The Beauty of Wudu’

August 18, 2006 § 12 Comments

In Islamic life cleanliness and personal hygiene is so important. This is because cleanliness is related to purity and purity is a definition of the highest possible state while in this human life and form. It was said by the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) that,

“Purity is half of the faith,”

and

“Cleanliness is part of the faith.”

In the Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) Sunnah he also stressed the importance of regular bathing and brushing of the teeth. But to the Muslim, there is no act of cleaning ones self held in higher regard than the wudu’ (ablution). It must be kept in mind that we Americans live in a society where water for bathing is regularly available and we should not take this for granted.

I am of the opinion that American-Muslims should never take this fact for granted, as the need for water to be readily available is such an important part of our spiritual practice. This is because a Muslim is required to be in a state of wudu‘, because wudu’ is a hard-fast condition for Salaat (the Muslim “contact prayer”)…

I realized the importance of wudu’ when I was in my early twenties, mashaAllah, of course I had performed the wudu‘ for many years prior, but it wasn’t until I understood the sanctity of the Salaat that the importance of wudu‘ was realized. Once that happened I had to do what a good Muslim student does, and that is to contemplate, study and practice the object of which I wanted to acquire knowledge.

I became very serious about my wudu‘ and in my search for knowledge of the ablution and its purpose I came across a few teachers some physical and some in the form of literature. These teachers would eventually pass along their jewels on the subject and I was eager to learn.

One of the things that I learned relentlessly gripped my thoughts, which was that the wudu‘ is related to the Heart. Not the physical heart per-se but the essential Heart referred to by great thinkers as “nafs al-nateqa”. The Heart, like the physical heart is the center of essential exchanges, the ebb and flow of the body begins with the heart. Likewise, the ebb and flow of the human-consciousness meets at the Heart.

“If one has no heart, one can gain no benefit; In wretchedness, one will be famous in the world.” (S.M. Lahiji, M. Barzigar)

Therefore, the Heart is the doorway to the righteous, and this door can only be approached in a state of wudu‘. The reasoning is simple, it is because in our murky minds, thick with desires and heated with our passions we are so far from it. But upon approaching purity, first in our niyah (intention) we become that much closer, during the wudu‘ we become closer still.

The spiritual significance of wudu‘ cannot be summed up by one like myself, however I can tell you of its importance and how its significance relates to our lives through what the great sheikhs have left for us. Consider for a moment the actual act of wudu‘ and now contemplate how we perceive… you will find that our perceptions are directly related to our senses. It is at the Heart that these perceptions have the possibility of being utilized to draw you nearer to God. These senses are the ways in which we begin to perceive, but without the involvement of the Heart, the perceptions distort and become the servants of our desires instead of abdullah. This is described further in the following passage by psychiatrist, Dr. Nurbakhsh when he writes,

“The eye of the heart enjoys witnessing (mushahada) of the Unseen. The ear of the heart hears the utterance of the Unseen and of God. The nose of the heart scents breezes from the Unseen, and the palate of the heart tastes the savor of loving kindness, the sweetness of faith and the flavor of gnosis. The heart’s faculty of touch is the intellect, by which it derives benefit from all intelligible things. Hence, the purification of the heart lies in the health of its senses or faculties.” (Dr. J. Nurbakhsh)

The capacity for this experience is not given to everyone, I would expect that all Muslims if they truly are Muslims have this capacity though… but I would like to stress that this reality is not possessed by everyone as it indicates in the Qur’an when it reads,

“Verily in this is a Message for any that has a heart and understanding or who gives ear and earnestly witnesses (the truth).” (50: 37)

What I would also like to point out is that the Qur’an states very clearly that the Message is meant for the Heart, without it you cannot bear witness to the Truth of the Qur’an. This is a very important point. This is probably what instantly occurs with converts who have never practiced Islam, who know nothing of it however, when they read or listen to the Qur’an be recited it speaks to them. Wakes them up, stirs something inside them that has been dormant, waiting to be inspired.

Upon our intention and deeds if purity is attained if only for a fleeting moment its effect is like a baby experiencing light for the first time as it emerges from its mothers womb. This point is supported by Dr. Nurbakhsh’s thoughts as he writes,

“When the wayfarer becomes a person of purtiy and vision he witnesses the light of worship and devotion, and of praiseworthy traits and attributes. Such lights are those of ablution [and], of prayer…” (Dr. J. Nurbakshsh)

In conclusion, I would just like to stress the importance of wudu‘. It seems like such a simple thing, but if you really contemplate the wudu’ and its usefulness you will see it as a dynamic force in our struggle for purity on the path of Islam. As Dr. Nurbakhsh said, it is through purity that we see the light.

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§ 12 Responses to The Beauty of Wudu’

  • me2nour says:

    Assalamu Alikom brother
    I was wondering how muslims in the west (usually think about amercan-muslims more) I was thinking how they deal with the islamic directions,, I guess the reason of their strong faith,, was the way they learned out there,, i mean you grew up in US where they teach you as what you mentioned in here :

    ” I am of the opinion that American-Muslims should never take this fact for granted ”

    the opposit happens here & that’s why many of ex-muslims left Islam because they tried to ask & nobody managed to answer them,, usually the answer used to be : “it’s just like that,, so don’t ask ”
    I don’t blame them now, I feel pity for them as they lost a lot, as a result that their smart Questions were faced by stupid answers.

    Thank you for sharing this post with us

  • SEYFETTİN says:

    Wa ‘alaikum as-salaam ukhti,

    the opposit happens here & that’s why many of ex-muslims left Islam because they tried to ask & nobody managed to answer them,, usually the answer used to be : “it’s just like that,, so don’t ask ”

    I’m not certain about this however, I think the same thing happens among Christians here in the US. Which is probably why Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States of America.

    Thank you for sharing this post with us

    I makes me very happy to share this post, mashaAllah… wa jazakAllah kheir.

    wasalaam

  • A nice posting here..:)

  • SEYFETTİN says:

    A nice posting here..:)

    alhamdulillah… I pray it was of benefit, inshaAllah.

    wasalaam

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    Allah knows how much $$$ to tell you what you already know

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  • R Hussain says:

    Ive just started college. we have a room for wudu. Its got taps, but their is no area where you can do the first part of wudu properly. There is a toilet, but obviously thats very hard to use for the first part of wudu. Islamically if its very hard, can you only do the second part of wudu, or would you have to do both parts even if its very hard?

  • unknown says:

    what is the importance of wahing before prayers?

  • Saifuddin says:

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    as-salaamu ‘alaikum ya unknown… you asked,

    “what is the importance of washing before prayers?”

    To observe purity when approaching the divine.

  • […] Oct 28th, 2007 by Saifuddin There are a few things in my life that consistently offer a feeling of freshness and renewal. One is wudu’, the ritual ablution Muslims perform before prayer, its impact on the soul is a significant one. After performing the wudu’ one has a strong sense of cleanliness and purity that can be felt for long periods of time. This is real, and most Muslim would agree that this practice, wudu’, does exactly that, creates a sense of purity for the Believer. I have written about the practice of wudu’ in an article called The Beauty of Wudu’. […]

  • […] a religiously valid salat (Islamic ritual prayer), a minor-ablution (wudu’) is an obligatory (fard) precondition. Without it, the salat is not complete. The Prophet Muhammad […]

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