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Washing face in ablution must, say clerics – ‘Wiping over mask not permissible’

KUWAIT CITY, May 10: In light of the need to wear medical masks for fear of contracting COVID-19 through contact with infected citizens and residents, some people have raised questions about the possibility of wiping their masks during ablution and praying with them.

In response, Head of the Scientific Committee at the Sabah Al-Nasir Branch of the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society Dr. Muhammad Al-Najdi said, “It is not correct to leave out washing of the face except at times when this is not possible but then the individual can resort to Tayammum. It is not permissible to wipe over anything used to cover the face during ablution instead of washing the face. It is permissible for the individual to remove the covering and perform ablution to combine two prayers”.

Dr. Rashid Al-Alimi, an Imam and preacher at Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs said, “This matter is not permissible because washing the face is one of the pillars of ablution. This pillar cannot be accomplished unless there is no barrier on the face, especially if it is something that is easy for a person to remove. A person’s ablution can be done alone in the open with no one around him from a medical point of view, especially with the emergence of COVID-19.

Doctors advise to wash hands and then washing the face, which is based on the medical aspect that recommends sterilization and cleansing of the face. There is no excuse for putting a mask on the face during ablution for a person to wipe it.

The second issue is the presence of mask while praying. It is known that covering the face with mask while in prayer is permissible only if there is a need. If a person prays on his own, then there is no need for the mask, but if he prays in a group, then there should be a distance between the worshipers – approximately half a meter to the right and the left. This is permissible with the permission of God Almighty for the need. The use of mask on regular days is one of the hated things that do not invalidate the prayer”.

A preacher at Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Dr. Muhammed Dhawi Al-Osaimi said, “We must know that the mask takes the rule of the cast from one side and does not take its rule from another side. As for the side that is permissible to wipe on the cast, it is due to the difficulty involved. As for the mask, a person can wash his face from under the mask easily. The matter is easy and simple, so he does not have to wipe over it. In addition, he must wear it also if we say that it is permissible to wipe. In case the virus is widespread in a place like a hospital full of infected people, he can take all material measures including sterilization and distancing from the location of the epidemic. Washing of the face is a pillar in ablution and it is not permissible to be overlooked, so he should make sure that water reaches it. The mask is not difficult to remove, and the matter is easy for him, because it is as easy as ghatra. He can wash the face from under it and not remove it, but the important thing is to wash the face”.

Sheikh Faisal Alloush Al-Otaibi, a teacher and preacher at the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, explained that wiping over barriers when doing ablution is in accordance with the Sharia for specific things such as wiping over socks, turban and the like. As for the face, it is required by washing, as God Almighty said: “O you who believe, as you rise to prayer, then wash your faces and hands to the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles”.

The face must be washed; therefore, it is not permissible to wipe something that covers it. Even though there is no evidence to indicate that, the face has to be washed by whoever is able to. Wiping over a mask is not permissible instead of washing the face. Rather, if he needs ablution, he should remove the mask and wash his face.

Also, wiping the mask is harmful due to the possibility of viruses attached to it which can transfer to the hand that wipes it. If a person performs complete ablution by washing his face and then wearing the mask followed by attending the prayer, then there is no objection in Sharia to pray while wearing the mask, because covering the face with an object is hated in prayer but the hatred will disappear when there is a need.

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