Purity and Judging Pigskin
Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa baraktuh.
I have been using a leather wallet and recently found out that it is made of pig skin leather. I have performed some prayers while this wallet was in my pocket. Will I have to repeat such prayers?
Jazakum Allah khayr.
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
The Short Answer
Please bear in mind that the default on everything is purity until proven 100% otherwise. A “guesstimate” from a non-specialist that the leather is actually pig leather (and not peccary leather, for example) is not sufficient. You should be genuinely sure that it is indeed pigskin, and be wary of being OCD about everything and anything.
Also, in the future, you should actively ask what type of leather the item you are buying is made of. Pigskin is common in gloves and the insides of shoes.
Oftentimes, we ask question for others, others who look up to us for guidance, but don’t necessarily have to drive to find out what is right and wrong, or even apply what we have to say to them.
We have to be understanding and merciful, but that doesn’t mean we have to bend the truth or water-down Allah’s religion.
That said, in this particular case, if you did find out that you had definitely prayed many years of prayers wearing or carrying filth, there is a strong position in the Shafi‘i school that says that the prayer does not have to be repeated. (Rawda al-Talibin, al-Nawawi)
This is in addition to the fact that there is some debate over pigskin being pure or not. (Hashiyat al-Tahtawi; al-Mabsut, Sarakhsi; al-Sharh al-Kabir, Dardir) You could guide others of less religious resolve to follow such an opinion in retrospect so that they do not have to make up such prayers. This do not entail that one could go ahead and knowingly use pigskin in the future.
Our religion is based on objective knowledge and genuine keenness to do what Allah wants us to do. It is between strictness and ease, and does not turn into inflexible harshness any more than it does into a lackadaisical neglect. We should be as strict on ourselves (within reason) as we can; and yet be as soft as possible with others as long it doesn’t spoil what they already have of resolve.
Imam al-Bayhaqi quotes one the Early Muslims saying: “Trials in religion are three: the trial of the common man is in the loss of religious knowledge, the trial of the learned is in the existence of dispensations and alternative interpretations, and the trial of those who know and appreciate [Allah] is in having a duty to be done at a particular time and then delaying it.” He also quotes another saying, “Whoever wants to do nothing and be nothing, let him see well to following [all sorts of] dispensations.” (Shuab al-Iman, al-Bayhaqi)
It is worth noting the al-Bayhaqi’s book is called the The Branches of Faith. That is to say the these points guide us in helping our faith grow and come to full fruition. This is what our religion is about, and something that we should always be working on.
I pray this helps.
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.