What is Wudu?
Wudu is a state of purity which is necessary for performing salah. We also need to be in this state of purity before handling the Holy Qur’an – when it has Arabic script in it – or when reciting passages from the Qur’an.
It is where we make ourselves spiritually clean by washing the hands, rinsing the mouth and nose, washing the face, washing the arms, dampening the hair and cleaning the ears and, finally, washing both feet.
Once we have purified ourselves in this manner we say that we have “wudu”.
“O ye who believe! when ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your hands (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles.
If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body.”
Surah al-Ma’idah 6
Wudu is nullified by going to the toilet, breaking wind, sleeping, or by bleeding freely. Any of these acts is said to “break your wudu”.
If your wudu has broken, then you have to renew your wudu before you can perform salah again.
If an act of major impurity takes place then it becomes necessary to wash the whole body. This is called performing ghusl and a description of how to perform ghusl can be found further down this page.
An act of major impurity occurs where sexual intercourse has taken place, where there has been a sexual discharge (e.g. a wet dream), at the end of a woman’s menstrual period, and at the end of the period of bleeding which follows childbirth.
Note: the nullifiers of wudu and the requirements for performing ghusl can vary slightly between different schools within Islam. You should check with your local imam or Islamic teacher for detailed nullifiers of wudu which may apply to you.
How to Perform Wudu
You need a supply of clean water in order to perform wudu. The water should be free from any impurities that you can see with your eyes, taste with your tongue, or smell.
Make the intention to perform wudu for the purpose of purifying yourself and begin the action in the name of Allah ﷻ . You could say something like …
“O Allah, I make the intention to perform wudu for salah, bismillah“
“Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim”
(In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful)
- Begin by washing your hands three times. Wash both of your hands up to your wrists and make sure that you clean in-between your fingers.
- Take some water in your cupped right hand and rinse out your mouth three times. Rub the outside layer of your teeth with your index finger of your right hand as you do this.
- Take some water in your cupped right hand and sniff a little up your nose. Blow the water out again by squeezing your nose lightly between the thumb and index finger of your left hand. Do this three times.
- Take some water in both hands and wash your face all over, from the top of your forehead to the end of your chin and from ear to ear. If you have a beard, wipe over the beard so that water reaches the skin underneath. Wash your face three times in this fashion.
- Take some water in your cupped right hand and allow it to run down your right arm while using your left hand to rub the entire arm up to and including the elbow. Wash your arm three times in this way.
- Wash your left arm three times in the same way, this time washing your arm using your right hand.
- Take some water in both hands, allow excess water to run off. Then wipe over your head/hair with your damp hands. Place the tips of your fingers together, with your thumbs at the temples, and wipe your head from your forehead to the nape of your neck, then bring your hands back over your head to your forehead once more. You need only do this once. A woman, if wearing a hijab, will need to loosen the hijab in order to be able to pass their moist hands over their hair.
- Wet both your hands again and then wipe the inside and outside of your ears using both hands. Use your index finger to wet the inside of your ears and use your thumbs to rub the outside of your ears.
- Take water in your cupped right hand and wash your right foot , making sure that water covers all of your foot up to and including your ankles, not forgetting between your toes. Do this three times on your right foot.
- Then take water in your right cupped hand again and wash your left foot three times in the same manner.
This completes the washing actions for wudu and you can now complete your wudu by reciting on of the forms of the shahadah e.g.
“Ash-hadu anlaa ilaaha ilaallaah,
wa ash-hadu anna Muhammaden-ar-rasool ullah”
It sounds complicated at first, but performing wudu is really very straightforward.
You can see how simple the steps in making wudu are by watching the tutorial videos at the foot of this page.
How to Perform Ghusl
Ghusl can be performed in a bath, by taking a shower, or by pouring water over your body.
Begin by making the intention to perform ghusl and by saying “bismillah“
- First, wash your hands and then wash your private parts.
- Wash your hands again. Then carry out complete wudu, but washing your limbs only once.
- When washing your hair, comb your wet hands through your hair and beard (if you have one). Pour water over your head three times.
- Now wash all over the rest of your body, making sure that all parts of your body have been washed and are wet. You should take care not to touch your private parts when washing your body.
Complete your ghusl by reciting the shahadah.
Here are some YouTube video tutorials that will show you how to perform wudu. You will be reassured after watching these videos how easy performing wudu is.