Can you please describe the obligatory and Sunnah acts of Wudoo/Islamic ablution?
Praise be to Allaah.
Firstly we praise Allaah for having guided you and opened your heart. We ask Allaah to make us and you steadfast in obeying Him. We appreciate your efforts to learn about your religion and we advise you to strive to acquire knowledge so that your worship will be correct. Try to learn Arabic so that you will be able to read Qur’aan and understand it properly. We ask Allaah to bless you with beneficial knowledge.
With regard to how wudoo’ is to be done, there are two ways.
1 – Obligatory parts of wudoo’, which are as follows:
(i) Washing the face completely once, which includes rinsing the mouth and nose.
(ii) Washing the arms up to the elbows, once.
(iii) Wiping the entire head, including the ears.
(iv) Washing the feet up to ankles, once.
What is meant by once in all the above is that the entire part of the body mentioned must be washed thoroughly.
(v) This must be done in order, so one washes the face first, then the arms, then wipes the head, then washes the feet, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did wudoo’ in this order.
(vi) This must be done continuously, i.e., the parts of the body must be washed one after the other with no lengthy interruption between washing one part and the next.
These are the obligatory parts of wudoo’ which must be done in order for wudoo’ to be sound.
The evidence for these obligatory parts of wudoo’ is the aayah in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! When you intend to offer As-Salaah (the prayer), 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. If you are in a state of Janaaba (i.e. after a sexual discharge), purify yourselves (bathe your whole body). But if you are ill or on a journey, or any of you comes after answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women (i.e. sexual intercourse), and you find no water, then perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands. Allaah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favour to you that you may be thankful” [al-Maa’idah 5:6]
2 – Mustahabb parts of wudoo’. These were narrated in the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), the details of which are as follows:
(i) You must have the intention of purifying yourself and removing impurity. The intention should not be spoken out loud for its place is in the heart. This applies to all acts of worship.
(ii) You should say Bismillaah.
(iii) Then you should wash your hands three times
(iv) Then you should rinse your mouth three times, swirling the water around inside your mouth, and rinse your nose three times, blowing the water out and using the left hand to remove the water from your nose.
(v) You should wash you face three times, from the hairline to the jawbone and chin, and from ear to ear. A man should wash the hair of his beard because it is part of the face. If his beard is thin he has to wash it inside and out, and if it is thick and covers the skin, he should wash the surface of it only and run his wet fingers through it.
(vi) Then he should wash his arms up to the elbows three times. The arm extends from the fingertips, including the nails, to the lower part of the upper arm. It is essential to remove anything stuck to the hands before washing them, such as dough, mud, paint, etc, that could prevent the water from reaching the skin.
(vii) Then after that he should wipe his head and ears once with fresh water, not the water left over from washing his arms. The way in which the head is to be wiped is that you put your wet hands at the front of your head and bring them to the back of your head, then bring them back to the place where you started. Then put your index fingers in your ears and wipe the back of the ears with your thumbs. With regard to a woman’s hair, she should wipe it whether it is loose or braided from the front of her head to the roots of the hair at the nape of her neck, but she does not have to wipe the entire length of her hair.
(viii) Then you should wash your feet three times up to the ankles, namely the bones at the bottom of the leg.
The evidence for that is the hadeeth narrated by Humraan the freed slave of ‘Uthmaan, who said that ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan (may Allaah be pleased with him) called for water to do wudoo’. He washed his hands three times, then he rinsed his mouth and nose, then he washed his face three times, then he washed his right arm up to the elbow three times, then he washed his left arm likewise. Then he wiped his head, then he washed his right foot up to the ankle three times, then he washed his left foot likewise. Then he said, “I saw the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) doing wudoo’ as I have done it, then the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Whoever does wudoo’ as I have done it, then prays two rak’ahs in which he focuses completely on his prayer, his previous sins will be forgiven.’” (Narrated by Muslim, al-Tahaarah, 331)
The conditions of wudoo are: being Muslim, being of sound mind, having reached the age of discernment and having the intention of doing wudoo’. Wudoo’ is not valid on the part of a kaafir, an insane person, a small child who has not yet reached the age of discernment or one who does not have the intention of doing wudoo’ because his intention is to cool himself down, for example. The water must also be pure (taahir), for impure (naajis) water cannot be used for wudoo’. One must also remove anything that could prevent water from reaching the skin and nails, such as nail polish.
It is prescribed to say Bismillaah according to the majority of scholars, but they differ as to whether it is obligatory or Sunnah. If one remembers to say it, it may be said either at the beginning of wudoo’ or during it.
There is no difference between men and women in the way wudoo’ should be done.
It is mustahabb to say, when one has completed wudoo’: “Ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allaah wahdahu laa shareeka lah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhu (I bear witness that there is no god except Allaah alone with no partner or associate, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah),” because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no one among you who does wudoo’ and does it properly and does it well, then he says, ‘Ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allaah wahdahu laa shareeka lah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhu,’ but the gates of Paradise will be opened to him and he may enter through whichever of them he wishes.” (Narrated by Muslim, al-Tahaarah, 345). A report narrated by al-Tirmidhi adds: “Allaahumma ij’alni min al-tawwaabeena wa’j’alni min al-mutatahhireen (O Allaah, make me one of those who repent and make me one of those who purify themselves).” (al-Tahaarah, 50; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood, no. 48)
See al-Mulakhkhas al-Fiqhi by al-Fawzaan, 1/36)
With regard to your saying “may Allaah have mercy on the Prophet “, what is prescribed in Islam is to send blessings and peace upon him, as Allaah commanded us to do when He said (interpretation of the meaning):
“Allaah sends His Salaah (Graces, Honours, Blessings, Mercy) on the Prophet (Muhammad), and also His angels (ask Allaah to bless and forgive him). O you who believe! Send your Salaah on (ask Allaah to bless) him (Muhammad), and (you should) greet (salute) him with the Islamic way of greeting (salutation, i.e. As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum)” [al-Ahzaab 33:56]