Assalamualaikum wrm. wbt.,
I owned an abandoned house. When I return to that house, I found my books collection which has been nibbled by rats. There is also a strong pungent smell of rat urine in the area where the book collection is. If it is rat urine, how should I clean and purify my books? Thank you.
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 first thing that needs to be understood is that rat urine is known to be a carrier of Leptospirosis. Among the symptoms of the infection of Leptospirosis that may be exhibited by the patient are high fever, headache, chills, muscle tense, vomiting, jaundice, eye inflammation, stomachache, diarrhoea, cough and rashes on his skin. Refer Leptospirosis by Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia.
It is best for the questioner to first refer to the medical doctors on how to effectively disinfect the bacteria which leads to the disease. Whereas, in terms of Islamic ruling, urine of animals except dog and pig is considered as mutawassitah. This type of najis is purified by washing with pure water on the surface affected by najis until the smell, color and taste disappear. The area which is wajib to be purified is only that is affected by najis with certainty by knowing it through its essence or physical attributes like its yellow color and the pungent smell. Whereas areas which are uncertain whether it has or has not been affected by the najis are not wajib to be purified. The Islamic legal maxim said:
الْيَقِينُ لَا يُزَالُ بِالشَّكِّ
Certainty cannot be removed by doubt
Refer al-Asybah wa al-Nazo’ir (pg. 50) by Imam al-Suyuti
“The dalil for this maxim is the saying of the Prophet PBUH:
إِذَا وَجَدَ أَحَدُكُمْ فِي بَطْنِهِ شَيْئًا فَأَشْكَلَ عَلَيْهِ أَخَرَجَ مِنْهُ شَىْءٌ أَمْ لاَ فَلاَ يَخْرُجَنَّ مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ حَتَّى يَسْمَعَ صَوْتًا أَوْ يَجِدَ رِيحًا
If anyone of you has pain in his abdomen but is doubtful whether or not anything has issued from him, be should not leave the mosque unless he hears a sound or perceives a smell.
Sahih Muslim (362) from the hadith of Abu Hurairah.
From the al-Sahihayn [Sahih al-Bukhari (137) and Sahih Muslim (361)] as narrated by Abdullah bin Zaid said, there was a person who asked the Prophet PBUH that he had imagined to have passed wind during the prayer, then the Prophet PBUH said:
لاَ يَنْصَرِفْ حَتَّى يَسْمَعَ صَوْتًا أَوْ يَجِدَ رِيحًا
“One should not leave his prayer unless he hears sound or smells something.”
Another maxim states:
الْأَصْلُ فِي كُلِّ حَادِثٍ تَقْدِيرُهُ بِأَقْرَبِ زَمَنٍ
The original rule of every event is to be referred to its closest time
Al-Suyuti gave an example, one takes ablution from a well for several days and performs salah with the ablution, then he realizes that there is a dead rat in the well. Thus, it is not wajib for him to replace his prayers unless he is certain that he performed it while bearing najis.”
Refer al-Asybah (pg. 59)
Coming back to the issue of purifying books, normally, the usage of washing with water will tear or damage the books. Therefore, it is not wajib for it to be purified, but it should never be brought in during salah. According to the madhhab of jumhur, urine which is evaporated by the sun until its traces disappear, like its smell, color and taste is still not pure until it is washed, different from madhhab Abu Hanifah and the previous opinion of Imam al-Shafi’e. Refer al-Majmu’ Syarh al-Muhadzzab (2/596). In fact, according to the scholars of Hanafi; Imam al-Hasfaki ruled that rat urine is not considered as najis as it is among things that are out of control. Refer al-Mausu`ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah (6/32).
However, if one could wash with water without damaging the books, then it is not an issue to do so, only if the action may not cause harm like an infection.
Based on the above facts and statements, we are inclined to state the following:
- Only areas which are curtained to have been affected by the najis like rat urine is wajib to be purified. Conversely, areas which do not have the traces like the smell, color and taste of the rat urine or any najis are not wajib to be purified as it is referred back to the original rule of things which is pure. The fact that the house is affected by najis happens only after it was left, originally it was in a pure state.
- Books affected by najis are impermissible from being brought in prayer, if washing may defect them.
- If there is harm when purifying the books, then it should be avoided and it is advised to think of other ways to replace the books if they are not to be thrown away as the maslahah of life is prioritized. Wallahua’lam.
May this explanation give an answer to the questioner. We pray to Allah SWT to replace this calamity with goodness. Ameen.