Certainty outweighs doubt – is my Wudu still valid? How many Rakahs did I recite?

Certainty outweighs doubt - is my Wudu still valid? How many Rakahs did I recite?

Have clarity rather than doubt in your affairs

اليقين لَا يَزُولُ بِالشَّكِّ

There is a maxim in Fiqh that one must not let doubt creep into matters. It is a very wide ranging principle.

This maxim has very wide application. This principle enables people to have certainty and block doubts in any affair. Particularly those who let doubts rule their life, and keep repeating actions to be on the safe side. This is a trick of shaytan, who traps people into cycles of doubt and repetition. Instead this principle teaches us to rely on what we know for a fact and move on.

Example: Wudu

You can’t remember if you have wudu or not what should you do?

If you can’t remember whether you have wudu, think back to the last time you are certain you made wudu. For instance you made it before leaving for work and then you are unsure whether you lost it or not.

In this situation you are sure you made wudu in the morning but unsure if you lost it. The certainty overrides the doubt – therefore you make salah on the basis that you are in wudu. Later if you realise that you went to the bathroom before you prayed and did not renew your wudu you redo that salah. However you do not make wudu ‘just in case’ you lost it and did not remember.

As per the narration of Abu Hurayrah, if anyone of you feels a sensation in his abdomen but is unsure if he passed wind, he should not leave the mosque until he hears a sound or detects a smell.

Abbad bin Tamim (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:

My uncle asked Allah’s Messenger () about a person who imagined to have passed wind during the prayer. Allah’ Apostle replied: “He should not leave his prayers unless he hears sound or smells something.” (Bukhari)

This shows that certainty is not dispelled by doubt. He is certain he had wudu, but he is uncertain whether he lost it. If you put the doubt on one side of the scale and certainty on the other, the certainty outweighs the doubt. The answer is clear cut. It means one need not fret over it. Doubt cannot cancel out certainty.

If you have a doubt before you finish your wudu and can’t remember if you missed a part of it, which does happen as our minds are preoccupied and we have many files running in our heads consuming our thoughts. What should you do? Mulla Ali al Qari in his book Fath al Bab al Inaya said the first time you doubt you wiped your head, wipe it. If you see traces of water on the limb then you know you already washed it. However if this is a repetitive doubt, and you keep doubting whether you have washed different limbs or not, then are always in a state of doubt then you do not repeat your wudu or washing that limb, because this is a trap of shaytan who makes you doubt your wudu to play tricks on you, keep you busy washing and doubting and washing and doubting. The wudu process becomes an act plagued by OCD. There is a Shaytan for wudu whose job is to make you doubt your wudu. If you let him in, he will be your guest and take up residence. How do you lock the door and kick him out? Focus on your wudu. Don’t allow doubts to override your certainty.

Example: Salah

If anyone forgets which rakah they have prayed, they should consider with the lower number, because that is certain, while the higher number is doubtful. Therefore if one is unsure whether they prayed 2 or 3 rakahs, they are sure that it was at least 2, so they continue as if they have prayed 2 rather than 3.

It is a fundamental principle that a thing shall remain as it was originally until the evidence proves otherwise.

Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Five Fiqh Principles


Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.