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What is it?

As defined in Wikipedia:


Wudu (Arabic: الوضوء al-wuū', Persian:آبدست ābdast, Turkish: abdest) is the Islamic act of washing parts of the body using water. Muslims are required to perform wudu in preparation for ritual prayers and for handling and reading the Qur'an. Wudu is often translated as "partial ablution", as opposed to ghusl, or "full ablution".


Wudu is mandatory when

-        Performing a salah.

-        When performing sajdah or tashahhud when one has forgotten to perform it during the salah.

-        For performing the tawaf of the Kabaa.

-        If one has taken an oath to do wudu.

-        For reading the arabic form of the Quran.


It is not wajib to have wudu when visiting the graves or even entering the masjid, however it is recommended and blessings are rewarded to the mu’min for performing the wudu with such an intention.


The mandate for wudu is defined in Sura Maidah (5), ayat number 6:

"O you who believe! when you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles; and if you are under an obligation to perform a total ablution, then wash (yourselves) and if you are sick or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy, or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth and wipe your faces and your hands therewith, God does not desire to put on you any difficulty, but He wishes to purify you and that He may complete His favor on you, so that you may be grateful."


Quran: Blessings of performing ablutions

87 (Al Ala):14-15 But those will prosper who purify themselves, glorify the name of their Guardian-Lord, and (lift their hearts) in prayer.


033.033  And stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former Times of Ignorance; and establish regular Prayer, and give regular Charity; and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye members of the Family, and to make you pure and spotless.


Bukhari: Blessings of performing ablutions


Volume 8, Book 76, Number 441:

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:  I brought water to Uthman bin 'Affan to perform the ablution while he was sitting on his seat. He performed the ablution in a perfect way and said, "I saw the Prophet performing the ablution in this place and he performed it in a perfect way and said, "Whoever performs the ablution as I have done this time and then proceeds to the mosque and offers a two-Rak'at prayer and then sits there (waiting for the compulsory congregational prayers), then all his past sins will be forgiven." The Prophet further added, "Do not be conceited (thinking that your sins will be forgiven because of your prayer)."


Volume 1, Book 4, Number 145:

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:   Once the Prophet entered a lavatory and I placed water for his ablution. He asked, "Who placed it?" He was informed accordingly and so he said, "O Allah! Make him (Ibn 'Abbas) a learned scholar in religion (Islam)."


You should try to maintain wudu at all times.


Volume 1, Book 4, Number 138:

Narrated Nu'am Al-Mujmir:  Once I went up the roof of the mosque, along with Abu Huraira. He perform ablution and said, "I heard the Prophet saying, "On the Day of Resurrection, my followers will be called "Al-Ghurr-ul-Muhajjalun" from the trace of ablution and whoever can increase the area of his radiance should do so (i.e. by performing ablution regularly).' "


A miracle

Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 4, Number 199:

Narrated Thabit: Anas said, "The Prophet asked for water and a tumbler with a broad base and no so deep, containing a small quantity of water, was brought to him whereby he put his fingers in it." Anas further said, ' noticed the water springing out from amongst his fingers." Anas added, ' estimated that the people who performed ablution with it numbered between seventy to eighty."




How do you perform it?

The method of wudu comes from the Quran and Sunnah of our prophet (pbuh).



Wudu is performed as follows:

  1. Start by making niyyah (intention) to perform wudu and cleanse himself of his impurities.
  2. Say bismillah ("In the Name of Allah (God)").
  3. Wash the right hand up to the wrist (and between the fingers) three times, then similarly for the left hand.
  4. Rinse the mouth and spit out the water three times.
  5. Gently put water into the nostrils with the right hand, pinch the top of the nose with the left hand to exhale the water. This is performed three times.
  6. Wash the face (from the hairline on the forehead to where facial hair begins and ear to ear). This is to be performed three times.
  7. Wash the entire right arm, including the hand, up to the elbow three times; then the left arm three times.
  8. Wet hands and starting with your hands flat on the top of your head near the hairline, wipe them to the back of the neck and back again to the front. This is only done once. This act is called masah. One may make masah over a muslim head cap.
  9. With wet fingers, place thumbs at backs of ears, use index finger on curves of ear and middle finger to wash the ears (front and back). This is only done once. This is called making masah the ears.
  10. Starting with the right foot, wash both feet from the toes up to the ankles.
  11. Recite the shahadah.


Quran: Sura 5, Ayat 6

The Quran specifies what is absolutely necessary to perform wudu. The main parts that are absolutely fard for us are to wash the face, wash the hands to the elbows, wipe the head and wipe the feet.


The Sunnah provides additional steps that our Prophet (pbuh) performed that we should try to follow.


The hadiths mentioned below are all things that were seen first hand of our Prophet (pbuh).


Join both hands when washing face:

Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 4, Number 142:

Narrated 'Ata' bin Yasar:  Ibn 'Abbas performed ablution and washed his face (in the following way): He ladled out a handful of water, rinsed his mouth and washed his nose with it by putting in water and then blowing it out. He then, took another handful (of water) and did like this (gesturing) joining both hands, and washed his face, took another handful of water and washed his right forearm. He again took another handful of water and washed his left forearm, and passed wet hands over his head and took another handful of water and poured it over  his right foot (up to his ankles) and washed it thoroughly and similarly took another handful of water and washed thoroughly his left  foot (up to the ankles) and said, "I saw Allah's Apostle performing ablution in this way."


Don’t be extravagant; Use minimal water; Do it 3 times each

Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 4, Number 198:

Narrated 'Amr bin Yahya:  (on the authority of his father) My uncle used to perform ablution extravagantly and once he asked 'Abdullah bin Zaid to tell him how he had seen the Prophet performing ablution. He asked for an earthen-ware pot containing water, and poured water from it on his hands and washed them thrice, and then put his hand in the earthen-ware pot and rinsed his mouth and washed his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it Out thrice with one handful of water; he again put his hand in the water and took a handful of water and washed his face thrice, then washed his hands up to the elbows twice, and took water with his hand, and passed it over his head from front to back and then from back to front, and then washed his feet (up to the ankles) and said, "I saw the Prophet performing ablution in that way."



Conditions and Rules


In Islam, most acts can be put into one of 5 basic categories.

  1. Wajib or Fard acts – These are acts that are compulsory on a Muslim.
  2. Mustahab – These are acts that are valid but are not compulsory; however performing these acts have a reward with Allah.
  3. Mubah – These are acts that are neither liked nor disliked.  They neither have rewards nor are they sinful.
  4. Makruh – These are acts that are not Haram but are disliked none the less. It is best to stay away from these acts as much as possible.
  5. Haram – These are forbidden acts and are hated by Allah; there is a punishment associated with performing these acts.


Various acts that many people take to be part of the wudu fall into 3 categories.

  • Fard – Several parts of the wudu are obligatory for it to be valid
    • Making intention for wudu
    • Washing the face
    • Washing the arms to the elbows
    • Wiping the head
    • Wiping the feet
    • Washing thoroughly if in a state of junub or uncleanliness
    • Not interrupting the wudu as it is being performed



Washing the feet is very important and you must make sure to thoroughly wet your feet.

Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 3, Number 57:

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr:  Once the Prophet remained behind us in a journey. He joined us while we were performing ablution for the prayer which was over-due. We were just passing wet hands over our feet (and not washing them properly) so the Prophet addressed us in a loud voice and said twice or thrice: "Save your heels from the fire."


Sahih Muslim: Book 002, Number 0468:

'Abdullah b. 'Amr reported: We returned from Mecca to Medina with the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him), and when we came to some water on the way, some of the people were in a hurry at the time of the afternoon prayer and performed ablution hurriedly; and when we reached them, their heels were dry, no water had touched them. The Prophet (may peace be upon him) said: Woe to (dry) heels, because of Hell-fire. Make your ablution thorough.


Masah/wiping over turban and khuffs is allowed if wudu is performed prior to donning the turban and khuffs.   Masah/wiping is also valid after you’ve used the toilet and does not require that you have to take off the turban or the khuffs. In similar fashion, a woman’s hijab, similar to a man’s turban, should not have to be taken off.  Some examples of this are cited below.


Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 4, Number 205: Masah over khuffs.

Narrated 'Urwa bin Al-Mughira:   My father said, "Once I was in the company of the Prophet on a journey and I dashed to take off his Khuffs. He ordered me to leave them as he had put them after performing ablution. So he passed wet hands over them


Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 4, Number 204:  Masah over turban and khuffs

Narrated Ja'far bin 'Amr:   My father said, "I saw the Prophet passing wet hands over his turban and Khuffs (leather socks)."


Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 8, Number 359: Masah after use of toilet

Narrated Mughira bin Shu'ba:  Once I was traveling with the Prophet and he said, "O Mughira! take this container of water." I took it and Allah's Apostle went far away till he disappeared. He answered the call of nature and was wearing a Syrian cloak. He tried to take out his hands from its sleeve but it was very tight so he took out his hands from under it. I poured water and he performed ablution like that for prayers and passed his wet hands over his Khuff (leather socks) and then prayed.



Volume 1, Book 4, Number 201:

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar: Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas said, "The Prophet passed wet hands over his Khuffs." 'Abdullah bin 'Umar asked Umar about it. 'Umar replied in the affirmative and added, "Whenever Sa'd narrates a Hadith from the Prophet, there is no need to ask anyone else about it."



  • Sunnah – These parts of the wudu were performed by our prophet (pbuh) and so should be completed
    • Washing the hands
    • Rinsing the mouth
    • Sniffing water and blowing it out
    • Wetting the hands to rub the ears
    • Rubbing the ears
    • Doing the acts of ablution in order



  • Mustahab – These are recommended acts in the wudu but are not obligatory
    • Reciting the bismillah before the wudu
    • Reciting the shahadah after the wudu
    • Brushing the teeth before the wudu
    • Repeating each action 3 times
    • Choosing a clean place for the wudu
    • Not wasting the water during the wudu



Clean our teeth with a siwak/brush.

Volume 2, Book 13, Number 12:

Narrated Abu Huraira:  Allah's Apostle said, "If I had not found it hard for my followers or the people, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwak for every prayer."


Women’s ablution after illness

Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 6, Number 312:

Narrated 'Aisha:  An Ansari woman asked the Prophet how to take a bath after finishing from the menses. He replied, "Take a piece a cloth perfumed with musk and clean the private parts with it thrice." The Prophet felt shy and turned his face. So pulled her to me and told her what the Prophet meant.




Conditions that must be met

The following conditions must be met for a correct wudu:

-        The water for the wudu must be clean and it must be pure (not mixed with other impure liquids) – perform tayamum if clean water is not available. The use of the water should not cause any hardships to the person or to anyone around them.

-        The water must be usable for the wudu and not stolen or gotten by abusive means.

-        The container in which the wudu water is in should also be usable and not stolen or gotten by abusive means; this container should not be of gold or silver.

-        The body should be in a clean state and not in a junub or impure state.

-        If time is limited for the wudu, tayamum should be performed so as to complete the salah; however if there is time for wudu, then it must be performed.

-        The niyat for wudu must be made either with the lips or in the mind.

-        The wudu should be performed in the order that it has been prescribed.

-        The wajib of the wudu must be performed by oneself and not with any other person’s assistance.

-        The water from the wudu must touch the skin where it is wajib. This means that a woman can’t really do a perfect wudu if she has nail polish on her nails.

-        There should be no doubt that wudu was performed.



Use minimal water

Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 5, Number 252:

Narrated Abu Ja'far:  While I and my father were with Jabir bin 'Abdullah, some People asked him about taking a bath He replied, "A Sa' of water is sufficient for you." A man said, "A Sa' is not sufficient for me." Jabir said, "A Sa was sufficient for one who had more hair than you and was better than you (meaning the Prophet)." And then Jabir (put on) his garment and led the prayer.


Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 4, Number 200:

Narrated Anas: The Prophet used to take a bath with one Saor up to five Mudds (1 Sa'= Mudds) of water and used to perform ablution with one Mudd of water.


Need for clean water

Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 4, Number 239:

Narrated Abu Huraira:   Allah's Apostle said, "We (Muslims) are the last (people to come in the world) but (will be) the foremost (on the Day of Resurrection)." The same narrator told that the Prophet had said, "You should not pass urine in stagnant water which is not flowing then (you may need to) wash in it."


Janaba Bath

It is necessary to clean ones private parts thoroughly when one is in a state of Janab.  The parts to a janaba bath are as follows:

-        Pour water over your hands; wash it once or twice of three times

-        Pour water on your left hand with your right hand

-        Use your left hand to clean up your private parts thoroughly

-        Rub your hands on the earth or the wall (the wall of the room) and wash your hands

-        Perform a regular wudu but stop at washing the feet. This will be done later.

-        Pour 3 handfuls of water over your head

-        Wash your body thoroughly

-        Come out of the washing area (the tub/shower) and then wash your feet, away from the water from the actual bath.


Volume 1, Book 5, Number 266:

Narrated Maimuna bint Al-Harith: I placed water for the bath of Allah's Apostle and put a screen. He poured water over his hands, and washed them once or twice. (The subnarrator added that he did not remember if she had said thrice or not). Then he poured water with his right hand over his left one and washed his private parts. He rubbed his hand over the earth or the wall and washed it. He rinsed his mouth and washed his nose by putting water in it and blowing it out. He washed his face, forearms and head. He poured water over his body and then withdrew from that place and washed his feet. I presented him a piece of cloth (towel) and he pointed with his hand (that he does not want it) and did not take it.


Volume 1, Book 5, Number 256:

Narrated Abu Ja'far:   Jabir bin Abdullah said to me, "Your cousin (Hasan bin Muhammad bin Al-Hanafiya) came to me and asked about the bath of Janaba. I replied, 'The Prophet uses to take three handfuls of water, pour them on his head and then pour more water over his body.' Al-Hasan said to me, 'I am a hairy man.' I replied, 'The Prophet had more hair than you'. "



Volume 1, Book 5, Number 260:

Narrated Maimuna:  The Prophet took the bath of Janaba. (sexual relation or wet dream). He first cleaned his private parts with his hand, and then rubbed  it(that hand) on the wall (earth) and washed it. Then he performed ablution like that for the prayer, and after the bath he washed his feet.



Volume 1, Book 5, Number 249:

Narrated Maimuna:  (the wife of the Prophet) Allah's Apostle performed ablution like that for the prayer but did not wash his feet. He washed off the discharge from his private parts and then poured water over his body. He withdrew his feet from that place (the place where he took the bath) and then washed them. And that was his way of taking the bath of Janaba.


Washing 3 times over the head:

Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 5, Number 254:

Narrated Jubair bin Mutim:   Allah's Apostle said, "As for me, I pour water three times on my head." And he pointed with both his hands.




What invalidates Wudu?


Theoretically, one can perform one wudu for fajr salaat and this wudu would be considered valid for the rest of the day. However, certain things invalidate the wudu (often referred to as "breaking wudu") and these can be stated generically thus (Hanafi):

  • Defecation, passing gas or urination.
  • Emission of semen.
  • Sleep.
  • Passing blood; Spitting saliva consisting mainly of blood.
  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of senses; by taking drugs or intoxicating stuff
  • Laughing very loudly during prayer
  • Eating the meat of an animal not slaughtered in the name of Allah. (Hanbali)
  • Having doubts regarding whether one's wudu is valid. (Maliki)
  • Touching the private parts with bare hands; Touching the skin of someone of the opposite sex when they are not each other's unmarriable kin. (Shafii)


It should be noted that passing gas invalidates the wudu if there was a noise or if an odor is emenated from the gas.


Deep sleep in a reclining position; sleeping in a sitting, kneeling or standing position does not break the wudu. Note the following hadith:


Volume 8, Book 75, Number 328:

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:  One night I slept at the house of Maimuna. The Prophet woke up, answered the call of nature, washed his face and hands, and then slept. He got up (late at night), went to a water skin, opened the mouth thereof and performed ablution not using much water, yet he washed all the parts properly and then offered the prayer. I got up and straightened my back in order that the Prophet might not feel that I was watching him, and then I performed the ablution, and when he got up to offer the prayer, stood on his left. He caught hold of my ear and brought me over to his right side. He offered thirteen Rak'at in all and then lay down and slept till he started blowing out his breath as he used to do when he slept. In the meantime Bilal informed the Prophet of the approaching time for the (Fajr) prayer, and the Prophet offered the Fajr (Morning) prayer without performing new ablution. He used to say in his invocation, Allaihumma ij'al fi qalbi nuran wa fi basari nuran, wa fi sam'i nuran, wa'an yamini nuran, wa'an yasari nuran, wa fawqi nuran, wa tahti nuran, wa amami nuran, wa khalfi nuran, waj'al li nuran." Kuraib (a sub narrator) said, "I have forgotten seven other words, (which the Prophet mentioned in this invocation). I met a man from the offspring of Al-'Abbas and he narrated those seven things to me, mentioning, '(Let there be light in) my nerves, my flesh, my blood, my hair and my body,' and he also mentioned two other things."




Abu Hanifa interpreted "touched the women" to mean sexual intercourse, whereas Shafi'i interpreted it literally, meaning one must make wudu after making physical contact with a member of the opposite sex.


It should be noted that many people may suffer incontinence or other physical ailments that prevent them from maintaining their wudu. In such cases the following conditions hold:



Hadath/passing gas

Volume 1, Book 4, Number 139:

Narrated 'Abbas bin Tamim: My uncle asked Allah's Apostle about a person who imagined to have passed wind during the prayer. Allah' Apostle replied: "He should not leave his prayers unless he hears sound or smells something."


Volume 9, Book 86, Number 86:

Narrated Abu Huraira:  The Prophet said, "Allah does not accept prayer of anyone of you if he does Hadath (passes wind) till he performs the ablution (anew)."


Volume 1, Book 3, Number 134:

Narrated 'Ali:  I used to get the emotional urethral discharge frequently so I requested Al-Miqdad to ask the Prophet about it. Al-Miqdad asked him and he replied, "One has to perform ablution (after it)." (See Hadith No. 269).


Volume 1, Book 4, Number 137:

Narrated Abu Huraira:  Allah's Apostle said, "The prayer of a person who does ,Hadath (passes, urine, stool or wind) is not accepted till he performs (repeats) the ablution." A person from Hadaramout asked Abu Huraira, "What is 'Hadath'?" Abu Huraira replied, " 'Hadath' means the passing of wind from the anus."



Note on using the toilet: When outdoors, refrain from facing Qibla or Bait’ul Maqdis or make sure to have a screen between yourself and Qibla or Bait’ul Maqdis.


Volume 1, Book 4, Number 147:  

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar:  People say, "Whenever you sit for answering the call of nature, you should not face the Qibla or Bait-ulMaqdis (Jerusalem)." I told them. "Once I went up the roof of our house and I saw Allah's Apostle answering the call of nature while sitting on two bricks facing Bait-ul-Maqdis (Jerusalem) (but there was a screen covering him. ' (FatehAl-Bari, Page 258, Vol. 1).


Food not a problem in some instances

Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 4, Number 207:

Narrated Ja'far bin 'Amr bin Umaiya:   My father said, "I saw Allah's Apostle taking a piece of (cooked) mutton from the shoulder region and then he was called for prayer. He put his knife down and prayed without repeating ablution."


Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 4, Number 208:

Narrated Suwaid bin Al-Nu'man:   In the year of the conquest of Khaibar I went with Allah's Apostle till we reached Sahba,' a place near Khaibar, where Allah's Apostle offered the 'Asr prayer and asked for food. Nothing but Sawrq was brought. He ordered it to be moistened with water. He and all of us ate it and the Prophet got up for the evening prayer (Maghrib prayer), rinsed his mouth with water and we did the same, and he then prayed without repeating the ablution.



What is Tayamum?

Tayammum is a "dry ablution" using clean soil, rock, or sand and is to be performed when water is not readily available to perform ablution or when one is defiled (on janabah) and could not perform ghusl.


The method of tayamum is to stroke the earth (rock, sand, dirt), blow the dust off of the hands and then wipe over the face and the hands.


Volume 1, Book 7, Number 332:

Narrated 'Urwa's father: Aisha said, "I borrowed a necklace from Asma' and it was lost. So Allah's Apostle sent a man to search for it and he found it. Then the time of the prayer became due and there was no water. They prayed (without ablution) and informed Allah's Apostle about it, so the verse of Tayammum was revealed." Usaid bin Hudair said to 'Aisha, "May Allah reward you. By Allah, whenever anything happened which you did not like, Allah brought good for you and for the Muslims in that."

Al-Jurf and the time for the 'Asr prayer became due while he was at Marbad-AnNa'am (sheep-fold), so he (performed Tayammum) and prayed there and then entered Medina when the sun was still high but he did not repeat that prayer.



Volume 1, Book 7, Number 334:

Narrated 'Abdur Rahman bin Abza:   A man came to 'Umar bin Al-Khattab and said, "I became Junub but no water was available." 'Ammar bin Yasir said to 'Umar, "Do you remember that you and I (became Junub while both of us) were together on a journey and you didn't pray but I rolled myself on the ground and prayed? I informed the Prophet about it and he said, 'It would have been sufficient for you to do like this.' The Prophet then stroked lightly the earth with his hands and then blew off the dust and passed his hands over his face and hands."



Volume 1, Book 7, Number 344:

Narrated 'Imran bin Husain Al-Khuza'i:  Allah's Apostle saw a person sitting aloof and not praying with the people. He asked him, "O so and so! What prevented you from offering the prayer with the people?" He replied, "O Allah's Apostle! I am Junub and there is no water." The Prophet said, "Perform Tayammum with clean earth and that will be sufficient for you."








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