Wudu’ (ablution) gives us the necessary external purification so that we can pray. Now that we have purified the external, we need to think about purifying the internal – and wudu’ also helps us to do just that. Ibn Al-Qayyim said:
“If the servant is to meet his Lord on the Day of Judgment without complete purification (i.e. from sins), then he will not be allowed to enter [Jannah] – Similarly, one is not allowed to meet his Lord in prayer except in a state of purity.”
Let us ponder a little bit over one of the du`aa’ (supplication) that is said after the wudu’ as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “O Allah make me of those who repent often [to You] and of those who purify themselves.” (At-Tirmidhi)
So, before a person beautifies himself to meet Allah, one needs to cleanse oneself from his or her sins. Think of it this way: if you were to put on a new shirt, would you wash it first then perfume it, or would you perfume it then wash it? You would wash it first.
`Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“A person who performs wudu’ properly will have his sins removed from his body, so much that the sins are removed even from underneath his nails.” (Muslim)
And in the narration by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), it is said the sins leave “with the last drop of water.” (Muslim)
Subhan Allah (Glory be to God) how wudu’ removes sins, preparing one for his or her meeting with Allah. It was related by `Uthman ibn `Affan that “When a servant [of Allah] washes his face (in the course of wudu’), every sin which he committed with his face will be removed; when he washes his arms, the same thing happens; when he wipes his head, the same thing happens and when he cleanses his feet the same thing happens.” (Ahmad)
So imagine the sins we committed with our eyes will be removed, and with our ears removed and so on. The next time we perform wudu’, we should think of it as though we are actually seeing the sins as they fall off. And always think well of Allah that He will forgive.
Abu Hurairah also narrated that the Prophet said: “Shall I not guide you to that by which Allah wipes away the sins and raises the ranks?” They responded, “Certainly O Messenger of Allah.” He replied:
“Performing the ablution thoroughly despite odds, traversing of more paces toward the mosque, and waiting for the next prayer after observing a prayer, and that is mindfulness.” (Muslim)
Do whatever you want?
A person can say, “Well, great I’ll do what I want and commit so many sins and then do wudu’. I have a free pass!” But this isn’t correct. We should not make a mockery of Allah’s mercy with pre-meditated disobedience. Allah the Almighty says:
And they [i.e. the disbelievers] planned, but Allah planned. And Allah is the best of planners. (Aal `Imran 3:54)
What will Allah (Glory be to Him) do? He could deny us the benefits of wuḍu’ as a result of making a mockery of His mercy.
The Marking of Wudu’
We all know the hadith when the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed by the graveyard and said:
“Peace be upon you, dwelling of Believing People, and we will (all), if Allah wills, join you soon. I would have liked to have seen our brothers! “The companions (may Allah be pleased with him) were surprised at this and said, “Are we not your brothers, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “You are my Companions and our brothers are those who have not yet come.”
They said: How will you know those who have not yet come from your Ummah, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Have you not seen that if a man had a horse with a white blaze and hoof along with a totally jet-black horse, then would he not know his horse?”
They said, “Certainly, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “So they will come with white blazes and marks from the wuḍu’ and I will be present before them at the hawd (the pool).” (Muslim)
That is one of the ways by which the Prophet will know us on the Day of Judgment. Allahu Akbar – Allah is greatest.
Raising Your Station with Wudu’
The Prophet woke up one morning and went to Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him), saying to him, “O Bilal, how is it that I heard the sound of your footsteps in Jannah?”
Bilal answered, “O Messenger of Allah, I never committed a sin except that I prayed two rak`ahs [in repentance]; and every time my wudu’ breaks, I go renew my wudu’.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) answered, “Yes this is the reason why [I heard your footsteps].” (Ibn Khuzaimah)
Some Things That Nullify Wudu’
Of course the purpose of this series is not solely to feel the spirituality behind wuḍu’ and prayer without cautioning against invalid wuḍu’. These are some of the things that nullify wuḍu’:
1. Passing urine, feces or gas.
2. Deep sleep where you become unaware of your surroundings.
3. Losing consciousness.
4. Sexual intercourse.
The Prophet said:
“Were it not for the fact that I did not want to make things too hard for my Ummah, I would have commanded them to use the siwak for every wudu’ [in another narration, before every prayer].” (Al-Bukhari)
The Prophet also said:
“Siwak cleanses the mouth and earns the Lord’s pleasure.” (An-Nasa’i)
Look at the Prophet’s scrupulousness and care in his relationship with Allah – that he wanted to meet his Lord in prayer with a clean and pure mouth. The Prophet loved the siwak so much that when he was sick in his final days, he was with `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) when her brother `Abdur-Rahman (may Allah be pleased with him) walked in and he had a siwak. She saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) looking at it and she knew he wanted it. So she asked `Abdur-Rahman for it, softened it for the Prophet by chewing it, and gave it to him.
May we all perfect our wudu’ for the sake of Allah and in accordance to the example of his Messenger (peace be upon hum).