Wudhu (Arabic: وضوء) is a type of ablution that is required before the performance of certain actions, particularly for Salah or for being able to touch the text of the Qur'an. It is often referred to as the partial ablution as opposed to ghusl, the full ablution.
Wudhu by itself is not obligatory, rather it is a recommended act. Therefore if somebody performs it for gaining nearness to Allah (without the intention of any action afterwards), then such a Wudhu is correct.
In the Qur'an and Hadith
Wudhu and physical cleanliness as a whole have been emphasized within the Qur'anic and as well as within the narrations. The description of Wudhu in particularly has been mentioned in the following verse:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ
[5:6] O you who believe! when you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles;
Various narrations pertaining to Wudhu have been recorded in the books of hadith. Narrations vary from those defining the requirement of its performance before Salah to those that speak about the spiritual benefits of this highly recommended act as it enables an individual to enter a state of purity.
Kulayni narrates through his chain of narrators from Zurarah and Bakir that both of them asked Abu Ja'far (as) about the wudhu of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He (the Imam) asked for a wash-bowl with water; he dipped his right hand, scooped a handful of water and pouring it on his face washed the face with it; then he dipped his left hand and scooped a handful of water and pouring it on his right arm washed the arm from the elbow to the palm without returning the hand to the elbow; then he dipped his right palm (in the water) and poured it on his left arm and did as he had done with the right arm; then he wiped his head and feet with wetness of his palms without adding new water to them.
Then he said, "One should not insert his fingers under the shoelace." Then (the Imam) said, "Surely Allah, the Mighty, the Great, says: When you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands, it is therefore not proper to leave any part of one's face without washing and Allah has ordered to wash the hands to the elbows, it is therefore not proper for him to leave any part of his hands up to the elbows without washing, because Allah says: wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows. Then Allah has said: and wipe a part of your heads and your feet to the ankles. So, if he wiped a part of his head or a part of his feet between the ankles and toe-tips, his wudhu will be completed." The narrators said, "We asked, 'Where are the ankles?' (The Imam) said, 'Here (pointing to the joint of feet with bone of leg).' We said, 'What is this?' (The Imam) said, 'This is the bone of leg, and ankle is below it.' Then we asked, 'May Allah make your affairs good! One handful (of water) is enough for the face and one handful for the arm?' (The Imam) said, 'Yes, if you use it properly and two handfuls cover the whole wudhu'."
Other narrations allude to the reasoning for why Wudhu is commendable or its effects on the individual who performs it. Imam al-Ridha (as), regarding the reason for ablution said:
لأنّهُ يَكونُ العَبدُ طاهِرا إذا قامَ بَينَ يَدَيِ الجَبّارِ عِندَ مُناجاتِهِ إيّاهُ، مُطيعاً لَهُ فيما أمَرَهُ، نَقِيّاً مِن الأدناسِ والنَّجاسَةِ، مَع ما فيهِ مِن ذَهابِ الكَسَلِ وطَردِ النُّعاسِ، وتَزكِيَةِ الفُؤادِ لِلقِيامِ بَينَ يَدَيِ الجَبّارِSo that the servant is pure when he stands before the Mighty One when engaged in supplication to Him, being obedient to Him through what He has commanded him, purified of filths and impurities, and also because it does away with laziness and repels drowsiness, and purifies the heart for standing before the Mighty One.
The Prophet (pbuh) states in regards to the effects of performing Wudhu that:
يحشر الله عزوجل امتي يوم القيامة بين الامم غرا محجلين من آثار الوضوءAllah will resurrect my community on the Day of Resurrection among other communities, having white and illuminated faces from the effects of ablution.
Manner of Performing Wudhu
There are many acts that can be performed during Wudhu, however the obligatory acts are to be performed in the following sequence:
- Washing the face once
- Washing both the arms including the elbows once
- Wiping the front portion of the head
- Wiping the upper part of the two feet
Recommended & Prohibited Acts
It is recommended to wash both the face and the arms twice. Before initiating the obligatory parts of Wudhu, it is also recommended to wash the two hands up till the wrist twice, gargling water three times and rinsing one's nose three times prior to washing the face. While washing the arms, it is recommended for men to start washing their fore-arms from the apparent side of the arms, and for the women to start washing their fore-arms from the inner side.
Washing the face three times or more, or washing any of the arms three times or more will invalidate the Wudhu.
Condition for Validity
There are various conditions that need to be met in order for the Wudhu to be correct. The intention with which one performs Wudhu should be for the sake of Allah (swt) and the water by which Wudhu will be performed must be clean, pure and not mixed with any kind of dirt. The water also needs to be mubah and can not be performed with usurped water or with water about which one does not know whether the owner would allow its use or not. Furthermore, the container of the water, used by the person concerned for Wudhu, should be mubah and not made of gold or silver.
Parts of the body on which Wudhu is performed have to be clean at the time of washing and wiping, and the individual should have sufficient time at their disposal for completing the Wudhu and for Salah.
Wudhu becomes void on account of the following seven things:
- Passing of urine
- Passing wind from the rear
- A sleep, deep enough to restrict sight and hearing
- Things on account of which a person loses his sensibility, like insanity, intoxication or unconsciousness.
Acts that Necessitate Wudhu
In general, Wudhu is required for all obligatory prayers except Salat al-Mayyit. It is also obligatory for one to be in a state of Wudhu when performing the obligatory Tawaf of the Ka'bah. If a person has made a solemn pledge or had taken an oath to perform Wudhu or that he or she would kiss the Qur'an, it will become obligatory to perform Wudhu.
Wudhu is also required in order to wash the Qur'an if it were to become najis, and also in general for touching the Arabic script of the Qur'an with any part of one's body. It is also forbidden to touch the name of Allah or His Attributes without Wudhu, in whichever language they may have been written.
It is mustahab to perform Wudhu for the following purposes:
- Salat al-Mayyit
- Visiting the graves
- Entering a mosque
- Entering the shrines of the Holy Prophets and Imams
- For reading, writing, or touching the margin or border of the Qur'an, or for keeping it with oneself
- Before going to bed for sleep
- Performing Wudhu before Salah even if one is already in Wudhu
See main article: Tayammum
Tayammum (Arabic: تيمم) is the act of dry ablution using earth, sand, lump of clay or stone, which may be performed in place of Wudhu or Ghusl if no clean water is readily available.
- ↑ Purity (taharah) an Essential Condition, Salat (Prayer): The Mode of Divine Proximity and Recognition by Ayatullah Mirza Mahdi Isfahani
- ↑ Usool al-Kafi, by Abu Ja'far Kulayni. This hadith is referenced in Tafsir al-Mizan of Ayatullah Tabatabai for verse 6 of chapter 5
- ↑ أبواب الوضوء, Bihar al-Anwar by Allamah Majlisi; volume 77, pg 234, #7
- ↑ Ibid, pg 237, #11
- ↑ Islamic Laws by Ayatullah Ali al-Sistani