Last updated on November 9th, 2023 at 10:39 am
How to perform wudu? Whether you are a young Muslim who just started practicing Salat or a new revert, wudu can be a challenge. It is difficult to remember the steps and the order of the steps when you are first getting started. Wudu is the Islamic act of purification and ablution. It is a step-by-step process that not only physically purifies us but also spiritually prepares us for the act of prayer.
It may be hard for new learners to remember the correct order of the steps and the things that break your wudu. As Muslims, we pray five times a day, so knowing the answers to these questions is important. Here, we explain how to perform wudu in 8 simple steps:
What Are The Steps Of Wudu?
Contrary to what I may look like, wudu is quite simple. Here are the 8 simple steps:
Step 1: Niyyah
The first step is to start with the niyyah or intention. When performing wudu, we should become mindful of the act by calming our thoughts and focusing on the ibadah we are about to perform. Our niyyah should be that we are going to perform wudu to cleanse ourselves as we offer prayer to Allah, say Bismillah, and make the right intention in your heart.
Starting your wudu with Allah’s name is masnoon, a hadith explains its importance:
Abu Huraira, Ibn Mas’ud, and Ibn’ Umar reported the Prophet (ﷺ) as saying, “He who performs ablution and mentions God’s name purifies his whole body, but he who performs ablution and does not mention God’s name is pure only where the ablution reached.” Mishkat al-Masabih 428
Step 2: Wash Your Hands
Then you move on to washing the parts of your body, beginning from your hands. When you perform wudu, you must wash each body part 3 times.
Hazrat Ali reported that “The Prophet (ﷺ) performed wudu three times (for each limb).” Al-Tirmidhi 44
The washing begins from your right hand; it is Sunnah to wash your right hand first and then the left. Each limb must be washed three times properly so that the whole hand is completely wet with water.
Step 3: Wash Your Mouth
Then you move on to washing the mouth three times. Make a cup from your right hand to collect water and rinse your mouth with it thoroughly. Make sure to swirl the water in your mouth and then spit it out to cleanse it completely.
Step 4: Wash Your Nose
Next, take some water in the cup of your left hand and use it to rinse your nose three times. Inhale a little water in your nose without taking in too much as to cause choking, and then blow the water from your nose to clean it.
If you are a beginner, you must perform this step carefully. Try to avoid inhaling too much water as it can go straight to your head.
Step 5: Wash Your Face
Now you wash your face three times, ensuring that your entire face is wet from your brow line to your chin. Bring both of your hands together to make a big cup, fill it with water, and then wash your face with it.
If you have a beard, run your wet fingers through the beard once you have washed your face.
Step 6: Wash Your Arms
It’s time to wash your arms, beginning with your right arm from fingertips to elbow. You must wash your arm three times, ensuring that no part of the arm is left dry. Repeat the same process with your left arm.
Step 7: Perform Masah
After washing your arms, shake your hand to remove the excess water and then bring your hand to your forehead. In a sweeping motion, wipe your hands through your hair from front to back and then back again to the front once. Afterward, bring your index fingers to the ears to clean from inside the ear.
If you have long hair, it is not necessary to wipe your hand through the entire length of the hair; doing it just till your neck is acceptable. The Masah only needs to be performed once.
Step 8: Wash Your Feet
The last step is to wash the feet three times, starting from the right foot’s toenail to above the ankle. Each foot should be washed three times. Use your fingers to wipe away any dirt or grime from between your toes and repeat the same process for each foot.
Important Considerations When Performing Wudu
When you perform wudu, be mindful of the following:
Do not take long breaks between each step: Wudu should be performed as quickly as possible while meeting the requirements. It must be completed in one sitting and with as little water as possible.
Ensure that you clean each required part: Your wudu will be incomplete even if you leave the smallest part unwashed.
Jabir reported that Umar b. Khattab said that a person performed ablution and left a small part equal to the space of a nail (unwashed). The Apostle of Allah (ﷺ) saw that and said: Go back and perform ablution well. He then went back (performed ablution well) and offered the prayer. Sahih Muslim 243
Do You Have to do Wudu in Order?
One of the most common questions is whether we have to perform wudu in order? And the answer is twofold:
One: Yes, if you remember the order, then you should do it in that order. In other words, it is preferable or masnoon to perform the steps of wudu in the prescribed order.
Two: However, if you forget the order and perform it in a different sequence, your wudu is still valid.
This sequence in which you perform wudu is Sunnah meaning it is rewarded and recommended. But if it is not obligatory. The Maaliki school of thought believes that the sequence of performing wudu is obligatory for those who remember it. However, it is not on those who forget.
Do I Have To Make Wudu Before Each Namaz?
No, unless you have broken your wudu, Muslims are not required to perform new wudu before each namaz, but it is preferred.
In Islam, there are two ways of doing things; one way is harder but preferred by Allah and his Prophet (ﷺ), and the other is not preferred but is acceptable as it meets the minimum requirement. The same is the case with wudu; performing wudu before each prayer is Afzal but not mandatory.
Anas bin Malik said that “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to perform ablution for every prayer, and we used to perform all of the prayers with one ablution.” Sunan Ibn Majah 509
What Do You Say When Doing Wudu?
There are many dua’s that can be recited when performing wudu. We will mention the two dua’s you say before you begin wudu and after you complete it:
- Before: Bismillaah English Translation – In the Name of Allah
- After (Shahada) Ash-hadu ‘an laa ‘ilaaha ‘illallaahu wahdahu laa shareeka lahu wa ‘ash-hadu ‘anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa Rasooluhu.
English Translation – “I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah alone, who has no partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger.”
There are other dua’s that can be recited during wudu, but there are many more. These two are the easiest to remember and start with.
How to Perform Wudu without Water?
Sometimes, water may not be available for wudu. These conditions include:
- There is water scarcity and drought.
- You are in a situation where you have a small amount of water. If you use the water for wudu, you will not have enough to drink, which will result in death for yourself and your family.
- You have an illness or disease in which washing your face or hands will cause harm to your health.
In this case, you can perform a special kind of wudu called Tayammum. In this kind of wudu, the steps are not the same, and you do not use water.
How to Perform Wudu for Females
As detailed above, the steps for performing wudu are the same for males and females. However, there are certain things women must consider when performing wudu:
- It is recommended to remove nail paint when performing wudu. This is because most nail paints do not allow water to penetrate the nails, and wudu will be invalid.
- You can perform wudu if you have applied mehndi.
- It is recommended that you remove any accessories you are wearing on your hands or arms, such as bangles, rings, etc., to ensure water reaches all parts of your skin.
- If you have long, thick hair, ensure water reaches your scalp when performing Masah.
How to Perform Wudu for Males
Here are certain things men must consider when performing wudu:
- If you have a beard, thoroughly run your hand through it while washing your face.
- Remove any accessories you are wearing on your hands or arms, such as a wristwatch, rings, etc., to ensure water reaches all parts of your skin.
- If you have long, thick hair, ensure water reaches your scalp when performing Masah.
How to Perform Wudu with Socks
Perform wudu once without socks and put them on after wudu is complete. When you wish to renew your wudu, and you haven’t removed your socks during this period, follow these steps when it comes time to wash your feet three times:
- Keeping your socks on, wet your right hand and gently wipe the top of your right foot. This is to be done only once.
- Similarly, wet your hand right hand again and gently wipe the top of your left foot. Also, this is done only once.
This was the practice the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) followed when doing wudu with socks on and is known as Masah – cleansing the feet with wet hands rather than pouring water over them. The same rule applies to performing wudu wearing sandals and shoes as long as they cover the ankles.
How to Perform Wudu – Hanafi
The Hanafi method of performing wudu is the same as detailed above:
- Making Niyyah
- Reciting Bismillah
- Washing the hands thrice over to wrist joints
- Rinsing the mouth thrice (brushing teeth with Miswak was the Prophet’s practice)
- Passing water through the nostrils thrice
- Washing the face thrice and passing fingers through the beard (for men)
- Washing the arms thrice
- Performing Masah of both ears and over the entire head once
- Washing the feet while passing all fingers across each other and through all toes
How to Perform Wudu – Jafari
Here are steps to perform wudu according to the Shia denomination. Performing all these steps once is obligatory, and a second time is recommended. However, performing them a third time is prohibited.
Step 1: Make Niyyah
You can make Niyyah internally or aloud by stating, “I perform Wudhu for Allah’s pleasure and to become closer to Him.”
Step 2: Wash Your Face
Remove any accessories from your arms, hands, or face that might prevent water from reaching the skin.
Pour a handful of water in your right hand over your face from just above the forehead. Using your right hand, wipe your face from the tip of your hairline to the bottom of your chin.
Ensure the water reaches all surfaces of your face between the hairline and the chin. Also wash the inner parts of your lips, nose, and eyes during the washing; however, you don’t have to wash the entire inner portion of these parts.
Step 3: Wash Your Arms
Using your left hand, pour water over your right arm. Begin this step from the elbows and continue washing down to the fingertips, not vice versa.
Begin pouring water from slightly above your elbow to ensure your entire forearm is washed. Ensure the water penetrates the hair on your arm (if any) and reaches the skin. Also, wash both sides of the arm.
Repeat this step for your left arm using your right hand.
Step 4: Wipe Your Head
Wipe the front quadrant of the head with your moist right hand. Start from the upper part of the head down towards the back towards the face. You can wipe your head using one finger only, but using the index finger, the middle finger, and the ring finger joined together is recommended.
When wiping your head, ensure your hand does not touch your forehead. If it does, water from the forehead might mix with the moistness of your hands. The moisture should penetrate the hair and reach the scalp. However, if your hair is short enough not to be combed, wiping them is sufficient.
Step 5: Wipe Your Feet
Wipe your right foot with your moist right hand and your left foot with your left moist hand. It is better to wipe your feet with three joined fingers, as mentioned in the previous step; however, it is recommended to use your entire hand.
While wiping your foot, gently pull your hand from your toes to the ankle joint along the length of your toe-tips till the ankles.
How to Make Wudu like the Prophet (ﷺ)?
There are varied accounts of how the Prophet (ﷺ) performed wudu. He did, however, make it a point to perform it in public so others could learn. We can take general guidance from different hadiths on how we should perform our wudu.
The most preferred form of wudu is to wash every part three times, and there are many hasan hadiths that prove that the Prophet (ﷺ) performed wudu in this way.
However, there are several other accounts, too; some describe that the Prophet (ﷺ) called for water, and then he poured the water over his right hand and washed it twice. He then rinsed his mouth and used water to wash his nose three times. He then washed his face three times and his arms to his elbows twice.
Similarly, other accounts suggest that he washed his limbs only once when performing wudu. There are two ways to interpret this difference: firstly, The Prophet (ﷺ) may have performed wudu in different ways to show that all are acceptable. Secondly, and perhaps more accurately, the other accounts of wudu were zaeef or old.
In Islam, the newest method or teaching nullifies the previous or old method or teaching. Therefore, the alternative methods of wudu are true but old. When the Prophet (ﷺ) started washing three times and instructed his Sahaba to do the same, the old methods became obsolete.
What Breaks Wudu?
There is a lot of discussion and conflicting opinions on what breaks and does not break your wudu. To simplify it, we will list the basic acts that break wudu:
- Any discharge from the front or back passage (urine, stools, wind, etc.).
- In the case of blood or pus, if there is a constant flow of either, that breaks your wudu. But if the cut sits against the skin and there is no blood flowing, your wudu is not broken.
- Another way your wudu is broken is if you vomit.
- Deep sleep also breaks your wudu.
- Marital relations between husband and wife also break wudu.
- Eating camel meat breaks wudu.
Conclusion for How to Performing Wudu
From the above, it is clear that the ritual of wudu is very important before performing prayer. We should do our best to perform it the way it has been taught by the Prophet (ﷺ) and take care it is intact while praying.
If you want to learn more about Tayyamum, read our detailed blog post here.