What is wudu?
Wudu is the Muslim procedure for cleaning certain parts of the body in preparation for important acts of worship including prayer, touching the Quran during recitation, performing rites of pilgrimage etc. It is both a physical cleansing of the face, arms head and feet and also a spiritual cleansing of sins.
What is the importance of wudu?
Wudu is a requirement for Muslims to cleanse themselves before performing certain important acts. Muslims perform a physical and spiritual cleansing of the body through it. Wudu is the procedure for washing certain parts of the body in preparation for acts of worship including prayer, touching the Quran during its recitation, performing rites of pilgrimage.
Of the unique actions of worship that Allah has blessed the Muslims with, which is an exclusive method to us and not other previous nations is the act of Wudu. This act of wudu was the very first act of worship performed by the Prophet (SAW) as a Muslim. As very soon after Surah Muddatthir (No. 74) was revealed Jibril (Gabriel AS) came to the Prophet (SAW) and one of the things he taught him was wudu and how to do it.
In one hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar (RA) when Jibril (AS) came to the Prophet (SAW) to ask him what is Islam? It included that ‘you do ghusl (full bathing) in the state of Janabah (uncleanliness due to sexual activity), and that you perfect wudu. So doing wudu, in this hadith, is listed as one of the pillars of being a Muslim.
Wudu mentioned in the Quran
‘O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of janabah, then purify yourselves…’
The above verse lists the parts of the body that need to be cleaned before performing the prayer which are compulsory. Below we will look at the Sunnah (practice of the Prophet SAW) wudu.
Cleanliness is half of faith
….. الإِيمَانِ’ شَطْرُ لطُّهُورُا
Cleanliness is half of faith.
The well-known hadith is in Sahih Muslim. In the language of the Shariah, this cleanliness refers primarily to wudu and ghusl. The more important and correct translation would be that doing ghusl and wudu is half of faith and the other half of Imaan would be the prayer.
The Prophet (SAW) encouraged us to do wudu before every prayer, even if we are in a state of wudu already. Although this is not compulsory, it is a motivation nonetheless, because Allah will bless you for that.
Step by step guide to wudu
These should be done in this order preferably.
- Make niyyah (intention) to perform wudu, and say “Bismillah” (in the name of Allah) before starting wudu. This intention can be made verbally as well.
- Wash your hands. Up to and including your wrists
- Take water into your mouth. Using your right hand. Do this three times and it is preferable to gargle each time before spitting out.
- Inhale some water into your nose, and again using your right hand. Blow out water sharply each time. If you cannot do this, simply wet the lower part of your nostrils and move your left hand little finger around to make sure this part is wet.
- Wash your face. Three times fully covering the face from one earlobe to the other and from hairline to chin. Don’t forget your beard if you have one.
- Wash your lower arms from wrists to elbows, leaving no part dry. First, wash your right arm, then your left.
- Clean your head. Using both wet hands, gently wipe the entire head once, starting from the front.
- Wipe your ears once. Wipe through the grooves with your index fingers finishing in the ear. Then use your thumb to clean behind your ears.
- Wash both feet starting with the right. Wash upto ankles. Ensure water goes in between all toes, if necessary by using the left hand little finger.
Here’s a YouTube clip showing practically how the wudu is performed.
Hadith about wudu and its benefits
Wudu also cleanses us from our daily sins.
Abu Hurairah (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “When a believer washes his face in ablution, every sin that he committed with his eyes will be washed away with the last drop of water. When he washes his hands, every sin that he committed with his hands will be washed away with the last drop of water. When he washes his feet, every sin that he committed with his feet will be washed away with the last drop of water, until he emerges purified from sin.” (Muslim)
So one wudu, if done properly will result in all your sins being forgiven. Then when you stand up to pray, Allah will raise your rank even more. The scholars say the sins referred to here is the cleansing of the minor sins, not the major ones which require true repentance.
The difference between a strong and a weak believer is wudu
It is also narrated in a hadith that the difference between a strong believer and a weaker believer is the quantity of wudu that they perfect. He feels purity in the state of wudu and so he does it even if he doesn’t need to. It is also mentioned that if you want to raise yourself to a higher level, protect the wudu (i.e. keep in the state of wudu all the time).
Open all the gates of Paradise through a perfect wudu.
Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Whoever performs ablution in the best manner and he says, ‘I bear witness there is no god but Allah alone, without any partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad is his servant and his messenger. O Allah, make me among those who repent and make me among those who purify themselves,’ then the eight gates of Paradise will be opened for him and he may enter through whichever he wishes.”
The dua is:
This shows how important wudu is, even to Paradise itself.
The Prophet (SAW) will recognise his nation by the wudu.
This is perhaps the greatest benefit of wudu, that the leader of all humanity will recognise his people through the effects of wudu.
In a hadith: Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (RA) reported: It was said, “O Messenger of Allah (SAW), how will you recognize those you have never seen from your nation?” The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Radiant streaks upon their limbs from the traces of ablution.” (Ibn Majah)
Health benefits of wudu
When a person performs wudu, they are taking preventative measures against many diseases. The parts of the body that are washed: hands, mouth, nose, ears, arms and feet all help remove germs and bacteria.
This is quite important in the current climate of highly infectious viruses such as the coronavirus.
Washing the hands as in step 2 above prevents the transmission of many contagious diseases and this is the number one recommendation during the recent outbreak. Washing the mouth and nostrils as in steps 3 and 4 removes the germs trapped inside so they do not reach the respiratory system.
How important is this at the moment with the coronavirus attacking a person’s respiratory system? Not touching the face has also been recommended by doctors but going further than that, would it not be better to wash the face as you do in step 5? This also ‘recharges’ organs such as the intestines, stomach, and bladder as having been medically proven.
It is mentioned that washing the ears decreases high blood pressure and relieves tooth and throat pain, as well as removing extra wax that could cause an ear infection and general body imbalances.
Washing the feet (step 9) is also vitally important for removing germs and bacteria off your feet, so reducing the risk of spreading virus when walking with bare feet around the house or in masjids etc.
The recommendation to perform wudu before the 5 daily prayers will go a long way to remove viruses as it has been stated the coronavirus stays on the human body for a good few hours until it can get inside.
I would highly recommend not just to wash your hands but to perform the entire wudu when entering your home from outside. In addition, performing ablution when waking up and before going to sleep will have you covered throughout.
Duas relating to wudu
Dua when starting wudu (ablution)
In the name of Allah
(Found in Abu Dawud, ibn Majah)
Duas upon completing wudu
(Found in Sahih Muslim)
(Found in Tirmidhi)
(Found in An-Nasai)