Wudu

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The al-Kas fountain in the Al-Aqsa Mosque

Wuḍūʾ (Arabic: الوضوءal-wuḍūʼ [wʊˈdˤuːʔ]) is the Islamic procedure for washing parts of the body, a type of ritual purification, or ablution. Wudu involves washing the hands, mouth, nostrils, arms, head and feet with water and is an important part of ritual purity in Islam. What activities require wuḍūʾ, what rituals constitute it and what breaks or invalidates it are governed by fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence)[1] and specifically its rules concerning hygiene.

Wuḍūʾ in other languages is Persian: آب‌دست or دست‌نمازābdast or dast-namāz Urdu: وضوء‎ / ALA-LC: wuz̤ūʾ IPA: [wʊzuː]; Turkish: abdest; Albanian: abdest; Bengali: অযু ôzu; Indonesian: wudhu; Chechen: Ламаз эцар/Lamaz ecar; Bosnian: abdest; Kurdish: destniwêj (دەست نوێژ)‎; Somali: weeso.

Wuḍūʾ is typically done in preparation for formal prayers (salat) and also before handling and reading the Qur'an.[1] Impurifying activities that invalidate wudu include urination, defecation, flatulence, deep sleep, light bleeding and sexual intercourse.[2]

Wuḍūʾ is often translated as "partial ablution", as opposed to ghusl ("full ablution"), washing the whole body, or tayammum ("dry ablution"), replacing water with sand or dust due to its scarcity, its harmful effect on the person or some other reason.[3] Purification of the body and clothes is called taharah.

Basis in Quran and hadith[edit]

The Qur'an says "For God loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean."[4] In regard to Muslims being required to be clean when handling and reading the Qur'an, the Qur'an says "Which none shall touch but those who are clean."[5] The Islamic prophet Muhammad said that "Cleanliness is half of faith".[6]

Water requirements[edit]

Permitted water types[edit]

  • Spring, sea or river water
  • Water of melting snow or hail
  • Water of a big tank or pond
  • Well water

Prohibited water types[edit]

  • Unclean or impure water
  • Water extracted from fruit and trees
  • Water that has changed its colour, taste and smell and has become thick because something was soaked in it
  • Small quantity of water in which something unclean has fallen, e.g. urine, blood, stool or wine or some animal had died after falling into it
  • Water left over after drinking by haraam animals (e.g. pigs or predatory animals)
  • Used water of wuḍūʾ or ghusl (according to the opinion of the Hanbali School)

Acts of wudū[edit]

Individual Wudu units at the University of Sheffield, UK
A wudu tap in Al-Ittihad Mosque, Pekanbaru. This kind of tap is common in Indonesian and Singaporean mosques.
Basin for ablutions of the Jama Masjid, Ahmedabad, India

There are four fard (obligatory) acts. If one of these acts is omitted, it must be returned to and then the succeeding acts completed.

There are other acts that are performed during wuḍūʾ (coming from the sunnah of Islamic prophet Muhammad and Sunni Islamic scholars) and the detailed acts of the wuḍūʾ can be classed into 3 types:

Farā'id according to Sunni Muslims[edit]

According to Sunni Muslims, the Qur'anic mandate for wuḍūʾ comes in the sixth ayat of sura 5. The ayat has been translated by Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Rashad Khalifa, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Pickthal and Maulana Muhammad Ali as follows. Note that these scholars' translation refer to washing the feet.

O ye who believe! when ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles. If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body. But if ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands, Allah doth not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete His favour to you, that ye may be grateful.

— Al-Ma'ida, Sura 5, Ayah 6[7]
  • Washing the face thrice.
  • Washing both the arms including the elbows thrice.
  • Performing masah of one-fourth of the head.
  • Washing both the feet once up to and including the ankles. It's not sufficient for one to pass wet hand over the feet or shoes. Under certain conditions masah can be done over leather socks known as khuffs.[8]
  1. Narrated by Abd-Allah ibn Amr: "...we were just passing wet hands over our feet (not washing them thoroughly) so he addressed us in a loud voice saying twice or thrice, 'Save your heels from the fire.'."[9]
  2. Narrated by 'Ubaid Ibn Juraij: "...and he used to perform ablution while wearing the shoes (i.e. wash his feet and then put on the shoes)."[10]
  3. Narrated by Yahya Al-Mazini: " 'Can you show me how Allah's Apostle used to perform ablution?' ...and washed his feet (up to the ankles)."[11]
  4. Narrated by 'Amr: "...and then he washed his feet up to the ankles."[12]
  5. Narrated by Humran: "...and washed his feet up to the ankles..."[13]
  6. Narrated by 'Amr bin Yahya: "...and washed his feet up to the ankles..."[14]
  7. Narrated by 'Abdullah bin Zaid: "...and washed his feet (up to the ankles)."[15]

Farā'id according to Shia Muslims[edit]

Ablution in the Jameh Mosque of Isfahan, Iran
People washing before prayer at the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan
Muslims performing ablution prior to Salat or other prayers

According to Shia Muslims the Qur'anic mandate for wuḍūʾ comes in the sixth ayat of sura 5. The ayat has been translated by Muhammad Habib Shakir as follows. Note this scholars translation refers to wiping the feet.

O ye who believe! when ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and your feet to the ankles. If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body. But if ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands, Allah doth not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete His favour to you, that ye may be grateful.

— Al-Ma'ida, Sura 5, Ayah 6[7]
  • Washing the face once or twice with your right hand.
  • Washing both the arms including the elbows once or twice(left hand washed the right arm and then right hand washes the left arm).
  • Wiping one fourth of the head with the water left on your right hand.
  • Wiping both the feet once up to and including the ankles once with the water remaining on both hands(right hand , right foot. left hand, left foot).

Mustahabbāt (recommended acts)[edit]

A handful of mustahabb (recommended) acts that are considered to make the wuḍūʾ better. If one of these acts is omitted, the wuḍūʾ is still considered valid.

  • Reciting the shahadah after the ablution.
  • During wuḍūʾ one should not engage in worldly talk.
  • Choosing a clean place for ablution.
  • Not wasting water in ablution.
  • Starting from the right side and then the left.

Contentions[edit]

Muslims who are unable to perform the prevailing form of ablution, due to skin disease, a disability or lack of clean water, etc. are recommended to perform tayammum, sometimes called "dry ablution", using sand or dust instead of water.[3] Such an alternative form of ritual purity may also be accepted in cases where one fears the acquisition of hypothermia in cold weather.[16]

Performance[edit]

According to Sunni Muslims[edit]

Sunni Muslims perform the following:[17]

  • Start by making niyyah (intention) to perform wuḍūʾ and cleanse the self of impurities.
  • Recite bismillah.
  • Wash the right hand up to the wrist (and between the fingers) three times, then similarly for the left hand.
  • Next, rinse the mouth and spit out the water three times and rub the teeth with a miswak. If a miswak is not available then one should use the finger;
  • Some water should be taken in the right hand and sniffed into the nostrils thrice and then blown out. The left hand should be used for cleaning the nose.
  • 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 and including the elbow three times; then the left arm three times. Pass fingers of one hand between the fingers of the other hand. If wearing a ring it should be moved freely to allow water to pass under it.
  • Then perform masah. Wet hands should be passed all over the head; then the first finger of the right and left hand should be moved in the right and left ears respectively and in the same operation thumbs should be passed around the ears; then pass the backs of the hands over the hind part of the neck only. Hands should not be passed around the fore-neck as it is prohibited. This is only done once. One may not make masah over a Muslim head cap.
  • Starting with the right foot, wash both feet from the toes up to and including the ankles thrice. The little finger of the left hand should be passed between the toes of both the feet beginning from the little toe of the right foot and ending with the little toe of the left foot.
  • Recite the shahadah.
  • Offer two-rak'at prayer.
  • Make sure all parts of body to be washed for wudu should completely be wet before the other is washed until the wudu is completed.

Invalidation[edit]

Wudu tap at Macau Mosque, Macau, China

Theoretically, one can perform one wuḍūʾ for salaat and this wuḍūʾ would be considered valid for the rest of the day. However, traditionally Muslims believe that certain acts invalidate the wuḍūʾ (often referred to as "breaking wuḍūʾ" and "losing wuḍūʾ") and these can be stated generically thus, although the Quran does not explain most of these:

According to Sunni Muslims[edit]

  • Defecation or urination
  • Odorous or audible emissions of flatulence
  • Emission of semen (ghusl is required)
  • Slow-wave sleep while reclining
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of senses
  • Fainting
  • Sexual contact with another person (ghusl is required)
  • Touching the private parts with the bare hands (not according to Hanafi Madhhab)
  • Blood or pus leaving the body so that it leaves the point of exit (however if the blood or pus exits from the private parts then any amount breaks wuḍūʾ). Note that bleeding except from private parts does not invalidate wuḍūʾ according to Shafi'i Madhhab.

Tayammum[edit]

Stone of Tayammum

Tayammum is a "dry ablution" using clean soil or dust, to be performed when water is not readily available to perform ablution or when one is defiled (on janabah) and could not perform ghusl, and is authorised under specific circumstances.[18]

Wuḍūʾ description in Hadith[edit]

wuḍūʾ in Hadith Abu Hurayra, in reference to the Day of Resurrection, reported that Muhammad, when asked if he would be able to recognise Muslims, said, "Yes, you would have a mark which other people will not have. You would come to me with a white blaze on your foreheads and white marks on your feet because of the traces of ablution."[19]

Abu Hurayra said, "I have heard prophet (may peace be upon him) say. In a believer adornment would reach the places where ablution reaches."[20]

Uthman ibn Affan stated that Muhammad, said, "He who performed ablution well, his sins would come out from his body, even coming out from under his nails."[21]

'Umar ibn al-Khattab reported that Muhammad said, "No one among you does wuḍūʾ and does wuḍūʾ thoroughly – or adequately – and then testifies, 'There is no god but Allah Alone with no partner and I testify that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger', without the eight doors of the Garden being opened to him so that he can enter by whichever of them he wishes."[22]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Glasse, Cyril (2001). The New Encyclopeida of Islam. Altmira Press. p. 477.
  2. ^ Dikmen, Mehmet (3 May 2011). "What are the things that invalidate and break wudu?". Questions on Islam. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  3. ^ a b Zeno, Jamil (1996). The Pillars of Islam & Iman. p. 78.
  4. ^ Quran 2:222
  5. ^ Quran 56:79
  6. ^ Sahih Muslim, 2:432
  7. ^ a b Quran 5:6
  8. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:182
  9. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:164
  10. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:167
  11. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:185
  12. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:186
  13. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:161
  14. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:190
  15. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:196
  16. ^ Urumbuzhi, Muhyadheen (2010). Soul of the Quran-Volume 1. p. 487.
  17. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:165
  18. ^ "Tayammum". Majalla.org. Retrieved 2013-02-07.
  19. ^ Sahih Muslim, 2:480
  20. ^ Sahih Muslim, 2:484
  21. ^ Sahih Muslim, 2:476
  22. ^ "Riyad as-Salihin (The Meadows of the Righteous) by Imam Nawawi". Sunnipath.com. Retrieved 2013-02-07.

External links[edit]