By Karimah bint Dawoud
Washing before prayer seems like a mundane action; most of us do not do such laborious rituals for any other work, so why is the need for cleanliness before prayer obligatory upon us?
We will look at traditional authentic hadith narrations as well as looking at wudhu as a prescriptive alternative medicine.
WUDHU IN THE QUR’AN AND HADITHS (PROPHETIC NARRATIONS)
Wudhu in the Shari’ah law system means to use clean water upon certain body parts. A connection between man and water is made in the Qur’an as Allah says that we were “created from water” (Surah Al Furqan 25, verse 54). It is a pre-requisite of prayer that is performed in a methodical way and the procedure for it is given in the Quran (Surat Al Ma’idah 5:6) mentioning specific parts of the body for wiping water over.
The hadiths below provide specific steps to make wudhu. They mention the quantity of water that is used and areas of the body cleansed that contribute to the therapeutic actions that will be discussed later.
Narrated Humran, the freed slave of ‘Uthman, ” I saw ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan asking for a tumbler of water, he poured water over his hands and washed them thrice and then put his right hand in the water container and rinsed his mouth, washed his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out. Then he washed his face and forearms up to the elbows thrice, passed his wet hands over his head and washed his feet up to the ankles thrice. Then he said, “Allah’s Apostle said ‘If anyone Performs ablution like that of mine and offers a two-rak’at prayer during which he does not think of anything else (not related to the present prayer) then his past sins will be forgiven…”
Narrated by ` Ammār ibn Yāsir ibn ʿĀmir ibn Mālik Abū al-Yaqẓān, ”Ibn ‘Abbas performed ablution and washed his face (in the following way): He ladled out handfuls of water, rinsed his mouth and washed his nose with it by putting in water and then blowing it out. He then took another handful (of water) and did like this (gesturing), joining both hands, and washed his face, took another handful of water and washed his right forearm. He again took another handful of water and washed his left forearm, and passed wet hands over his head and took another handful of water and poured it over his right foot (up to his ankles) and washed it thoroughly and similarly took another handful of water and washed thoroughly his left foot (up to the ankles) and said, “I saw Allah’s Apostle performing ablution in this way.”
THE PREVENTATIVE NATURE OF WUDHU
While there are a considerable number of fiqh works on “wudhu” in the English language, there are very few that seek to illuminate the holistic dimension of this act.
Turkish Muslim medical Dr. H. Nurbaki wrote an amazing article highlighting the relationship between the instruction given in the Quran and hadith pertaining to wudhu and the medical knowledge he has on the health benefits of these actions.
He states it is a prescription for good health. It is important to bear in mind the skin is the biggest organ of the body and as such has a multitude of roles. It protects all the internal activities of the body, it is a barometer for body temperature and acts as a filter. There are 50 sensory receptors per 2mm of skin. The skin deserves to be looked after and cared for to prevent disease.
Over the last 20 years biologists have discovered the deeper benefits of wudhu on the human body.
The lymph/immune system – White blood cells in the lymph system fight infection. As blood vessels extend from the heart they get smaller and narrow to the extremities which are the brain, head, hands and feet. When these vessels harden it puts pressure on the heart and diseases like arteriosclerosis and blood pressure are the result. When we apply water to the wudhu areas mentioned in the Quran and hadith, the vessels are stimulated by the water and contract and dilated, keeping them active.
The electro static balance of the body – Static electricity from the atmosphere, synthetic clothing and products we use for cleaning exacerbates the imbalance of the bodies’ electrostatic balance. It affects the subcutaneous cells of the skin causing aging. Wudhu regulates the static by the application of water to the points.
Ears – Wiping inside and outside the ears with water stimulates it. The ears are one of the most saturated areas of the body with acupressure points that are stimulated to treat many illnesses.
The health benefits of wudhu are numerous and more than skin deep. The Quran and hadiths give us information and we need holistically minded shuyukh to give optimum tafsir (commentary).
“Narrated Nu’aim Al Mujmir: Once I went up the roof of the mosque, along with Abu Huraira. He performed ablution and said, “I heard the Prophet ص لى الله ع ل يه و س لم (peace be upon him) saying, ‘On the Day of Resurrection, my followers will be called “Al-Ghurr-ul-Muhajjalun” from the trace of ablution and whoever can increase the area of his radiance should do so.’ (I.e. by performing ablution regularly and in the best manner)
May Allah help us all, Ameen.
 Ibn Abbas (r.a): Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Book of Taharan, Hadith 36.
 “Al-Ghurr-ul-Muhajjalun” is an Arabic term that refers to the radiance or beauty.
Karimah bint Dawoud is a Qualified Clinical Nutritionist and Muslim Chaplain. She is a Health & Well Being Representative for Charities in The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea 2015. She describes her website http://www.karimahscuisina.wordpress.com as “the faith based well-being organisation” Follow her twitter: @1KARIMAH and her facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karimah.dawoud. You can also reach her on : 07903435770.
(Picture Source: understandquran.com)