Surah 5:6 provides instructions for ritual ablution before prayer. It mentions only the face, the hands, the arms, and the feet. In your opinion, is this all that is necessary to wash according to the Shari`ah or is a Muslim required to wash the nose, ears, and neck etc. as Hadith dictates?
In my opinion, the Qur’an, in fact, has mentioned all the essential ingredients of Wudhu (ablution). The Prophet (pbuh) carried out this directive of the Qur’an in its ideal and best manner.
Thus, if we take a close look at the way, in which the Prophet (pbuh) carried-out the referred directive of the Qur’an, which is narrated in almost all the books of Hadith, we shall see that none of the apparent additions made by the Prophet (pbuh) were uncalled for. For instance, we see that before starting with the prescribed ablution, the Prophet (pbuh) used to wash his hands. Washing hands before starting with the actual act of ablution does not require any explanation. Obviously, the act of ablution is to be carried-out through hands and it is, therefore, most befitting that before starting with the ablution, we should first wash our hands.
The first directive of the Qur’an, in this connection, is to wash our faces. As a part of carrying-out the directive of washing one’s face in the best possible manner, the Prophet (pbuh) taught us to rinse our mouth and our nose. Rinsing of the mouth and nose, if seen as a part of washing the face in the best of manners, would no longer seem to be an addition upon the directive of the Qur’an.
Finally, it is also quite clear that when the Qur’an says that we should wash our faces and our hands and our feet, it should be the desire of every Muslim to wash the prescribed parts as thoroughly as possible. In this desire, an overcautious Muslim may be driven to washing these parts repeatedly. This would not only waste a lot of water, but can have extremely serious repercussions on a person’s psyche1. Thus, to save people from such an imbalance, while also teaching them to wash the prescribed parts in the best possible manner, the Prophet (pbuh) taught them to wash each of the prescribed parts three times, as a part of carrying-out the directive of the Qur’an in a most befitting manner.
It should be clear from the preceding explanation that, in my opinion, the method of ablution as narrated in various Hadith is, in fact, the best method, as taught by the Prophet (pbuh) of carrying-out the related directives of the Qur’an. Nevertheless, it logically follows that if at any time, due to any reason, a person only washes his face (only once), his arms up to his elbows (only once), rubs his hands over his head and washes his feet, he would, indeed, be said to have fully performed his ablution.
I hope this helps.
May 1, 2001
- I have personally seen people, who are never satisfied with whether or not they have performed the ablution in the prescribed manner. I have seen people taking a very long time and wasting gallons of water for their ablution and still being skeptical of its validity. [↩]