Wudhu, or ablution, is both a traditional ritual and a practical means by which Muslims may seek to maintain good physical and spiritual hygiene. Traditionally, Wudhu refers to the mental and physical preparation of Muslims for the Salat (prayer), one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The Salat (prayer) is not accepted without the wudhu, therefore it is a must for all muslims to learn important and obligatory part of our faith.

How to Perform the Wudhu (Ablution)

  1. Make niyyah (Intention) to perform the wudhu (washing). Niyyah (intention) in the Islamic concept means purifying one’s intention to perform an act of worship for the sake of Allah (swt) alone. To truly perform Wudhu, you should center yourself and quiet your thoughts, focusing seriously on what you are doing. Niyyah doesn’t necessarily involve saying anything out loud, but focusing on the phrase “Bismillah” (In the name of Allah) is a good way to accomplish the centering necessary. Say it out loud or silently to yourself, whichever makes you comfortable.
  2. Washing your hands up to the wrist. Use your left hand to wash your right hand. Do this three times. After that, use your right hand to wash your left hand three times. Make sure to wash in between your fingers and all the way up to your wrists.
  3. Cleaning your mouth. Take water into your mouth. Use your right hand to cup water into your mouth three times. Swish it around in your cheeks and the back of your throat. Do this thoroughly to get all the remaining remnants of food and flavor in your mouth out.
  4. Cleaning your nose. Use your right hand to cup water and tilt your head back slightly in order for the water to reach inside your nostrils. Do this three times. You can use your left hand to close one nostril and blow out if you need to. Do not put too much water and make too abrupt as you might end up taking too much water into your nose and choking yourself. If you cannot make the water reach into your nose using this method, you can wet your fingers and put water on the lower part of your nostril and use the tips of your fingers to ensure that water reaches your nasal cavity.
  5. Washing your face. Wash your face three times by placing your hands together and gathering water. Use that water to wash your face and ensure that every part of your face, from the tip of your forehead till the tip of your chin, and from one earlobe to another, every part gets washed.
  6. Washing your arms till your elbows. Cup water in your left hand and start washing your right hand from the bottom part of your right hand, start from the tips of your fingers all the way up to the elbow, leaving no part dry. Then twist your right hand and start washing the top part of your right hand with your left hand by starting from the elbow till the tips of your fingers. Do this three times and take water every time. Then do the same process in order to wash your left hand and use your right hand. Make sure you rub your all over with your wet fingers to ensure no part remains dry.
  7. Washing your head. Take water into your hands and wet your fingers. Using your wet hands, use the inside part of your hand and your last three fingers and pass them over the top of your head (front to back), then use insides of your palm and thumb to wipe the sides of your head (back to front). Do this once.
  8. Wipe your ears inside and out. With the same water, use your finger to clean all the crevices of your ear. Use your thumb to clean behind your ears from the bottom upward. This is also done one time. Thereafter use the back portion of your fingers to wipe your nape only, (not your neck). Do this once.
  9. Washing your feet. Wash each of your feet, starting with the right and washing up to the the ankles (including the ankles). Make sure water goes between the toes. Use your pinky finger and go through each toe to eliminate any dry spot in between. Start with your right foot and scrub each foot three times.
  10. While pointing the right index finger to the sky, recite a brief prayer of witness. Generally, the prayer is as follows: “Ash-hadu al laa ilaaha illal lahu wahdahu laa shareekalahu, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhuu wa rasuuluh.” In English, this is translated as “I bear witness that there is no deity save Allah alone; He is One; He has no partner and I bear witness that (Hadrat) Muhammad (sallallahu ala Muhammadu sallallahu alaihu Wasallam) is His (chosen) servant and (true) Messenger.”
  11. Repeat the Wudhu after it has been nullified. Actions that nullify the Wudhu include natural discharges, including urination, defecation, excessive bleeding, and gas. Deep sleep also nullifies Wudhu. After intercourse, re-performing Wudhu alone is not enough to be able to perform Salat. There is another form of purification that must be performed known as Ghusul.

Tips for Wudhu

  1. Clear your mind before Wudhu, so that you concentrate on Allah.
  2. It is always better to clear your bowels and urinate before wudhu. In this way, you will be able to resist the sudden urge to use the washroom after wudhu.
  3. Also if you cannot stand up due to old age, you can perform the salat sitting on a chair with the prayer rug underneath your feet.
  4. You need water to do the steps above, but if you can’t find any water or if you are sick, you can perform Tayammum. It is a form of purification made with clean dust, earth or sand. We will cover the details on tayammum separately.
  5. You must do the steps in the given order and also without long pauses in between steps.
  6. It was the practice of the Prophet to brush his teeth before performing wudhu.
  7. Also whilst performing the Wudhu, if you have a cast over your arm, passing wet fingers over your cast will suffice to complete your Wudhu.
  8. Wipe your neck once with the back of your wet hands before you wash your feet.


Wudhu is necessary for Salat. Do not pray without performing Wudhu. After your wudhu is invalidated, you must perform it again. When fasting, do not skip rinsing your mouth. As long as you don’t swallow it, you are fine. The easiest and safest way for rinsing your mouth whilst fasting is to tilt your mouth and nose downwards so that only a minimal amount of water enters it.