Question # 490: What is All the sunnat of Woodhu (ablution) according to Sunnah found in Sahih Hadith.
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: Wudu’ has fard (obligatory actions without which the ablution is incomplete) as well mustahabb (recommendation actions that if a person does it, he is rewarded and if he does not do it, he is not sinful nor is he blameworthy) parts.
Among the fard parts are the following which must be performed continuously (i.e., lengthy interruption) in the following order (Note: According to Hanafi and Maliki scholars, following order is only Sunnah not obligatory):
- Washing the face completely (at least) once, which includes rinsing the mouth and nose.
- Washing the arms up to the elbows, (at least) once.
- Wiping the entire head, including the ears. (Scholars differed whether wiping the ears is obligatory or Sunnah; the soundest opinion is that if a person forgets to wipe his ears, his wudu’ is still valid)
- Washing the feet up to ankles, (at least) once.
Among the mustahabb parts are the following:
- Having niyyah (intention) of purifying oneself. The place of intention is the heart and not the tongue in all forms of worship.
- Saying Bismillah (either at the beginning of wudu’ or during it)
- Washing hands three times.
- Rinsing mouth three times.
- Rinsing nose three times using the left hand.
- Washing face three times, from the hairline to the jawbone and chin, and from ear to ear.
- Washing the thin beard inside and out or running wet fingers through it, if the beard is thick.
- Washing arms up to the elbows three times.
- Wiping head and ears once with fresh water, not the water leftover from washing his arms. One should put wet hands at the front of the head and take them to the back of the head, and then bring them back to the starting point. Then put index fingers in the ears and wipe the back of the ears with the thumbs. Women should wipe their hair (loose or braided) from the front of the head to the roots of the hair at the nape of the neck, and she does not have to wipe the entire length of the hair. In other words, wipe from the front to the back of the head and not bring the hands back again.
- Washing feet three times up to the ankles.
- Starting from the right limb, before washing the left.
- Reciting the following du’aa on completion of wudu’: “Ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allah wahdahu laa shareeka lah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhu” “Allahumma ij’alni min al-tawwaabeena wa’j’alni min al-mutatahhireen”
Other Matters to be considered while performing wudu’:
- The water must be pure (not impure).
- There is no difference between men and women in the way, the wudu’ should be performed.
- Wiping the neck is not part of wudu’ (Refer Question # 26: Is wiping neck part of Wudu’).
- Removing anything that could prevent water from reaching the skin and nails (e.g., nail polish).
Long Answer: With regard to how wudu’ is to be done, there are two ways.
Obligatory parts of wudu’, which are as follows:
- Washing the face completely once, which includes rinsing the mouth and nose.
- Washing the arms up to the elbows, once.
- Wiping the entire head, including the ears.
Wiping the ears in wudu’ is something that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) always did, and the scholars differed concerning it as to whether it is obligatory or Sunnah. Some of them said that it is obligatory, as is the view of the Hanbalis, because of the report narrated by Ibn Majah from ‘Abd-Allah ibn Zayd (رضي الله عنه) who said: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The ears are part of the head.” There is some difference of opinion as to whether this hadith is sahih; it was classed as sahih by al-Albani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah. If the ears are part of the head, then wiping them in wudu’ is obligatory, as is wiping the head. But the majority are of the view that wiping the ears is Sunnah and mustahabb, but is not obligatory. (See al-Mawsoo‘ah al-Hadeethiyyah)
What is narrated from Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) is that if a person omits to wipe his ears, his wudu’ is still valid.
Ibn Qudamah said in al-Mughni: “The ears are part of the head, so by analogy, our view is that it is obligatory to wipe them when wiping the head.” Al-Khallaal said: “All of them narrated from Abu ‘Abd-Allah concerning the one who does not wipe them, either deliberately or out of forgetfulness, that it is still valid. That is because they belong to the head, but we do not understand that the word head refers to the ears too, and they do not resemble any part of the head. Hence wiping them does not count as wiping the head according to those who say that wiping part of the head is sufficient. But it is better to wipe them when wiping the head because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) wiped them when he wiped his head. Al-Rubayyi‘ narrated that she saw the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) wipe his head, front and back, and his temples and ears once. Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) wiped his head and his ears, inside and out. Al-Tirmidhi said: The hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas and the hadith of al-Rubayyi‘ are both sahih.”
Based on that, if a person forgets to wipe his ears, he is fine and his wudu’ is valid.
- Washing the feet up to ankles, once.
What is meant by once in all the above is that the entire part of the body mentioned must be washed thoroughly.
- This must be done in order, so one washes the face first, then the arms then wipes the head, then washes the feet, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did wudu’ in this order.
The evidence for these obligatory parts of wudu’ is the ayah in which Allah says in the Qur’an: “O you who believe! When you intend to offer As-Salaah (the prayer), wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. If you are in a state of Janaaba (i.e., after a sexual discharge), purify yourselves (bathe your whole body). But if you are ill or on a journey, or any of you comes after answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women (i.e., sexual intercourse), and you find no water, then perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands. Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favor to you that you may be thankful” (Soorah al-Maa’idah, 5:6)
[However,] scholars held different opinions regarding the ruling on observing the prescribed sequence in washing the body parts during the ablution as to whether it is obligatory or an act of the Sunnah. Al-Mawsoo‘ah Al-Fiqhiyyah Al-Kuwaytiyyah (the Kuwaiti Fiqh Encyclopedia) reads: “Observing the prescribed sequence in washing the body parts during the ablution is obligatory according to the Shafi‘i and Hanbali scholars because the body parts (that should be washed during ablution) were mentioned in that specific sequence in the verse.. [5:6 of the Qur’an]. The Hanafi and Maliki scholars, on the other hand, held that it is not obligatory to observe that sequence in washing the body parts during the ablution and maintained that it is rather an act of the Sunnah.”
- This must be done continuously, i.e., the parts of the body must be washed one after the other with no lengthy interruption between washing one part and the next.
These are the obligatory parts of wudu’ that must be done in order for wudu’ to be sound.
Mustahabb parts of wudu’. These were narrated in the Sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), the details of which are as follows:
- You must have the intention of purifying yourself and removing impurity. The intention should not be spoken out loud for its place is in the heart. This applies to all acts of worship.
- You should say Bismillah. [Imam Ahmad was of the view that it is obligatory.]
- Then you should wash your hands three times.
- Then you should rinse your mouth three times, swirling the water around inside your mouth, and rinse your nose three times, blowing the water out and using the left hand to remove the water from your nose.
- You should wash your face three times, from the hairline to the jawbone and chin, and from ear to ear. A man should wash the hair of his beard because it is part of the face. If his beard is thin he has to wash it inside and out, and if it is thick and covers the skin, he should wash the surface of it only and run his wet fingers through it.
- Then he should wash his arms up to the elbows three times. The arm extends from the fingertips, including the nails, to the lower part of the upper arm. It is essential to remove anything stuck to the hands before washing them, such as dough, mud, paint, etc., that could prevent the water from reaching the skin.
- Then after that, he should wipe his head and ears once with fresh water, not the water leftover from washing his arms. The way in which the head is to be wiped is that you put your wet hands at the front of your head and bring them to the back of your head, then bring them back to the place where you started. Then put your index fingers in your ears and wipe the back of the ears with your thumbs. With regard to a woman’s hair, she should wipe it whether it is loose or braided from the front of her head to the roots of the hair at the nape of her neck, but she does not have to wipe the entire length of her hair.
Al-Nawawi said in Sharh Muslim that the scholars are unanimously agreed that this is mustahabb. This is proven in a number of ahadith from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated from ‘Abd-Allah ibn Zayd (رضي الله عنه) that he described the wudu’ of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم): … Then he wiped his head with his hands, front to back. He started at the front of the head and (wiped) until his hands reached the back of the head, then he brought them back to where he started.
Abu Dawood narrated that Mu’aawiyah (رضي الله عنه) did wudu’ for the people as he had seen the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) doing wudu’. When he reached his head, he scooped up some water into his left hand and put his hands onto the middle of his head until the water dripped down or almost dripped down. Then he wiped it from front to back, and from back to front. (Classed as sahih by al-Albani in Saheeh Abi Dawood)
Abu Dawood narrated that al-Miqdaam ibn Ma’di Yakrib (رضي الله عنه) said: I saw the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) doing wudu’. When he reached the wiping of his head, he put his hands at the front of his head (and wiped) until he reached the back, then he brought them back to the place where he had started. (Classed as sahih by al-Albani in Saheeh Abi Dawood)
The way in which a woman – and a man whose hair is long – should wipe the head when doing wudu’ is what is narrated in the hadeeth of al-Rubayyi’ bint Mu’awwidh (رضي الله عنها). Ahmad and Abu Dawood narrated from her that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did wudu’ in her house, and he wiped his entire head from the crown of the head, all the way to the back of the head, and he did not disturb or ruffle the hair. (Classed as hasan by al-Albani in Saheeh Abi Dawood) …the preferred method for women is to wipe the head in the first manner, or to wipe from the front to the back of the head and not to bring the hands back again. This is another interpretation of the hadith of al-Rubayyi’.
- Then you should wash your feet three times up to the ankles, namely the bones at the bottom of the leg.
- [Starting on the right in the case of the hands/arms and feet, before the left.]
The evidence for that is the hadith narrated by Humraan the freed slave of ‘Uthmaan, who said that ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan (رضي الله عنه) called for water to do wudu’. He washed his hands three times, then he rinsed his mouth and nose, then he washed his face three times, then he washed his right arm up to the elbow three times, then he washed his left arm likewise. Then he wiped his head, then he washed his right foot up to the ankle three times, then he washed his left foot likewise. Then he said, “I saw the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) doing wudu’ as I have done it, then the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, ‘Whoever does wudu’ as I have done it, then prays two rak’ahs in which he focuses completely on his prayer, his previous sins will be forgiven.’” (Narrated by Muslim)
The conditions of wudu’ are: being Muslim, being of sound mind, having reached the age of discernment, and having the intention of doing wudu’. Wudu’ is not valid on the part of a kaafir, an insane person, a small child who has not yet reached the age of discernment, or one who does not have the intention of doing wudu’ because his intention is to cool himself down, for example. The water must also be pure (taahir), for impure (naajis) water cannot be used for wudu’. One must also remove anything that could prevent water from reaching the skin and nails, such as nail polish.
It is prescribed to say Bismillah according to the majority of scholars, but they differ as to whether it is obligatory or Sunnah. If one remembers to say it, it may be said either at the beginning of wudu’ or during it.
There is no difference between men and women in the way wudu’ should be done.
It is mustahabb to say when one has completed wudu’: “Ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allah wahdahu laa shareeka lah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhu (I bear witness that there is no god except Allah alone with no partner or associate, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah),” because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “There is no one among you who does wudu’ and does it properly and does it well, then he says, ‘Ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allah wahdahu laa shareeka lah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhu,’ but the gates of Paradise will be opened to him and he may enter through whichever of them he wishes.” (Narrated by Muslim). A report narrated by al-Tirmidhi adds: “Allahumma ij’alni min al-tawwaabeena wa’j’alni min al-mutatahhireen (O Allah, make me one of those who repent and make me one of those who purify themselves).” (Classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood) (See al-Mulakhkhas al-Fiqhi by al-Fawzaan)
With regard to your saying “may Allah have mercy on the Prophet”, what is prescribed in Islam is to send blessings and peace upon him, as Allah commanded us to do when He (سبحانه و تعالى) said: “Allah sends His Salah (Graces, Honors, Blessings, Mercy) on the Prophet (Muhammad), and also His angels (ask Allah to bless and forgive him). O you who believe! Send your Salaah on (ask Allah to bless) him (Muhammad), and (you should) greet (salute) him with the Islamic way of greeting (salutation, i.e. As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum)” (Soorah al-Ahzaab, 33:56)
(The above reply is based on various answers on similar topics provided by:
- Islamqa.info; and
- Islamweb.net, a web site belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.