The 11 Steps of Ablution In Islam

Ablution is a very important aspect of Islam. It is required to undertake this purification procedure before a Muslim’s prayer would be acceptable in the sight of Allah. It represents spirituality and cleanliness. “Allah does not accept the prayer of one who nullified his ablution until he performs it again. [Al-Bukhari, At-Tirmidhi].

“O ye who have believed! When you rise to perform prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles” [Quran 5:6]. Below are the steps on how to perform ablution:

1. Declare the intention for ablution in your heart.  Rasoolullah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa Salam) himself explained in the hadith narrated by 'Umar (radhiAllaahu 'anhu) in the Sahihain Verily the actions are by intention and there is for everyone only what he intended. [Fath-ul-Baaree, 1/9, and Muslim, 6/48]. At-Tasmiyyah (Mentioning Allah's Name).

2. Say Bismillah (In the Name of Allah). Abu Hurairah (radhiAllaahu' anhu) said that Rasoolullah (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) said "There is no ablution for him who does not mention Allah’s name upon it." [Reported by Ibn Maajah (no.399), At-Tirmidhi (no.26), Abu Dawood (no.101) and others. 

3. Wash the right hand up to and including the wrists.  Make sure to rub between the fingers of the hand. And thus make sure no part of the hand is left dry.  Then do the same with the left hand (also three times).  Humraan (radhiAllaahu ‘anhu) narrates that 'Uthman called for water to make ablution and washed his hands three times... then said: I saw Rasoolullah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa Salam) make wudoo just as I have made ablution. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim, and as preceded.

4. Make a cup with the right hand then from this hand take water into your mouth and swirl it inside the mouth and then expel out of mouth. Then sniff remaining water from the cupped right hand and sniff water into the nose and then blow the water out and using the left hand remove the water from your nose. Do this three times.  


5. Wash the face three times, from the hairline to the jaw bone and from the start of the ear. A man should wash the hair of his beard by taking a handful of water and entering it below his chin and rubbing it through his beard and passing the wet fingers through the beard.

6. Wash the right arm up to the elbow three times.  The arm extends from the finger tips including the nails, to the lower part of the upper arm. It is important to remove anything stuck to the hands before washing them; such as mud, paint, nail polish, e.t.c, that could prevent water from touching the skin. Do this to the left arm as well.


7. Wet your hands in water; place both hands at the front of the head and wipe the hair backwards until you reach the neck. Then bring them back to the front of the head. This is done once. With regards to a woman’s hair, she should wipe it (whether it is loose or braided) from the front of her head to the root of her head. She doesn’t have to wipe the entire length of her hair. Al-Bukhari (185) and Muslim (235) narrated from ‘Abd-Allah Ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him) that he described the ablution’ of the Prophet [an error occurred while processing this directive] (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): … Then he wiped his head with his hands, front to back. He started at the front of the head and (wiped) until his hands reached the back of the head, then he brought them back to where he started.


8. Clean the ears by inserting the tips of the index fingers into the ears. Twist them round the folds of the ears. Then wipe the back of the ears with your thumbs. From bottom of the ear upwards. Like the previous step, this is done once. 

9. Wash the right feet up to the ankles three times.  Wash the left feet the same way as the right.


10. The dua after ablution: Ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allah, wahdahu laa shareeka lah, wa washhadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasooluhu ( I bear witness that there is no god except Allah alone, with no partner or associate, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.

11. Note. The water must also be pure (tahir), for impure (naajis) water cannot be used for ablution. One must also remove anything that could prevent water from reaching the skin and nails, such as nail polish.

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