The Order to Perform Wudhu
In the previous ayaat, we studied the commands of the Shariah concerning the conduct of worldly life, choices in marriage and food. This ayah mentions some injunctions relating to ibadaah, acts of worship such as Salah, Wudhu, Mash, Tayammum, Ghusl and Taharah.
يَـأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلوةِ فاغْسِلُواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُواْ بِرُؤُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَينِ
“O you who believe! When you stand (intend) to offer the Salah, then wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to the ankles.”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commanded performing Wudhu for the prayer. This is a command of obligation in the case of impurity, and in the case of purity, it is merely a recommendation. It was said that in the beginning of Islam, Muslims had to perform Wudhu for every prayer, but later on, this ruling was abrogated.
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal recorded that Sulayman bin Buraydah said that his father said, “The Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam used to perform Wudhu before every prayer. On the Day of Victory, he performed Wudhu and wiped on his Khuffs and prayed the five prayers with one Wudhu. Umar radhiAllahu anhu said to him, ‘O Messenger of Allah! You did something new that you never did before?’ The Prophet said,
إني عمدا فعلته يا عمر
‘I did that intentionally O Umar!’” Muslim and the collectors of the Sunan also recorded this Hadith. At-Tirmidhi said, “Hasan Saheeh”.
Ibn Jareer recorded that Al-Fadl bin Al-Mubashshir said, “I saw Jabir bin Abdullah perform several prayers with only one Wudhu. When he would answer the call of nature, he performed Wudhu and wiped the top of his Khuffs with his wet hand. I said, `O Abu Abdullah! Do you do this according to your own opinion?’ He said, ‘Rather, I saw the Prophet do the same thing. So, I do what I saw the Messenger of Allah doing.’” Ibn Majah also recorded this hadeeth.
Ahmad recorded that Ubaydullah bin Abdullah bin Umar was asked; “Did you see Abdullah bin Umar perform Wudhu for every prayer, whether he was in a state of purity or not?” So he replied, “Asma bint Zayd bin Al-Khattab told him that Abdullah bin Hanzalah bin Abi Amir Al-Ghasil told her that the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam was earlier commanded to perform Wudhu for every prayer, whether he needed it or not. When that became hard on him, he was commanded to use Siwak for every prayer, and to perform Wudhu when Hadath (impurity) occurs. Abdullah (Ibn Umar) thought that he was able to do that (perform Wudhu for every prayer) and he kept doing that until he died.” Abu Dawud also collected this narration. This practice by Ibn Umar demonstrates that it is encouraged, not obligatory, to perform Wudhu for every prayer, and this is also the opinion of the majority of scholars.
The Intention and Mentioning of Allah’s Name
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,
“then wash your faces…” The obligation for the intention before Wudu’ is proven by this Ayah;
إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلوةِ فاغْسِلُواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ
“When you stand (intend) to offer the Salah then wash your faces…” This is because it is just like the Arabs saying; “When you see the leader, then stand.” meaning stand for him. The two saheehs recorded the hadeeth,
الْأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّــيَّاتِ وَإِنَّمَا لِكُلِّ امْرِىءٍ مَانَوَى
“Actions are judged by their intentions, and each person will earn what he intended.”
It is also recommended before washing the face that one mentions Allah’s Name for the Wudhu. A hadeeth that was narrated by several Companions radhiAllahu anhum states that the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam said,
لَا وُضْوءَ لِمَنْ لَمْ يَذْكُرِ اسْمَ اللهِ عَلَيْه
“There is no Wudhu for he who does not mention Allah’s Name over it.”
It is also recommended that one washes his hands before he puts his hands in the vessel of water, especially after one wakes up from sleep, for the two saheehs recorded that Abu Hurayrah radhiAllahu anhu said that the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam said,
إِذَا اسْتَيْقَظَ أَحَدُكُمْ مِنْ نَوْمِهِ فَلَا يُدْخِلْ يَدَهُ فِي الْإِنَاءِ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَغْسِلَهَا ثَلَاثًا، فَإِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ لَا يَدْرِي أَيْنَ بَاتَتْ يَدُه
“If one of you wakes up from his sleep, let him not put his hand in the pot until he washes it thrice, for one of you does not know where his hand spent the night.”
The face according to the scholars of Fiqh starts where the hair line on the head starts, regardless of one’s lack or abundance of hair, until the end of the cheeks and chin, and from ear to ear.
Passing the Fingers through the Beard while Performing Wudhu
Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Wa’il said, “I saw Uthman when he was performing Wudhu… When he washed his face, he passed his fingers through his beard three times. He said, ‘I saw the Messenger of Allah do what you saw me doing.’” At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah also recorded this hadeeth. At-Tirmidhi said “Hasan Saheeh.” while Al-Bukhari graded it Hasan.