Published in  
October 4, 2020

Wudhu | Book of Purification | Umadatul Fiqh

In the word wudhu (الوضوء‎) we see that there is a dhamma over the و. This signifies the action of making wudhu. If there is a fatha then this is the water which we use to make wudhu.

al-Wudhu means to use water to cleanse specific parts of the body as an act of worship.

All acts of worship need an intention to be valid. This is based on the Hadith of Umar which states that: I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say:

إنَّمَا الْأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّاتِ، وَإِنَّمَا لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مَا نَوَى

“Actions are (judged) by motives (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended.”

It is a condition for an act of worship to be legitimate and be accepted.

The person then says, “Bismillah”. As per the madhab saying the Basmalah is Wajib. As per this, the one who doesn’t say “Bismillah” before Wudhu, then their wudhu is invalid. Imam Ibn Qudamah leans to another opinion in the madhab which classifies it to be Sunnah Mustahab and not Wajib in agreement with the Jumhoor (Majority of Jurists).

The safest opinion is that Wudhu is not valid without mentioning the Name of Allah.

Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

لاَ صَلاَةَ لِمَنْ لاَ وُضُوءَ لَهُ وَلاَ وُضُوءَ لِمَنْ لَمْ يَذْكُرِ اسْمَ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى عَلَيْهِ

The prayer of a person who does not perform ablution is not valid, and the ablution of a person who does not mention the name of Allah (in the beginning) is not valid. [Sunan Abi Dawud]

Imam Ahmed doubted the authenticity of this narration, yet it is a position in the madhab.

Methodology of Wudhu

Allah teaches us in the Quran,

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُوا وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَىٰ أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَامَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوا صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًا فَامْسَحُوا بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُم مِّنْهُ مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَٰكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of janabah, then purify yourselves. But if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and do not find water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and hands with it. Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful.  [Surah al-Maidah, Ayah 6]

  • The person washes both his palms 3 times and this initial washing of the hands is Sunnah Mustahab. The Ayah in Surah al-Maidah at the beginning didn’t mention the hands that’s why it is Mustahab. What the Ayah mentions is taken as obligatory to be washed and anything other than that is recommend as a Sunnah.
  • The person rinses the mouth and the nose 3 times with 3 scoops of water. The person sniffs water into the nose and then sniffs it out.
    This means that one handful of water will rinse both mouth and nose in one go. The person takes water into the mouth leaving some in the hand and then uses the remaining for the nose.
    Another narrations narrates that a person takes a single scoop and washes the mouth and the nostrils using that one scoop thrice. If a person takes one scoop for the mouth and then another for the nose then the wudhu is still valid but what is closer to the Sunnah is mentioned above.
  • The person washes the face 3 times from the forehead where the hairline generally begins to the chin including the beard and from one ear to the other. This is the boundary of the face which is Wajib to wash.
  • According to the madhab taking water into the mouth and the nose and rinsing it out is Wajib as they consider the mouth and the nose as part of the face. They opine that that is what is seen from a person face very apparently. Also placing water in the mouth or more doesn’t invalidate the fast. Similarly, placing alcohol in the mouth without drinking it doesn’t make a person liable to the Shariah punishment. Another argument they bring forth to support their position is that a child doesn’t become mahram to a woman as long as he doesn’t drink the milk placed on his tongue. This is from the Mufradat of the Hanabila.This position is contrary to that held by the majority of the scholars who deem it to be Sunnah Mustahab and not Wajib.
  • If the lihya (area covered by the beard) is thick then it is Sunnah to wash it and let the water get inside the beard by splashing it with water. But if the lihya is light where the skin can be seen then it becomes wajib that the person makes the water reach the skin.
  • The person washes the hand from the fingertips till the elbow. This washing is Wajib. A common mistake is that people start washing from the wrists instead of the tip of the fingers. Such a wudhu is invalidated since it does not fulfil the criteria of that which is obligatory. This washing is done 3 times. The first wash is Wajib and the consequent 2 washes are Sunnah Mustahab.
  • A complete wash entails that no part is left dry when a person is moving from the tip of the fingers to the elbow. If some part is left dry then the first wash is incomplete and it is not covered for by the consequent washes.
    The Ayah mentions washing till the elbow. The Sunnah clarifies and explains that it means including the elbow also. As per linguistics what comes after ila is also included in that which is to be washed.
  • The person wipes over the head including the ears. He starts from the start of the forehead all the way to the back and then back again to the front. The entire head is to be wiped and not just a few hairs.Some scholars say that wiping over the width of 3 fingers of hair is also valid, but to be on the safe side it is better to wipe the whole head for these are matters of Ibadah and a person should do that which brings surety of acceptance. We should avoid that which is differed over and choose that which has a stronger position.As per Ibn Qudamah, the inclusion of the ears is Sunnah. As per another narration in the madhab it is considered to be wajib as it is part of the head. Other scholars (Jumhoor) say that it is Sunnah Mustahab and not Wajib.
  • The person washes the feet from the toes up and including the ankles. This is the joint which joins the feet to the leg. The first wash is Wajib and the consequent washes after this are Sunnah Mustahab.

If we look at the ayah of wudhu we see that all that needs to be washed is mentioned with a fathah – وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ and that which is to be wiped has a kasrah –  بِرُءُوسِكُمْ

But since the feet are mentioned after the order of wiping, are they to be wiped too? The feet mentioned here – وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ has a fathah on it, indicating washing and not wiping. Why is it mentioned later though? Because the order as Allah has ordered needs to be followed. The Rafidah don’t wash the feet but rather wipe it instead based on their readings. Ulema in their Tafaseer write that the other recitation of the Quran with the Kasrah is for when a person is wearing khuff and then they should wipe over it. This is how we reconcile between the two narrations.

The person should let the water to get between the toes. This is more authentically established than letting the water reach between the fingers while washing the hands. This is from the Sunnah.

  • After this the person should look towards the sky and recite the mentioned dua.

Narrated ‘Umar: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said: “If one after performing ablution completely recites the following supplication:

أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ

‘I testify that there is no one worthy of worship but Allah, He is Alone and has no partner and Muhammad ﷺ is his slave and Messenger’, all the eight gates of Paradise will be opened for him and he may enter through any gate he wishes”. [Muslim]

Raising eyes to the heavens has no authentic proof from the Sunnah.

After the dua mentioned above, there is another addition to it as recorded by Imam at-Tirmidhi in his Jami’

اَللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْنِي مِنَ التَّوَّابِينَ وَ اجْعَلْنِي مِنَ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ

O Allah! Make me among those who are Repentant and of those who purify themselves
The addition of the dua from Tirmidhi is weak and it’s better not to recite it here. Restrict oneself to the Shahada.

Narrated Humran, the manumitted slave of Uthman:

أَنَّ عُثْمَانَ ‏- رضى الله عنه ‏- دَعَا بِوَضُوءٍ, فَغَسَلَ كَفَّيْهِ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ, ثُمَّ مَضْمَضَ, وَاسْتَنْشَقَ, وَاسْتَنْثَرَ, ثُمَّ غَسَلَ وَجْهَهُ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ, ثُمَّ غَسَلَ يَدَهُ اَلْيُمْنَى إِلَى اَلْمِرْفَقِِ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ, ثُمَّ اَلْيُسْرَى مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ, ثُمَّ مَسَحَ بِرَأْسِهِ, ثُمَّ غَسَلَ رِجْلَهُ اَلْيُمْنَى إِلَى اَلْكَعْبَيْنِ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ, ثُمَّ اَلْيُسْرَى مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ, ثُمَّ قَالَ: رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اَللَّهِ صَلَّى عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ تَوَضَّأَ نَحْوَ وُضُوئِي هَذَا.

Uthman called for water to perform ablution. He washed palms of his hands three times, then rinsed his mouth and sniffed water in his nose and then blew it out. He then washed his face three times. Thereafter he washed his right hand up to his elbow three times, then the left one likewise, then he passed wet hands on his head. Then he washed his right foot up to the ankle three times, then the left one likewise. He then said, “I saw Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) performing ablution like this ablution of mine”. [Agreed upon]

Wajibat of Wudhu

  • Intention – It is the position of the majority of the scholars that niyyah is obligatory. If a person goes to wash his face but ends up doing wudhu, then such a wudhu is considered invalid.
  • To wash every part ad mentioned in the Ayah and to wash it one time is obligatory. The second and third time is Sunnah and not obligatory. A person doesn’t get sin on missing out on the second or third washing.
  • To wipe the entirety of the head as per the madhab is obligatory.
  • This wudhu should be performed in the same order as mentioned in the Ayah of Surah al-Maidah. What confirms this is the wiping of the head between the washes. Face and hand are washed and then the face.When matters differ in their methodology but are mentioned together then it is gathered from this that they were intended to be performed in that said manner. According to the Arabic language similar actions are placed in a similar place. Had the order not been meant to be followed, wiping the head wouldn’t be mentioned in the middle of a series of washing of the limbs.
    So if anyone starts from any other limb like washing the hands and then onward then such a wudhu is invalid.
  • Issue of Muala – The washing of the next limb should not be delayed so much so that the previous limb dries. If a person gets a call in the middle of the wudhu which last a minute, then they can return and resume wudhu from they left for the previous limb wouldn’t have dried in just a minute. But if the call was long and the limb has dried then the wudhu has to be initiated again from the very beginning.They base this ruling on the hadith, Abdullah bin Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ lagged behind us on a journey. We travelled (back) and be took him; and then came the time of the afternoon prayer, and as we were going to wipe our feet he (the Holy Prophet) called out:

وَيْلٌ لِلأَعْقَابِ مِنَ النَّارِ

Woe to the heels because of Hell-fire. [Sahih Muslim]

The same hadith has been narrated on the authority of Aishah and Abu Hurairah. The person must redo the wudhu for that which is dry and pray.

  • at-Tasmiyah is Sunnah as per the second position of the madhab and this is the position preferred by Ibn Qudamah. The madhab, as mentioned before deems it to be obligatory. Other scholars (Jumhoor) who accept this Hadith say that the negation alluded to here is not to the validity of the wudhu but rather to the completeness and perfection of the wudhu.
  • Washing the palms to the wrists at the beginning of the wudhu is Sunnah.
  • Istinshaq and Istinthar. Exaggerate in rinsing unless the person is fasting. To exaggerate is Sunnah and what is obligatory is to let the water reach the front part of the mouth and the nostrils. The legislation of rinsing the mouth (at-Tamad-mada), putting water in the nose (al-Istinshaaq) and blowing it out (al-Istinthaar) in this order.
  • To let the water get into the lihya with the fingers if the beard is thick. But if it is thin and skin can be seen then it is wajib to get the water to the skin.
  • It is Sunnah to get water into the middle of the fingers and the toes by using the fingers of the right hand to do so. This is called Takhleel.
  • As per Ibn Qudamah wiping the ears is not an obligation but rather a Sunnah. As per another statement in the madhab it is wajib. It is not necessary to take new water for the ears. What is left after wiping the head is sufficient for wiping the ears. One puts the index fingers in the ears to clean it from the inside and the thumb to clean the back of the ears.
  • Some parts of the body have a companion meaning they are in pairs. Such parts should be started by washing the right and then the left and this is the Sunnah. If one starts with the left then the wudhu is still valid for it is the same limb but the reward of the Sunnah is missed out as well as the perfection of the wudhu is reduced.
    According to the madhab, to wash more than 3 times is makruh. Extravagance in using water is also makruh.

The Prophet used to perform wudhu with a Mudd of water which is around 2 handfulls. He used to do Ghusl with a Saa’ of water which is around 4 handfulls or 5 handfulls as per another narration.

From the Sunnah is to use the siwak if the taste of mouth changes, when one wakes up from sleep, or when one stands for prayer. This refers to the twig used to clean the mouth as well as the verb, which is the action of doing so. The term siwak is applied to any instrument that is used to clean the mouth be it wooden or not. It is better to use the siwak which got from the arak tree for that was the one used by the companions of the Prophet and is much more easier to carry around and fulfil this Sunnah.

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said “Had I not feared burdening my Ummah, I would have commanded them to use Siwak before every Salat” [Reported by Malik, Ahmad and An-Nasai]

It is Mustahab to use the siwak at every time except for anyone fasting after the time of Dhuhr enters which is when the Sun has reached the meridian and moves slightly towards the West till Maghrib.

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet ﷺ said,

كُلُّ عَمَلِ ابْنِ آدَمَ لَهُ، إِلاَّ الصَّوْمَ فَإِنَّهُ لِي، وَأَنَا أَجْزِي بِهِ، وَلَخَلُوفُ فَمِ الصَّائِمِ أَطْيَبُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ مِنْ رِيحِ الْمِسْكِ

“(Allah said), ‘Every good deed of Adam’s son is for him except fasting; it is for Me. and I shall reward (the fasting person) for it.’ Verily, the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better to Allah than the smell of musk.” [Bukhari]

The Prophet used to use the siwak at all times and there were no instances recorded where the Prophet indicated prohibition or his dislike of using the siwak to the sahaba.

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