, doubt only gives recommendations. If you doubt your hand is dirty, it would be a good idea to wash them. But, it is not an obligation unless you have evidence. In the hadith, the Prophet (SAW) connected this command to a reason of doubt, which indicates it is a recommendation.

Some people, like in one view of Imam Malik, said it is recommended to wash your hands if you doubt your hands being clean for any reason, not just sleep.

Others who considered this hadith a recommendation took washing off the hands as a recommendation in all situations of wudhu. That is commonly practiced today where people wash their hands in the beginning of wudhu despite using tapwater.

Their evidence was the fact that the Prophet (SAW) seemed to consistently practice washing his hands in wudhu, whether waking up from sleep or not. A logical evidence is that the same type of doubt whether the hands are clean exists all the time, whether waking up from sleep or not, so it remains recommended to wash the hands in all cases.

One group of Shafi’is said it is makruh not to wash your hands when you wake up from sleep but mustahabb to wash your hands at all times. But, karahah of not washing is only when you wake up from sleep.

That concludes the long discussion of the different views derived from this hadith.


One possible reason is that it was possible for their hands to have gone to their private parts which might have some impurity on them (since they might have only cleaned themselves with pebbles).

Another possibility is that a person may have parts of his body and bed which have impurity on them and his hands might go to those places when he is asleep.

And Allah knows best.


One of the rulings scholars derived from this hadith is that a small amount of water can become impure if impurity falls into it. That is why the Prophet recommended washing hands before dipping them into the vessel of wudhu.

However, those who do not believe it is possible for water to become impure without its qualities changing (like the Malikis) might argue it only makes the water makruh, not impure, so the hadith is not evidence against them.

Hadith #5

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ: أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ﷺ قَالَ «لَا يَبُولَنَّ أَحَدُكُمْ فِي الْمَاءِ الدَّائِمِ الَّذِي لَا يَجْرِي، ثُمَّ يَغْتَسِلُ مِنْهُ

Abu Hurairah (RA): The Prophet (SAW) said: ⟪None of you should urinate in still water that does not flow then wash himself from it.⟫

Sahih Bukhari 239
Sahih Muslim 272
Sunan Abu Dawud 69
Sunan Nasai
Musnad Ahmad

⟪وَلِمُسْلِمٍ ⟪لَا يَغْتَسِلُ أَحَدُكُمْ فِي الْمَاءِ الدَّائِمِ وَهُوَ جُنُبٌ

In a narration in Muslim: ⟪None of you should wash himself in still water while he is in junub.⟫

Junub: A state of sexual impurity.

Sahih Muslim 273
Sunan Nasai

Meaning of ⟪Still water that does not flow⟫

This refers to water that is not like a river or stream which is constantly replaced and replenished. The phrase ⟪does not flow⟫ is simply emphasis and elaboration for the adjective ⟪still⟫.

Impurity of Water

The scholars have two major views on the impurity of water.

One view is that water can never be considered impure unless one of its three qualities (color, taste, or smell) changes. This is the view of the Malikis.

The second view is that a small amount of water and a large amount of water have different rules. A small amount of water can become impure if you know impurity came into it even without the qualities changing. A large amount of water can only become impure when its qualities change. This was the view of the other scholars.

The Shafi’is said, following this view, that anything above two qullahs (which is around 200 liters) is a large amount of water based on a hadith of the Prophet (SAW) and anything below is a small amount of water.

The Hanafis said, following this view, that water is considered a large amount if ripples made on one side cannot reach the other side. Anything less than that is considered a small amount of water.

Every group needs to alter the apparent or generality of the hadith in some way.

As for the Malikis, they have to say the hadith is only about karahah, since their view entails washing with water is ok as long as the qualities did not change even if someone urinates there.

As for the Shafi’is, they have to say the hadith is only talking about an amount less than two qullahs.

As for the Hanafis, they have to say the hadith excludes the bodies of water they consider large.

Meaning ⟪Wash himself from it⟫

This prohibition includes using the water for wudhu, ghusl, and any other purifying purpose.

Some versions explicitly say ⟪do wudhu from it⟫.

False View of the Dhahiris

Some of the Dhahiris held the view that this hadith only applies to the literal act of urination. So, even if someone urinated in a bowl and poured the urine into the water, this hadith would not apply. It is obvious this is an extremely strange and false view.

Meaning of ⟪None of you should wash himself in still water while he is in junub⟫

This narration is in Sahih Muslim. It is reported that the students of Abu Hurairah (RA) asked him, “Then, how should they do ghusl from junub?” He responded, “Water should be taken out in handfuls.”

This narration indicates that the water will become either impure or no longer able to purify after it has been used for ghusl. This was the view of the Shafi’is and Hanafis.

However, the Shafi’is limit this to water below two qullahs. The Hanafis limited it to a small amount of water as mentioned before.

As for the Malikis, they consider this hadith to be about karahah rather than prohibition. So, the water would become makruh after it has been used.

Hadith #6

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ: أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ﷺ قَالَ «إذَا شَرِبَ الْكَلْبُ فِي إنَاءِ أَحَدِكُمْ فَلْيَغْسِلْهُ سَبْعًا» وَلِمُسْلِمٍ «أُولَاهُنَّ بِالتُّرَاب

Abu Hurairah (RA): The Prophet (SAW) said: ⟪When dogs drink from a vessel that belongs to one of you, wash it seven times.⟫

In Muslim’s version: ⟪The first time with dirt.⟫

Sahih Bukhari 172
Sahih Muslim 279
Sunan Abu Dawud 71, 72, 73
Sunan Tirmidhi 91
Sunan Nasai
Muwatta Malik

وَلَهُ فِي حَدِيثِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مُغَفَّلٍ: أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ﷺ: قَالَ: «إذَا وَلَغَ الْكَلْبُ فِي الْإِنَاءِ فَاغْسِلُوهُ سَبْعًا وَعَفِّرُوهُ الثَّامِنَةَ بِالتُّرَابِ»

Abdullah ibn Mughaffal (RA): The Prophet (SAW) said: ⟪When a dog drinks from a vessel, wash it seven times and the eighth time with dirt.⟫

Sahih Muslim 280
Sunan Nasai


Dogs are generally considered unclean animals in the laws of Islam. This can be due to diseases they carry or their unclean habits. Because of this, the Prophet (SAW) commanded us to clean vessels and bowls that dogs drank from seven times, one time using dirt to clean it more thoroughly. This is one of the severest instructions related to purity and has been understood by many scholars to mean the impurity of dogs is especially worse than any other impurity.

At the same time, this hadith portrays how Islam teaches treating animals well despite their uncleanliness. This can be derived from how the Prophet (SAW) does not forbid people from letting dogs drink from vessels. He only teaches us how to wash those vessels if they do drink from them.

Treating animals well and giving them food and drink out of kindness is an important part of Islam. It is reported in a hadith ⟪Have mercy on those on earth, and the one in the sky will have mercy on you.⟫ It is also narrated in an authentic hadith that a prostitute from Bani Israel was forgiven because she felt compassion for a thirsty dog and gave the dog water.

The Purity of Dogs

The Malikis were the exception in their view of dogs. They considered dogs clean and pure.

One evidence they had was the verse ⟪Lawful for you are [all] good foods and [game caught by] what you have trained of hunting animals which you train as Allah has taught you. So eat of what they catch for you, and mention the name of Allah upon it, and fear Allah.⟫ (5:4) where ⟪hunting animals⟫ refers to dogs trained for hunting. The fact that the game caught by dogs would be halal to eat despite the dogs having bitten that game indicates that the mouth and saliva of dogs is not impure.

Another evidence was the fact that the Prophet (SAW) specified cleaning seven times in this hadith. They argued this means the command to clean these vessels does not truly have to do with dogs being impure. Rather, it is a ta’abbudi ruling, meaning a ruling we must simply obey without understanding the meaning.

So, the Malikis said we must wash the vessels dogs drink from seven times simply because the Prophet commanded us to do so, and we cannot claim this means dog saliva is impure.

Other scholars took the hadith to mean at least the saliva and mouth of dogs was impure. Some of them went further to derive the idea that the whole body of the dog was also impure. This would be based on a logical extension of the ruling on the dog’s saliva in this hadith. Others limited the hadith to saliva.

Seven Times

The number seventy is often used in the Arabic language to indicate “many” instead of the specific number. The same has been argued for the number seven.

Based on this, some scholars, like the Hanafis interpreted the hadith to mean “wash it many times” or “wash it thoroughly.” So, they did not require the exact number of seven. Instead, they only required washing until the impurity is gone.

Scholars of this view might argue the Prophet (SAW) particularly emphasized the thoroughness of washing because of some reason in the context. Perhaps there was a disease in dogs at that time which led to the Prophet’s emphasis in this hadith.

Other scholars took the number seven at face value, and said it must be washed seven times. They divided impurity into severe and normal impurity based on this hadith. They argued that the impurity of dogs is especially severe and it can only be cleaned by washing seven times, one time with dirt, unlike other impurity.


Some scholars specified dirt as the only option. Other scholars allowed things like soap which help in washing something thoroughly. Yet other scholars, like the Hanafis, did not even require dirt as long as the impurity is washed away. They said the mention of dirt is only for emphasis.

And Allah knows best.

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