- This article is about Hygiene in Islam.
Wudu (Arabic: الوضوء al-wuḍū', Persian:آبدست ābdast, Turkish: abdest, Urdu: وضو wazū') is the Islamic act of washing parts of the body using water. Muslims are required to perform wudu in preparation for ritual prayers and for handling and reading the Qur'an. Wudu is often translated as "partial ablution", as opposed to ghusl, or "full ablution".
The Qur'anic mandate for wudu comes in the sixth ayat of sura 5 (Al-Ma'ida):
"O you who believe! when you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles; and if you are under an obligation to perform a total ablution, then wash (yourselves) and if you are sick or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy, or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth and wipe your faces and your hands therewith, God does not desire to put on you any difficulty, but He wishes to purify you and that He may complete His favor on you, so that you may be grateful."
There are other acts that are performed during wudu (coming from the sunnah of Muhammad and Sunni Islamic scholars) and the detailed acts of the wudu can be classed into 3 types:
Farā'id of wudu
There are four fard
(obligatory) acts. If one of these acts is omitted, it must be returned to and then completion of the successive acts are to be performed.
- Washing the face.
- Washing the arms.
- Wiping the head (in the manner of anointment).
- Wiping the feet to the ankles.
Sunan of wudu
(Optional - practised by Muhammad
according to Sunni Hadiths
) acts. If one of these acts is omitted, it should be completed.
- Washing the hands.
- Rinsing the mouth.
- Sniffing water and blowing it out
- Wetting the hands to rub the ears.
- Rubbing the ears.
- Doing the acts of ablution in order.
- Doing the the acts of ablution perpetually.
- Using 1 Mudd (~688-750 g) of water (approximately 3/4 litre or 24 fl. oz.)
Mustahabbāt of wudu
A handful of mustahab
(recommended) acts that are considered to make the wudu better. If one of these acts is omitted, the wudu is still considered valid.
- Reciting the bismillah before commencement of wudu
- Reciting the shahadah after the ablution
- Brushing the teeth before ablution.
- Repetition of each act 3 times.
- Choosing a clean place for ablution.
- Not wasting water in ablution.
Performance of wudu
Performance of wudu according to Sunni Muslims
- Start by making niyyah (intention) to perform wudu and cleanse the self of impurities.
- Say bismillah ("In the Name of Allah (God)").
- Wash the right hand up to the wrist (and between the fingers) three times, then similarly for the left hand.
- Rinse the mouth and spit out the water three times.
- Gently put water into the nostrils with the right hand, pinch the top of the nose with the left hand to exhale the water. This is performed three times.
- Wash the face (from the hairline on the forehead to where facial hair begins and ear to ear). This is to be performed three times.
- Wash the entire right arm, including the hand, up to the elbow three times; then the left arm three times.
- Wet hands and starting with your hands flat on the top of your head near the hairline, wipe them to the back of the neck and back again to the front. This is only done once. This act is called masah. One may make masah over a Muslim head cap.
- With wet fingers, place thumbs at backs of ears, use index finger on curves of ear and middle finger to wash the ears (front and back). This is only done once. This is called making masah the ears.
- Starting with the right foot, wash both feet from the toes up to the ankles.
- Recite the shahadah.
An essential part of wudu it is to wash the nose three times in a peculiar way which we are going to describe:
Put water in the hand and sniff it hard until it the water reach the pharynx, then blow it out hard, this has to be repeated three times.
It has many benefits:
1-It Keep the nose which the normal breathing way open all times & no breathing through the mouth which means:
The inspired air ;
-is clean of dust and any other foreign bodies.
-Of normal temperature/ not very cold and not very hot.
-Of normal humidity and/ not dry.
2-The water passing through the nose have an effect on the orifices of the nasal sinuses to keep them open, also stimulating these sinuses to empty their secretion, preventing their acute and chronic infection.
3-The passing of the water up to the mouth has a cleansing effect on the pharynx and the tonsils preventing their inflammation. Treating the acute and preventing the chronic one.
4-This action seems to increase the resistance of the mucous membrane to infection by common cold viruses, and even when an infection by these viruses established it is not going to last more than a day or two.
5-It reduces the allergic reaction of the mucous membrane of the nasal cavity reducing the nasal polyps formation which could be as a result of an allergy reaction.
Performance of wudu according to Shia Muslims
Wudu must be performed on the skin except in the case of the wiping of the head (unless there is an obstacle that isn't naturally there, such as a combover). If there are bandages stopping one from wiping the skin of the arms, face, etc., then it is permissible to wipe the bandage.
- Make the intention to perform wudu in the heart.
- Shape the right hand like a cup and take water into it. Afterwards, pour the water on the top of the forehead and wipe down with the right hand. It is obligatory to wash from the area where the hair normally grows to the chin.
- Shape the left hand like a cup and take water into it. Afterwards, pour this water onto your right forearm and wash your right forearm (covering the right forearm in water, leaving no spot dry). Wipe from the elbow to the fingers, and not from the fingers to the elbow.
- Repeat this process except with the left forearm.
- Without taking more water, wipe your hair from the middle down to the forehead, or vice versa, using the index finger of your right hand; it is mustahab to use three fingers. If you are balding, you would wash your hair as if it were growing when you had a full head of hair. It is not permissible to wipe the hair over an obstacle (such as wiping a hat or a turban instead of the hair/skin). It is not obligatory to wipe the actual skin on the head. If, however, the hair isn't growing from the area you are wiping (such as if you have a combover), then you must move the hair to where it belongs and wipe the skin.
- Without taking more water, wipe the top of your right foot with your right hand. You only wipe once and with a swiping motion. It is unallowed to wipe the shoe, sock, etc. You MUST wipe the skin of the feet unless there is an extreme reason.
- Do the same thing, except using your left hand and wiping your left foot.
This is based on the 6th Ayat of Surah al-Ma'ida (Qur'an 5:6) which states:
"O you who believe! when you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles..."
Imam Ali and the other Imams have stated that there are Mustahab, or recommended actions to wudu along with the above mentioned method. These acts are recommended:
- Washing the hands twice.
- Gargling the mouth three times.
- Rinsing the nose three times.
- Washing the face twice and the arms twice. It should be noted that it is not permissible to wipe the head and the feet twice (unless it is because one missed a spot) and that it is not permissible to wash the face and the arms three times.
There is no sin in leaving these out, but by doing them you will be rewarded by Allah. These extra acts are to be seen as Mustahab and it is forbidden to think of them as obligatory. These Mustahab acts of wudu are stated in Shia Hadiths.
Qur'an Alone Muslims
1. Wash the face
2. Wash the arms to the elbows
3. Wipe the head
4. WIPE the feet to the ankles.
This is based on the 6th Ayat of Surah al-Ma'ida (Qur'an 5:6) which states:
"O you who believe! when you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, WIPE your heads and your feet to the ankles..."
Wudhu gives a sense of cleanliness both spiritually and physically. As well as that, wudhu shows a sign of respect to Allah as one is clean in the presence of Him i.e. during prayer.
Invalidation of wudu
Theoretically, one can perform one wudu for fajr salaat and this wudu would be considered valid for the rest of the day. However, certain things invalidate the wudu (often referred to as "breaking wudu") and these can be stated generically thus:
- Defecation, passing gas or urination.
- Emission of semen.
- Passing blood.
- Loss of senses.
The four schools of Islamic jurisprudence specify these conditions in more detail and include other conditions too.
Abu Hanifa interpreted "touched the women" to mean sexual intercourse, whereas Shafi'i interpreted it literally, meaning one must make wudu after making physical contact with a member of the opposite sex.
Wudu according to various Islamic Schools of Law
The four schools of Islamic fiqh differ on some issues regarding the performance of wudu and it's invalidation.
Tayammum is a "dry ablution" using clean soil, rock, or sand and is to be performed when water is not readily available to perform ablution or when one is defiled (on janabah) and could not perform ghusl. See
- Laws Governing Ritual Purity
- Description of Ablution on IslamiCity
- Lemu, B. A., Islamic Aqidah and Fiqh: A Textbook of Islamic Belief and Jurisprudence (revised and expanded edition of Tawhid and Fiqh), IQRA' International Education Foundation, Chicago, 1997.
- Dr. Mamdouh N. Mohamed. Salaat: The Islamic Prayer from A to Z. 2003.