It was narrated that Humraan (the freed slave of ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan) said: “I saw ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan asking (for a tumbler of water) to perform ablution (and when it was brought) he poured water from it over his hands and washed them thrice and then put his right hand in the water container and rinsed his mouth and washed his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out. Then he washed his face thrice and (then) forearms up to the elbows thrice, then passed his wet hands over his head and then washed each foot thrice. After that ‘Uthmaan said, "I saw the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, performing ablution like this of mine, and he said, 'If anyone performs ablution like that of mine and offers a two-Rak‘at prayer during which he does not think of anything else (not related to the present prayer) then his past sins will be forgiven.” (1).

This is similar to the Hadeeth reported by Al-Bukhaari and Muslim from ‘Amr ibn Yahya Al-Maazni from his father who said: “I saw ‘Amr ibn Abi Hasan asking ‘Abdullaah ibn Zaid about the ablution of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him. ‘Abdullaah ibn Zaid asked for earthen-ware pot containing water and in front of them performed ablution like that of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him. He poured water from the pot over his hand and washed his hands thrice and then he put his hands in the pot and rinsed his mouth and washed his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out three times with three handfuls of water. Again he put his hand in the water and washed his face thrice and washed his forearms up to the elbows twice; and then put his hands in the water and then passed them over his head by bringing them to the front and then to the rear of the head once, and then he washed his feet up to the ankles.

In another narration, “…and then passed his wet hands over his head from its front to its back and vice versa (beginning from the front and taking them to the back of his head up to the nape of the neck and then brought them to the front again from where he had started) and washed his feet (up to the ankles).” (2).

Such great Hadeeths imply a practical complete description of the ablution of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, and thus we will have the following analysis regarding them:

Firstly, the statement of the narrator: “…‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan asking (for a tumbler of water) to perform ablution…” to teach them how the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, used to do ablution.

Secondly, his statement: “…He poured water from his tumbler of water over his hands and washed them thrice...” And his statement in the other narration: “…He poured water from the pot over his hand and washed his hands thrice…” Both statements indicate that the first act of ablution is washing hands. Actually, washing hands is a confirmed Sunnah in ablution, except for the one who wakes up from the sleep of the night and there is no disagreement in this regard among Muslim scholars. As for the one who wakes up from the sleep of the night, it is obligatory upon him to wash his hands (before putting them in the tumbler of water) according to the most preponderant of the scholars for it was narrated that the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “When anyone amongst you wakes up from sleep, he must not put his hand in the utensil till he has washed it three times.” (3) [Reported by Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

Thirdly, his statement: “…then put his right hand in the water container and rinsed his mouth and washed his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out...” And his statement in the other narration: “…then he put his hands in the pot and rinsed his mouth and washed his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out three times with three handfuls of water…”

Rising mouth can be done but putting waster in the mouth, turning it in the mouth and then blowing it out. This is the perfect way of rising mouth while the least of it is to put water in your mouth and not blowing it out.

As for sniffing up water into nostrils, it is to inhale water up into the nose until reach the nasopharynx and then expelling it and this is the perfect way of washing nose which called Mubaalaghah (being thorough in washing the nose,) while the least of it is to inhaling waster into the nose without making it to reach nasopharynx.

We have previously stated that rinsing the nose and mouth are obligatory parts of ablution for it was narrated that the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “If anyone of you performs ablution he should put water in his nose and then blow it out.” (4).

In another narration reported by Muslim: “When anyone amongst you (performs ablution) he must snuff his nostrils with water.”

And also the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “If anyone of you performs ablution, he should wash his nose.” (5).

There are several Hadeeths in this regard; however, we cannot state them all here.

As for the ruling of rinsing mouth, it is an obligatory act in ablution and Ghusl (i.e. taking bath) alike. It is the most preponderant opinion of the scholars for it was narrated that the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “If you perform ablution rinse your mouth.” (6) [Reported by Imam Ahmad, Abu Daawood, An-Nasaa'i, At-Tirmithi and Ibn Maajah deemed Saheeh (authentic) by Ibn Hajar, may Allaah have mercy upon him]

That is also because mouth is one of the organs of the face and thus rinsing it will be something obligatory because mouth is a part from it. Also, because all who reported the description of the ablution of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, mentioned rising mouth and thus this indicates that it is something obligatory. There is another opinion of some Muslim scholars that rinsing mouth is something recommended in ablution and Ghusl because it is not stated in the verse of ablution. However, the most preponderant opinion is that it is obligatory. As for it is not mentioned in the verse of ablution, this is because it is included in the face which is stated in the saying of Allaah The Almighty: {…wash your faces…} [Quran 5: 6]

Fourthly, some scholars reported the consensus of the scholars that being too thorough in rinsing mouth and washing nose is a confirmed Sunnah for the one who is not fasting for it was narrated that the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “…and be thorough in rinsing the nose, unless you are fasting.” (7).  

That is because if the fasting person is too thorough in rinsing mouth and nose water can reach his throat and thus his fasting will be broken.

Fifthly, he stated in the other narration the description of rising mouth and washing nose saying: “…then he put his hands in the pot and rinsed his mouth and washed his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out three times with three handfuls of water…” and in another narration: “…with one handful of water he rinsed his mouth and cleaned his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out. He repeated it thrice.” such narrations indicate that it is recommended for one to rinse his mouth and nose with his right hand and sniff it with his left hand, and do that with one handful of water i.e. takes a handful of water and rinses his mouth with some of this water and immediately sniffs water into his nostrils from the same handful of water in order to wash it after rinsing his mouth. This is the recommended way of rising mouth and sniffing water into nostrils; however, if one does not do that and take a handful of water for rising mouth and another for the nose, there will be no harm, Allaah Willing.

The perfect of this recommendation is to do this three times as it was stated explicitly in the other narration. However, is it obligatory to observe order between them and the face? The most preponderant opinion, Allaah Willing, is that it is not obligatory. Just it is recommended to begin with them before the face because all those who described the ablution of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, started with them.

Sixthly, his saying:  “…Then he washed his face thrice…”

The limit of the face is from the hairline to the lower edge of the beard and chin lengthwise, and from one ear to the other crosswise. What counts is normal hairline, not the one who has no hair on his forelock or the one who has hair on his forehead.

There is no disagreement among scholars regarding that washing the face is one of the obligatory acts of ablution for Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {…wash your faces…} [Quran 5: 6]

However, there is other issues regarding washing the face we will explain them in the following lines:

Face includes what is between ear and the hair of cheek. There is no disagreement among scholars regarding this issue except what is reported from Maalik, may Allaah have mercy upon him, who said: “This is not included in the face because one does not face others with it; however, the preponderant opinion is contrary to this as it was noted by the majority of the scholars.

Also, the face includes all the hair that exists in it such as the hair of the beard, sideburns, eyebrows, eyelash, moustache, and soul patch. 

As for washing eyes, it is not obligatory; however, what is obligatory is the hair between the eyes and nose which is called Ma’aaqeen because it is from the face.

The recommended manner of washing the face is to take the water in both hands, because that is more effective in making the water reach the whole face etc, and to start with the top of the face and move downwards, because the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, used to do that. But if he makes the water reach all parts of his face by any other method, that is sufficient.

It is recommended for one to wash his face thrice as it was stated in the Hadeeth.

As for washing the hair in the face, If it is thin and the skin can clearly be seen beneath it, then it is obligatory to wash it with the face. If it is thick and the skin cannot be seen through it, then washing the outer surface will be sufficient and praise be to Allaah The Almighty for the easiness of the religion.

Seventhly, his statement: “…and washed his forearms up to the elbows thrice…”

Elbow refers to the joint or bend of the arm between the forearm and the upper arm. They are the part of the forearm that is next to the thumb. ‘To the elbows’ has two meanings: the first that it is to be washed along with the arm. The second, it is the end of washing arms and if it is so, will it be included in the process of washing? Surely, it is and thus elbows are included in the ruling of washing as it will be pointed out, Allaah Willing.

As for the ruling of washing the forearms, it is one of the obligatory acts of ablution, as Allaah The Almighty has stated it in the Noble Quran saying: {…and your forearms to the elbows…} [Quran 5: 6]

There is no disagreement among scholars regarding this.

There are some other details regarding washing arms such as: It is recommended to wash the right arm before the left one according to the consensus of the scholars. No one of our known scholars held another opinion other than this. Rather, it is disliked to wash the left arm before the right one although it will be valid in ablution.

Forearm in ablution starts from the beginning of the fingers to the elbow; however, are elbows included in the arms or not? Answer: Majority of scholars agree that the elbows are included in the arms. That is because Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {…and your forearms to the elbows…} [Quran 5: 6] as it was explained previously. This is also substantiated with the Hadeeth reported by Imam Muslim, may Allaah have mercy upon him, regarding the description of the ablution of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, from Abu Hurairah, may Allaah be pleased with him, that he performed ablution and washed his right hand including a portion of his arm. He then washed his right foot including his shank and then said: This is how I saw Allah's Messenger, peace and blessing be upon him, perform his ablution. This proves that it is obligatory to wash the elbow along with the arms. It is also recommended to wash everyone of them three times as it was stated in the Hadeeth.

Eighthly, his saying: “…then passed his wet hands over his head…” and said in the other narration: “… and then put his hands in the water and then passed them over his head by bringing them to the front and then to the rear of the head once…” and said in a third narration: “…and then passed his wet hands over his head from its front to its back and vice versa (beginning from the front and taking them to the back of his head up to the nape of the neck and then brought them to the front again from where he had started)…”

Such sentence explains clearly all what is related to wiping over the head. We will discuss it in details in the following words:

His statement: “[wamasaha bi ra’sih]”, it was said that the ba’ (before the word ra’sih (heads) indicates transitivity. It was said also that it refers to making something stick, i.e., it is obligatory to make some of the water with which one is wiping the head stick to the head. A third opinion said it refers to something partial, as if he were saying: “Wash a part of your heads.” We will speak about this in details, Allaah Willing. 

Wiping over the head is one of the obligatory acts of ablution. There is no disagreement among scholars regarding this for Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {…and wipe over your head…} [Quran 5: 6] and for what is stated in this Hadeeth and the like.

 

  The head refers to the part of the body on which hair grows densely; however, what is the amount that has to be wiped from the head?

Scholars held different opinions regarding this issue: there are two well known opinions and they are as follows: it is sufficient to wipe only a part of it. Some of them said, a quarter of it. Some others said: the forelock will be sufficient. A third group said, some part of it even if it is little. They view that wiping can apply to the little and the much.

The second opinion views that it is obligatory to wipe all of the head. It is the well known opinion of the Maaliki and Hanbali scholars of Fiqh, substantiating their opinion by the saying of Allaah The Almighty: {…and wipe over your head…} [Quran 5: 6], meaning your whole heads because Baa’ refers to making something stick which is agree with the wiping of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, as it was previously stated. This seems to be the most preponderant opinion. It puts one in the safe side.

 

As for the way of wiping the head, one should take water with his hands and then leave it, then stick the tip of his index finger to the tip of his other index finger and puts them on the beginning of his head and put his two thumbs on his temples and then goes to his nape and then return them to the place from which he started. This is the way stated in the Hadeeth: “…Then passed his wet hands over his head from its front to its back and vice versa (beginning from the front and taking them to the back of his head up to the nape of the neck and then brought them to the front again from where he had started) and washed his feet (up to the ankles)…” (8).

If one wipes his head with another way, it will be permissible, Allaah Willing; however, he neglected the best and more appropriate way.

We observe in this Hadeeth that the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, wiped over his head only one time and this is the opinion of the majority of the scholars.

Woman is like man regarding the description of wiping over the head. She does not differ from him. What completes wiping the head is wiping the ears for they are a part from the head. This is the opinion of most scholars because the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “The ears are part of the head.” (9). 

This Hadeeth was reported from different routes that strengthen it. At-Tirmithi, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “One should adhere to this i.e. that the ears are a part from the head, according to most scholars.” However, is wiping ears obligatory or recommended?

Scholars hold different opinions regarding this issue. The most preponderant opinion of them, Allaah knows best, is that it is obligatory because they are part from the head and because some of those who described the ablution of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, stated that he wiped his ears and this really puts one in the safe side. As for the best way of wiping them, it is by inserting the tips of the index fingers into the ears, twist them around the folds of the ears then pass the thumb behind the ears from the bottom, upwards. That is because it was reported from Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with them, wipe over the outward and inward of them.

Should one take fresh water for ears or is the water with which one wiped over his head sufficient?

There are two opinions for scholars in this regard and the most preponderant opinion, Allaah Knows best, is that one should not take fresh water for them. That is because it was not proved that the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, took fresh water for them. 

 

_____________________________

 

(1) Reported by Al-Bukhaari in the Book of Wudoo’ (i.e. Ablution), chapter of the description of Wudoo’ and its perfection 1/204, no. 226.

(2) Reported by Al-Bukhaari in the Book of Wudoo’ (i.e. Ablution), chapter of wiping the whole head 1/289, no. 158 and Muslim in the Book of Purification, chapter of the description of the ablution of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, 1/210, no. 235.

(3) Ibid.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Ibid.

(6) Reported by Abu Daawood in the Book of Purification, chapter of rinsing mouth and nose 1/35, no. 142, 143 and 144, and At-Tirmithi in the chapters of Purification, chapter of what is reported regarding going through the fingers no. 38.

(7) Ibid

(8) Reported by Muslim in the Book of Purification, chapter of the recommendation of lengthening one’s lightness 1/216.

(9) Reported by Imam Ahmad 5/268, Abu Daawood in the Book of Purification, the chapter of the description of the ablutioin of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, no. 134, and At-Tirmithi, chapter what is reported that the ears start from what is beyond the head no. 37.

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