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Sunnah Acts of Wudu

04 July, 2023
Q What are the sunnah acts of wudu?


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

Some of the Sunnah acts of wudu are: mentioning the name of Allah, dental hygiene, washing the hands three times, rinsing the mouth three times, sniffing up and blowing out water three times, running one’s fingers through his beard, running water through one’s fingers and toes, repeating each washing three times, beginning each action with the right side, rubbing the limbs with water, wiping the ears, supplication while performing wudu, supplication after wudu, praying two rak`ah after wudu, etc.

In his famous work, Fiqh As-Sunnah, Sheikh Sayyid Sabiq, elaborates on the sunnah acts of wudu as follows:

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We will deal with those acts connected with the wudu, but which are not obligatory, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not rigorously stick to them or censure anyone for not doing them. They are as follows:

There are some weak hadith that mention this act, and all of the chains of these hadiths point to the fact that there is some basis for this act. In any case, it is a good act in and of itself and, in general, it is part of the Islamic law.

  • Dental Hygiene

This involves using a stick or similar object to clean one’s teeth. The best type to use is that of the arak tree found in the Hejaz. Such a practice strengthens the gums, prevents tooth disease, helps digestion and facilitates the flow of urine.

This sunnah is fulfilled by using any object which removes yellow stains on the teeth and cleans the mouth, such as a toothbrush, and so on.

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Were it not to be a hardship on my community, I would have ordered them to use a toothbrush for every wudu.” (Malik, ash-Shafi`i, al-Baihaqi and al-Hakim.)

Aishah reported that the Prophet said, “The toothbrush purifies the mouth and is pleasing to the Lord.” (Ahmad, an-Nasa’i and at-Tirmidhi)

Using a toothbrush is liked at any time, but there are five times in which it is especially liked:

  1. wudu,
  2. prayer,
  3. reading the Qur’an,
  4. rising from sleep, and
  5. when the taste in one’s mouth has changed.

Fasting and non-fasting people may use it at the beginning, the end, or at any other time during the day. ‘Amr ibn Rabi’ah said, “I have seen the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, on countless occasions using a toothbrush while fasting.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi)

When one uses a toothbrush, it is sunnah to clean it afterwards. Said Aishah, “When the Prophet (peace be upon him) used his toothbrush, he would give it to me. I would wash it, use it, wash it again and give it back to him.” (Abu Dawud and alBaihaqi)

It is part of the sunnah that one who has no teeth may use his fingers to clean his mouth. Asked Aishah, “O Messenger of Allah, how should a toothless person cleanse his mouth?” “By putting his fingers into his mouth,” he replied. (At-Tabarani)

  • Washing the hands three times at the beginning

This is based on the hadith of Aws ibn Aws al-Thaqafi who said, “I saw the Messenger of Allah make wudu, and he washed his hands three times.” (Ahmad and an-Nasa’i.)

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “When one of you rises from his sleep, he should not put his hand into a pot until he has washed it three times, for he does not know where his hand was (while he slept).” (Related by “the group”, al-Bukhari did not mention the number of times.)

  • Rinsing the mouth three times

Laqit ibn Sabrah reported that the Prophet said, “When one performs wudu, he should rinse his mouth.” (Abu Dawud and al-Baihaqi)

  • Sniffing up and blowing out water three times

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “When one of you performs wudu, he should sniff water up his nostrils and then blow it out.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawud)

The sunnah is to put the water into the nostrils with the right hand and blow it out with the left. ‘Ali once called for water for wudu, rinsed his mouth, sniffed up water into his nostrils and blew it out with his left hand. He did that three times and then said, “That is how the Prpohet, upon whom be peace, would purify himself.” (Ahmad and an-Nasa’i)

This sunnah is fulfilled by putting water into the mouth and nostrils in any way. The practice of the Prophet was to do both acts at the same time. `Abdullah ibn Zayd said, “The Prophet would rinse his mouth and nose with just one hand (at one time, together). He did that three times.” In one narration it says, “He would rinse his mouth and nose with three scoops of water.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

It is also sunnah to be plentiful (with water) while performing this sunnah, except if one is fasting. Laqit asked the Prophet, “Inform me about your wudu.” He replied, “Complete and perfect the wudu and (put water) between your fingers. Use lots of water while sniffing it up your nostrils, unless you are fasting.” (Related by “the five.” At-Tirmidhi said it is sahih)

  • Running one’s fingers through his beard

Aishah reported that the Messenger of Allah would run his fingers through his beard. (Related by Ibn Majah and at-Tirmidhi, who classified it as sahih)

Anas said that when the Messenger of Allah performed wudu, he would take a handful of water and put it under his jaws and pass it through his beard. He said, “This is what my Lord, Allah, ordered me to do.” (Abu Dawud, al-Baihaqi and al-Hakim)

  • Running water through one’s fingers and toes

Ibn `Abbas said that when the Messenger of Allah performed wudu, he would run his fingers through his fingers and toes. (Related by “the five,” except Ahmad.)

It is also related that it is preferable to remove jewelry, for example, rings, bracelets, and so on, while performing wudu. Even though these reports are not accepted as fully authentic, one must follow them, for they fall under the general category of completing and perfecting the wudu.

  • Repeating each washing three times

This is a sunnah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) almost always followed. If he acted otherwise, it was just to show that the other acts are permissible. ‘Amr ibn Shu’aib related on the authority of his father from his grandfather who said: “A bedouin came to the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, and asked him about the wudu. He showed him how to wash each part three times and said, ‘This is the wudu. Whoever does more than that has done wrong, transgressed and committed evil.” (Ahmad, an-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah)

`Uthman also reported that the Messenger of Allah would repeat each washing three times. (Ahmad, Muslim and at-Tirmidhi) It is also proven that he performed each washing only once or twice. According to most of the reports, he wiped his head only once.

  • Beginning each action with the right side

Said Aishah, “The Messenger of Allah loved to begin with his right side while putting on his shoes, straightening his hair and cleaning (or purifying) himself.” (Al-Bukhari and Musilm)

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet said, “When you clothe or wash yourself, begin with your right side.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi, and an-Nasa’i.)

  • Rubbing the limbs with water

This means to rub the hands over the bodily parts with water. `Abdullah ibn Zayd reported that the Messenger of Allah was brought a pot of water which he used to perform wudu, and then rubbed his arms. (Ibn Khuzaimah)

He also related that the Messenger of Allah performed wudu, then rubbed his limbs. (Abu Dawud at-Tayalisi, Ahmad, Ibn Hibban and Abu Ya`la)

  • Close sequence

Each bodily part must be washed right after the other in the prescribed sequence (without separating the washing of the different parts of acts not related to the abution). This is the customary practice of the early and later generations of Muslims.

  • Wiping the ears

The sunnah is to wipe the interior of the ears with the index fingers and the exterior portions with the thumbs. The water used to wipe the head is also used for the ears, as the ears are part of the head. Al-Miqdam ibn Ma`d Yakrib reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) wiped his head and his ears, the interior and exterior, while making wudu. He also put his finger inside his ear. (Abu Dawud and at-Tahawi)

While describing the wudu of the Prophet (peace be upon him) Ibn ‘Umar said, “He wiped his head and ears with one wipe.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud) In one narration it states, “He wiped the inner portion of his ears with his index finger, and the outer portion with his thumb.”

  • Elongating the streaks of light

This refers to washing the complete forehead, a practice which is more than what is obligatory in washing the face, and will increase the streak of light (on the Day of Judgement). It also refers to washing above the elbows and ankles. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “My nation will come with bright streaks of light from the traces of wudu.” Abu Hurairah then said, “If one can lengthen his streak of light, he should do so.” (Ahmad, al-Bukhari and Muslim) Abu Zar`ah related that when Abu Hurairah made wudu, he washed his arms above his elbows and his feet up to his calves. He was asked, “Why do you do this?” He said, “This is the extent of the embellishment.” (Ahmad) According to al-Bukhari and Muslim, its chain is sahih.

  • Economizing the use of water, even if one is in front of the sea

Anas said, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to perform ghusl (the complete bathing) with a sa’a of water (1.616 cm) 3 to 5 madd (each 4 madd equals one sa’a). He also used to make wudu with one madd (404 cm) of water.” (Al-Bukhari and Musim) `Ubaidullah ibn Abu Yazid narrated that a man asked Ibn `Abbas, “How much water is sufficient for ghusl?” He answered, “One madd.” “And how much is sufficient for ghusl?” He said, “One sa’a.” The man said, “That is not sufficient for me.” “Ibn ‘Abbas said, “No? It was sufficient for one better than you, the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace.” (Ahmad, al-Bazaar and at-Tabarani in al-Kabeer. Its narrators are trustworthy.)

`Abdullah ibn `Umar narrated that the Messenger of Allah passed by Sa`d while he was performing wudu and said, “What is this extravagance, Sa`d?” He said, “Is there extravagance in the use of water?” He said, “Yes, even if you are at a flowing river.” (Ahmad and Ibn Majah with a weak chain)

Extravagance is to use water without any benefit, like washing the parts more than three times. Ibn Shu`aib’s hadith, quoted earlier, illustrates the point in question. ‘Abdullah ibn Mughaffal narrated that he heard the Prophet say, “There will be people from my nation who will transgress in making supplications and in purifying themselves.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud and an-Nasa’i)

Says al-Bukhari, “The scholars do not like one to use water beyond what the Prophet (peace be upon him) used for wudu.

  • Supplication while performing wudu

There is nothing confirmed from the Prophet (peace be upon him) regarding supplications during wudu save the hadith of Abu Musa al-Ash’ari who said, “I came to the Messenger of Allah with water. While he was performing wudu, I heard him supplicate, ‘O Allah, forgive my sins. Make my residence spacious for me and bless me in my provisions.’ I said, ‘O Prophet of Allah, I heard you supplicating such and such.’ He said, ‘Did I leave anything out?” (An-Nasa’i and Ibn as-Sunni with a sahih chain) An-Nawawi includes this event under the chapter, What is to be said after one completes the wudu, and Ibn as-Sunni has it under, What is to be said when one is in the state of wudu.

An-Nawawi holds that both meanings may be implied from the hadith.

  • Supplication after wudu

`Umar reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “If one completes (and perfects) the wudu and then says, ‘I testify that there is no god except Allah, the One Who has no partner, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger,” the eight gates of paradise will be opened for him and he may enter any of them that he wishes.” (Muslim)

Abu Sa`eed al-Khudri reported that the Prophet said, “Whoever makes wudu and says, ‘Glory be to Thee, O Allah, and the praise be to Thee. I bear witness that there is no god except You. I beg Your forgiveness and I repent unto you,’ will have it written for him, and placed on a tablet which will not be broken until the Day of Resurrection. This hadith is related by at-Tabarani in al-Awsat. Its narrators are of the sahih. An-Nasa’i has it with the wording. “It will be stamped with a seal, placed below the throne, and it will not be broken until the Day of Resurrection.” The correct statement is that it is mawquf.

As for the supplication, “Allah, cause me to be from among the repentant, and cause me to be from among the pure,” it has been narrated by at-Tirmidhi who said, “Its chain is muzhtarib and there is nothing authentic concerning this (supplication).”

  • Praying two rak`ah after wudu

Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said to Bilal, “O Bilal, tell me what good deed you have done in Islam that I hear the sound of your footsteps in Paradise?” Bilal said, “That after I purify myself during the day or night, I pray with that purification as much as Allah has destined for me.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) `Uqbah ibn ‘Aamr related that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said, “If one performs and perfects his wudu and prays two rak`ah with his heart and face (completely on his prayer), Paradise becomes his.” (Muslim, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah and Ibn Khuzaimah in his Sahih)

Khumran, the client of ‘Uthman, added, “I saw ‘Uthman call for water for wudu, pour it from the pot onto his right hand and wash it three times. He then put his right hand into the container, rinsed his mouth and nose and blew the water out. Then he washed his face three times, followed by his arms up to the elbows. Then he washed his feet three times and said ‘I saw the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, make wudu like this.’ And then he would say, ‘Whoever makes wudu like this and then prays two rak`ah without having any other concern on his mind, all his past sins will be forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others)

Other practices (protecting the eyes and wrinkles, removing any rings, wiping the neck, and so on) have not been mentioned here as their narrations are still questionable. But, one may follow them as part of general cleanliness.

Almighty Allah knows best.