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al kafi 1536


What is the ruling for search and rescue team or medical personnel who touches or have physical contact with pieces of flesh and skin or detached limbs of victims of disasters of the opposite gender? Is it considered as sinful and does it invalidate ablution?



Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

The original ruling of having physical contact with non-mahram of the opposite gender would invalidate ablution. However, when the limb is detached from the body, then the ruling is different.

Allah SWT states:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ ۚ وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُوا ۚ وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَىٰ أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَامَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوا صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًا فَامْسَحُوا بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُم مِّنْهُ ۚ مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَٰكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

“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. And if you are in a state of janabah, then purify yourselves. But 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 do not find water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and hands with it. Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful.”

Surah al-Maidah (6)

Imam al-Syafie Rahimahullah when explaining the above verse said: “Thus, the ruling is similar to the obligation of ablution when a person defecates and has physical contact (with a woman). Physical contact is stated following the statement of defecation, which is then followed with the mention of janabah (major impure state), thus, it is the same as having physical contact. Physical contact means physical contact on the hands (touching) and kissing, even without junub. Malik told us from Ibn Syihab, from Salim bin Abdillah, from his father (Ibn Umar) who said: “A man kissing his wife and touching her hand is mulamasah (physical contact), hence, whoever, kisses or touches his wife is obligated to perform ablution.We have received a narration from Ibn Mas’ud that has a similar meaning with the opinion of Ibn Umar.”

He also said: “It is not meant (that the physical contact) must be with desire, for it is the action of the heart. It is sufficient with the action (touching).

Refer al-Umm (1/29-30); al-Muwatta’ by Imam Malik (64) and (65).

Whereas Imam Tajuddin al-Subki in his book Asybah (1/367) placed an exception for the above method which is for a doctor if there is a need to touch as well as if there is a need to look.

Al-Suyuti continued saying: “As for touching a detached limb of a woman (by a man). It is divided into two opinions; the sahih opinion state that it does not invalidate ablution, for the detached limb is no longer considered as a woman, whilst the act which invalidates ablution is for touching a woman.”

Considering the detached limb from an ajnabi woman, there are two opinions; the sahih opinion states that it is prohibited to look at it. While the separate opinion state that it is permissible for it seldom leads to fitnah (desires for the observer).”

Refer al-Asybah wa al-Nazhair (pg. 475).

According to the above facts, the ruling of search and rescue or medical personnel such as firefighters and hospital staff touching pieces of flesh or skin of disaster victims (physical contact) is permissible and does not invalidate ablution for the following reasons:

  • There is a need to collect and manage it in an honourable way.
  • It no longer leads to fitnah and desire.

May Allah SWT accept all our deeds. Wallahua’lam.