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Hajj and Umrah

The Fiqh of Wudhoo - part 1



The word is taken from al wadhaa - waw, dhaad, alif, taa marbootah - which means beautifying and being clean. When we say wudhoo (with a dhammah on the waw), it means the action, whilst when we say wadhoo (with a fathah on the waw), it means the water used for the action of wudhoo.

There are other meanings of the word but these are beyond the scope of this class.


In the shari'ah, the different madhaahib have defined the term slightly differently.

The Hanafi scholars have defined the word as washing and wiping certain specific parts of the body.

Maaliki scholars have defined it as the purification with water connected with specific parts of the body, and these are four, done in a specific way.

Shaafi'ee scholars said these are specific actions beginning with the intention or the use of water on specific parts of the body beginning with the intention (note that the intention is not considered part of the wudhoo itself but is a condition).

Hanbali scholars said it is using purifying water on four parts of the body, and these are the face, arms, head and the feet, in a specific manner dictated in the shari'ah done in a sequential manner.

These four can be summarised by saying it is the use of water to wash or purify the body in a specific manner and in a specified sequence.

The Obligation of Wudhoo

On previous nations

The wudhoo is not something specific to this shari'ah but was part of the shari'ah of the previous prophets and nations as well. The evidences for this are many, for example, the weak hadith that is supported by other authentic reports:

"The Messenger of Allah called for the water and made wudhoo, washing three times each and then said this is my wudhoo and the wudhoo of the prophets before me"

(al Bayhaqi from ibn Umar)

A stronger report that supports this include the narration recorded by al Bukhari that when Ibrahim 'alayhis salaam was travelling with his wife Saarah, they came accross an oppressive ruler and Saarah made wudhoo and then made du'aa.

Another example is that of the priest called Jurayj of a previous nation who was praying when his mother called him. When he did not answer, his mother cursed him and then attempted to slander him by bringing an infant and saying this was his illegitimate son. Jurayj then made wudhoo, made du'aa and then went to the boy asking him "who is your father". The boy then spoke and said someone else was his father (i.e. not Jurayj).

The point taken from both of these authentic narrations is that the wudhoo was something practiced by previous prophets and nations.

However, some scholars argued this and said that the wudhoo is something specific to this ummah as the prophet sallallahu'alayhi wa sallam said in another authentic hadith that he would recognise his ummah from the marks or whiteness of wudhoo on the hands, feet and faces. This would suggest that the wudhoo is unique to the ummah of Muhammad sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam.

Both viewpoints can be reconciled by the view that the way that we do wudhoo is specific to this ummah or that these signs will only appear for those of this ummah. However, Allah knows best.

The time when wudhoo became an obligation

Wudhoo became an obligation in Makkah according to the vast majority of scholars as the prayer became an obligation in Makkah and the prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said in a well-known narration:

"The salaah of the one who is ritually impure (has hadath) is not accepted until he makes wudhoo"

(Al Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Hurayrah)

Thus the connection between the wudhoo and salaah is established without any indication that salaah was accepted without wudhoo before a certain time.

In fact, the scholars have mentioned that when Jibreel came to teach the timings of salaah just after the mi'raaj, he also taught the wudhoo and before this the prayer was not an obligation.

There are some who said it became obligatory in Madinah as the aayah of wudhoo is in surat ul Maaidah which was revealed in Madinah towards the end of the prophet's life. However, there are many ways to reconcile this, for example, it may be the case that the aayah of wudhoo waas revealed before and then again with the rest of al Maaidah as was the case for several other aayaat of the Qur'aan. Another possibility is that the obligation was known before the aayah was revealed. And Allah knows best.

The scholars have also mentioned that before the battle of al khandaq, the muslims were required to make wudhoo for each prayer. However, after the battle of al khandaq, the muslims were allowed to perform more than one prayer with the same wudhoo as long as they did not nulify their wudhoo.

The proof of obligation

There is no dispute that wudhoo is made obligatory by the Qur'aan, the sunnah and ijmaa'.

1. The Qur'aan

"O you who have believed, when you stand for the salaah wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles." [Al Maaidah:6]

Imaam ul Qurtubi said that what is apparent from the aayah, is that is obligatory for everyone who stands for the salaah to make wudhoo. Whilst the literalists (dhaahiriyyah) considered this to mean a wudhoo for each salaah, the vast majority of scholars considered that to have been abrogated by the hadith whierein the prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam performed several prayers with a single wudhoo.

2. The Sunnah

"The salaah of the one who is ritually impure (has hadath) is not accepted until he makes wudhoo"

(Al Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Hurayrah)

"The Salaah is not accepted without purification"

(Al Bukhari and Muslim from ibn Umar)

3. Ijmaa'

There was no dispute over these evidences and thus the scholars have mentioned that the ummah is in agreement and ijmaa' is established.

Denying the obligation of Wudhoo

There is agreement of the scholars that denying the obligation of Wudhoo is akin to kufr as the obligation is established by a definitive text (the aayah of al maaidah) just like the obligation of the Salaah or Zakaah.

Hanafi scholars said if a person denies the obligation of Wudhoo for the obligatory Salaah, he is a kaafir but if a person denies the obligation for those other actions that require wudhoo (e.g. Tawaaf), then this is not kufr. Note that this is a further clarification and does not negate the agreement.

The scholars are in agreement that a person who prays with deliberately having not performed wudhoo has left Islaam.

The Hukm

The ruling on Wudhoo depends upon the action for which it is done:

1. The Salaah

There is no disagreement that the Wudhoo is waajib for the Salaah, whether a fardh or nafal (obligatory or sunnah prayer).
For salaatul janaazah, wudhoo is a requirement as the hadith quoted previously is general for any salaah. Thus wudhoo is required for any salaah, whether from the obligatory prayers or the specific types of non-obligatory prayers.

2. Sajdatut Tilaawah (the prostration of recitation)

There is a difference of opinion on this issue, however the stronger of the two views is that there is no requirement of wudhoo for this as it is not a prayer as was mentioned by ibn Baaz rahimahullah.
Within the salaah, a person requires wudhoo for the salaah. The fiqh of this sajdah willl be discussed in further detail in a later lesson. However, a couple of issues to note is that this prostration is not obligatory, one should say the usual tasbeeh when performing the sajdah and there is evidence to suggest one should say the takbir when going down.

3. Tawaaf of the ka'bah

Again, there is a difference of opinion on this issue and the majority of scholars hold the view that this is obligatory. They base their view on the hadith authenticated by ibn Hajar in at talkhees:

"The Tawaaf around the house is like the Salaah except that you speak to each other during this. Whoever speaks during it, he should not speak except that which is good."

(At Tirmidhi from ibn Abbaas - many scholars said that these are actually the words of ibn Abbaas and not a hadith of the prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam)

Thus, based on this, many scholars said that all the other rules apply. Additionally, the scholars have used those narrations that when the prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam came to Makkah and approached masjid ul haraam, he made wudhoo and then did tawaaf.
However, the counter argument, argued by Hanafi scholars and some other like ibn Taymiyyah, is based on these not being strong or explicit like that of the salaah and these merely make performing wudhoo for tawaaf as something mustahabb (recommended and rewarded) but not waajib and this appears to be the stronger view.

4. Touching the Mushaf (the Qur'aan)

Many scholars are of the view that touching the Qur'aan requires wudhoo due to the aayah:

"None touch it except the purified." [Al Waaqi'ah:79]

Whilst this aayah was related to the angels, the scholars have mentioned that the rule can be applied for humans as well.
However, once again, other scholars have said this is not explicit and cannot make it an obligation to have wudhoo. Rather, this would make a lot of practical difficulty for one who attaches themselves to the Qur'aan. Thus they consider it to be mustahabb but not obligatory and this also appears to be the stronger view.

5. When going to sleep

It is known that making wudhoo before sleeping is something mustahabb:

"When you go to your bed, make wudhoo (as if) for prayer, then lie on your right..."

(al Bukhari from al Baraa ibn 'Aazib)

6. Reciting the Qur'aan or other dhikr (words of rememberance of Allah)

The scholars are in agreement that it is mustahabb to perform wudhoo for recitation, making dhikr or saying the adhaan. With regards to the iqaamah, many scholars hold it to be makrooh (disliked) for one to call the iqaamah without being in a state of tahaarah (purity). Hanafi scholars have said it is not even disliked. However, if one is calling the iqaamah and breaks his wudhoo, he can finish calling the iqaamah and then go to make his wudhoo.

7. Giving the khutbah or teaching

Once again, the majority of scholars have said the one delivering the khutbah or teaching should be in a state of wudhoo and this is mustahabb.

8. Actions of Hajj or Umrah

It is mustahabb that a person is in a state of wudhoo in this case.