Ablution

Posted on 03/10/2012 by marina

ABLUTION. Arabic, wazu, wuzu, وزو
Ablution is described by Muhammad as “the half of faith and the key of prayer” (Mishcat, iii. 3c), and is founded on the authority of tho Qur’an, surah v. 8, “O Believers! when ye prepare yourselves for prayer, wash your faces and hands up to the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles.”
These ablutions are absolutely necessary as a preparation for the recital of the liturgical form of prayer, and are performed as follows: The worshipper, having tucked up his sleeves a little higher than his elbows, washes his hands three times; then he rinses his mouth three times, throwing the water into it with his right hand. After this, he, with his right hand, throws water up his nostrils, snuffing it up at the same time, and then blows it out, compressing his nostrils with the thumb and finger of the left hand–this being also performed three times. He then washes his face three times, throwing up the water with both hands. He next washes his right hand and arm, as high as the elbow, as many times, causing the water to run along his arm from the palm of the hand to the elbow, and in the same manner he washes the left. Then he draws his wetted right hand over the upper part of his head, raising his turban or cap with his left. If he has a beard, he then combs it with the wetted fingers of his right hand, holding his hand with the palm forwards, and passing the fingers through his beard from the throat upwards. He then puts the tips of his fore-fingers into his ears and twists them round, passing his thumbs at the same time round the back of the ears from the bottom upwards. Next, he wipes his neck with the back of the fingers of both hands, making the ends of his fingers meet behind his neck, and then drawing them forward. Lastly, he washes his feet, an high as the ankles, and passes his fingers between the toes. During this ceremony, which is generally performed in less than three minutes, the intending worshipper usually recites some pious ejaculations or prayers. For example :-
Before commencing the wazu’ :- “I am going to purify myself from all bodily uncleanness, preparatory to commencing prayer, that holy act of duty, which will draw my soul near to the throne of the Most High. In the name of God, the Great and Mighty. Praise be to God who has given us grace to be Muslims. Islam is a truth and infidelity a falsehood.”
When washing the nostrils :- “O my God, if I am pleasing in Thy sight, perfume me with the odours of Paradise.”
When washing the right hand :- “O my God, on the day of judgment, place the book of my actions in my right hand, and examine my account with favour.”
When washing the left hand :- “O my God, place not at the resurrection the book of my actions in my left hand.”
The Shiya’ is, acting more in accordance with the text of the Qur’an quoted above, only wipe, or rub (masah) the feet, instead of washing them, as do the Sunnis.
The ablution need not be performed before each of the five stated periods of prayer, when the person is conscious of having avoided every kind of impurity since the last performance of the ablution. The private parts of the body must also be purified when necessary. When water cannot be procured, or would be injurious to health, the ablution may be performed with dust or sand. This ceremony is called Tayammum (q.v.). The washing of the whole body is necessary after certain periods of impurity. [GHUSL.] The brushing of the teeth is also a religious duty. [MLSWAK.] The benefits of ablution are highly extolled in the sayings of Muhammad. e.g., “He who performs the wazu’ thoroughly will extract all sin from his body, even though it may be lurking under his finger nails.” “In the day of resurrection people shall come with bright faces, hands and feet and there will be jewels in every place where the waters of the wazu’ have reached. (Mishkat, iii. 1)

In all the principal mosques there are tanks, or wells, which supply water for the purpose of legal purification. [PURIFICATION.]

Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam