FAQs & Fatwas Islamic Studies

Doctor Must Touch Patients. Can I Go with Abu Hanifa’s Opinion?

The Question:

I have a quick question for you:If somebody is trying to follow the Shafi madhab and he is a doctor, what is the ruling on breaking his wudu when touching women patients? Does he still lose his wudu?It is not for me, but for a friend of mine. He grew up studying shafi fiqh and now that he is a doctor he thought he had to switch to the hanifi school because of the touching women/breaking wudu issue.


Asalamu alaykum,

Ibn Taymiyyah (ra) wrote, “Regarding this issue the scholars took 3 opinions: two which took two opposite positions, and a group that took an opinion between the two.”

1. He goes on to state that, according to his understanding, “The weakest of them is, if a man touches a woman he loses his wudu. This contention is based on the axiom A sound suspicion of something brings about [that suspicions] ruling.” Thus, based on this argument, one who touches a woman would assume that he released some type of fluid from his private part, thus he would have to do wudu again. Ibn Taymiyyah states,  “This is the opinion of the Shaf’i school who hold that the touching of a woman breaks one’s wudu, irregardless if one felt a desire for the woman or not.” However, and I’m sure our readers can correct me, if I remember correctly, they differentiate between the Mahram and the non Mahram on this issue.

2. “If one touces a woman with a barrier between him and her, such as gloves, his wudu is valid even if he feels a desire for her. This is the opinion of the Hanafis.”

Besides the above axiom both both groups of scholars rely on the verse, “Or if you touched a woman.” based on two different sound readings of the verse itself.

3. The opinion of Malik and the Seven Fuqaha of Medina that states, “Any touching of the opposite sex, if not coupled with a feeling of passion, does not break wudu.” See al-Shar al-Saghir of Sidi al-Dardir and Dasuqi’s additions to al-Sharh al-Kabir.

Their proofs are the number of hadith in which the Prophet [sa] touched, or kissed his wives, as mentioned by Um Salam and ‘Aiesha. The latter even stating that, “He went to pray thereafter and did not make wudu.”

The other proof is that Allah says, “Don’t touch them [your wives] while you are making ‘Itikaf in the masjid.” Surah al-Baqarah. The scholars mention that when this type of touching is mentioned in the holy texts, it is understood that the forbidden type of touching is one coupled with a passionate feeling and If it occurs without a feeling of passion, then it is not forbidden [meaning touching one’s wife]. Ibn Taymiyyah wrote, “If one were to touch a woman and he did so with no passionate feeling, he is not punished [meaning he did so on accident or due to a dire situation. However, if one was flirting or being handsy with a woman, then he should be disciplined]. The same applies to a man who marries a woman, touches her without lust and decides to divorce her…..that touch alone, if it is free from passion, does not oblige her to observe the ‘Ida according to the agreement of the scholars. However, there is a massive difference amongst the scholars on the payment of the Mahr.”

Finally, if this was something that broke Wudu, there would have been clear texts from the Companions on behalf of the Prophet. However, as Ibn Taymiyyah states, “There is not one narration from the companions that supports this contention.” See Majmo’ al-Fatwa vol. 4 pg. 444.

In fact, we have the narration, as noted above, from the Prophet’s wives that say, “He would kiss his wife, to to pray, and not make wudu.” Although there is some disagreement regarding this hadith, the absence of a text the prohibits it, is enough to support the contention of the third party above. The point being that what leads to having to make wudu is passion and not the actual touching. Thus, I would advice your friend to take the moderate position of Imam Malik and the Seven Fuqaha of Medina.

Regarding your friends taking the Hanafi opinion. Perhaps, he is frightened of talfiq [mixing opinions]. However, and there is an article in the works on this. This does not, inshallah, fall under talfiq as defined in its negative connotation. Talfiq in its negative sense did not enjoy the support today, by some, until the 7th century. When we keep in mind that the goal of the law is ease and facilitation of worship and the fact that your are following a legitimate opinion recognized by many, then, inshallah, as al-Qarafi (ra) mentioned, there is no problem in you following it.

Allah knows best


About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.


  • As salamu ‘alaikum,

    As regards, “However, and I’m sure our readers can correct me, if I remember correctly, they [Shafi’i’s] differentiate between the Mahram and the non Mahram on this issue.”

    As I recall from my introductory studies of the Shafi’i school. They do not differentiate. The ruling is the same whether one touches ones wife or a foreign woman; ones wudu is broken according to the sound opinion of the school.

    Also, is it the case that Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad (ra) both have similar opinions with regards to this issue?

  • Correction: They do differentiate between mahram and non-mahram. However, as one my tend to overlook [in the Shafi’i school]; touching ones wife (with or without seeking pleasure) would nullify ones wudu.

  • I don’t think the question is right when he says to switch from one mazhab to the other mazhab because of his work conditions not because of he was convinced that the other mazhab is more correct on that isue.

    (I am not saying one mazhab is better than the other mazhab I love them all for the sake of Allah).

  • Jazakallah. Thank you for the comprehensive explanation regarding wudu and touching women in the Shafi madhab. It’s insightful and provides clarity on the matter.

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