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Offline Muslim sister

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Performing wudu
« on: August 03, 2012, 04:18:23 AM »
Salamu Aleykum

The holy Quran has the following verse regarding performing wudu before salat:

[5:6] "O ye who believe! When ye rise up for prayer, wash your face, and your hands up to the elbows, and lightly rub your heads and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. And if ye are unclean, purify yourselves. And if ye are sick or on a journey,or one of you cometh from the closet, or ye have had contact with women, and ye find not water, then go to clean, high ground and rub your faces and your hands with some of it. Allah would not place a burden on you, but He would purify you and would perfect His grace upon you, that ye may give thanks." - Pickthall Translation.

In this verse, it seems that the washing of the face, hands etc is only done once each. Yet all internet sources on wudu state that one should wash the face three times, the hands three times, etc plus put water in the nostrils three times, wash behind the ears. Where does this method originate from? And is it ok to just wash only the face, hands to elbows, head, and feet to ankles, once each rather than three times each?

Thank you!

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Performing wudu
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2012, 06:40:38 AM »
Dear Sister,

Salamun Alaikum.

There is no prescription in the Quran to wash any particular number of times. Such pedantics are only imposed by Islamic secondary sources not the Quran.

With regards your second question, there are a couple of points I feel one should note.

If the Arabic 'wajh' (literally: face) is defined as inclusive of the nostrils, ears or mouth then such a wash would include its cleansing. However, such a definition can be arguably contested in light of the requirement for 'tayammum' (dry ablution with clean earth - sai'dan tayyiban) which only prescribes wipe (imsah) of the face (wajh) and hands.

Therefore, if the 'face' (wajh) is defined as inclusive of the mouth, nostrils and ears, then an 'imsah' (wipe) of these locations (in tayyamum) with clean earth would also need to be performed which would prove impractical and arguably dangerous (clean earth in the mouth, in one's nostrils and behind the ears).

Therefore, I personally incline to the interpretation of a general wash of the face with the other areas (nostrils / behind the ears / mouth etc) to be cleansed as a matter of choice not prescription.

So from my understanding of a Quran’s perspective, washing the face, hands, elbows, wiping the head and wash / wiping the feet to the ankles is fine once each rather than three times, as long as the area is cleansed satisfactorily.

Please see articles [1] and [2] for a deeper look at 'wudu' from a Quran's perspective.

I hope this helps, God willing.


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Offline Muslim sister

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Re: Performing wudu
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2012, 11:10:28 PM »
Salamun aleykum bother Joseph,

Thank you very much for this explanation which I found very helpful.

Best regards
Muslim sister