We know wudu' is not ok if there are something resisting water flow.

My question is do I have taken wudu' and do salah if I have applied tiger balm on my head as i was affected with head ache do I have to do salah again?

Does tiger balm resist water to have contact with skin causing wudu' to become invalid and accordingly causing my salah becoming invalid?

1 Answer 1


Please be aware that there's of course a difference between things that are water proof and things and water repellent (depending whether this status is for a specific period of time or from the moment of application to the moment it was removed) and a difference between material that is produced by the human body itself and those which are applied on it. I'll try to address this later.

What is really required for wudu'

But first let's see what actually is necessary for wudu' (and ghusl) to be valid:

The Prophet (ﷺ) saw a person offering prayer, and on the back of his foot a small part equal to the space of a dirham remained unwashed; the water did not reach it. The Prophet (ﷺ) commanded him to repeat the ablution and prayer. (Sunan abi Dawod)

So the requirements actually is that water reaches each body part which must be covered in this act of cleanness or preparation for worship. The emphasize is on reach which is not necessarily equal to remains. So in case that the water didn't reach a body part it is required to either re-do the ablution or if one is still performing wudu' (ablution) one should wash it again and at least pass on it with the wet hand to have fixed this issue.

Validity of wudu' depending on the origin of a substance on the skin

It should be clear that a substance which was produced by our human body itself shouldn't harm the validity of our wudu' and should rather be regarded as a part of the body. As this would mean a big hardship.

In case of externally applied substances one must do a further distinction. Because some of these may have a "mass" and remain in form of an (additional, noticeable and palpable) layer on the skin and other substances that have no "mass" and don't leave such a layer and are absorbed by the skin after the application.

Distinction between the externally applied substances

I think I've explained the difference between the two kinds of applicable substances, but let me add examples and the corresponding rules.

  1. Substances that have a "mass" or layer that are not absorbed by the skin and remain "on it" if not removed. For example: wax, nail polish, paint, powder like some kinds of make-up and most materials that handyman may get on their skin while doing their work.
    These substances can be peeled or wiped and must be removed in order to make wudu' valid.
  2. Substances that have no such "mass" or layer and are absorbed by the skin and don't remain "on it". For example: oils, creams, kohl traces, henna traces and your tiger balm fall in this category.
    Some of these may cause a kind of hardship in case that efforts to remove them are necessary, for example oil is often used by women for cocking or preparing meals.
    Therefore the rule explained above should be applied -as the best practice- here: When washing the corresponding body parts pass your wet hands on them to ensure that water reaches them.

Imam an-Nawawi said in his al-Majmoo' المجموع (see here and in the following page):
In the following I'll be translating from Arabic language, as these translations are mainly of my own take them carefully!

قال أصحابنا فلو أذاب في شقوق رجليه شحما أو شمعا أو عجينا أو خضبهما بحناء وبقي جرمه لزمه إزالة عينه لأنه يمنع وصول الماء إلى البشرة
Our companions said: If he puts fat or wax or dough on the cracks of his feet, or puts henna on them, and the “mass” or substance of that remains there, he must remove it, because it prevents the water from reaching the skin.

فلو بقي لون الحناء دون عينه لم يضره ويصح وضوءه ولو كان على أعضائه أثر دهن مائع فتوضأ وأمس بالماء البشرة وجرى عليها ولم يثبت صح وضؤه لأن ثبوت الماء ليس بشرط صرح به المتولي وصاحبا العدة والبحر وغيرهم.
If on the other hand the color of henna remained without its mass it wouldn't harm him and his ablution is valid. And if there is a trace of liquid fat on his limbs, then he performs ablution and touches the skin with water and runs over it, and it didn't remain his ablution is valid, because the proof of water is not a condition. This was stated by Al-Mutawali and the two authors of the al-I'dah (either authored by ibn al-'Attar a student of an-Nawawi or most likely abu 'Ali at-Tabari died 350 a.H.) and al-Bahr (authored by abu al-Mahaasin ar-Ruwyaani) and others

The statement above shows the Shafi'i view, note that in case of very small parts of such substances many scholars said that wudu' is valid without any kind of exaggeration of removing, peeling or washing.

Islamqa fatwa #240518 in English and in Arabic fatwa islamweb #137827 and #130251

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