We all know that proper wuḍū’ (ablution) is a prerequisite to the prayer. Thus, many of us see wuḍū’ just as a means. One thinks, “I cannot pray unless I have proper ablution,” so one performs it with that intention. But there is so much more to wuḍū’ than that – because of this, it is sad when we think that we have been praying for 10 or 20 or 30 years of our lives, without being invigorated with our wuḍū’. Wuḍū’ has its secrets, but in order to taste these secrets, we must change.
Abdullah bin Mubarak said, ”How many deeds that are considered small are elevated because of the intention [behind it]? And how many deeds that are considered great are made lowly because of the intention [behind it]?”
The first thing we can change in our wuḍū’ is how much we get rewarded for it. Some may say, “But I perform all of thesunnahs of wuḍū’. I do not waste water and I say the remembrances before and after.” This is good, but if we have noticed, this is all external. What remains is the internal – the heart. Ibn Al Qayyim said that a person may do something small but he is more beloved to Allah (subhana wa ta`ala – Glory be unto Him) than a person who does a lot, simply because the former person’s heart is present. To illustrate, Ibn Al Qayyim told the story of a man, who saw Satan at the door of the mosque unable to enter. When he looked inside, he saw a man sleeping and a man standing in prayer. So he said to Satan, “Is it the man who is praying who is preventing you from entering?” Satan replied “No, but it is that man on the floor.” Why? It was the state of his heart.
Ask yourself: when you perform wuḍū’, what is your intention? Most of us would say the intention is to prepare for prayer. But we need to arouse our hearts and add another intention – that we are doing so for the sake of Allah. It is akin to giving charity; if you drop some change in a homeless man’s hat on your way home from work, you might not think much of it. But if you are doing so with the specific intention of feeding the hungry for the sake of God, a different feeling arises in your heart and indeed you become inspired to do it. You begin to feel a closeness to God, whether you give 50 cents or $50.
Add another intention, which is that of following of the sunnah of the best of creation, the Prophet ﷺ. This will make us want to perfect our wuḍū’ and think of the way the Prophet ﷺ did wuḍū’ as we are performing it. I remember during the days when I was really inspired by the Prophet’s example, and I would take a small jar and fill it with water for wuḍū’. It actually made me more inspired but also made me realize how little water I needed!
There is a final dimension that we can add in order to move our hearts and make our wudhu more beloved to Allah – the intention of removing some of our sins. The ablution is purifying as it removes the minor sins. The Prophet ﷺ said:
“A person who performs wuḍū’ properly will have his sins removed from his body, so much that the sins are removed even from underneath his nails.” (Muslim)
Problem of Wiswaas (Whisper)
Some people, in their quest to perfect their wuḍū’ and prayer, are faced with a difficult problem: wiswaas, which is translated as insinuations or whisperings to the self, and here it takes the meaning of paranoia. For example, a person will constantly perform the wuḍū’ more than once, and want to pray more than once because of the paranoia that he or she has.
If you are of the people that suffer from this, then there is a cure insha’Allah. Many people have tried and they have said, that by the grace of Allah, they have been cured. Scholars have said that the people who are extreme in their paranoia should assume the best about their deeds. So if one thinks, have I performed wudhu or not? Assume you have. If you start thinking have I prayed four or three rak’as [for dhuhr]? Assume four. This may cause discomfort to some so let’s answer some questions one many have about this. Firstly, why do we repeat the wuḍū’ for the prayer? We fear that we have not done it properly and so Allah will not accept it from us. Since you are doing it for the sake of Allah, know this: Allah does not want you to repeat. How do we know that? The Prophet ﷺ said:
“If one of you finds a disturbance in his abdomen and is not certain if he has released any gas or not, he should not leave the mosque unless he hears its sound or smells its scent.” (Muslim)
Thus one must be 100% certain.
Some dua’s after wuḍū’
There are some du`a’ that we should say after wuḍū’:
“Ash-hadu an la la ilaha ila Allah (swt) wa ana Muhammad ‘abduhu wa Rasulu.”
“I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His servant and messenger.”
“The eight doors of paradise are opened for him and he may enter from whichever door he wants.” (Muslim)
“Subhanak Allah (swt) uma wa bihamdik ash-hadu an la la ilaha ila ant astaghfiruka wa atoobu ilayk.”
Glorified are You O’ Allah and I am in your praise, I testify that there is no god except You, I ask Your forgiveness and repent unto You.”
“It would be written on vellum (the best paper) then sealed; thereafter, it would not be broken until the Day of Resurrection.”(Sahih Al-Jami)
May Allah make us perform the wuḍū’ with a present heart. Ameen.