How Do I Deal with Obsessive Thoughts about Impurity on Household Objects?

Shafi'i Fiqh
Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question

Religion has become really difficult for me. I fear becoming impure, which means I can’t offer my prayers.

If my husband touches the phone after intimacy, I feel that impurity is transferred. I feel like impurity has traveled everywhere, and I keep cleaning.

I feel Allah will not forgive me for this. If an impure hand touches a place, do I have to wipe the place 3 times, or is just once enough?

Answer

I pray this finds you well.

May Allah grant you ease in your tribulation.

Purity and Filth

Fiqh-wise, washing with water just once is sufficient to clean medium filth. Three times is recommended.

In the Shafi‘i school of thought, examples of filth include:

  • blood
  • pus
  • vomit
  • anything which exits the front or rear private parts other than sperm or female sexual fluid
  • any animate life which dies without being Islamically slaughtered, other than aquatic life, locusts, or human beings
  • dogs, swine of their offspring (major filth)

[from Al-Maqasid, Nawawi’s Manual of Islam]

Certainty vs. Doubt

There is a legal maxim in which certainty is not lifted by doubt. Suspecting that something has filth on it does not make it so. You must be absolutely certain that there is filth on your hand (you must be able to see it, smell it, etc.), instead of suspecting that it is there.

Obsessive Thoughts

Are you able to consult a skilled and compassionate therapist? It sounds like you are struggling with obsessive thoughts, and it is very difficult to overcome this on your own. Therapists are trained to help you manage these symptoms, and a good therapist can help you uncover and heal the root cause of your pain. In the meantime, please consider listening to this OCD treatment track on Hypnosis Downloads.

The rules of purity and filth in Islam are clear and simple and are not meant to burden you in any way. To give you some peace of mind, please enroll in a fiqh class, either Hanafi or Shafi’i and revise the rulings on purity and filth.

I pray that Allah helps you take the means to heal.

Please refer to the following links:

Key principles relating to certainty, doubt and baseless misgivings (waswasa)

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.