Provisions for the Hereafter: Ablution

In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

Ibn al-Qayyim writes in his book Zad al-Ma’ad:

فِي هَدْيِهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي الْوُضُوءِ كَانَ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَتَوَضَّأُ لِكُلِّ صَلَاةٍ فِي غَالِبِ أَحْيَانِهِ وَرُبَّمَا صَلَّى الصَّلَوَاتِ بِوُضُوءٍ وَاحِدٍ

In regards to his guidance in ablution, peace and blessings be upon him, he would perform ablution for every prayer most of the time,[1] but he might pray multiple prayers with one ablution.[2]

وَكَانَ يَتَوَضَّأُ بِالْمُدِّ تَارَةً وَبِثُلُثَيْهِ تَارَةً وَبِأَزْيَدَ مِنْهُ تارة وَكَانَ مِنْ أَيْسَرِ النَّاسِ صَبًّا لِمَاءِ الْوُضُوءِ ويحذر أمته من الإسراف فيه وَصَحَّ عَنْهُ أَنَّهُ تَوَضَّأَ مَرَّةً مَرَّةً وَمَرَّتَيْنِ مَرَّتَيْنِ وَثَلَاثًا ثَلَاثًا

He would sometimes perform ablution with a mudd[3] of water, sometimes with two-thirds of a mudd, and sometimes more. He was the most frugal of people in pouring water for ablution, and he warned his nation about extravagance in it.[4] It is authentically reported from him that he would perform ablution of each limb one by one, or two by two, or three by three.[5]

وَفِي بَعْضِ الْأَعْضَاءِ مَرَّتَيْنِ وَبَعْضِهَا ثَلَاثًا وَكَانَ يَتَمَضْمَضُ وَيَسْتَنْشِقُ تَارَةً بِغَرْفَةٍ وَتَارَةً بِغَرْفَتَيْنِ وَتَارَةً بِثَلَاثٍ وَكَانَ يَصِلُ بَيْنَ المضمضة والاستنشاق وكان يستنشق باليمين

Some limbs he would wash twice and others three times. He would sometimes rinse his mouth and sniff water into his nose with one handful of water, sometimes with two handfuls, and sometimes with three handfuls. He would sometimes combine rinsing his mouth and sniffing water into his nose with the same handful, and he do so with his right hand.[6]

وينتثر باليسرى وكان يمسح رأسه كله تارة وتارة يقبل بيديه ويدبر بهما ولم يصح أَنَّهُ اقْتَصَرَ عَلَى مَسْحِ بَعْضِ رَأْسِهِ الْبَتَّةَ ولكن كان إذا مسح على ناصيته كمل على العمامة ولم يتوضأ إِلَّا تَمَضْمَضَ وَاسْتَنْشَقَ وَلَمْ يُحْفَظْ عَنْهُ أَنَّهُ أخل بهما مرة واحدة

He would expel water with his left hand. He would sometimes wipe his entire head sometimes and sometimes pass his hands back and forth. It has not been authentically reported that he stopped short by wiping only part of his head, but if he wiped over his forehead, he would complete it by wiping over his headgear. He did not perform ablution without rinsing his mouth and sniffing water into his nose, and it is not confirmed from him that he ever left them even once.[7]

وكذلك الوضوء مرتبا متواليا ولم يخل به مرة واحدة وَكَانَ يَغْسِلُ رِجْلَيْهِ إِذَا لَمْ يَكُونَا فِي جوربين أو خفين ويمسح أذنيه مع رأسه ظاهرهما وباطنهما

Likewise, he never once abandoned the sequence of actions[8] or continuity in ablution.[9] He would wash his feet if he was not wearing leather socks or ordinary socks. He would wipe over his head along with his ears, both the inside and outside of them.

وكل حديث في أذكار الوضوء التي تقال عليه كذب غير التسمية في أوله وقول أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْنِي مِنَ التَّوَّابِينَ وَاجْعَلْنِي مِنَ المتطهرين في آخره

Every narrated Hadith about supplications he said over it are false, except for saying, ‘In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful,’[10] at the beginning, and at the end saying, ‘I testify there is no God but Allah alone, without any partners, and I testify that Muhamad is His servant and His Messenger. O Allah, make me among the repentant and make me among those who purify themselves.’[11]

وحديث آخر في سنن النسائي سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَبِحَمْدِكَ أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ أَسْتَغْفِرُكَ وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْكَ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ يقول في أوله نويت ولا أحد من الصحابة ألبتة وَلَمْ يَتَجَاوَزِ الثَّلَاثَ قَطُّ

There is another Hadith in Sunan al-Nasa’i, ‘Glory be to Allah and His praise. I testify there is no God but Allah. I seek His forgiveness and I repent to Him.’[12] He would not verbalize his intention at the beginning, nor did any of the companions.[13] He would not wash his limbs more than three times.

وَكَذَلِكَ لَمْ يَثْبُتْ عنه أنه تجاوز المرفقين والكعبين ولم يكن يعتاد تنشيف أعضائه

Likewise, it has not been established from him that he washed above the elbows or ankles, nor was it his habit to dry his limbs.[14]

وكان يخلل لحيته أحيانا ولم يواظب على ذلك وكذلك تخليل الأصابع ولم يكن يحافظ عليه وأما تحريك الخاتم فروي فيه حديث ضعيف

He would run his fingers through his beard at times, but he would not regular in that.[15] Likewise, he would wash between his fingers and toes, but he was not consistent in it.[16] As for moving the ring, it was been narrated in a weak Hadith.[17]

وصح عنه أنه مسح في الحضر والسفر وَوَقَّتَ لِلْمُقِيمِ يَوْمًا وَلَيْلَةً وَلِلْمُسَافِرِ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ ولياليهن وكان يمسح ظاهر الخفين ومسح على الجوربين وَمَسَحَ عَلَى الْعِمَامَةِ مُقْتَصِرًا عَلَيْهَا وَمَعَ النَّاصِيَةِ ولكن يحتمل أن يكون خاصا بحال الحاجة ويحتمل العموم وهو أظهر

It is authentically reported from him that he would wipe over his socks, whether at home or travelling. The time for a resident is one day and night, while for the traveler it is three days and nights.[18] He would wipe over the tops of his leather socks and ordinary socks.[19] He would wipe over part of his headgear along with his forehead, but it could be interpreted that this was due to specific circumstances of need, or it could be interpreted as general and this is more evident.[20]

وَلَمْ يَكُنْ يَتَكَلَّفُ ضِدَّ حَالِهِ الَّتِي عَلَيْهَا قدماه بل إن كانتا في الخفين مسح وإن كانتا مكشوفتين غسل

He would not act at variance in the condition of his feet. Rather, he would wipe them if they were in leather socks and he would wash them if they were uncovered.

وكان يتيمم بضربة واحدة للوجه والكفين ويتيمم بِالْأَرْضِ الَّتِي يُصَلِّي عَلَيْهَا تُرَابًا كَانَتْ أَوْ سَبْخَةً أَوْ رَمْلًا

He would perform dry ablution (tayammum) by striking once for his face and his hands, making use of the ground upon which he intended to pray, whether it was dust, soil, or sand.

وَصَحَّ عَنْهُ أَنَّهُ قَالَ حَيْثُمَا أَدْرَكَتْ رَجُلًا مِنْ أُمَّتِي الصَّلَاةُ فَعِنْدَهُ مَسْجِدُهُ وطهوره

It is authentically reported from him that he said, ‘Wherever a man of my nation is at the time of prayer, he has his mosque and his means of purification.’[21]

وَلَمَّا سَافَرَ هُوَ وَأَصْحَابُهُ فِي غَزْوَةِ تَبُوكَ قطعوا تلك الرمال وَمَاؤُهُمْ فِي غَايَةِ الْقِلَّةِ وَلَمْ يُرْوَ عَنْهُ أَنَّهُ حَمَلَ مَعَهُ التُّرَابَ وَلَا أَمَرَ بِهِ ولا فعله أحد من أصحابه وَمَنْ تَدَبَّرَ هَذَا قَطَعَ بِأَنَّهُ كَانَ يَتَيَمَّمُ بالرمل

When he traveled with his companions during the Tabuk campaign, they crossed those sands and their water became scarce. It has not been reported that he carried dust with him, nor did he command it, nor did any of the companions do so. If one ponders over this, he will know decisively that he performed dry ablution with sand.

وَكَذَلِكَ لَمْ يَصِحَّ عَنْهُ التَّيَمُّمُ لِكُلِّ صَلَاةٍ، وَلَا أَمَرَ بِهِ، بَلْ أَطْلَقَ التَّيَمُّمَ وَجَعَلَهُ قَائِمًا مَقَامَ الْوُضُوءِ

Likewise, it is not authentically reported from him that he performed dry ablution for every prayer, nor did he command it. Rather, dry ablution is general rule that he made to take the place of regular ablution.[22]

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

[1] “The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, would perform ablution at the time of every prayer.” Anas commented, “It is permissible for one of us to maintain ablution for multiple prayers, as long as he does not become ritually impure.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 248, Sahih)

[2] “The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, prayed multiple prayers on the day of liberation.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 277, Sahih); Al-Tirmidhi commented, “This was acted upon by the scholars, that they would pray multiple prayers with a single ablution as long as they did not become ritually impure. Some of them would perform ablution at the time of every prayer as a recommend practice and intending its virtues.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhī 1/117)

[3] A mudd is a unit of measurement roughly equal to 2/3 of a kilogram or 0.66 liters.

[4] The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, passed by Sa’d while he was performing ablution. The Prophet said, “What is this extravagance?” Sa’d said, “Is there extravagance with water in ablution?” The Prophet said, “Yes, even if you were on the banks of a flowing river.” (Musnad Aḥmad 7065, Sahih)

[5] “The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, would perform acts of ablution three times.” Al-Tirmidhi commented, “This is acted upon by the majority of scholars, that it permissible to perform ablution with one act each, it is better to perform it with two acts each, and it is best to perform it with three acts each; there is nothing better after this.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhī 44, Sahih)

[6] “The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, liked to begin on his right side when putting on his shoes, combing his hair, performing his ablution, and in all of his affairs.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 168, Sahih)

[7] Ibn al-Qayyim says explicitly in many of his works that rinsing the mouth and sniffing water into the nose is an obligation. Ibn Qudamah writes, “Rinsing the mouth and sniffing water into the nose are obligations for every type of purification: ritual bath and ablution.” (al-Mughnī 1/88). However, other scholars considered it a highly recommended Sunnah. Al-Nawawi writes, “In the doctrines of the scholars regarding rinsing the mouth and sniffing water into the nose, there are four opinions. One of them is that they are two acts of Sunnah in ablution and the ritual bath. This is our way.” (al-Majmū’ Sharḥ al-Muhadhab 1/362)

[8] Ibn Taymiyyah writes, “The sequence of ablution and other acts of worship and good works, the disagreement over it is well-known. The school of Al-Shafi’i and Ahmad say it is an obligation, and the school of Malik and Abu Hanifa say it is not an obligation.” (Majmū’ al-Fatāwá 21/407)

[9] It is recommended, and some scholars say it is obligatory, to perform the elements of ablution in quick succession or all at once. One limb should not become dry before starting to wash another. Ahmad al-Shirbini said, “Continuously means between the limbs during purification, such that the first limb does not become dry before beginning with the second limb.” (al-Iqnā’ fī Ḥall Alfāẓ Abī Shujā’ 1/51)

[10] The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “There is no prayer for one without ablution, and there is no ablution for one without mentioning the name of Allah before it.” (Sunan Abī Dāwūd 101, Sahih). Al-Marghinani commented, “No ablution without mentioning the name of Allah means a negation of perfection. The more correct opinion is that it is recommended.” (al-Hidāyah 1/15)

[11] The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever performs ablution in the best manner and he says, ‘I bear witness there is no god but Allah alone, without any partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad is his servant and his messenger. O Allah, make me among the repentant and make me among those who purify themselves,’ then the eight gates of Paradise will be opened for him and he may enter through whichever he wishes.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhī 55, Sahih)

[12] Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Whoever performed ablution, let him say: Glory be to You, O Allah, and Your praise. I testify there is no God but You. I seek Your forgiveness and I repent to You.” (al-Sunan al-Kubrá lil-Nasā’ī 9829, Sahih)

[13] Ibn Taymiyyah said, “The intention for purification by ablution, or ritual bath, or dry ablution, prayer, fasting, Hajj pilgrimage, almsgiving, acts of expiation, and other acts of worship, is not uttered upon the tongue by the consensus of the Imams of Islam. Rather, the locus of intention is the heart, not the tongue, according to their consensus.” (Majmū’ al-Fatāwá 22/230)

[14] Ibn Qudamah said, “There is no harm in drying the limbs with a towel after they are wet from ablution or the ritual bath.” (al-Mughnī 1/104)

[15] “The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, would run his fingers through his beard during ablution.” Al-Tirmidhi commented, “The majority of the scholars among the companions of the Prophet, and those after them, hold the opinion that fingers should be run through the beard. It was said by Al-Shafi’i. Ahmad said if one overlooks running his fingers through the beard, it is still permitted.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhī 31, Sahih)

[16] The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “When you perform ablution, run your fingers between the fingers on your hands and your toes.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhī 39, Sahih)

[17] “Whenever the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, performed ablution, he moved his ring.” (Sunan Ibn Mājah 449, Da’if)

[18] “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, permitted wiping over leather socks for three day and nights for the traveler, and one day and night for the resident.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 276, Sahih)

[19] “The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, performed ablution by wiping over non-leather socks and sandals.” Al-Tirmidhi commented, “It is the view of more than one of the scholars, as is said by Sufyan al-Thawri, Ibn al-Mubarak, Al-Shafi’i, Ahmad, and Ishaq. They said one may wipe over non-leather socks, even though they are not sandals, if they are thick.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhī 99, Sahih)

[20] “The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, wiped over leather socks and head coverings in ablution.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 275, Sahih); Ibn Taymiyyah commented, “Since it is permitted for men to wipe over clothing on the head, so is it permissible for women as it is for men. As it is permissible clothing for the head, which is usually difficult to remove, it is similar to the turban of men. Moreover, her veil covers more than the turban of men, it is more difficult to take off, and her need of (the concession) is greater than leather socks.” (Sharḥ ‘Umdat al-Fiqh 1/266)

[21] The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The entire earth has been made pure and clean and a place of prayer for me such that a man can pray anywhere he is at the time of prayer.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 438, Sahih)

[22] The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If a man is in a deserted land and the time of prayer arrives, let him perform ablution. If he does not find water, let him perform dry ablution.” (Muṣannaf ‘Abd al-Razzāq 1955, Sahih)