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Performing Salah with new £5 inside the pocket

​Q: What is the fiqhi ruling with regards to performing Salah with the new £5 note inside the pocket? 

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Answer provided by mufti Ahmed Peerbhai of Leicester, UK.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In relation to praying Ṣalāh whilst having polymer bank notes in one’s pocket, the following points are to be considered.

1) Polymer bank notes are widely used by many countries throughout the world due to their durability and strength. Polymer is a substance which has a molecular structure and it is made of many other molecules all strung together. So basically, a polymer is made up of a great variety of substances, not just one substance.

2) One of the many substances which are at some point used to produce a polymer bank note is tallow. Bank notes use stearic acid which is derived from tallow sourced from beef fat. Obviously the fat is not used in its raw form. Rather, it goes through various processes and chemical reactions which completely change its original molecular structure. In Fiqh terminology this is known as “Inqilāb al-ʿayn” or “Tabdīl al-māhiya”.

3) Therefore, if one was to offer Ṣalāh whilst having such notes in one’s pocket, the Ṣalāh will be valid as the notes are considered to be ritually pure based on the fact that “Inqilāb al-ʿayn” has occurred.

4) Even if the fat was to be used in its raw form and “Inqilāb al-ʿayn” is noteffectuated, Ṣalāh would still be valid. This is because:

a) The amount of beef tallow used in a single note is so miniscule and insignificant that the validity of the prayer is not compromised at all. For the beef tallow to invalidate the prayer, the amount must be that of a Dirham which is approximately 3g as calculated in Awzān al-Sharīʿah. The weight of a polymer five pound note is 0.7g.

The total weight of 0.7g is inclusive of all the substances and materials used in the production of the note. The actual amount of tallow is vanishingly small; almost non-existent.

b) The note is kept in the pocket and the pocket is considered to be an inner lining of the cloth. The ruling is that if the inner layer is impure but the outer layer is pure then Ṣalāh will still be valid[i].

c) One of the many processes in the production of a polymer banknote involves melting the polypropylene. The ruling in relation to this is that, if impurity is burned to a degree where the moisture no longer remains then that impurity will no longer contaminate anything[ii]. Hence, the note will not become contaminated.

d) Intestine, bladder and stomach lining from a sheep (for example) which has not been slaughtered in accordance with the rules of Sharīʿah, are impure. However, if they are cleansed and corrected then Ṣalāh is permissible with items which have been derived from them[iii]. As explained above, stearic acid is a derivative of beef tallow. Considering that such derivates do not invalidate the prayer, the polymer bank note will also not invalidate the prayer.

And Allāh Knows Best.

Checked by Sufi Tāhir Ṣahib (Blackburn)

[i] وَفِي الْفَتَاوَى إذَا ثَنَى ثَوْبَهُ وَالْأَعْلَى طَاهِرٌ دُونَ الْأَسْفَلِ يَجُوزُ (الفتاوي الهندية)

[ii] إذَا سَعَّرَتْ الْمَرْأَةُ التَّنُّورَ ثُمَّ مَسَحَتْهُ بِخِرْقَةٍ مُبْتَلَّةٍ نَجِسَةٍ ثُمَّ خَبَزَتْ فِيهِ فَإِنْ كَانَتْ حَرَارَةُ النَّارِ أَكَلَتْ بَلَّةَ الْمَاءِ قَبْلَ إلْصَاقِ الْخُبْزِ بِالتَّنُّورِ لَا يَتَنَجَّسُ الْخُبْزُ

[iii] إذَا أَصْلَحَ أَمْعَاءَ شَاةٍ مَيِّتَةٍ فَصَلَّى وَهِيَ معه جَازَتْ صَلَاتُهُ لِأَنَّهُ يُتَّخَذُ منها الْأَوْتَارُ وهو كَالدِّبَاغِ وَكَذَلِكَ الْعَقِبُ وَالْعَصَبُ كذا لو دَبَغَ الْمَثَانَةَ فَجُعِلَ فيها لَبَنٌ جَازَ وَلَا يَفْسُدُ اللَّبَنُ وَكَذَلِكَ الْكَرِشُ إنْ كان يَقْدِرُ على اصلاحه. (البحر الرائق)