What are the Sunnahs of Wudu?

The main sunnahs of wudu are as follows:

1 – While beginning wudu, to wash the hands up to the wrists if they are clean… If the hands are not clean, it is fard to wash them because the hands are the cleaning instruments. They have to be washed first so as not to make other organs dirty.

2 – To start wudu by uttering “Audhu - Basmala”... It is sunnah to utter basmala at the beginning of wudu, while washing the hands. If it is forgotten and uttered later, that sunnah is not regarded to have been fulfilled because, wudu is not like eating. Wudu is a single whole deed. In eating, each morsel is a separate deed. If basmala is forgotten to be uttered at the beginning of a meal and uttered later, sunnah will be fulfilled.

It is stated in a hadith that the wudu not started with basmala will not be a complete and proper wudu. 

In another hadith the following is stated, “Every part of a person who starts wudu with basmala becomes clean. Only the wudu organs of a person who does not start wudu with basmala become clean.”

* According to Hanbalis, it is wajib to utter basmala at the beginning of wudu. If it is skipped deliberately, wudu is invalidated. If it is skipped unintentionally, wudu is not invalidated but its reward decreases.

Basmala is “the beginning of every good deed.” It is necessary to utter that sacred word at the beginning of every good and legitimate deed, not only at the beginning of worshipping like wudu and prayer. As a matter of fact, the following is stated in a hadith, “All of the acts that are not started with the name of Allah will be far away from goodness and abundance and will be incomplete and ineffective.” 

3 – To intend (Niyyah).

The intention must take place while washing the hands or face. What is meant by intention is to be aware in one’s heart that he is making wudu. Intention will be all right even if it is not pronounced if the wish to make wudu is present in one’s heart. 

* According to Malikis and Shafiis, it is fard to intend at the beginning of wudu. Intention is necessary while washing the face according to Shafiis. According to Hanbalis, intention is one of the conditions of the validity of wudu. Wudu is not valid without intention.

4 – To use a miswak, that is, to clean the teeth at the beginning of wudu...

If a person does not have any teeth or if a person cannot use a miswak or toothbrush due to a disorder in his gingiva or if a person does not have a miswak or a tooth brush with him when he makes wudu, he is to wash his teeth and gingiva by rubbing them with his thumb and index finger.

According to the statement of the Messenger of Allah, a prayer performed after cleaning the teeth with miswak is seventy times more virtuous than a prayer performed without cleaning the teeth.

For women, chewing gum replaces using miswak when they are not fasting.

5 – Making mazmaza (rinsing out the mouth) and istinshaq (snuffing water into nostrils and blowing it out)...

Mazmaza means to put water into the mouth, rinsing out the mouth.

Istinshaq means to snuff water into nostrils making the water reach the soft parts.

It is not necessary to snuff water by inhaling. Pouring water into nostrils is enough. Mazmaza and istinshaq are sunnah al-muakkada. First, mazmaza is made; then istinshaq is made. Both of them are carried out three times. New water has to be used for each mazmaza and istinshaq. If one of the acts is abandoned, this sunnah is not regarded to have been fulfilled.

Rinsing out the mouth and snuffing water into nostrils, which are sunnah in wudu, are fard in ghusl.

6 – To exaggerate while making mazmaza and istinshaq...

That is, to take the water in the mouth down to the throat and the water in the nostrils up to the hard part of the nose. Exaggeration is not in question for a person who is fasting because the water might go down from the throat.

7 – To make wudu in the necessary order...

That is, to wash the face and then the arms; to wipe the head with a wet hand and then to wash the feet. If the order above is not observed, wudu is valid but it means to abandon the sunnah.

According to Shafiis and Hanbalis, it is fard to make wudu in the necessary order.

8 – To start washing on the right... This sunnah is for the double organs.

9 – To wash three times... That is, to wash each organ three times with three separate waters. The first washing is fard; the others are sunnah. 

10 – To start washing the hands from the tips of the fingers and the feet from the tips of the toes...

11 – To rub between the fingers and the toes while washing the hands and  the feet.

12 – After washing the face three times, to wash among the hairs of the beard with a handful of water by putting the fingers among the hairs of the beard beginning from the bottom of the beard upward.

13 – To wipe the whole head with wet hands. It is called full masah. Both hands are wetted. Then the little, ring and middle fingers of both hands are connected; they are put on the front part of the head with fingertips touching each other. Then, they are moved beginning from the front part of the head to the neck by wiping the head. Then, the palms of the hands are put on both sides of the head and moved beginning from the neck to the front part of the head by wiping the head. Thus, full masah is carried out.  

14 – To wipe the ears...

Separate water is not necessary for the ears. The wetness of the hand that has been used to wipe the head can be used to wipe the ears too. The outer and the back part of the ears are wiped by the thumbs and the inner side by the index fingers. The little fingers are put into the ear and moved.

* According to Hanbalis, it is fard to wipe the inner parts of the ears because they regard the ears as the part of the head.

* According to Shafiis,  it is sunnah to wipe the head three times.

15 – To wipe the back part of the neck by the back of the hands... The front part of the neck is not wiped. The back part of the neck is wiped by the wetness at the back of the hand without wetting the hand again.

16 – To rub the organs of wudu as water is poured on them...

17 – To wash the organs of wudu without interruption. That is, to wash one organ without waiting for another organ to dry. (It is called “wila” or “muwalat”.)

* According to Malikis, muwalat is among the fards of wudu.

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