Step-by-Step Description of the Ritual Ablution

Below is a simplified explanation of the method of performing the ritual ablution (wuḍūʿ) in the Ḥanafī madhhab, using brackets to demarcate its farḍ [f], wājib [w], sunnah [s], and mustaḥabb [m] elements. The explanation is part of a workbook I prepared for a short seminar entitled Perfecting Prayer that provided a step-by-step guide to wuḍūʿ and ṣalāt for young adults.

The Ritual Ablution (Wuḍūʾ)

  1. Find a high, clean place [m] to perform wuḍūʾ that will minimize the possibility of used water splashing onto your body or clothes [s].
  2. Face the qiblah if possible [m].
  3. Make an intention [s], verbally and in your heart [m], to perform a ritual ablution for the sake of Allah and to win His favor [s] or to remove the state of ritual impurity and perform prayer.
  4. Recite: Bismillāhi ʾl-raḥmān al-raḥīm In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Mercy-Giving” [s].
  5. Wash both hands up to the wrists [s], starting with the right hand [s], thrice [s]. Rub thoroughly to remove all dirt [s]. (If wearing a ring, move the ring around so that the water reaches all of the skin underneath, even if the ring is loose.)
  6. Rinse your entire mouth thrice, ensuring that the water reaches the back of your mouth (except when fasting) [s]. Between rinses, brush your teeth with a siwāk/miswāk (toothstick), gripping it in the right hand with the thumb and pinky finger under the siwāk and the middle three fingers above it [s]. Start with the right side of your mouth and move to the left. Rinse the toothstick each time and squeeze the water out. (If a siwāk is not available, you may use your index finger or a piece of cloth or paper towel to clean the teeth and remove any residue/film.)
  7. Rinse your nose with water thrice, ensuring that the water reaches the cartilage area of the nose (except when fasting) [s]. Use your right hand to place water into the nose and the left hand to squeeze the nose out [m].
  8. Splash water gently onto your face [f] thrice [s] such that water flows over the entire area between your ear lobes and the top of your forehead to the bottom of your chin. Rub your face with water well, making sure to wet the eyebrows and the area between the eyes and nose. (Do not splash so hard as to cause the used water to fall onto your clothing, nor onto others. Additionally, be careful not to splash water onto your surroundings, as it can cause inconvenience or even harm to others, reducing the reward of the ablution.) If you have a thick beard, pass your fingers through your beard (khilāl) to wet the hair covering the skin by placing your right hand underneath the beard upward such that the back of the hand is facing the neck and your palm is facing away from you.
  9. Wash each of your arms, including the elbows [f], beginning by washing the right arm thrice [s] and then the left arm thrice [s].  The arms should be washed downward from the fingers to the elbows so that the water flows off the elbows [s]. Rub your arms while washing them [s]. Perform khilāl of your fingers (intermingling the fingers of each hand) by placing the palm of one hand over the back of the other and then combing the fingers through one another [s].
  10. Wet your hands and wipe your entire head [s], ensuring that at least one-fourth is covered [f], starting from the front of your head and moving to the back with both hands [m]. Use the back of your fingers to wipe the back of your neck but do not wipe the throat [s]. Then wipe your ears by using your index fingers for the inside of the ears and your thumbs for the outside [s].
  11. Wash each of your feet, including the ankles [f], beginning by washing with the right foot thrice and then the left foot thrice [s]. Pour the water with your right hand and rub your feet with the left [m]. Pass the pinky finger of your left hand (khilāl) through your toes, starting from the right foot’s small toe and moving left to the left foot’s small toe so no portion of the feet remains dry. Perform all the above steps in the described order [s] and without such a significant break or pause in the wuḍūʾ that the previous limb could dry before washing the next [s].
  12. Facing upwards, recite the testimony of faith [m]: Ash-hadu an lā ilāha illallāhu waḥdahu lā sharīka lahu wa ash-hadu anna muḥammadan ʿabduhu wa raṣūluhu. “I testify that there is no god but Allah and I testify that Muḥammad is His slave and messenger.” Then say [m]: Allāhumma-jʿalnī mina ʾl-tawwābīn wa-jʿalnī mina ʾl-mutaṭahhirīn.  “O Allah. Make me of the oft-repenting and make me of those who oft-purify themselves.”
  13. Drink some leftover water from the water container (or a small amount of water from a faucet) [m].
  14. If the time is appropriate, offer two units of prayer (called taḥiyyat al-wuḍūʾ) as an expression of gratitude to Allah that He enabled you to perform wuḍūʾ [m].

 

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