How to perform ablution (wudu) | Step by Step

What is Wudu (Ablution)?

According to Sharee’ah, Wudu is the using of clean and cleansing water upon certain parts of the body in a way prescribed and explained by Allah (swt) and His Messenger (pbuh).

Wudu as defined above is an obligatory act for every Muslim. Without a complete and correct ablution, a person’s Salaat can never be considered valid. Wudu is therefore a very important pillar of Salaat which is also part of the important pillars of Islam.

What did the Quran say about Ablution (wudu)?

O you who believe! When you stand (intend) to offer the Salah (the prayer), then wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. (Quran – 5: 6)

From the above verse from the Quran, Allah (swt) commanded performing Wudu before Salaat. This is a command of obligation in the case of impurity, and in the case of purity, it is merely a recommendation.

Abu Hurayrah (ra) reported the Prophet (pbuh) to have said,

The prayer of anyone of you breaching purification is not accepted unless he makes wudu. [Muslim (no.225) and many others]

All the above narrations are just to prove the obligation of ablution before performing Salaat. Despite the fact that we perform ablution each day for Salaat or reading the Quran, a lot of Muslims really doesn’t know how to perform ablution the right way.

I am talking about the kind of ablution our beloved Prophet (pbuh) and His companions use to perform. This fact has interest me a lot to do a wonderful research for fellow Muslims and dear new Muslims who doesn’t know how to go about wudu the correct way.

I sincerely advise all Muslims to read this to the end so that we can check whether we were really doing the right thing.

  • Declaration of Intention

Don’t start to perform ablution until you clearly made your intention. This is the first step for performing ablution. In fact, declaring intention is the first step of doing every good deed in Islam. And intention is not by word of mouth. It is rather in the heart.

Ibn Taimiyya (ra) said:

“The place of the niyyah (intention) is the heart and not tongue in all forms of ibaadah – and that is agreed upon by all the Muslim scholars – Purification, Prayer, Zakat, Sawm, Hajj, Jihad, etc. they all begin with intention.

If He were to express with his tongue other than that which he intended in his heart – then what he intended is counted, not what he said.

If he voiced the intention with his tongue and the intention was not in his heart, that will not count – (by total agreement of all the scholars of Islam) – so the niyyah is the firm intention and resolve itself.”

Actions are judged by their intentions, and each person will earn what he intended. (Prophet Muhammad)

Therefore, the Niyyah is the firm resolve of the heart to perform wudu in obedience to the order of Allah (swt) and His Messenger (pbuh).

  • Begin in the name of Allah’s

Just like the intention, starting in the name of Allah is also recommended before performing any Deed.

It is recommended before starting any action for instance, Bislmillah is recommended before starting a Khutbah (speech), before eating, before reading, before doing anything.  There is a Hadith concerning this practice.

Abu Hurayrah (ra) reported that Rasuulillah (pbuh) said: “There is no wudu (Ablution) for him who does not mention Allah’s name upon it.” [At-Tirmidhee (no.26) and others]

Thus, it is obligatory as we have shown, however, the one who forgets should mention Allah’s name as soon as he remembers.

  • Wash Your Hands three times

After you declare your intention and mention to start in Allah’s name, you should then begin by washing your hands up to the wrist three times.

Humraan (ra) narrates that ‘Othman called for water to perform ablution and washed his hands three times… then said: I saw Rasuulillah (pbuh) perform ablution just as I have made ablution. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

  • Wash your Mouth and Nose together with one handful (of Water)

At this stage of the wudu, you should not wash your mouth, after which you then wash your nose or vice versa. Rather, with a handful of water, wash both your mouth and nose together up to three times.

You don’t understand? OK

What is meant here is that, with the same hand full of water, rinse your mouth with some of the water and use the remaining to clean your nose.

To clean your nose, enter water into it and then expel it. Do this up to three times.

Al-Imam an-Nawawi says: And in this hadeeth is a clear proof for the correct opinion that the Sunnah in washing the mouth and nose is that it should be with three handfuls of water – washing the mouth and nose (together) with each of them.

What should be clear here is that washing the mouth and the nose is an obligatory part of Wudu. Thus, the most important thing is for you to wash the mouth and the nose respectively, the recommended is washing them together as stated above.

It is recommended to use the right hand when rinsing the mouth and nostrils, i.e. when putting water into them. And use the left hand when rinsing the nostrils out i.e. clearing them from dirt. This is based on the behaviour of Ali ibn Abi Talib (as).

  • Wash your face up to three times

The face includes the front part of the head, where the nose, mouth eyes and other features are.

It includes everything between the beginnings of the hair down to the cheeks and the chin, and up to the start of the ears including that which is between the beard and ear.

Wash the face. Washing it once is the minimum. It is best to wash it three times by pouring water on the face. The face must be covered with water from the top, where hair grows, down to the bottom of the chin or beard, and from right to left earlobe.

Washing the face is an obligatory part of ablution hence should never be left out as stated in the Quran “…then wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows…” (Quran – ch. 5: vs. 6)

  • Wash your arms and elbows (three times)

At this stage, the part to be washed includes the tips of the fingers up to the elbows (including the elbows).

Wash the hands up to the elbows once as minimum, however, three times is the best as practiced by the Prophet (pbuh).

It is recommended to start with the right hand, then the left, and move the ring and watch (if any) so that water will reach under them.

I saw Abu Hurayrah make wudu – he washed his face and completed the wudu, then washed his right hand until he reached the upper arm, then his left hand till he reached the upper arm” – then in the end of the hadith he said: “This is how I saw the Prophet (pbuh) make wudu” (Muslim, 1/246).

There are scholarly difference regarding washing the arms including the elbows – Some says that the elbows must be included in the washing, and others says this is not so.

This difference in opinion is as a result of their disagreement over the meaning of the word “ilaa” in the verse. Does it mean up to (until) or up to (including) the elbows.

We are not scholars, so let’s not worry so much about these terms; rather, let’s find the proof from authentic source as follows:

Humran Ibn Aban reports: Othman (ra) called for water for wudu and mentioned the Prophet’s way of making wudu – and Humraan said: then he washed his right arm including the elbow three times, then the left in the same way. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Therefore, my dear reader, it is very clear from the above hadith that the Prophet (pbuh) used to wash the elbows further, he used to increase upon that and was part of the upper arm.

  • Wipe your head and ears with wet hands

Wipe your head once with wet hands from the front to the back then the other way round. Then wipe your ears once from the inside with your index fingers, meanwhile, with your thumbs, wipe the outer part of the ears.

It was reported that “The Prophet (pbuh) wiped his head and entered his two forefingers into his ears and wiped the backs of his ears with his thumbs.”

In another description of the Prophet’s wudu’, it was mentioned that: He wiped his head (with water) only once”. (Agreed upon).

When you are wearing a turban?

Well, if your turban is covering the whole part of your hair which you don’t want to remove, then you can wipe your wet hands over the turban.

It was reported that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) made wudu and wiped over his forelock and over the turban and leather socks.” (Reported by Muslim, 1/159)

But remember that with a cap or hat on the head, you cannot wipe over because there is no difficulty in their removal and also, they do not cover all of the head normally, nor are they tied around it.

As for the woman’s head cover – it is permissible to wipe over it as Umm Salamah used to wipe over her head cover – as reported by Ibn al-Mundir.

  • Wash your right and left feet and ankles

Wash the feet up to the ankles. The ankles should be included in washing. It is better to wash them three times from the toes up to the ankles. However, washing them once is the minimum.

Begin by washing the right foot first then follow by the left one.

It was reported that Othman (ra) called for water for wudu and then mentioned the wudu of the Prophet (pbuh) – then Humran said: Then he washed his right foot to the ankle three times and then his left foot to the ankle three times.

  • Du’a to recite after performing Ablution

After you finished the ablution as it is, it is advised to recite the following supplication:

Ash-hadu alla ilaha illallah, wa ash-hadu anna Mohammadan Abdoho wa Rasoolah. Allahomma aj’alnee minattawwabeen, waj’alnee mottatahhireen.

This means:

I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship, but Allah, He has no partner, and I bear witness that Mohammad is His servant and His Messenger. O Allah, make me of those who repent for their sins, and of those who keep themselves pure.)

Useful facts about ablution:

  • It is permissible after both wudu and ghusl to dry the body-parts. And the evidence is what Aisha (ra) reports, she said: Rasuulullah (pbuh) had a cloth which he used to dry himself with after making wudu.
  • You can perform more than one prayer with one ablution.
  • It is desirable to use miswaak at any different times as it is established from the prophet (pbuh) that he used to use the siwaak at every prayer, and before reading the Quran, and before sleeping and when waking, and when the breath changes – whether fasting or not, whether at the start of the day on in the afternoon, and it is a form of worship which is easy. O my Muslim Brother, observe it!

Ablution is invalidated by the happening of any of the following:

  • Natural discharges; i.e. urine, stools, gas … etc.
  • Falling asleep
  • Losing sense; i.e. becoming unconscious for any reason such as madness, sickness, drunkenness or by taking drugs
  • Eating camel meat

This is what Allah (swt) has made easy for us to gather together about wudu and its rulings. We hope from Allah the Most High that we have been able to do justice to the subject.

Please any brother or sister who comes across anything in this post which is incorrect, I trust him or her to cover up and give sincere advice in the comments bellow. It is Allah (swt) who grants success.

Thanks very much for stepping by and having a look. Don’t forget to leave a comment if you have a question, suggestion or corrections to make. Let’s also use the power of social media to do the work of Allah. I appeal you to share this to your friends. May you succeed in everything you do.

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