Today, I’m thankful for wudu. Alhamdulillah!Searching through my archives, I realize I’ve never written about wudu before, so here’s a quick summary:
- Wudu is ritual ablution: it’s not for God and it’s not for worldly cleanliness, it’s for us, for our spiritual cleanliness
- We must be in a state of ritual purity to perform the Salat, but it’s not necessary for dua and dhikr (personal prayers for things or in pure remembrance of Allah)
- It’s encouraged to remain in a state of wudu at all times, if possible*
- A basic wudu consists of making the intention to spiritually purify yourself, then wetting the right hand and wrist, left hand and wrist, face, right arm to the elbow, left arm to the elbow, head, right foot to the ankle, and left foot to the ankle
- Our Prophet, peace be upon him, also rinsed his mouth, nose, and ears
- If you’re wearing shoes or socks, you wet the top side of the shoe or sock only
- Wudu is invalidated by
- using the rest room
- breaking wind
- bleeding an excessive amount
- sex (requires a full body cleansing called Ghusl, basically a shower, but jumping into a lake or pool will also suffice)
- If clean water is unavailable, you can make Tayammum by
- striking clean ground with the palms of both hands
- wiping the face
- wiping the back of both hands
It gets much more in depth, but InshaAllah that’s enough to give you the basics. WikiHow has a good primer with illustrations.
I keep wanting to relate this to the “cleanliness is next to Godliness,” but every thought I had sounded glib or something. Plus, wudu, as mentioned above, is not about worldly cleanliness. It’s a ritual act, a devotional act, something to prepare us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, to stand in the presence of God. It’s nothing to take lightly.
Wudu is a blessing. On a hot day, or when you need to wake up and be alert, there’s not much that beats splashing cold water on yourself. That said, if you’re splashing yourself with water to cool off or wake up, that’s not wudu… Wudu is made precisely and only to spiritually cleanse yourself, and we don’t mix intentions in Islam. (Ancillary benefits are another matter.)
May Allah help us purify our intentions, accept our wudu and salat, and help us to grow closer to Him, ameen.
*As narrated by Abu Huraira
At the time of the Fajr prayer the Prophet (ﷺ) asked Bilal, “Tell me of the best deed you did after embracing Islam, for I heard your footsteps in front of me in Paradise.” Bilal replied, “I did not do anything worth mentioning except that whenever I performed ablution during the day or night, I prayed after that ablution as much as was written for me.”
And sorry for the picture… it’s the best representation I had on hand.