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Question: Where is the âyah (verse) in the Qur’ân that establishes the fard (compulsory) acts of wudû’?
Answer: It is the 6th âyah of Sûrah al-Mâ’idah (5): "O you who believe! When you rise up for prayer, wash your face, and your hands up to the elbows, and lightly rub your heads and (wash) your feet up to the ankles."
Hadrat Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allâh said: "My followers will be called on the Day of Resurrection with heads shining on account of the effect of wudû’. So whoever among you is able to prolong his brightness, let him do it." [Agreed upon, Mishkât]
Hadrat Jâbir reported that the Messenger of Allâh said: "The key to Paradise is prayer, and the key to prayer is cleanliness." [Ahmad, Mishkât]
The fard acts of wudû’ as derived from the Qur’ân and ahâdîth are four. If any one of these four is omitted or performed incompletely, the wudû’ will be invalid: (1) Washing the face from ear to ear and forehead to below the chin one time; (2) washing both hands and arms including the elbows once; (3) making masah (wiping with moist hands) of one-quarter of the head once; and (4) washing both feet, including the ankles, once.
The sunan acts of wudû’ are those which yield the full thawâb (reward and blessing) of wudû’. If these are omitted, the reward of wudû’ is lost although the wudû’ itself will be valid. Deliberate and continuous neglect of the sunnah factors will be sinful: (1) Niyyah (intention) for wudû’; (2) tasmiyah: reciting "Bismillâh..." in the beginning; (3) washing both hands as far as the wrists three times before beginning; (4) rinsing the mouth thrice; (5) applying water into the nostrils thrice; (6) using miswâk; (7) making masah of the entire head; (8) washing every part three times; (9) making masah of the ears; (10) khilâl of the fingers (interlacing the fingers of one hand with those of the other and then drawing them out), toes (passing the finger in between the toes), and beard (passing the fingers through the beard); (11) observing the proper order of washing the various parts (as described below in "Method of Wudû’"); and (12) washing the various parts in quick succession, i.e. washing the next part before the previous part has time to dry.
Certain acts of wudû’ are described as mustahab. These increase the reward and significance of the wudû’: (1) Facing the qiblah; (2) sitting down while making wudû’; (3) performing masah of the back of the neck (not the front); and (4) commencing from the right side (e.g. washing the right hand, right arm, right foot first).
The makrûh (detestable) factors of wudû’ are: (1) Performing wudû’ at a dirty place; (2) indulging in worldly talk while engaged in wudû’ ; (3) performing wudû’ in a way contrary to the sunnah; (4) using the right hand to clean the nose; (5) using water excessively and wastefully; (6) striking water against the face, causing it to splash; and (7) taking unnecessary assistance from another person when performing wudû’.
The Method of Wudû’: The mutawaddi’ (person making wudû’) should endeavor to face the qiblah while making wudû’. It is best to sit on a raised or high place when making wudû’ in order to be out of reach of water splashing. It is far nobler and meritorious to make wudû’ by pouring water from some container, e.g. a jug. Use of a tap in wudû’ entails great waste of water, and Rasûlullâh has warned against wasting water even at the river bank.
Making niyyah (intention) of wudû’, recite "Bismillâh-ir-rahmân-ir-rahîm." First of all, wash both hands as far as the wrists thrice, beginning with the right hand. Thereafter rinse the mouth thrice and use a miswâk. In the absence of a miswâk use a coarse cloth to clean the teeth. Remember that a toothbrush is not an adequate substitute for a miswâk. However, since the use of a cloth is in the sunnah when a miswâk is not available, it (cloth) could be regarded as an adequate substitute. If the toothbrush is made of bristles (pig’s hairs), its use will be harâm. If one is not fasting then gargle as well.
Thereafter apply water thrice into the nostrils with the right hand and clean the nose with the little finger of the left hand. If the mutawaddi’ is fasting, water should not be drawn higher than the soft or fleshy part of the nostrils.
Wash then the entire face thrice. The limits of the face for wudû’ purpose is from the limits of the hair at the forehead until below the chin, and from ear to ear. Water must reach below the eyebrows as well. This is followed by making khilâl of the beard. (Pass the fingers of the right hand through the beard, starting from the bottom, moving upwards.)
The right hand, including the arm and elbow, should then be washed thrice. Then wash the left hand in exactly the same manner. Make khilâl of the fingers: Draw the left-hand fingers through the right-hand fingers over the back of the hand. Thereafter do likewise with the right-hand fingers.
This is followed by making masah of the whole head, masah of the ears, and masah of the nape (only the back of the neck).
Thereafter wash the right foot, including the ankles thrice; then wash the left foot in the same way. Finally, make khilâl of the toes: Pass the little finger of the left hand in between the toes of both feet, starting from the little toe of the right foot and ending with the little toe of the left foot.
The perfect wudû’ also requires that all the sunnah du’âs be recited at the appropriate times before, during, and after wudû’.
More details of wudû’ can be found in the books of fiqh.
[Kitaabut-Tahaarah, YMMA (S. Africa).
Published: April 2003
Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756