Before performing Salah, one needs to be mentally, physically, and spiritually prepared. A major part of this readiness is Wudu or Ablution, the process of purification that all Muslims must perform before praying.
Performing Wudu is so important that if we ignore it, forget it, or break it before or during Salah, our prayer will not be accepted.
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:
“No salah is accepted without wudu (purification).” (Sahih Muslim, Book 2, Hadith 2)
Although most people know Wudu’s importance, they usually miss some essential steps while performing it. Moreover, most people are unsure about what makes Wudu void. This knowledge is critical to the acceptance of Salah.
So, in today’s article, we will highlight the procedure of Wudu and the 7 things that nullify Wudu.
How to Perform Wudu?
Before going into the details of what breaks Wudu, we must know the steps of Wudu:
1. Step 1 – Make Intention
There aren’t any specific words or statements for making the intention of Wudu. It is purely admitting in your heart and mind that you will perform Wudu for Salah.
2. Step 2 – Recite Bismillah
Before starting Wudu, you must recite Bismillah (In the Name of Allah) silently to yourself.
3. Step 3 – Washing Hands Thrice
As taught by the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), Muslims must begin all sacred actions from the right side. So, you must wash your right hand three times (carefully from the fingertips to the wrist) and then your left hand.
4. Step 4 – Rinsing Mouth Thrice
Scoop water in your right hand and thoroughly rinse your mouth thrice.
5. Step 5 – Sniffing Water into Nostrils Thrice
Scoop water in your right hand and sniff it into your nostrils thrice. This means snorting a small quantity of water into the nose and blowing it out.
6. Step 6 – Washing Face Thrice
The whole face – ear to ear from the top of the forehead to the bottom of the chin – must be washed thrice. For men with beards, pass your wet hands through the entire beard after washing your face.
7. Step 7 – Washing Arms Thrice
Starting from the fingertips, wash your arms up to the elbows thrice. First, wash your right arm, then wash your left arm. Make sure no part is left dry.
8. Step 8 – Wiping Head and Cleaning Ears Once
Wipe here means to stroke your wet hands from the top of the forehead to the back of the head and back again. This is performed once, and whether you’re bald or have short or long hair, the process is the same.
With the same wet hands, clean the inside of your ears using your index fingers and the area behind your ears using your thumb. This is also done once.
9. Step 9 – Washing Feet Thrice
The last step is to wash your feet thrice, first the right and then the left, from the toes up to the ankles. Make sure water reaches the areas between the toes and behind the ankle.
10. Step 10 – Reciting Shahada and Dua
On completion of the Wudu, the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) used to recite the Shahada:
أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُول
“I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is his slave and Messenger.” (Sunan Ibn Majah (470))
After this, the Prophet (ﷺ) would recite the following Dua:
“O Allah, make me among those who seek repentance and make me among those who purify themselves.“
This completes your Wudu and you can now offer Salah.
What Nullifies or Breaks Wudu?
Now that we have mastered the steps of Wudu, let’s discuss the things that can break your Wudu.
1. Discharge from Private Parts
Any discharge from private parts, i.e., urine, stool, wind, semen, and vaginal discharge, can nullify Wudu. However, the Prophet (ﷺ) stated: “Do not stop praying until you hear a sound or smell an odor.” So do not panic simply because you felt an uneasiness in your stomach.
Although vaginal discharge might not be impure, one cannot be sure whether it is excreted from the cervix or the walls of the private parts, so it is best to perform Wudu again. Wind released from a female’s front passage does not break Wudu.
Once a woman’s monthly menstruation cycle (periods) starts, Wudu is nullified, and females are exempt from offering Salah.
However, sometimes women might experience bleeding in between periods because of an illness, contraceptive pills, or other medical complications. This bleeding should be ignored, and females must continue offering Salah.
However, females must refresh their Wudu every time bleeding occurs.
3. Bleeding and Pus
Bleeding (other than menstruation or that from the private parts) is an issue many people debate over. Some scholars agree that if there is heavy bleeding from a wound or laceration, it is considered impure, and Wudu is deemed void. A small cut or wound that isn’t bleeding does not nullify Wudu. The same is true for pus.
However, if the bleeding is manageable but persistent, and you risk missing Salah, you can place a bandage on the bleeding site and perform Wudu.
On the other hand, most religious scholars claim that bleeding isn’t impure and does not break Wudu. These scholars give examples of Sahabas such as Ameer-ul-Momineen Hazrat Umar (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) praying while they were injured and bleeding during the war.
Nevertheless, if one decides to perform Wudu to be on the safe side, then there is no harm in doing so, since the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 51, Hadith 173).
There are opposing views on this. Some scholars state that even a mouthful of vomit breaks Wudu. But scholars such as Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Ahmad state that vomiting a mouthful will not nullify Wudu, and only a large amount of vomit invalidates Wudu.
However, Imam al-Shaafa’i claims that vomiting does not nullify Wudu, and this is widely accepted because no valid Hadith states that vomiting invalidates Wudu.
5. Losing Senses (Temporary or Permanent)
Losing one’s senses, temporarily due to an accident or permanently, breaks Wudu. This also involves sleeping, fainting (losing consciousness), and intoxication.
6. Eating Camel Meat
Eating camel meat breaks Wudu. It is narrated by Al-Bara’ ibn Azib:
“Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was asked about performing ablution after eating the flesh of the camel. He replied: Perform ablution after eating it. He was asked about performing ablution after eating meat. He replied: Do not perform ablution after eating it. He was asked about offering prayer in places where the camels lie down. He replied: Do not offer prayer in places where the camels lie down. These are the places of Shaitan. He was asked about offering prayer in the sheepfolds. He replied: You may offer prayer in such places; these are the places of blessing”. (Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Hadith 184).
7. Touching Private Parts
Most scholars state that if you touch your or your partner’s private parts, you must perform Wudu again. If the private parts are touched from behind clothing or some other barrier, it does not nullify Wudu. Moreover, simply touching, kissing, or hugging your husband or wife will not invalidate Wudu unless there is some discharge.
However, some scholars state that touching is differentiated between touching with and without desire – Wudu breaks if the private parts are touched with desire and does not break if they are touched without desire.
Wudu is the first and most important step before offering Salah. We hope this article will guide you in performing Wudu correctly and help you better understand the things that break Wudu.
To learn more about Wudu, read: Frequently Asked Questions About Wudu (Ablution)