How was the ablution of the prophet muhammad?
The life of the Messenger of Allah was based on purity. Material cleanliness plays an important part in achieving spiritual purity and doing good deeds to attain the level of ihsan. In this respect, Allah the Almighty says in the Qur’an “…Allah loves those who keep themselves pure and clean.” (al-Baqara 2; 222) The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) expresses the importance of purity saying:
“Cleanliness is half of faith.” (Muslim, Taharah, 1)
Allah the Most High wants His servants, who would like to come in His presence, to be clean from all kinds of material and spiritual impurity. This is why Allah has made ablution obligatory before some types of acts of worship, such as ritual prayers and circumambulation around Ka’bah. Muslim scholars have considered ablution a separate act of obedience because of its merits and significance. One of the reports about its merits is as follows:
‘Uqba b. ‘Amir reported:
“We were entrusted with the task of tending the camels. On my turn when I came back in the evening after grazing them in the pastures, I found Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) standing and addressing the people. I heard these words of his:
“If any Muslim performs ablution well, then stands and prays two rak’ahs, which he/she performs them with whole heart and soul, Paradise would be guaranteed to him.”
I said: What a fine thing is this! And someone who was standing before me said: The first was even better than this. When I cast a glance, I saw that it was ‘Umar. He continued his words: I see that you have just come. Just before you came here the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
“If anyone amongst you performs the ablution, and then completes the ablution well and then says: I testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the servant of Allah and His Messenger, the eight gates of Paradise would be opened for him and he may enter by whichever of them he wishes.” Muslim, Ṭaharah, 17)
Another incident about the merit is reported by Abu Huraira. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) came to the graveyard and said:
“Peace be upon you O the residents of the abode of the believing people! If Allah so wills, we are about to join you. I love to see my brothers, and I have missed them so much.”
Companions said: Aren’t we your brothers, O Messenger of Allah? He said:
“You are my companions, and our brothers are those who have, so far, not come into the world.”
They said: O Messenger of Allah, how will you recognize those persons of your Ummah who have not yet been born? He said:
“Suppose a man had horses with white blazes on fore- heads and legs among horses which were all black, tell me, would he not recognize his own horses?”
They said: Certainly, O Messenger of Allah. And he said:
“They will come with white faces and arms and legs owing to ablution, and I will arrive at the Cistern before them and will be waiting for them.” (Muslim, Ṭaharah, 39)
Because purity is a distinguishing characteristic of the believers, their limbs that are cleansed for ablution will shine on the Day of Judgment, and thus they will be known that they are the followers of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). Believers, who know this, have tried to perform their ablution well and they have the ablution water reach as many places as they can.
Abu Hazm reported:
I was (standing) behind Abu Huraira and he was performing the ablution for prayer. He extended the washing of his hand up to his armpit. I said to him:
“O Abu Huraira, what kind of ablution is this?” He said:
“O my friend Bani Farrukh, I did not know that you were here; if I knew, I would have never performed ablution like this. I have heard my Friend (pbuh) saying:
“On the day of Judgment, a believer’s adornment would reach the places where ablution water reaches.” (Muslim, Ṭaharah, 40)
Ablution is not only performed for worship. Islam encourages believers to perform ablution at other times and to always stay ritually pure; however, this not something that everyone can do. Only those who know the benefits and significance of ablution can succeed in this. This is why to always be pure is considered as a sign of faith and it is stated in the saying of the Prophet (pbuh):
“And only a believer is constant in his/her wuḍu or ablution.” (Ibn Majah, Ṭaharah, 4; Malik, Muwaṭṭa, Ṭaharah, 36)
There are several examples from the life of the Prophet (pbuh) in this respect. According to Abu Juhaim Al-Ansari’s narration, once the Prophet was coming from the direction of Bi’r Jamal, when he met a man. The man greeted him, but he did not return back the greeting till he went to a (mud) wall and smeared his hands and his face with its dust (performed tayammum) and then returned back the greeting. (Bukhari, Tayammum, 3)
Ibn Abbah (r.a.) narrates:
“Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) used to go out to the bathroom and when he was coming back, he would perform tayammum. When I told him:
“O Messenger of Allah! You were close to water, why did you perform tayammum?” He replied:
“I do not know. Maybe I give my soul, before I reach it.” (Ibn Hanbal, I, 288, 303; Haythami, I, 263)
Again when the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) needed major ablution, he would perform tayammum until he performed major ablution, not to stay without ablution. (Haythami, I, 264)
As a result of the Prophet’s (pbuh) practice and encouragement, many believers try to perform ablution as soon as they need it, and they also refresh their ablution after a while. As a matter of fact Ottoman Sultan Abdulahmid II’s daughter narrated that her father used to keep a piece of brick under his bed, so when he woke up, he could perform tayammum until he went to the washroom.
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) heralded the believers who refresh their ablution saying:
“Whoever refreshes his/her ablution, even when he/she is in ritual purity, Allah the Almighty writes ten times more reward for him/her.” (Tirmidhi, Taharah, 44)
There are many prophetic sayings about the merits of ablution. Since it is impossible to mention all of them here, we would like to state one last hadith, which is about both the wisdom and merits of ablution.
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said:
“None of you who uses water for ablution and rinses his mouth, snuffs up water and blows it, but the sins of his face, and his mouth and his nostrils fall out. When he washes his face, as Allah has commanded him, the sins of his face fall from the end of his beard with water. Then (when) he washes his forearms up to the elbows, the sins of his arms fall out along with water from his finger-tips. And when he wipes his head, the sins of his head fall out from the points of his hair along with water. And (when) he washes his feet up to the ankles, the sins of his feet falls out from his toes along with water. And if he stands to pray and praises Allah, lauds Him and glorifies Him with what becomes Him and shows wholehearted devotion to Allah, his sins would depart leaving him (as innocent) as he was on the day his mother bore him.” (Muslim, Musafirun, 294)
In this saying, ears and neck were not mentioned, but it is stated in the books of Islamic law that after rinsing the head, it is Sunnah to rinse the inner and outer parts of the ears and then the neck.
People cannot achieve the true purity, if they do not completely turn to Allah, and if they do not make every effort to purify their hearts and souls. This is why some special supplications and remembrances are suggested to be recited during the performance of ablution. The achievement of inner purity is also connected with these special prayers. Therefore, reciting these special prayers and intending to get spiritually purified are as important as washing the limbs thoroughly. A peaceful ablution can be performed only by reciting these prayers.
Another point which the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) momentously stated is to brush the teeth with a small stick from the miswaq tree. Even though our beloved Prophet (pbuh) frequently brushed his teeth, he strongly suggested and emphasized brushing one’s teeth during ablution. He said that “If I had not found it hard for my followers, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwak for every prayer.” (Bukhari, Jum’a, 8) In another hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) said that “Miswaq is a means of cleaning one’s mouth and a reason for earning the pleasure of Allah the Almighty.” (Nasai, Taharah, 5) Thus, he pointed out the wisdom behind attaching so much significance to brushing the teeth.
Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş, Erkam Publications