Can Prayer be performed in an Impure Garment?

Islam is a religion easy to practice. This is clarified by the following hadith reported by Al-Bukhari, on the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Religion (Islam) is very easy and whoever goes extremes (in performing religious observances) will not be able to continue in that way. So avoid extremism, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded.”
In the light of this hadith, many juristic rules were deducted to regulate people’s affairs, among these rules or maxims are, “Hardship brings about easiness” and “Necessity dictates exceptions.” Stemming from such brilliant rules of Shari`ah, Muslim scholars maintain flexible rulings for those persons whose garments have been contaminated with impurities and who cannot find a pure garment and also lack means to cleanse their garments.

The Kuwaiti Encyclopedia of Islamic Jurisprudence: The issue of the Prayer of a person who cannot find a pure garment, and thus prays in an impure one, is a controversial one. The Hanafis hold the view that such a person has the choice either to perform Prayer in his impure garment or remove that garment before performing Prayer, in which case he will not be asked to do it again. However, it is better for him to apply the first choice. This is the view of Imam Abu Hanifah and his student Abu Yusuf. As for Muhammad, he says that such a person is allowed only to perform prayer while putting on his impure garment. To Muhammad, performing Prayer while putting on one’s garment, even if it is impure, is better than performing it while being naked. He further elaborates that little impurity does not render one’s Prayer impermissible. Many Muslim scholars maintain this view also. For instance, `Ata’ said: “He who performs Prayer while having seventy drops of blood in his garment, his Prayer is still valid. No one is of the view that it is allowed to pray while being naked in case one has another choice.”

The Malikis and the Hanbalis maintain that a person with nothing but impure garment is allowed to perform Prayer in that garment. But does he need to renew his Prayer after getting a pure garment? The Hanbalis say he must do that regardless of the time he finds it. The Malikis, however, say that he must redo his Prayer only so long as the time of the Prayer has not expired. Once the time of the Prayer is over, there is no need to perform it again. According to the Shafi`is, this person is asked to perform prayer while being naked and he does not have to perform it again.