PURIFICATION: Washing the feet and the heels

Friday, January 13, 2017

This has been confirmed in mutawatir (continuous) reports from the Prophet, upon whom be peace, concerning his actions and statements. Ibn ‘Umar said, “The Prophet lagged behind us in one of our travels. He caught up with us after we had delayed the afternoon prayer. We started to make ablution and were wiping over our feet, when the Prophet said, ‘Woe to the heels, save them from the Hell-fire,’ repeating it two or three times.” (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

Needless to say, the preceding obligations are the ones that Allah has mentioned in (al-Ma’idah 6).

a: Following the prescribed sequence 

Allah mentioned the obligations in a specific order. He also differentiated the legs from the hands-though both of them have to be washed--from the head, which only needs to be wiped. The polytheists of Arabia would not differentiate items unless there was some benefit in doing so. The way Allah structured the ablution made it easier for them to comprehend it. Al-Ma’idah 6 explains what is obligatory and it falls under the generality of the Prophet’s statement, “Begin with what Allah began with.” The Prophet used to follow that sequence as one of ablution’s principles. There is no such report that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, ever departed from that sequence. Ablution is part of worship, and in matters of worship there is no room for anything except doing what has been commanded.

This section deals with those acts connected with the ablution, but which are not obligatory, as the Prophet, upon whom be peace, did not rigorously stick to them or censure anyone for not doing them. They are as follows:

Mentioning the name of Allah at the beginning 

There are some weak hadith that mention this act, and all of the chains of these hadith point to the fact that there is some basis for this act. In any case, it is a good act in and of itself and, in general, it is part of the Islamic law.

a: Dental Hygiene 

This involves using a stick or similar object to clean one’s teeth. The best type to use is that of the arak tree found in the Hejaz. Such a practice strengthens the gums, prevents tooth disease, helps digestion and facilitates the flow of urine. This sunnah is fulfilled by using any object which removes yellow stains on the teeth and cleans the mouth, such as a toothbrush, and so on. Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “Were it not to be a hardship on my community, I would have ordered them to use a toothbrush for every ablution.” (Related by Malik, ash-Shaf’i, al-Baihaqi and alHakim.) ‘Aishah reported that the Prophet said, “The toothbrush purifies the mouth and is pleasing to the Lord.” (Related by Ahmad, an-Nasa’i and at-Tirmizhi.)

Using a toothbrush is liked at any time, but there are five times in which it is especially liked:

1 ablution,

2 prayer,

3 reading the Qur’an,

4 rising from sleep, and

5 when the taste in one’s mouth has changed. Fasting and non-fasting people may use it at the beginning, the end, or at any other time during the day. ‘Amr ibn Rabi’ah said, “I have seen the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, on countless occasions using a toothbrush while fasting.” (Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and at-Tirmizhi.)

When one uses a toothbrush, it is Sunnah to clean it afterwards. Said ‘Aishah, “When the Prophet, upon whom be peace, used his toothbrush, he would give it to me. I would wash it, use it, wash it again and give it back to him.” (Related by Abu Dawud and alBaihaqi.)

It is part of the Sunnah that one who has no teeth may use his fingers to clean his mouth. Asked ‘Aishah, “O Messenger of Allah, how should a toothless person cleanse his mouth?” “By putting his fingers into his mouth,” he replied. (Related by at-Tabarani.)

Washing the hands three times at the beginning

This is based on the hadith of Aus ibn Aus al-Thaqafi who said, “I saw the Messenger of Allah make ablution, and he washed his hands three times.” (Related by Ahmad and an-Nasa’i.) Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “When one of you rises from his sleep, he should not put his hand into a pot until he has washed it three times, for he does not know where his hand was (while he slept).” (Related by “the group”, al-Bukhari did not mention the number of times.)

a: Rinsing the mouth three times

Laqit ibn Sabrah reported that the Prophet said, “When one performs ablution, he should rinse his mouth.” (Related by Abu Dawud and al-Baihaqi.)

b: Sniffing up and blowing out water three times

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “When one of you performs ablution, he should sniff water up his nostrils and then blow it out.” (Related by al-Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawud.)

The sunnah is to put the water into the nostrils with the right hand and blow it out with the left. ‘Ali once called for water for ablution, rinsed his mouth, sniffed up water into his nostrils and blew it out with his left hand. He did that three times and then said,

“That is how the Prpohet, upon whom be peace, would purify himself.” (Related by Ahmad and an-Nasa’i.)s sunnah is fulfilled by putting water into the mouth and nostrils in any way. The practice of the Prophet was to do both acts at the same time. ‘Abdullah ibn Zaid said, “The Prophet would rinse his mouth and nose with just one hand (at one time, together). He did that three times.” In one narration it says, “He would rinse his mouth and nose with three scoops of water.” (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.) It is also sunnah to be plentiful (with water) while performing this sunnah, except if one is fasting. Laqit asked the Prophet, “Inform me about your ablution.” He replied, “Complete and perfect the ablution and (put water) between your fingers. Use lots of water while sniffing it up your nostrils, unless you are fasting.” (Related by “the five.” At-Tirmizhi said it is sahih.)

 To be continued