Please clear up this problem that is leading me into MAJOR waswasa. I did some house painting a while ago. I washed off all traces of paint with white spirit (a cleaning fluid) thoroughly before prayer. The next day I saw very tiny specs of paint on my feet. I washed these off, checked for any other remaining specs and repeated my prayers. Later in the week I noticed small flecks of white stuff on my finger nails. By looking at it, it seems to be dried paint rather than the dead bits of skin that remain on the finger nails.
Can I take the default assumption that the flecks are not paint or do I have to repeat all the missed prayers? Will I be punished for not cleaning it off properly in the first place?
Islam is a religion of mercy. It never holds one accountable for doing something that was beyond one’s capacity or capability. Thus, one is never sinful for doing something wrong out of mistake, forgetfulness or compulsion.
Allah Most High says:
“On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear.” (Surah al-Baqarah, V. 286)
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “My Ummah has been excused from committing something out of mistake, forgetfulness and being forced.” (Recorded by al-Tabrani)
Thus firstly, you are not sinful for having these tiny specks of paint on your body, for you had washed your hands and feet properly at the first instance, according to your ability.
As far as the specks of paint are concerned, they must be removed and washed before performing Wudu, hence Wudu will not be considered valid with these specks of paint, for the paint acts as a barrier for water reaching beneath it.
If you are sure that these are specks of paint, then you should wash them off and repeat your prayers. At the same time, you must avoid misgivings (waswasa), hence look properly and thoroughly at your hands, feet, face, etc, wash the specks of paint, and make sure no specks are left and then perform Wudu and repeat the prayers.
Thereafter, you need not repeat anything unless you are absolutely sure that some paint was left since the time you had painted. Mere doubts will not do anything.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK