Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher
wa 'alaykum as salam wa rahmatullah
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
Pre-ejaculate (madhy) is a clear, sticky fluid that exits from males and females when they are sexually aroused. It exits in greater quantities from women than from men. The exiting of pre-ejaculate has two main implications:
(1) Pre-ejaculate is filthy (najis): This means that the body parts and clothing that became affected by pre-ejaculate must be purified with water before praying; otherwise, one's prayer will be invalid. Areas affected by most types of filth (such as pre-ejaculate) are purified by first removing all traces of the filth and then pouring water over the area. It is not sufficient to merely sprinkle water as you mention in the question. As such, your understanding of the hadith is incorrect. The correct meaning of the hadith in question is explained below. For a good overview on purifying articles from filth, see:Removing Baby Filth
(2) The exiting of pre-ejaculate invalidates one's wudu: This means that you must perform ablution after the exiting of pre-ejaculate. If you pray without first performing ablution, your prayer will be invalid. You seem to have correctly understood this point from the hadith.
Note that the exiting of pre-ejaculate does not necessitate a purificatory bath (ghusl).
Much of the fiqh relating to pre-ejaculate is derived from the hadith of our master 'Ali (Allah be pleased with him), who said that he was someone who excreted large amounts of pre-ejaculate. Because he was married to the Lady Fatima (Allah be pleased with her)--the Prophet's (Allah bless him and give him peace) daughter--he felt embarrassed asking him regarding it, so he asked another companion, al-Miqdad b. al-Aswad, to ask him on his behalf. Imam Muslim relates three versions of this hadith in the chapter of madhy. In one version, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) replied, "He should wash (ghasl) his penis and make wudu." In another version, he replied, "It calls for wudu." In a third version, he is related to have said, "Make wudu and do naDh of your private part." This final version is the hadith that you seem to be referring to.
At first glance, a non-scholar will immediately translate the word naDh as "sprinkling." Imam Nawawi, in his commentary on Sahih Muslim, mentions that the word naDh can refer to both "sprinkling" and "washing". He then reconciles between the seemingly conflicting narrations by saying that in this hadith, naDh must be interpreted as "washing" and not "sprinkling."
Imam Nawawi then also mentions that the scholars of hadith have differed in their views regarding the chain of transmission (isnad) of the narration that mentions naDh. This hadith was one of the hadiths of the two sahihs that Imam al-Daraqutni criticized. One of the narrators of the hadith (Makhramah b. Bukayr) narrates from his father and there is disagreement among the scholars of hadith whether or not he actually heard any hadiths from his father. Another indication that points to problems in the chain of transmission is that the hadith has been narrated with a slightly different chain by Nasa'i (which is weak by virtue of being a mursal narration), which hints at the possibility that there might be a hidden defect in this particular narration of the hadith.
In conclusion, this discussion points to the necessity of taking rulings from the scholars of fiqh: not from one's own understanding of certain hadiths. Deriving rulings directly from the primary sources is a daunting task, and if one "goes it alone" without seeing what the scholars of fiqh (represented by the four Sunni schools) have to say about the issue, it is likely that one will fall into error. This is not an error that is excusable, for Allah has commanded us to ask those of knowledge if we ourselves know not.
And Allah knows best.
References: Nawawi, al-Minhaj Sharh Sahih Muslim b. al-Hajjaj [Beirut: Dar al-Ma'rifa], Hadiths #694-696.
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