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Wuḍūʾ (Arabic: الوضوء) is a ritual action that brings about purity and cleanliness. It is performed by washing one's face and hands, and then wiping one's head and feet in the specific way explained in the manuals of Islamic laws.
Wudu' is mustahab (supererogatory) per se, but it is obligatory for some actions, such as prayer and tawaf around the Ka'ba. There are tow ways to perform the wudu': sequential (tartibi), by immersion (irtimasi). In some cases, one should perform ghusl or tayammum instead of wudu'. Also jabira wudu' should be performed if there is a splint. In the Wudu' Verse of the Quran, the way to perform the wudu' is stated, and its details are elaborated in hadiths.
Scholars of Islamic ethics and hadiths have emphasized the importance of having wudu' and being pure all the time.
The word "wudu'" means purity and cleanliness. In the terminology of fiqh, it refers to the act of washing one's face and arms and wiping one's head and feet (mash) as prescribed in the Quran and the sunna. Since this practice leads to the purity and cleanliness of one's body and spirit, it is called "wudu'".
Performing wudu' is mustahab (recommended), but it is obligatory for saying prayers, tawaf, touching the verses of Quran, touching the name of God, and presumably, the names of the Prophet (s) and Ahl al-Bayt (a). Having wudu' is doubly and emphatically recommended for actions such as carrying a volume of the Quran, reciting the Quran, reciting supplications, and going to a mosque or a holy shrine.
In Quran and hadiths
The only verse of the Quran concerning the wudu' and how to perform it is the sixth verse of Sura al-Ma'ida:
|“||O you who have faith! When you stand up for prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, and wipe a part of your heads and your feet, up to the ankles.||”|
In the two collections of Shiite hadiths, Wasa'il al-Shi'a and Mustadrak al-wasa'il, there are about 565 hadiths regarding wudu', which shows its importance. Some of these hadiths express the judicial rulings of wudu' and some concern its effects. According to hadiths wudu' prolongs one's life, removes one's anger and remorse; and also wudu is a light, and a wudu' over a wudu' is a double light that covers the sins between two wudu's.
Difference of Shias and Sunnis
On some accounts, there was no disagreement among Muslims over the manner of wudu' until the end of 'Umar b. al-Khattab's caliphate, but during the claiphate of 'Uthman b. 'Affan, disagreements emerged over how to perform the wudu'. According to al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, 'Uthman made changes in the manner of wudu'. In his account of the Prophet's (s) wudu', he once mentions the wiping (mash) the feet, but in another account, he says that the Prophet (s) washed his feet.
According to a hadith from Imam 'Ali (a):
- If the religion had to be in accordance with people's opinions, wiping the feet's soles would be better than that of their tops, but I saw that the Prophet (s) wiped the top of his feet.
According to some hadiths in Sunni sources, Gabriel taught the Prophet (s) to wipe his feet.
In ordinary conditions, it can be performed either by sequence (tartibi) or by immersion (irtimasi), and in certain cases, it should be performed over jabira (bandage or splint).
The most common type of wudu' is the sequential (tartibi) wudu' in which one first intends to perform the wudu' and then washes their face and then their right hand followed by washing their left hand, and then one should run the remaining water of their palms on the top of their head and the top of their right and left feet, respectively.
The face should be washed from top to down—from the area above the forehead in which hair usually grows down to one's chin, with the width of one hand (extending from the middle finger to the thumb).
The hands should be washed from above the elbows to the tip of fingers; the water should run under one's rings, watch, and bracelet. It is obligatory to wash one's arms once, and it is permitted to wash them twice (according to the majority of faqihs), but it is forbidden to wash it for three times, though the wudu' would still be valid. However, if one washes one's left arm for three times, one's wudu' would be invalid, because the wiping of the heads and the feet would then occur with extra water other than the one with which one has performed the wudu'.
It is recommended for men to start washing their arms by the outer part of their elbows and for women to do it from the inner part thereof.
Wiping head and feet
When both arms are washed, one should run the remaining water of one's palms over one's head and over their right foot and then the left foot. The wiping (mash) of the head should be over the top of the head (the area between one's sinciput and one's forehead) and the direction is towards the forehead. If one's hair is too long, then the endpoint of one's hair or one's skin should be touched (one can open one's hair to reach his hand to the skin). It is sufficient to perform the wiping over however much of the crown that one pleases, but it is recommended (and on some views, it is an obligatory caution) that one performs wiping over an area of the crown of the length of one finger and the width of three closed fingers. Wiping of the feet is performed from the tip of the toes (not the top of one's nails) to one's ankles (and on some views, to the rising part of feet).
Wudu' by Immersion
In wudu' by immersion (irtimasi), instead of running water on the relevant parts of the body, one should immerse them inside water from top to down, or one should first immerse them inside water and then take them out from top to down with the intention of wudu', and then perform the wiping of one's head and feet with the remaining water on one's hands.
"Jabira" is a splint with which one fastens a broken limb as well as medicine put on it, and performing wudu' with such a splint is called "jabira" wudu'. If it is difficult or harmful to open the splint, or one should not pour water on the injured or the broken limb, then jabira wudu' should be performed, that is, one should wash the parts of the limb that can be washed, and then run one's soaked hand over the splint.
If the splint covers the whole limb, then one should perform tayammum instead of wudu' (on some views, in such a case, both jabira wudu' and tayammum are obligatory).
Conditions and Rulings
|This section is a general introduction to the rulings of a fiqhi topic.|
- The water and the relevant parts of the body should be clean (not najis).
- The water should not be mixed [mudaf] (such as juice, rosewater, or muddy water).
- The water, its container, and the place of wudu' should not be usurped or seized without the permission of the owner.
- The water container should not be golden or silver.
- There should be enough time for the wudu' (if there is not enough time for the wudu' such that one cannot have their prayer in its time, then one should perform tayammum instead).
- The wudu' should be performed with the intention of proximity to God.
- The specified order or steps should be observed.
- It should be consecutive.
- One should not be helped in performing the wudu' by others.
- Water should not be harmful to one's body.
- There should be nothing in one's relevant parts that prevent them from being soaked by water.
If one had performed a wudu', but is now in doubt of whether their wudu' was invalidated, then they do not have to perform the wudu' again. And if one is certain that their wudu' was invalidated, but is now in doubt of whether they performed another wudu' or not, then they have to perform another one.
Ghusl instead of Wudu
If one has performed ghusl al-jinaba, then one should perform their prayers with that ghusl and should not perform a wudu', unless their ghusl is invalidated (e.g. by defecation or urination). There is a disagreement among faqihs over whether other ghusls suffice for wudu' or not.
The following items invalidate one's wudu':
- Defecation, urination, and emission of flatulence (emission of liquids other than semen and urine does not invalidate the wudu').
- A sleep in which one's eyes do not see and one's ears do not hear. However, if one's ears can still hear, then the wudu' is not invalidated.
- Things that cause the loss of one's consciousness, such as madness, drunkenness, and anesthesia.
- Everything that requires ghusl, such as jinaba and touching a corpse under certain conditions.
- Being in the direction of qibla
- Brushing one's teeth before the wudu'
- Rinsing the inner mouth (madmada) and sniffing water and blowing it out (istinshaq) before the wudu'
- The water used for wudu' should not be over 750 grams (about three ordinary glasses)
- Letting the parts dry by themselves
- Reciting Sura al-Qadr while performing the wudu'
- Reciting specific supplications of wudu'
It is recommended that the following supplication be recited when performing the wudu'. The supplication is cited from Imam 'Ali (a). It expresses some mysteries of the wudu' and its manners as well.
|Part of wudu'||Supplication|
|When seeing the water||Praise to God who made the water purifier and not unclean|
|When washing one's hands||In the name of God and in his essence, O God! Make me return to you and seek purity|
|When rinsing the inner mouth||O God! When I meet you, suggest me a firm reason and make my tongue mention you|
|When sniffing water and blowing it out||O God! Do not deny me the odor of the Heaven and put me among those who smell its fragrance|
|When washing the face||O God! Whiten my face on the day when some faces turn black, and do not blacken my face on the day when some faces turn white|
|When washing the right arm||O God! Give the letter of my actions to my right hand and the letter of my eternal stay in the Heaven to my left hand and be lenient on evaluating my actions|
|When washing the left arm||O God! Do not give the letter of my actions to my left hand, nor give it to me from behind; do not hang it from my neck. I refuge to you from fires|
|When performing the wiping of the head||O God! Bless me with your mercy|
|When performing the wiping of the feet||O God! Make me steadfast on sirat (the bridge) on the day when feet slip, and direct my attempts to what makes you satisfied, O the honorable and respectable!|
|When the wudu' is finished||O God! I ask you the completeness of the wudu' and the prayer and your satisfaction and your Heaven. Praise is exclusively for God, the Lord of the worlds!|
- The material for this article was mainly taken from وضو in Farsi WikiShia.