What is Wudu’?

November 29, 2007 § 10 Comments

For 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 (alayhi salatu wa sallim) has said,

“The key of the salat is the wudu’” (Jami’ al-Saghir, v.2 pp156)

The Obligations of Minor-Ablution:

  1. Washing the whole face, from the top of the forehead to the bottom of the chin and from ear to ear, once.
  2. Washing the arms up to the elbows, once.
  3. Wiping the top part of the head with wet right hand.
  4. Washing the feet up to the ankle, once.

The Sunnat/Tradition of the Prophet Muhammad for Minor-Ablution:
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (alayhi salatu wa sallim) is the best example to follow, and his example of wudu’ is described by ‘Amr ibn Yahya when he said,
My father said,


“I saw Amr bin Abi Hasan asking ‘Abdullah bin Zaid about the ablution of the Prophet. Abdullah bin Zaid asked for an earthenware pot containing water and performed ablution in front of them. He poured water over his hands and washed them thrice. Then he put his (right) hand in the pot and rinsed his mouth and washed his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out thrice with three handfuls of water Again he put his hand in the water and washed his face thrice. After that he put his hand in the pot and washed his forearms up to the elbows twice and then again put his hand in the water and passed wet hands over his head by bringing them to the front and then to the back and once more he put his hand in the pot and washed his feet (up to the ankles.)”

  1. Declaration of one’s intention (niyat) for ablution.
  2. Saying the ‘`Audhu Bismillah’, which reads: ‘bismillah a’rahman i’rahim, `auzu billahi min ash-shaytani rajim’.
  3. Rinsing out the mouth and sniffing water into the nostrils to clean them.
  4. Completing the obligatory sequence two or thee times each instead of once.
  5. Begin with the right side.
  6. Wiping the ears and neck with wet hands.
  7. Brushing the teeth

It is known that the Holy Prophet (alayhi salatu wa sallim) frequently brushed his teeth. And doing so he would use a twig from the Salvador persica tree called siwak. Ibn Abbas reported that the Holy Prophet (alayhi salatu wa sallim) brushed his teeth with siwak after ablution saying,

“Then he stood up, performed ablution, brushed his teeth with a Siwak,”

A number of Naks-i’bendi wear leather socks, I also wear leather socks in the same way as our shaykh. And in doing so we do not remove them for our minor ablution. Instead, they are worn during the minor ablution and wet hands are passed over them in the same manner as Ja’far bin ‘Amr says of his father’s account of the Prophet Muhammad (alayhi salatu wa sallim) saying,

“I saw the Prophet passing wet hands over his turban and Khuffs (leather socks).”

The Hated (makruh) Things of Minor-Ablution:

  1. Being extravagant in using water.
  2. Using insufficient water.
  3. Splashing the water.
  4. Making your ablution in a dirty place.

The Spoilers of the Minor-Ablution:

  1. Natural discharges, i.e. urination, defecation and breaking wind.
  2. Flow of blood, pus or yellow water from wounds.*
  3. Vomiting (a mouthfull).
  4. Sleeping, lying down or leaning against an object.
  5. Fainting (loss of consciousness).
  6. Drunkenness

If any of these occur, one’s wudu’ must be renewed before prayer. *Tears, blood and pus which do not spread around, do not spoil wudu’.

Minor-Ablution is Required for:

  1. Salat: the ritual prayer
  2. Touching the Qur’an
  3. Sajda-e-Tilawat
  4. Tawaf: Circumambulating the Ka’ba
  5. Janaza’a: the funeral prayer

The Excused Person (Sahib-e-‘Udhr):
Those who have durable deficiencies such as; nose bleeding, urine flowing, troubled eyes and ears which are the spoilers of the wudu’ are excused. Those may perform prayers even if these deficiencies continue, provided they take ablution for every prayer.

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