The Accessible Conspectus: Ablution Invalidators

This is the third installment from a series of posts aimed at making The Ultimate Conspectus accessible to readers who have never read fiqh before.

1.5.5 Ablution Invalidators

Six things invalidate ablution.

The first invalidator is anything exiting from the private parts (i.e., the urethra, vagina, and anus) whether it is solid (like feces), liquid (like urine), or gas (like flatulence). It includes substances that typically exit from the private parts (like the ones already mentioned), and substances that do not (like worms, and kidney stones). And it includes impure things (like feces, urine, and blood), as well as things that are pure (like babies).

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The Accessible Conspectus: Ablution & Its Obligatory Actions

In the Name of God, Most Merciful and Compassionate

1.5 Ablution

After first writing about water, tanning hides and bones, using artifacts, and the toothstick, the author of The Ultimate Conspectus moves to ablution. He mentions its obligatory actions and its recommended actions.

The obligatory actions of ablution are actions that must be performed for the ablution to be valid. The ablution will not be valid if any of these actions are omitted.

Recommended actions are actions that should be performed but could be omitted. The ablution will be valid even if all of the recommended actions is omitted.

It is useful differentiate between obligatory actions and recommended actions because sometimes we do not have enough water or enough time to make a complete optimal ablution. Knowing which actions are obligatory and which actions are recommended allows us to omit non-obligatory acts when there is a need to do so. It also lets us know whether an ablution is valid if something has been omitted.

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The Accessible Conspectus: Purification & Water

In the Name of God, Most Merciful and Compassionate

1. Purification

The author of The Ultimate Conspectus began his book with purification as this is the norm with books from the Shāfiʿī school of law. Some other schools start with the times for prayer. The reason we begin with purification is that prayer is the main form of worship, purification is its primary condition, and something that is a condition should come before the thing that depends upon it.

The Arabic word for purification is “ṭahārah.” Its linguistic meaning is to clean and to remove dirtiness whether that dirtiness is physical or moral. It includes both physical and spiritual purification. Spiritual purification involves removing the sicknesses of the heart, such as envy, arrogance, conceit, showing off, and others. Imam al-Ghazali said that knowing their definition makes it personally obligatory to treat these sicknesses. Physical purification will be the topic of this chapter.

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The quantity of prayer elements & their tremendous opportunity for reward

Back around 2006 I made a very short audio commentary for The Ultimate Conspectus that aimed to introduce the book to absolute beginners. This last weekend I finished up transcribing the recordings. Since then I have been editing them into something that I could give to my own kids to read as a quick introduction to Shāfiʿī fiqh before moving on to a classic text. Here is one of the sections I was working on today. Text from The Ultimate Conspectus is in bold.

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Fiqh, Evidence & Legal Reasoning: The court as a bride’s guardian for marriage contracts

One of my current projects is to give students of fiqh a taste of the evidence behind rulings and legal reasoning, as well as a few hints as to why one opinion is preferred over others. Here’s an example from the section concerning the court serving as a bride’s guardian in marriage contracts when the guardian is absent or refuses to marry her to a suitable groom.

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