Question # 26: Is neck part of Wudu’ (ablution)?

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).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: There is no proof in either the Book of Allah or the Sunnah of His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) that wiping the neck is part of wudu’.

Long Answer: Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said:  There is no sahih report from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) which says that he wiped his neck during wudu’, rather no such thing has been narrated from him in any sahih hadith. Rather the sahih ahadith which describe the wudu’ of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) do not mention that he wiped his neck. Hence the majority of scholars, such as Maalik, al-Shafi’i and Ahmed did not regard that as mustahabb. Those who say that it is mustahabb rely on a report narrated from Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) or a da’eef (weak) hadith which says that he wiped his head until he reached the back of his head. Such reports cannot be relied on, and it does not contradict what is indicated by the sound ahadith. Whoever does not wipe his neck, his wudu’ is valid according to scholarly consensus. (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa)

This hadith, “He (صلى الله عليه و سلم) wiped his head until he reached the back of his head (which is the beginning of the back of the head),” was narrated by Abu Dawood and was classed as da’eef by al-Albaani in Da’eef Abi Dawood.

An-Nawawi mentioned a difference of opinion among the companions of al-Shafi’i (may Allah have mercy on him) concerning wiping the neck in wudu’. Then he said: This is a summary of what they said, and they had four views on this matter, one of which is that it is Sunnah to wipe it with new water. The second is that it is mustahabb and cannot be said to be Sunnah. The third is that it is mustahabb to use the water left from wiping the head and ears. The fourth is that it is neither Sunnah nor mustahabb. The fourth view is the one that is correct. Hence al-Shafi’i (may Allah have mercy on him) did not mention it, and neither did our earlier companions. It was not mentioned by most of the scholars. There is no proof of that from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

It is proven in Sahih Muslim and elsewhere that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The worst of matters are those which are newly-invented, and every innovation is a going astray.”

With regard to the hadith that is narrated from Talhah ibn Musarraf, from his father, from his grandfather, which says that he saw the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) wiping his head until he reached the back of his head and the first part of the neck, it is a hadith which is da’eef (weak) according to scholarly consensus.

With regard to the words of al-Ghazali: Wiping the neck is Sunnah because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “Wiping the neck is a protection from the yoke (or chains – al-ghull)”, this is a mistake, because these are not the words of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). (al-Majmoo’)

Ibn al-Qayyim said in Zaad al-Ma’aad: There is no sahih hadith from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) about wiping the neck at all.

Shaykh Ibn Baaz said: It is not mustahabb or prescribed in shari’ah to wipe the neck, rather the head and the ears only are to be wiped, as is indicated by the Qur’an and Sunnah. (Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn Baaz)

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.

Wassalaam