The Ḥanafī school

The types of touching between spouses or strangers that nullify wudu

I recently went to a Mastura group and was told that women’s wudu is invalidated if she so much so touches her husband but when you sleep it isn’t invalidated. So if you go to Makkah again if you touch a non Mahram it’s not invalidated because of the crowds and circumstances. Things like this make me question the logic behind the rulings. Why is it so inconvenient for us? I genuinely struggle with believing it’s so rigid. My husband constantly asks for massages so I need to retake wudu 24/7?

There are many differing opinions on this issue. According to the Ḥanbalī school touching a spouse or a stranger does not nullify wuḍuʾ because they interpret the relevant Quranic verse (4:43) as referring to sexual intercourse (Ibn Taymīya, d. 1328 CE) (Ibn Bāz, d. 1999 CE) or erotic touching (al-Mardāwī, d. c. 1480 CE).

Ibn Nujaym (d. c. 1562 CE), representing the Ḥanafī school, says that mere skin contact does not nullify wuḍuʾ regardless of whether the contact is accidental or intentional, and regardless of whether it is done with erotic intent or not, and regardless of whether it is with one’s spouse or a stranger.

Al-Nawawī (d. 1277 CE), representing the Shāfiʿī school, says that any form of contact between members of the opposite sex who have reached puberty nullifies wuḍuʾ, regardless of whether the two persons are married or not. It is probable that what you heard was from a Shāfiʿī source.

The Egyptian jurist Muhammad ʿIllīsh (d. 1882 CE), representing the Mālikī school, says that the only type of touching that nullifies wuḍuʾ is that which is done with erotic intent (i.e. with the intention of obtaining sexual pleasure), regardless of whether the person obtains the pleasure they sought. It is also nullifies wuḍuʾ if a person obtains sexual pleasure from touching even though they did not intend to obtain pleasure.

The main matter at issue here is the interpretation of lāmastum in verse 4:43. The Shāfiʿīs interpret it as “if you touch”, while the Ḥanafī and Ḥanbalī scholars appear to interpret it as “if you have sexual intercourse with”. Both of these interpretations involve taking an extreme position that is not implied by the verse. The phrase lāmastum literally means “if you caress”, it suggests prolonged contact and has a sexual connotation to it. The Mālikī opinion in my understanding best represents the intent of this verse. Touching a person of the opposite sex only breaks wuḍuʾ if the touching is done with erotic intent or if the touching leads to erotic pleasure without intent. This would apply whether the touching involves a stranger, relative or spouse. The Mālikī opinion represents a middle road between the extremely strict Shāfiʿī view and the extremely lax Ḥanafī/Ḥanbalī views.

On this issue I prefer the Mālikī view, which is that touching between spouses or strangers does not nullify wuḍuʾ unless the person does it with erotic intent or gains erotic pleasure from it. Giving your husband a massage wouldn’t nullify wuḍuʾ if there is no erotic intent or pleasure involved. The Ḥanbalī scholar al-Mardāwī also appears to share a similar opinion.

Source for the opinions of the scholars mentioned above: IslamWeb, fatwa 41160 [archived link], Ibn Baz’s website, fatwa 2961 [archived link].

Can Muslims keep dogs as pets? (Yes, according to some scholars)

Is it okay for a Muslim to have a dog as a pet? Not just as a guard dog, but as a companion. Bring them inside the house, play with them, take a walk, etc. I've read somewhere that if there's a dog in the house, angels will not come inside our house. Is it true? Thank you

This is a highly controversial topic among the scholars. The opinion of the Mālikī school is that dogs are pure (i.e. not ritually unclean), and that it is permissible to touch them and play with them as long as they are not diseased. This is also the opinion of al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī , al-Zuharī , Sufyān al-Thawrī, al-Shawkānī, Ibn Mundhir al-Shāfiʿī and Ibn Ḥazm.

Keeping dogs as pets, however, is more problematic because of certain authentic narrations, for example the following:

Narrated `Abdullah bin `Umar: I heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, "If someone keeps a dog neither for hunting, nor for guarding livestock, the reward (for his good deeds) will be reduced by two Qirats per day." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 72, Hadith 7)

Abu Talhah said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, "The angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a portrait [or religious idol]." (Bukhari and Muslim, see Riyad al-Salihin Book 18, Hadith 1684)

According to a fatwa from Egypt’s fatwa authority, it is permissible to keep dogs if there a “need” for it in one’s life or work, such as a guard or guide dog, and as long as the person keeps a prayer room that is not entered by the dog.

Dr. Ali Gomaa, Egypt’s Grand Mufti from 2003 to 2013, issued a fatwa that permits keeping dogs as pets if someone has a strong emotional need for it. In order to accord with the narrations mentioned above, he says that one should not pray in a room where the dog is, but that it is permitted to let the dog in the house.

The Egyptian scholar Maḥmūd Shaltūt (1893 – 1963 CE), who was Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar (Egypt’s highest authority on Sunni Islam), ruled that keeping a dog as a pet and letting it in the house is permissible as long as it is not diseased. However, he says that if the dog eats or drinks from a utensil, it must be washed thoroughly before it is used by a human.

The rest of the scholars, the Ḥanafīs, Shāfiʿīs and Ḥanbalīs say that a dog is either unclean or that it is forbidden to keep as a pet, that it must only be kept if it is a hunting, shepherding or guard dog.

So there is sufficient support within the Islamic scholarship community for a person to keep a dog as a pet. But the majority of scholars are against it, and so are the majority of Muslim cultures.

If an American who already has a dog converts to Islam, there is sufficient evidence within Islam for them to continue keeping it as a pet. But they shouldn’t be surprised if the Muslims around them strongly frown upon their doing so.

Source for the Egyptian fatwa (Arabic PDF).

Source for Ali Gomaa’s fatwa (Arabic PDF).

Second source for Ali Gomaa’s fatwa (Arabic PDF).

Follow up question:

assalamu alaykum, having a dog isn’t prohibited as long as you keep a separate room for praying and other acts of adoration? what about wudu? won’t we have to shower each time we pray?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The opinion of the Mālikī school is that dogs are pure (i.e. not ritually unclean), and that it is permissible to touch them and play with them as long as they are not diseased. This is also the opinion of al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī , al-Zuharī , Sufyān al-Thawrī, al-Shawkānī, Ibn Mundhir al-Shāfiʿī and Ibn Ḥazm.

According to these scholars dogs are just like cats or any other animal, so there is no special cleansing requirement if you follow their opinions.