How to Perform Wudu’

By Abdul-Rahman Al Sheha

One should know that one must perform wudu’ ( ablution) before the Prayer, due to the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him):

“No Prayer is accepted without purification, and no charity is accepted from earnings made from impermissible sources.” (Muslim)

Allah says:

O you who believe! When you intend to offer the Salah, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, pass wet hands over your heads, and [wash] your feet up to the ankles. (Al-Ma’idah 5:6)

One should perform wudu’ in the following manner:

Homran ibn Aban, the freed slave of ‘Uthman ibn `Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

“I saw `Uthman perform wudu’. He poured water on his two hands thrice, then he rinsed his mouth and nose, washed his face thrice, washed his right hand up to his elbow thrice, washed his right hand up to his elbow thrice, wiped over his head once, washed his right foot thrice, and then his left foot thrice. He then said, ‘I saw the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) perform wudu’ like this wudu’, and then say: ‘Whoever performs wudu’ like my wudu’ I have just performed, and then prays two rak`ahs (units of prayer) not thinking about anything else, Allah will forgive him all his previous sins.’” (Al-Bukhari)

How to Perform Wudu’

1-One should intend with his heart that he is performing wudu’ to purify himself from a minor state of impurity. The evidence that the intention is obligatory is the statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him):

“All deeds depend on their intention, and each person will be rewarded according to what they intend…” (Al-Bukhari)

2- One should say, “Bismillaah (In the Name of Allah),” before commencing the wudu’. The Prophet said:

“There is no Prayer for one who does not perform wudu’, and there is no wudu’ for one who does not mention the Name of Allah.” (Abu Dawud)

3- One should wash his hands thrice in the beginning of the wudu’, due to the hadith of Aws ibn Aws Ath-Thaqafi in which he said:

“I saw Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) wash his hands three times when he performed wudu’.” (Ahmad)

4- One should rinse his mouth and rinse his nose by inhaling water into it thrice. He should exhale the water from the nose with the help of the left hand.

5- One should wash his face thrice. The face consists of the area starting from the forelock at the top of the forehead of a normal haired man to the bottom of the (chin or) beard, vertically, and from right earlobe to the left, horizontally.

6- One should wash his hands from the tips of fingers up to and including the elbow, beginning first with the right hand, then the left. If he happens to be wearing a ring or a watch, they must move it in order to allow the water to reach the skin underneath it.

7- One must wipe over his head once. This is done by wetting the hands and passing them over the head, beginning from front, proceeding to the back, then passing them back over the head to the front. `Abdullah ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:

“Allah’s Messenger passed his two hands over his head starting from the front, proceeding to the back. He started from his forehead and passed them over to the top of his neck, and then passed them back to the place where he started from.” (Sahih ibn Khuzaimah)

8- One should wipe over his ears by inserting his wet index fingers [which he used to wipe his head] into the cavity if the ears, while wiping the outside with his wet thumbs. In ibn `Abbas’s description of the wudu’ of the Prophet (peac e be upon him), he said:

“He wiped his head and ears once.” (Abu Dawud)

In another narration, he said:

“He then wiped over his head and out his two index fingers into his ears, He wiped the outside of his ears with his thumbs, and the insides of his ear with his index fingers.” (Abu Dawud)

9- One should wash his feet three times from the tips of the toes up to and including the ankles. Abu Hurairah said that he saw a person who did not wash his heels, and he said to him:

“Woe to the heels from the Hellfire!” (Muslim)

10- One should wash the parts of wudu’ in the correct sequence. He should wash one part after another in the order that Allah commanded. He should not wash one body part before another which it should come after, for in the verse quoted previously, Allah mentioned the obligatory acts of wudu’ in a specific sequence.

11- One should make wudu’ in succession, meaning that one should not delay washing one part of the body so long that the previous washed part becomes dry. In a hadith, the Prophet saw a man praying, but a portion of his foot the size of a dirham was not wet. Upon this, the Prophet ordered him to repeat his wudu’ and Prayer. (Abu Dawud)

(Note that he did not merely order him to wash his foot, but rather he ordered him to repeat the whole wudu´ as well as his Prayer.)

One must remove anything from the parts that must be washed in the wudu’ which might prevent water from reaching the skin underneath it, such as paint and other similar things.

One remains in a state of wudu’ unless something invalidates it, such as urination, defecation, passing of gas, pre-seminal fluid, prostatic fluid, false menstruation (vaginal bleeding other than menses), eating of camel meat, touching the private parts with one’s hand without there being a barrier, or deep sleep.


The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “How to Become a Muslim”.

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