Key Principles Relating to Certainty, Doubt, and Baseless Misgivings (waswasa)

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: I was wondering about doubts while fasting. I rinsed my mouth for ablution (wudu) but thereafter had doubts whether I had swallowed water or not. I understand that for matters of purification (tahara), doubts are ignored, is this the case with worship (ibadat).

Answer: Walaikum assalam,

When in such a situation, find out what is the right thing to do, and simply do it.

Do not think about the problem or worry about it. Rather, think and thank: think about the blessings of Allah for you, and thank Him for them with your tongue and heart. This is a means of making Shaytan leave you, and despair of making you despair.

Exercise Caution

It is important to calmly find out:

a. what all the relevant related rulings are;

b. ask as many specific questions as you have to (don t make assumptions!);

c. then figure out what you were doing wrong, if anything, and what the consequences are.

Don’t Have Baseless Misgivings

It is essential that one not have baseless misgivings (waswasa). This usually occurs from unawareness of the sunna, as operationalized by the fuqaha, or by lack of intelligence (in one’s behavior).

As such, we should take the proper means, as described above, and not go beyond them.

Our legal responsibility (taklif) is within the limits of reason: Allah Most High has informed us, “Allah does not burden souls with more than they can manage.”

Principles Related to Certainty & Doubt

Once you have taken the reasonable means, the default assumption is that you are now free error. Then, we return to the important fiqh principle:

“Certainty is not lifted by a doubt.”

[Ibn Nujaym, al-Ashbah wa’l Nadha’ir; Majallat al-Ahkam al-`Adiliyya]

This means that if one is certain about something, such as the validity of our worship, with this being the basic assumption for all human actions, then we will keep assuming it valid until certain that it was not. Mere possibilities and even likelihoods do not change this.

The important fiqh principles related to this matter include:

1.    Certainty is not lifted by doubt;

2.    Certainty is only lifted by another certainty;

3.    The default assumption about a matter is akin to certainty;

4.    The default assumption about all matters is validity and soundness;

5.    Mere doubts and suppositions are of no legal consequence.

Ibn Abidin points out that following one s misgivings (waswasa), whether about the validity of one s works or about  how hard  we imagine the legal prescriptions of the Shariah to be,  is highly blameworthy in the Shariah: it is from the Shaytan, and Allah Most High has commanded us to refuse his enticing.

As such, until you are certain that any of your prayer was invalid, you do not have any prayers to make up. One should, however, take the steps described above in  exercising caution.

This deen is mercy. The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) is mercy. It is a means of mercy, success, and felicity. When one does not find this, one must be doing something wrong.

“Ask the people of remembrance when you know not”,  Allah tells us in the Qur’an.

This is an important final point: when in doubt, one should not make up legal rulings. Rather, one should seek reliable knowledge, either from a reliable book one is able to understand or from persons of sound traditional learning.

May Allah grant us success in doing that which He loves.


Faraz Rabban

Is Obeying the Prophet in Every Matter Obligatory (fardh)?

Answered by Sidi Waseem Hussain

Question: [1] Is obeying the Prophet in every matter fardh or wajib? When is it fardh, when wajib?Example, Hanafi scholars say the beard is wajib but the Prophet ordered us to wear it. [2] I suffer from horrible obsessive compulsive disorder and am always obsessed with kufr and shrik, always worrying if I fall in them. What can I do to help myself?

Answer: Assalamu Alaykum Warahmatullah,

1. We are supposed to do our utmost in following the Prophet (may Allahs peace and blessings be upon Him) in every single aspect. However, in some cases it is incumbent, while in others it is something we should strive as much as possible to do.

The categorisations of whether something is fard or wajib is subtle and relates to difference in the strength of the proofs and their possibility of interpretation. The differentiation between these is something that the scholars outline for us. This is for instance why we study fiqh, such that we can get clarity of how to properly follow in the footsteps of the Prophet (may Allahs peace and blessings be upon Him) and his companions.

2. One of the best ways to cure doubts about kufr and shirk is to recite surah al-Ikhlas, since it entails the core of the divine oneness that we as muslims believe in. If you understand that Allah is eternal and one, that he has no partners, son or simlitude then your aqeeda is sound and safe, and you need not worry that you are commiting kufr or shirk.

You should consider trying to find sound reliable scholars that teach aqeeda and benefit form their teachings.

And Allah knows best,

Waseem Hussain

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Doubts About Having Committed a Contravention at Hajj

Answered by Sidi Waseem Hussain

Question: When I entered my state of ihram I went and without thinkingI think I may have washed my hands with scented soap. I don’t really remember for certain, I smelled my hands shortly thereafter and they smelled like I may have washed them with that soap? Should I offer a sacrifice? I was going to offer a sacrifice anyway for something I may have missed along the way although I don’t remember missing anything in particular. I thought since I jumped schools of thought on some issues it may have be a good idea.

Assalamu Alaykum Warahmatullah,

Congratutaltions on your Hajj, May Allah accept it from you, everyone else you made Hajj with and all the muslims. They say, that a person who recently went on Hajj has more acceptance in his dua. So please remember us all in your du’as.

As for you questions:

Certainty is not lifted by doubt. You are certain that you did not use soap, but in doubt whether you used it or not. Hence you will act on certainty and assume you did not use soap.

You do not need to offer any sacrifice, even if you jumped in between madhabs during Hajj. Hajj is a unique case where one sometimes finds oneself in a position where one has no choice, but to take a dispensation from another madhab. Doing so will not require any sacrfice.

However, sacrificing an animal is a general act of good, and if you want to do it then it will be rewarded. But there is no obligation to do so.

And Allah knows best,
Waseem Hussain

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Does One Have to Remove Earrings for the Ritual Bath (ghusl)?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: You’ve mentioned that one has to take off earrings while doing ghusl. If one didn’t do this in the past, does that mean all the ghusls were invalid? Can one assume water reached, while cleaning the ear? Is the ruling the same in the Shafi’ madhab?

Answer: Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

It is best to remove the earrings, or to move them while wetting the ears. [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]

In terms of past practice, one can assume validity.

And Allah alone gives success.


Faraz Rabbani

(Originally answered on the SeekersGuidance Academy’s Absolute Essentials of Islam Course Forum)

Doubts In Prayer & Making Up Such Prayers

Answered by Sidi Salman Younas

Question: I didn’t know that in case when one doubts whether he’s performing the 3rd or the 4th rakaat, he should perform at-tahiyyat in this and in the following rakaats. So I used to perform the 3rd and the 4th rakaats with only one at-tahiyyat at the end of the 4th rakaat in such cases. Should I make qadha of all such prayers now?

Answer: I pray you are well.

No, you will not be required to make up any of your prayers in this situation.

There are two possible scenarios when someone doubts what cycle (rak`at) of the prayer one is in:

a. It is the first time that such a doubt occured to the person in his life,
b. It is not the first time that such a doubt occured to the person in his life.

If it is the first case, one should restart his prayer.

If it is the second case, then one should take a brief moment [while still continuing the actions of the prayer or reciting something] to quickly recall what cycle one is in and then make a reasonable guess. If someone does so, then the prayer should be completed based on the reasonable guess the individual made. Thus, for example, if a person has doubts between whether he is in the third or fourth cycles of the prayer and, after thinking, he decides that he is in the fourth cycle, he should simply finish that cycle, sit down for the final sitting, and complete his prayer. No forgefulness prostration is needed in this case.

In your situation, it would seem that by not sitting for the tashahhud in the third cycle, you already exercised your judgment as to what cycle you were in. Therefore, you can ignore all your previous doubts and should not worry about making up those prayers.

In the future, if such a doubt occurs, then remember that to decide what cycle you are in you do not need to be completely certain. All you have to do is make a reasonable guess and then build your prayer on that.

[Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]


Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Constantly Bleeding Gums & Fasting

Answered by Waseem Hussain

Question: My gums always bleeds when I’m sleeping. This always invalidates my wudu, since the saliva is red. I also heard that if I swallow unintentionally the red saliva, my fast is broken. I don’t know what to do and it creates hardship for me, and I have another strong problem, which is waswasa in my worship. I’m afraid to swallow red saliva, so during all the day, I spit out non stop…

Answer: Walaikum Salam Warahmatullah

Your fast has not been invalidated. The default is that you have not swallowed clear red-saliva and there is no reason to assume you have unless you are absolutely 100% certain that it happened.

You are not required to check your saliva all the time to see whether it is clearly red or not. Therefore, you are not required to spit out all the time and you can safely assume that there is nothing in the saliva.

Even if it would happen, then if you have a special condition that entails constant bleeding from the mouth, like having a tooth pulled out or having had a root canal or the like then swallowing the saliva will not invalidate the fast.

And Allah knows best,


[Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar 6:265; Ibn Malak, Sharh al-Tuhfa 2:1283; Zaili, Hadiyat al-Sa’luk 128]

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Ramadan: Injections, Eye Drops, and Doubts

Answered by SeekersGuidance Team

Question: Do the following break the fast: [a] eye drops [b] injections [c] nicotine patches? Also, what if water went into one’s ear while showering or rinsing his mouth?


The fast is only nullified when a substance enters the body cavity through a recognized point of entry, such as the mouth, nose, or front and back private parts. Therefore, eye drops, injections, and nicotine patches do not break the fast as they do not enter the body from a recognized point of entry.

As for water entering one’s body cavity, one’s operational certainty is that one is fasting and that hisfast is valid. Unless one is absolutely certain that something entered a recognized point of entry and reached his body cavity, the fast will remain valid. As for misgivings and doubts, these should be ignored as they are merely whispers from the devil, following which is sinful. Imam Kasani in his Bada`i al-Sana`i states that if one is plagued with devilish whispers regularly, he should not pay any attention to it whatsoever. Our religion has been made easy for us, so we should not overburden ourselves. Rather, we should suffice with what the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) taught us.

SG Team

Questions Related to the Ritual Bath (Ghusl)

Answered by Salman Younas

Question: I try to do ghusl every day with my shower but it takes a long time so can i check the following: (1) If i am just doing ghusl with a shower, do i have to clean the private parts before i do wudu and ghusl? (2) When cleaning the private parts before ghusl and wudu, does this need to be done once or thrice? (3) If ghusl is required and not just the privates are filthy, do you just clean teh infected areas or do you need to clean everywhere (as water may splash from a dirty bit to a clean bit while cleaning). (4) what is the definition of ‘wash’. i know we need to make sure that we have wet the whole body but do i also need to make sure each area has been wiped too?

Answer: I pray you are well and in the best of health.

(1) Yes, it is confirmed sunna to wash one’s private parts before performing the ritual bath (ghusl), even if there is no filth affecting the region.

(2) Doing so once would suffice.

(3) The sunna is to remove any filth that is present on the body. This is done prior to the actual ritual bath in order to prevent the spread of filth when one begins the ritual bath itself. One should simply clean the specific parts that contain filth, not the whole body. The purpose of this is to remove any misgivings one might have of filth spreading on one’s body when he begins to bathe later on. Therefore, if you have removed the traces of filth from your body prior to the bath it should be enough to ignore such misgivings.

(4) “Washing” is to make water flow over the body. This is inevitable when one is taking a shower and so a person should not have any doubts as to whether his body has been washed or not. Wiping or rubbing is not obligatory within the ritual bath, though it is a sunna to perform them.

What can safely be said is that if one performs the sunna acts of the ritual bath, he can be confident that he has performed his ghusl validly. Doing so should not take an excessively long time, nor should one be concerned about subsequent doubts that occur. These should be ignored as they are merely whispers from the devil, following which is sinful. Imam Kasani in his Bada`i al-Sana`i states that if one is plagued with devilish whispers regularly, he should not pay any attention to it whatsoever. Our religion has been made easy for us, so we should not overburden ourselves. Rather, we should suffice with what the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) taught us.

[ref: Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah; Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]



Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

What Should I Do About Left Over Drops Of Urine?

Answered by Salman Younas

Question: I experience alot of problems in using alot of excessive tissue paper during the toilet to help make sure that no remaining urine has remained. By using water only I feel it is very difficult to discern whether any remainig drops after washing  from one’s private orifice is either urine or just water? So using tissue paper helps. However, the problem seems to emerge where there is a constant amount of urine left despite having followed the Istinja and squeezing one’s private parts to make certain if any urine remains. Your advice and guidance on the issue would be much appreciated.


salamu `alayukum

I pray you are well and in the best of health.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) stated in a rigorously authenticated hadith, as narrated by Bukhari, that, “the religion is ease and none shall make the religion hard except that it will defeat him. So, be moderate, do the best you can…” The opposite of moderation is excessiveness, and excessiveness often arises out of neglect of the prophetic sunna, either due to one’s unawareness of it or not understanding and sufficing with its application.

The rulings related to istinja’ are straightforward. It is a confirmed sunna that is validly carried out with tissue paper, water, or a combination of both. The scholars mention that the optimal way to perform istinja’ is to first limit the filth by way of wiping and then following it with washing. (Nur al-Idah, pg: 28 ed. Qadimi Kutub Khana)

Generally speaking, if one performs the above, he can safely ignore any doubts about the difficulty in discerning whether any remaining drops of water are urine. One can simply assume with a high level of certainty that what remains on one’s private parts is water, unless there are absolutely clear signs of the continual exiting of urine such as clearly discernable color. If one merely has doubts that the water may be mixed with urine then these should be ignored.

However, if one’s residual urine exits slowly from the private parts, namely the exiting of clearly discernable urine drops after one washes himself, one should employ certain additional steps, as outlined by `Ala al-Din ibn `Abidin (Hadiyyah al-Ala’iiyyah, pg: 44 ed. Dar ibn Hazm):

a.    He should squeeze and slightly twist his private part, in a manner not leading to harm, and
b.    He should insert something in the entrance of his private part, slightly, to absorb any remaining drops.

If one continues to have doubts he should simply sprinkle his clothes and private parts with water and assume that any moisture he sees is the water.

Thus, to summarize, you should take the following steps:

a.    After using the toilet, wait a few moments to make sure all remaining drops exit,
b.    Squeeze and slightly twist the private part,
c.    Wipe the private part with toilet paper,
d.    Wash the private part with water three or so times, as mentioned in the Maraqi al-Falah, and
e.    Sprinkle water onto your clothes and private parts.

After this, any doubts of urine being admixed with the water can be and should be ignored.

In the end, it should be noted that acting on one’s doubts is sinful as is excessive wastefulness. Both should be avoided. One should suffice with the sunna method of removing filth on the private parts. This was the way of the salaf, a way of moderation and following the sunna.

And Allah knows best


Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani