Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick
What distinguishes the cleaning process between light filth and medium filth? It appears that light filth, despite being less significant, is easier to purify than moderately impure virtual filth.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.
Unless you are confident that najasa (filth as described by Sacred Law) came into contact with the clothes in your laundry, they are assumed clean (tahir). This means that while there may be dust, sand, and usual dirt on the clothing, they are not necessarily contaminated with najasa. In that case, any form of washing (including machine washing) will not be a problem and is permissible.
When you are confident that the clothing items were contaminated with najasa, the lighter view considers machine washing sufficient, and Allah knows best. Please visit our detailed response here, as well as this related answer. It is essential to note that indiscernible filth is also excused, as explained here.
The Default State is Purity
Two well-known principles in Sacred Law state: “The default status is everything is ritually pure (al-asl al-taharatu),” and “Certainty is not removed by doubt.” [Suyuti, al-Ashba wa al-Naza’ir]
The laws above entail that everything is pure unless one becomes sure that a particular item has become impure because one saw it come into contact with actual filth (najasa). And as long as you are not sure that it has become ritually impure (najis), it is to be considered pure, and you can apply all the rules of purity to it without any hesitation or doubt.
The Difference Between Light and Medium Filth
The question concerns the difference between light and medium filth.
Impurities are of Three Types:
- Mughallaza (heavy).
- Mukhaffafa (light).
- Mutawassita (moderate/medium).
Heavy impurity is from a dog, pig, or their offspring.
Light impurity is the urine of a baby (boy), which only feeds on milk57 and is not yet two years of age.
All other remaining impurities are moderate impurities.
How to Clean Impurities
Heavy impurity becomes pure by removing it and then washing it seven times, one of which should be with earth.
Light impurity will be purified by removing the actual impurity and sprinkling adequate water upon it (the amount of water sprinkled should be greater than the amount of urine).
Moderate impurity is of two kinds: (1) that which has a substance and (2) that without a substance.
- That which has a substance is that which has a color, smell, and taste. It is necessary to remove its color, smell, and taste. (It is obligatory to remove all of its taste, even if it is difficult, and to remove both color and smell if not difficult. If any of the smell or color alone is difficult to remove, then the fact that one of these two remains does not affect the purity. However, if both the color and smell remain in a spot, it is not considered pure.)
- The one which has no substance is the one that does not have a color, smell and taste. It is sufficient that water flows over it. (If the effects of sun, fire, or wind remove the traces of the impurity, the affected item is still impure until water has been poured over it.)
I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar Shaykh Taha Karaan.
Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.
He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.
Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.