Chapter Two: Ablution (Wudhu)

The disagreement about performing ablution and washing the feet

The procedure of Wudhu has been simply explained in the Qur’an. Surah Al-Maida’s verse 6 states:

“O you who believe! When you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles;”

Shi’a and Sunni scholars agree that four steps are obligatory in Wudhu, rest of the steps like washing hands; mouth and nose (thrice) are desirable. The obligatory part has been explained in the above stated verse. If we just go through this verse, we find that this verse contains three parts. In the first part the believers have been addressed that when they stand up for prayers, the second part states about the body parts that have to washed and the third part states about the parts which need anointment or rubbing. Let’s see the translation of the above verse (again):

“O you who believe! When you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles;”
Transliteration of Hafidh Farman Ali

After addressing the believers, the body parts which are to be washed, have been mentioned after “FAGHSULU” and the parts which need ablution have been mentioned after “WAMSAHU”. This is an extremely clear verse and really easy to understand.

The Shi’a-Sunni disagreement regarding Wudhu

The Shi’a-Sunni disagreement on Wudhu, is over the last part of this verse. The Shi’a belief it clearly stipulates two body parts that are ordered to be washed during Wudhu, have to be washed, and the two body parts that are ordered to be wiped, that are the head and feet. The Shi’a translation of the verse has been cited above. We shall now present the tranlierations of Sunni scholars. Sheikh ul Hind Maulana Mehmood ul Hasan (Late) translates this verse as follows:

“O Believers! When you get up for prayers, wash your face and hands till elbows, and wipe your head and feet up to ankles.”
Translation of the Qur’an by ‘Shaykh ul Hind’ Maulana Mehmood Ul Hasan, printed in Lahore

Another Sunni commentator, the grand scholar and the Prophet of Deobandis, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi translates this verse as follows:

“O Believers! When you are about to stand for prayers, wash your faces and hands along with your elbows and pass your hands over your head and also your feet up till ankles.”
Translation Maulana Ashraf Thanvi, Page 171, published by Sheikh Barkat and Sons Kashmiri Bazaar Lahore, printed in 1954

This was the initial translation by Thanvi (Late), but a later edition published by Sheikh Barkat and Sons Kashmiri Bazaar Lahore has altered the translation to read:

“O Believers! When you are about to stand for prayers, wash your faces and hands along with your elbows and pass your hand over your head and also (wash) your feet along with your ankles”
Translation of Qur’an, Maulana Ashraf Thanvi, published by Taj Company.

Sunni commentators often add the word ‘washing’ in brackets in order to prove their belief.

Analysing the Arabic grammar on wiping the front of the head and the feet in this verse

The Ahl’ul Sunnah argument is that Allah (swt) has said “Wamsahu Baraosekum” in the Holy Qur’an, which indicates that the whole head should be wiped.

If this was indeed the case then what was the point in placing “Ba” before “Raosekum”? They try to escape by saying that this addition is necessary in order to ensure compliance with the Arabic grammar, but then we would like to ask that can “Masah” not be used without the word “Ba”?

Hundreds of traditions can be found in Hadeeth books where “Masah” has been used without “Ba” being placed after it, like “Wamsahu Raosekum and Wamsaho Arjalikum”.

“Masah” has been used without “Ba” in many Ahadith and some are quoted by Allama Ali Muttaqi in Kanz-ul-Ummal in volume 5 on pages 85, 96 and 97.

Allamah Waheed-uz-Zaman Khan states:

“And wipe your head that much which can be termed as anointment. In Imam Malik’s view the whole head should be wiped and the same has been adopted by Ahl-e-Hadith.”
Tafseer-e-Waheedi, page 144

The Ahl’ul Sunnah try to relate the word “Faghsalu” with “Arjalikum” by claiming that there is an under-stressor in the later word, hence they come out with the translation that the feet should be washed, ignoring the fact that the word “Faghsalu” is at the beginning of the verse and that is only concerned with the washing of the face and the hands. It is indeed very unfortunate that our critics are prepared to oppose Allah and Islam in their enmity towards the Shia.

Allama Waheed-uz-Zaman states:

“Some have recited ‘Arjalikum’ with an upper-stressor and some have recited with an under-stressor, both the pronunciations are correct and repeated (Mutawatir). When recited with an upper-stressor the washing of the feet is proven and when recited with an under-stressor wiping of the feet is proven, coupled with correct and reliable Hadeeth it is proven that the Holy Prophet (s) used to wash his feet. Once the Prophet (s) saw a few people performing ablution with their heels left dry and said to them that the heels would be destroyed with the hell-fire. In another tradition it is said that once a man performed ablution but left a fingernail-size spot on his feet dry, the Prophet (s) asked him to go and perform the correct ablution. Ibne Abi-Layla says that all the Sahaba agreed upon the washing of feet and it is impossible that they would have adopted the washing of the feet had they seen the Prophet (s) wiping them. Even then the Imamia say that the feet should be wiped. It is reported from Ibn Abbas that in ablution two limbs are supposed to be washed and two to be wiped and Ikrimah used to wipe his feet and used to say that Qur’an orders people to wipe the feet. Shaybi says that Gabriel had descended with the order of wipe the the feet. Qatada has said that Allah has made two washes and two wipes obligatory. Ibn Jareer Tabari (a mujtahid) has said that the worshipper is free to either wash or wipe his feet. Some have said that there were two washes in the ablution and two wipes. In dry-ablution Allah (swt) changed the washes into the wipes and exempted those limbs that are to be wiped in ablution. But the Imams from Saudi Arabia and most of the Ahl’ul Sunnah have adopted the washing of the feet and that is correct.”
Tafseer-e-Waheedi, page 1428

Is it not unusual that having accepted the truth, that the feet should be wiped; he has still termed his own void act and belief as correct?

The Ahl’ul Sunnah come up with another pathetic excuse that uptil now the pronunciation with the upper-stressor prevails and that upper-stressor to “Arjalakum” is provided by “Faghsalu” and it has no relation what so ever with “Wamsahu”. They say that even if the pronunciation with an under-stressor is accepted, it would be deemed “Jarr-Jawar” since the preceding word “Baraosekum” has an under-stressor that results in providing an under-stressor to the “L” of “Arjalikum” though there should be an upper-stressor and many examples can be found in Arabic literature.

Let us see what Imam Fakhruddin Razi says about “Jarr-Jawar”:

“If it is said why cannot it be “Jarr-Jawar” the answer would be that there are many reasons for it, the first being that “Jarr-Jawar” is considered to be a mistake which is only acceptable in poetry and of course Allah’s words are free from it. Secondly, “Jarr-Jawar” is only adopted when there isn’t any fear of the words being mixed and confused and here this condition cannot be satisfied. Thirdly, “Jarr-Jawar” can be used with a copulative-conjunction but it is never used in Arabic without a copulative-conjunction.”
Tafseer-e-Kabeer, volume 3, page 546

Here is the statement from the grand scholar of Ahl’ul Sunnah who denies their lame excuse as that would mean the Qur’an contains a mistake! It is hence proven that only the front part of the head and the feet should be wiped.

Should the verse be recited as Arjulakum or Arjulikum?

We should remind our readers, that the issue under discussion should not just be restricted to wudhoo, rather it is connected with the tafseer of a verse, and typical Nasibi arrogance against the Shi’a on this matter. We will now proceed to discuss both possibilities: Arjulakum and Arjulikum, as both have been narrated by Sunni and Shia scholars.


There are two rules of grammar we will inshallah discuss, the first of which establishes the fact that in strict rules of Arabic grammar the word “Arjulakum” cannot refer back to the hukm of washing, and the second which will establish that the only way for “Arjulakum” to have Nasb is with “Bi-Ru’oosikum”.

1- Atf alal Aqrab

There is the doctrine in Arabic grammar that a “Matoof” (the word following “wa”, which in this case is Arjulakum) is connected only to what is the nearest hukm preceding the word “wa” (the verb “Imsah” being the hukm and “Bi-Ru’oosikum” being the Matoof Alaih). The “Matoof” cannot jump over two “wa”s and a sentence and relate itself to something so far away. This is called “Atf-alal-Aqrab” (conjunction to the nearest).

This is a completely sound and well-known rule of Arabic, and no scholar can deny it, see the works of Seebawaih, the master grammarian, for more detail.

2- Atf alal Mawdhi or Atf alal Mahall

Now comes the issue of why there is “Nasb” on “Arjulakum”, if its not connected to “Faghsilu” (wash). The Sunnis have held that the only way of it getting “Nasb” is by breaking the previously discussed doctrine of “Atf-alal-Aqrab”, and there is no other way. Unfortunately by applying such an approach they ignore a crucial rule. “Bi-Ru’oosikum” is the object of the verb “imsahu” (wipe). Objects (Mafool) are Mansoob, whether with apparent signs (i.e. fathah), or if it can’t do that, it will nevertheless be “Mawdhi’un-Nasb” or “Mahall-un-Nasb”. This happens in situations where the object has an Amil within it which changes the main word’s E’rab. So you will see that “Bi-Ru’oosikum” as a whole is the object, and “bi” is a part of it and also is an Amil, which will give Jarr to Ru’oos. Whatever the apparent Lafzi Erab is, it occupies the place of Mafool and Nasb, so it is “Mawdhi’un-Nasb”.

Then comes the “wa” which is a conjunction particle or “Harf-ul-Atf”. This makes the Matoof follow the Matoof Alaih in its Erab and Hukm, and also gives it the same hukm as the Matoof Alaih, which is the command of wiping.

If the Atf is on “Bi-Ru’oosikum”, so should it get Jarr or Nasb?

The Matoof will receive Nasb, because the Matoof Alaih “Bi-Ru’oosikum” is “Mawdhi’un-Nasb” and is therefore Mansoob. Thus, the Matoof will take on the same Erab of Nasb. The word now is “Arjulakum”.

This is a simple rule, and it may only seem complicated as we are seeking to explain it in English using Arabic terminology. It is a rule that is firm and is an important part of Arabic grammar.

To prove its common usage, we shall provide some examples:

لَسْتُ بِقائمٍ و لا قاعِداً

I am not standing, nor sitting.

You can see that the Matoof Alaih (Bi’Qaaimin) has kasrah (Jarr), due to the “Bi”, but it is as a whole Mansoob (Mawdhi’un-nasb). After the “wa”, the Matoof is Mansoob, because it is Atf on the Mawdhi’un-Nasb. The same thing with the example:

مررتُ بزيد و عمراً

I passed by Zaid and Umar

Another phrase is:

خَشَّنْتُ بِصَدْرِهِ و صَدْرَ زَيْدٍ

I roughened/hardened up his heart and Zaid’s heart
Again, the first Mafool (and Matoof Alaih) is Majroor, due to the “Bi”, and the second Mafool (and Matoof) is Mansoob, getting Nasb from the “Mawdhi’un-Nasb” of the Matoof Alaih. The matoof gets its Nasb from nowhere else.

Another phrase:

اِن تأتِني فلك درهماً و أكرمْكَ

If you come to me, then for you there is a dirham and I will respect you
“Fa-laka Dirhaman” is “Mawdhi’ul-Jazm” (being the “Jaza” of the “Shart”) but is apparently Mansoob; and instead of receiving Nasb, the Matoof (Ukrimka) is given Atf on the “Mawdhi’ul-Jazm”, and will therefore become Majzoom and the last letter (meem) will get sukoon.

Finally, here are some examples from none other than the Book of Allah SWT:
Example #1:

مَنْ يُضْلِلِ اللهُ فَلا هادِيَ له و يَذَرُهُمْ

(Whoever Allah rejects from His guidance, for him shall be no guide, and He will leave them…..[blindly wandering in distraction])
Quran: 7:186

“Haadiya” is Mawdhi’ul-Jazm, but gets Nasb due to “Fa-Laa”. It is Matoof Alaih, and the Matoof which is “Yazaruhum” gets Jazm, instead of Nasb, due to “Atf-alal-Mawdhi”.

Example #2:

و أتبعوا في هذِهِ الدنيا لعنةً و يومَ القيامة

And they are followed in this world by curse, and in the day of resurrection
Surah Hud: 60

“Fee Hazihi-Dunya” is the Mafool Feeh and is Mawdhi’un-Nasb, although it shows no sign of being Mansoob (and Hazihi-Dunya is apparently Majroor), “Lanah” is the Mafool Bih (also Mansoob), and “Yawm-al-Qiyamah” is the second Mafool Feeh, being Matoof on “Fee Hazihi-Dunya”. Hence it gets Nasb, rather than Jarr from the “fee”.

There are then too many examples from Arabic poetry, but for the sake of brevity, I think there are enough examples to prove that Arjulakum can have atf on Bi-Ru’oosikum and become Mansoob. These are common examples, and examples from the Word of Allah, and not rare poetic usages.


This is less common recital for the verse, which most Muslims ignore, but nevertheless as it has been narrated by the Holy Imams (as) and some Sunni scholars, (as we shall cited later).

If it is “Arjulikum”, then it is quite obvious how it is then meant that we should wipe both: our heads and our feet.

The Ahl’ul Sunnah have accepted the recital “Arjulikum” is permissible

Some Nasibi suggest that the Shi’a recital of the verse as


rather than


proves that they have a different Qur’an, hence they are Kaafirs. Our response to these idiots is they have no right to attribute the word links the word “Arjulikum” exclusively to the Shi’a. As evidence we shall rely on the following esteemed Sunni sources:

  1. Tafseer Kabeer, Volume 3 page 370 Verse of Wudhu
  2. Tafseer Gharaib al Quran, page 53 commentary of Surah al Maida
  3. Tafseer Jama al Bayaan, Volume 1 page 159 Verse of Wudhu
  4. Tafseer Khazin, Volume 2 page 19 Verse of Wudhu
  5. Tohfa Ithna Ashari, page 3 Part 8
  6. Minhaaj al Sunnah, Volume 2 page 152
  7. Kitab us-Sab’ati min al-Qira’aat, Ibn Mujahid, p. 242
  8. Wajhat ul-Qira’aat, Ibn Zanjalah, p. 221
  9. Wasail’o Masail, Maulana Mawdudi, vol. 3, p. 132-133
  10. Muhala by Ibn Hazma, Volume 2 page 56

We read in Tafseer Kabeer:

“Those that deem wiping the feet as compulsory, rely on the fact that Allah (swt) revealed the words ‘Arjalakum’ that has two forms of recital, Ibn Katheer, Hamza, Umar, Dawood, Asim and Abee Bakr would read Arjalikum” with the under-stressor laam and this recital is permissible the words Arjalikum are linked to the word ‘Rosakum’, in the same way that wiping the head is compulsory, the same is the case of the feet”

Ibn Tamiyah writes in Minhaaj al Sunnah:

“With regards to the verse of Wudhu, a number of recitals are well known, either reading the lam with and under or upper stressor, this does not attest the washing of the feet in the Qur’an as obligatory, rather it deems wiping the feet as obligatory”.

Al Muhaddith Shah Abdul Aziz Dehalwi says in Tohfa Athna Ashriyah:

“The Ijma amongst Sunni and Shi’a is that both recitals are permissible, the laam can be with under or upper stressor, both recital are Sahih acceptable and muttawatir”.

Imam of Ahle Sunnah Ibn Hazm records in Al-Muhala:

وأما قولنا في الرجلين فإن القرآن نزل بالمسح (وامسحوا بروءسكم وارجلكم) وسواء قرئ بخفض اللام أو بفتحها هي على كال حال عطف على الرؤوس

Our opinion about the feet that Quran revealed for wiping ‘{and wipe your heads and your feet}’ whether it was recite (Arjalikum) or (Arjalakum) in both cases it is “Atf” on heads.

We have proven that the recital of Arjalakum with the ‘laam’ having an under stressor is Sahih and acceptable. When reading the ‘laam’ with an under stressor is correct then reading it in the context of Baraosekum is likewise coorect. The conclusion then is that the act of wiping the feet stipulated in the Qur’an is Sahih, and washing the feet is wrong. If its argued that the laam in Arjalakum should be read with an upper stressor, even then wiping of the feet is proven.

Allama Jalaluddin Suyuti in Tafseer Durr al Manthur Volume 2 page 262 reports from Shaybi that:

“Shaybi said: The order to wipe the feet descended through Jibrael. Don’t you see that those body parts that were ordered to be washed have to be wiped while performing dry ablution [Taiymum] but those which are to be wiped, are exempted in dry ablution”.

You can also find similar references in the following Sunni books:

  1. Musnad Imam Hanbal, Volume 1, page 58 and page 342.
  2. Majma al Zawaid by Haithami, Volume 1, page 224.
  3. Al-Masannaf by Ibn Abi Shayba, Volume 1, page 18.
  4. Kanz ul A’maal, Hadeeth 268 64. Volume 9, page 427 and page 442.
  5. Siyar alam al nubla, Volume 13, page 301.
  6. Al-Mo’jim al Kabeer Tabrani, Volume 3, page281
  7. Tafsir Mazhari, Volume 2 page 82, verse of Wudhu

Besides these references, many commentators and narrators tell us different ways of wiping the feet. For example, in Al-Masannaf by Ibn Abi Shayba, Volume 1, page 30″ in the chapter “Wiping of the feet during Wudhu” has given eight different references in respect of wiping of the feet.. We will be mentioning some of those in this chapter.

In Tafseer Ibn Kathir (Urdu) Volume 1 parah 1 page 63 (Published by Farid Book Depot, New Dehli), the Nasibi offers the following commentary of this verse (Surah Maida verse 6):

Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Vol. 1 Page 63-64, By Ibn Katheer

Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Vol. 1 Page 63-64, By Ibn Katheer

“This word in this verse has another pronunciation, the letter “Laam” has a under stressor and Shias have taken their view from the same thing that it proves the fact that there is an obligation to wipe the feet since it is directly connected with wiping the head. There are certain traditions from some of the Salaf too, which prove the validity of wiping of the feet. Therefore Ibn e Jareer quotes that Musa bin Ans enquired from Ans bin Malik infront of the masses that Hajjaj bin Yousaf while delivering a speech in Ahwaaz about purity and ablution said: “Clean your hands and face, wipe your head and wash your feet, because usually feet get dirty, therefore rinse and wash the soles and feet, the heels and the upper portion of the feet”. Ans bin Malik replied: “Allah is the truthful and Hajjaj is a liar.” Allah (swt) says ‘and wipe your head and your feet to the ankles’ Ans bin Malik used to wipe his feet, and it is also reported from Ans that the Holy Quran orders the wiping of the feet… It is reported from Ibn Abbas that two limbs are to be washed while two have to be wiped while performing ablution. Hadrath Qatadah [ra] also reported to have said same thing.
In Ibn Abi Hatim, it is narrated from Hadrath Abdullah [ra] that the Quranic verse orders the anointment[Masah] of the feet. Ibne Umar, Alqama, Abu Jaffar Muhammad bin Ali, a tradition from Hasan [Basri] and Jabir bin Zaid and a tradition from Mujahid [rh] report that Akrimah used to wipe his feet.

Shaybi[ra] says that the order to wipe descended through Jibrael. It is also reported that he said: “Don’t you see that those body parts that were ordered to be washed have to be wiped while performing dry ablution [Taiymum], but those which are to be wiped are exempted in dry ablution”.

Someone said to Aamir [rh] that Jibrael had descended with the order of washing the feet, in reply to this he said that Jibrael came down with the order to wipe the feet.

Bayhaqi narrated that Hadhrat Ali bin Abi Talib (ra) sat at a place after the Zuhr prayers and kept assisting the people with their work till the time for Asr prayers, then he asked for water to be brought to him, he washed his face, both his hands, then wiped his head and both his feet. He then stood up, drank the remaining water and said “I did, what I had seen the Holy Prophet(s) doing, this is the method of ablution for whoever needs to know.”
Tafseer Ibn Kathir, Volume 1 parah 1, page 63 & 64

Abu A’la Mawdudi in Wasail’o Masail writes that there are two different readings of أرجلكمnarrated in mutawatir form.

The following Qaris recited it as “Arjulakum”:
(1) Nafi’ al-Madani, (2) Abdullah ibn Amir, (3) Al-Kisai al-Kufi and (4) Ya’qoob ibn Is’haq (5) Hafs

The following Qaris recited it as “Arjulikum”:
(1) Abdullah ibn Katheer Al-Makki, one of the seven reciters, d. 120 AH
(2) Hamzah ibn Habib at-Kufi, one of the seven reciters, d. 56 AH
(3) Abu Amr at-Tamimi al-Basri, one of the seven reciters, d. 154 AH
(4) Asim ibn Bahdalah al-Kufi, one of the seven reciters, d. 127 AH
(5) Abu Bakr ibn Iyash al_Kufi, one of the leading reciters, d. 193 AH

You can see that its very much fifty-fifty amongst the Sunni scholars, with many of the early scholars reciting the word as “Arjulikum”.


Hence, It is not a difference of Quran; it’s the same Quran with differences in its recitation and E’raab and to accuse Shias of believing we have a different Quran on this basis is completely unjust, and such an accusation will also backfire to many Ahlus-Sunnah scholars, including their major Qaris and Mufassireen. This is not the only difference in the recitations amongst the Qaris, in respect to E’raab.

So now there are two possibilities, only that “Arjulakum” has been taken to be more “reliable” since Sunnis cannot find an excuse to wash the feet if they believe it is recited as “Arjulikum”. But it is proven that whether its Arjulakum or Arjulikum, the laws of Arabic grammar point to one thing – the feet (not socks) must be wiped (not washed).

In summary:

  1. Nasibis have attributed the recitation of “Arjulikum” to the Shi’a, when the Sunni Ulema have no objection to such a recital either.
  2. It is confirmed that in Sunni narrations its both Arjulakum and Arjulikum.
  3. The Shia’s argument of wiping the feet is true whether there is “Arjulakum” or “Arjulikum”, so there is no problem if we recite it as “Arjulakum”. We get to the same conclusion.

The common Sunni argument with regards to washing the feet

A common argument is that since the feet get dirty, they need to be washed. If we accept this argument, then those parts of the human body that can get dirtier than the feet should also be washed while performing ablution. The method of ablution should have a logical structure, one shall first go to the lavatory, wash his private parts, then wash the face and arms up to elbows, then wipe the head and wash the feet. But that is not how it is, and a sensible person would know that other than the body parts of Ablution, the whole body should be clean and undefiled when one intends to pray.

The Shi’a method of Wudhu

A common misconception of the Ahl’ul Sunnah is that the Shi’a start their Wadhu by washing their feet. This is untrue; the Islamic order is applicable to all whether they are poor, rich. Every era of history has had individuals who earn a living via labour; they cannot wear covered shoes all the time that would otherwise keep their feet clean. That is why they wash their feet [if necessary] and drys them before Wudhu commences, and wipe with the conclusion of the Wudhu. If an individual offers Zuhr and Asr prayers, and then immediately put son socks and closed shoes, his feet remained clean until Maghrib-Isha prayers, in such circumstances the feet are not washed first, but are just wiped.

Syed Abul Aa’la Maudoodi’s explanation of the verse of ablution

Two repeated recitations have been reported for ارجلکم, the recitation of Nafe’ Abdullah bin Aamir Hifs Kisai and Ya’qoob is ‘Ar Ja La Kum’ which proves the washing of the feet and the recitation of Abdullah bin Kaseer Hamza bin Habib Abu Umru bin al-A’la and Asim is ‘Ar Ja Li Kum’ which proves the wiping of the feet. A person may feel that these orders contradict one other, but that is not the case. These are two orders for two different states, one who has to perform ablution must wash his feet and one who is already in a state of purity only needs to wipe his feet.
Rasail o Wasail, volume 3, page 132-133

Similar comments (with a slight difference) have also been written by Suyuti in Tafseer al Itqan, volume 2, page 79, Urdu translation by Maulana Aleem Ansari, published by Idara e Islamiat Lahore.

We read the following by Nawawi in his Sharh Sahih Muslim:

“Muhammad bin Hareer and the Imam of Jo’bai Mo’tazilla both state that one is free to either wipe the feet or wash them, some have said that both washing and wiping are obligatory.”
Sharh Nawawi, volume 1, page 377, published by No’mani book store, Lahore

According to Holy Prophet (s), not wiping head and feet during Wudhu would make the prayers void

Those who object Shias for being misguided in respect of wiping head and feet during Wudhu and call this practise baseless, we would like to ask them who better than Holy Prophet (s) would have told about the correct way to perform Wudhu? The books of Ahle Sunnah have hadeeths which proves that Holy Prophet (s) himself wiped his feets and also asked His Sahabah for the same. We read in Abu-Dawud – Book of Prayer (Kitab Al-Salat) Book 3, Number 0857:

Narrated Rifa’ah ibn Rafi’:
The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: The prayer of any of you is not complete until he performs ablution perfectly, as Allah, the Exalted, has ordered you. One should wash his face and hands up to the elbows, and wipe his head and his feet up to the ankles. Then he should exalt Allah and praise Him. Then he should recite the Quran as much as it is convenient for him.’

But unsurprisingly in the official English version of this tradition, the Sunni translator has added the word ‘wash’ in brackets to ensure that the tradition fits in within mainstream Sunni belief. The text with the brackets reads very differently:

“He should wash his face and hands up to the elbows, and wipe his head and (wash) his feet up to the ankles.”

Let us read different and detailed version of this very episode from Sunan Darqatni which has been declared ‘Sahih’ by Shaykh Shoib al-Arnaut in his margin of the book Sunnan Darqutni, Volume 1 page 186 (al-Risalah Publishers, Lebanon – first edition 2004):

Rifa’ah ibn Rafi’ said: Rifa’ah and Malik bin Rafi’ were brothers and belonged to people of Badr, while we were sitting with Allah’s messenger (pbuh), a man entered and faced the qiblah then started to pray. When he finished his prayer, he went to Allah’s messenger to salute him and salute the people. Allah’s messenger (pbuh) said to him: ‘Go back and pray because you didn’t pray’. Thus the man returned and prayed again while we were staring at him and were unable to recognize as to what was wrong with his prayer. When he finished the prayer, he came to Allah’s messenger (pbuh) to salute him and to salute the people. The prophet (pbuh) said to him: ‘Go back and pray because you didn’t pray’.
Humam said: ‘I don’t remember if he (prophet) repeated that twice or thrice.’ Then the man said: ‘I didn’t lose my determination but I cannot realize what thing did you dislike in my prayer?’ Allah’s messenger said: ‘The prayer of any of you is not complete until he performs ablution perfectly, as Allah, the Exalted, has ordered you. One should wash his face and hands up to the elbows, and wipe his head and his feet up to the ankles. Then he should exalt Allah and praise Him. Then he should recite the Qur’an as much as it is convenient for him.
Sunan Darqatni, Volume 1 page 366 Hadith 328

Testimony of Sahabah that Holy Prophet (s) used to wipe his feet

Sahabah also testified about the way of ablution Holy Prophet (s) practiced and it is clear from such statements that Holy Prophet (s) used to wipe his feets instead of washing them.

Abi Malik Al-Asha’ari:

We read in Musnad Ahmed bin Hanbal, Volume 5 Hadith 21825:

“Narrated Muhammad Ibn Jaffar from narrated Saeed from narrated Qutada from Shaher Ibn Hushab from Abdul rahman Ibn Ghanam from Abi Malik Al-Asha’ary who said to his people: “Gather to pray like the prayer of the Messenger of Allah (s)”. So when they gathered he asked for a bowl of water to preformed ablution (wudhu), he rinsed his mouth, inhaled water, washed his face thrice, washed his arm thrice, wiped his head and top of his feet, then he prayed…”

The testimony of Abi Malik Al-Asha’ary that he prayed like the Holy Prophet (s) and during Wudhu he wiped his feet rather than washing them is clear proof about the way of Wudhu Prophet (s) had.

Uthman bin Affan:

Imam Ahmed also records the following tradition in his Musnad, Volume 1 Hadith 391:

عن عثمان بن عفان، رضي الله عنه أنه دعا بماء فتوضأ ومضمض واستنشق ثم غسل وجهه ثلاثا وذراعيه ثلاثا ثلاثا ومسح برأسه وظهر قدميه ثم ضحك فقال لأصحابه ألا تسألوني عما أضحكني ۔۔۔

“Hamran says: Uthman asked for water and performed ablution, he rinsed, sniffed then washed his his face three times then washed his arms thrice then wiped his head and wiped top of his feet. Then he smiled and said, “Will you ask me why I smiled?” He was then asked, “Well, what made you smile?” He replied, “I saw the Prophet (a.s) ask for water near to that place then he perform ablution as I have just done; Then he smiled and said, “Will you ask me why I smiled?, then they replied Oh messenger of Allah what made you smile? He(s) replied: “Verily if the slave asked for ablution and washed his face, God will remove every sin his face get, if he washed his arm the same would be, if he wiped his head, same will be the result (in respect of head), if he wiped his top of feet same will be the result (in respect of feet)”

This hadith can also be read in Musnaf Abi Shaybah, Vol. 1 page 18.

Tamim Al-Mazani:

Allamah Ibn Hajar Asqalani records the following hadith in his famed work Al-Isaba, Volume 1 page 185 No. 844:

وروى البخاري في تاريخه وأحمد بن أبي شيبة وابن أبي عمرو البغوي والطبراني والباوردي وغيرهم كلهم من طريق أبي الأسود عن عباد بن تميم المازني عن أبيه قال رأيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يتوضأ ويمسح الماء على رجليه

“Al-Bukhari, Ahmad, Ibn Abi Shaybah, Ibn Abi Umar, Al-Baghawi, Al-Tabarani, Al-Bawirdi and others have narrated Abbad Ibn Tamim Al-Mazani’s reporting his father’s saying: “I saw the Messenger of Allah (s) performing ablution and rubbing his feet with water.”

While commenting on its authencitiy, Ibn Hajar stated:

“Its narrators are Thiqah”

Maula Ali (as):

Imam of Ahle Sunnah Ibn Abi Sheybah records the following tradition in his Musnaf:

حدثنا وكيع عن الأعمش عن أبي إسحاق عن عبد خير عن . علي قال : لو كان الدين برأي كان باطن القدمين أحق بالمسح من ظاهرهما ولكن رأيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم مسح ظاهرهما

“Abd khair narrated: Ali said: “If the religion was based on opinion so the bottom of the feet were worthier to be wiped than the top of feet, but I saw the messenger of Allah (s) wipe the top of feet”

Umar bin al Khattab:

Allamah Jalauddin Suyuti under the commentary of the verse of Wudhu in his esteemed Tafsir Dur al Manthur records:

“Al Tabarani mentioned in Al Awsat that he said: The wiping of the feets was mentioned infront of Umar , Sa’ad and Abdullah bin Umar, so he said: Umar is more knowledgable than you . So Omar said: O Sa’ad , we don’t deny that the prophet (s) wiped, but did he wipe after the revelation of Al Ma’eda ? It did clarified everything and it was the last Surat revealed in the quran except Bara’at . He said : So no body talked .”

Sahabah used to wipe their feet during Wudhu instead of washing

Its not only the Shia interpretation of the verse rather the books of Ahle Sunnah haver hadiths which proves that Sahabah also wiped their feets rather than washing like Ahle Sunnah.

Ali’s (as) method of performing ablution

We read in Sahih Bukhari [English translation] Volume 7, Book 69, Number 520 Chapter ‘Rubbing hands and feet with dust:

Narrated An-Nazzal bin Sabra:
‘Ali offered the Zuhr prayer and then sat down in the wide courtyard (of the Mosque) of Kufa in order to deal with the affairs of the people till the ‘Asr prayer became due. Then water was brought to him and he drank some of it, washed his face, hands, the narrator has also mentioned the head and feet…”

Here we see yet another attempt of hiding the truth as the (first) narrator (namely Adam) hesitated using the word ‘wipe’ but Imam Ibn Hajar Asqalani in his commentary of this tradition had to confess:

ويؤخذ منه أنه في الأصل ” ومسح على رأسه ورجليه ” وأن آدم توقف في سياقه فعبر بقوله ” وذكر رأسه ورجليه

We conclude that in the genuine version it is “wiped his head and feet” and Adam stopped narrating the tradition in this manner, therefore he just said “the narrator has also mentioned the head and feet”.

Although it shall now be clear that Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (as) believed in wiping of head and feet in Wudhu but let us hit the final nail in the coffin by quoting another and more clear version of the very tradition from Musnad al-Teyalsi, Volume 1 page 22 Hadith 148:

قال سمعت النزال بن سبرة يقول : صلى علي الظهر في الرحبة ثم جلس في حوائج الناس حتى حضرت العصر ثم أتى بكوز من ماء فصب منه كفا فغسل وجهه ويديه ومسح على رأسه ورجليه

An-Nazzal bin Sabra said: “Ali offered the Zuhr prayer in Rahba and then he sat down to respond to the affairs of the people, then Asr prayer became due, then he brought urn of water and poured handful water and washed his face and hands, then he wiped his head and feet.”

Ibn Abbas and Anas bin Malik would perform Wudhu by wiping their feet

We read in Sunan Ibn Majah page 39, Kitab al Wudhu and in Tafseer ibn Katheer page 25, Chapter of Wudhu:

Ibn Abbas said: ‘For Wudhu, two parts should be washed and two parts should be wiped’. Anas bin Malik said: ‘The Quran gave an order to wipe the feet’.

We read in Umdahtul Qari Sharh Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1 page 957, Kitab al Wudhu:

“Ibn Abbas said For Wudhu two parts should be washed and two parts should be wiped. Allah (swt) gave the order to wipe and people in opposition to Allah (swt) began to wash”.

Same reference can be read in Musnaf Abi Sheybah Vol 1 as well:

حدثنا ابن علية عن روح بن القاسم عن عبد الله بن محمد بن عقيل عن الربيع ابنة معوذ ابن عفراء قالت : أتاني ابن عباس فسألني عن هذا الحديث تعني حديثها الذي ذكرت أنها { رأت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم توضأ وأنه غسل رجليه } قالت : فقال ابن عباس أبى الناس إلا الغسل ولا أجد في كتاب الله إلا المسح .

“Rabyya narrated: Ibn Abbas came to me & asked me about that hadith which I narrate that I saw the holy prophet wash his feet, so Ibn Abbas said: “The people insist to wash and I didn’t find in the book of Allah except wiping”

The Ahl’ul Sunnah Ulema have ruled that on a matter of dispute accept the ruling of Ibn Abbas

Al Hafidh Jalaludeen Suyuti writes in Tafseer Itqan Volume 2 page 217:

“If dispute arises amongst the Sahaba, the better approach is to take the view of Ibn Abbas, since the Prophet supplicated for him ‘O Allah bless him with knowledge’.

We appeal to justice Ibn Abbas like other Sahaba would wipe his feet, and when the Sahaba are in conflict on a matter then the word of Ibn Abbas is paramount. We would ask our opponents to reflect on this matter.

The narrations of the Ahl’ul Sunnah on wiping the feet over socks and shoes

The Ahl’ul Sunnah criticize the Shi’a by saying that Qur’an orders washing of the feet whereas Shi’as wipe their feet but if we take a look at the Sunni Books of Hadeeth , wherein not only are there narrations about wiping the feet, but also narrations about wiping over socks and shoes. Here are some examples:

Take a look at a tradition by Sunan Ibn e Majah:

“Mughaira bin Shu’ba reports that the Holy Prophet (s) performed Wudhu and wiped his feet over his socks and shoes.”
Sunan Ibn e Majah, Volume 1, Page 290, published by Mehtab Company Urdu Bazaar Lahore

While commenting on this tradition, Maulana Waheed uz Zaman writes:

“In order to make things easier for followers, the Law-Giver has exempted them from washing of the feet when they are wearing socks or shoes, it is like wiping of the head in the presence of a turban, then what is the need of not accepting this ease?”
Sunan Ibn e Majah, Volume 1, Page 290, published by Mehtab Company Urdu Bazaar, Lahore

In his translation of Sunan Abu Daud Maulana Waheed Uz Zaman (Late) comments on a similar tradition as follows:

“The Verse of Surah Al Maidah about washing the feet is specific for such conditions when socks are not worn, and if socks are worn, wiping is correct.”
Sunan Abu Daud, Volume 1, Page 97, translated by Maulana Waheed Uz Zaman

We shall now ask our readers to look at the tradition from Sunan Abi Daud regarding wiping the feet over socks and shoes.

Narrated Aws ibn AbuAws ath-Thaqafi:
The Messenger of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) performed ablution and wiped over his feet over his shoes.
Abbad (a sub-narrator) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) came to the well of a people. Musaddad did not mention the words Midat (a place where ablution is performed), and Kazamah (well). Then both agreed on the wording:”He performed ablution and wiped his feet over his shoes.”

Sunan Abi Daud, Volume 1, Page 99, translated by Maulana Waheed Uz Zaman

You can also find this tradition in the English translation of Sunan Abu Daud under the Chapter ‘The Rites of Hajj (Kitab Al-Manasik Wa’l-Hajj) Book 1, Number 0160.

About this narration we can only comment that the Holy Prophet would have wiped his feet as the Qur’an orders. The rest might be a misunderstanding of the narrator, because wiping the feet and shoes at one time does not make any sense.

A clear tradition from Sunan Ibn Majah

It is reported from Jabir that Holy Prophet (s) passed by, in the meantime a person was performing ablution and was washing his socks (he thought it was obligatory to wash the feet and even wash the socks if one had put them on), the Holy Prophet (s) said:

“I have been ordered to wipe, and then with his hands (signalled) marked a line from his toes till the base of his ankle.”
Sunan ibn Majah, volume 1, page 287, published by Mehtab Company, Urdu Bazaar Lahore

The translation quoted above has been copied word to word from (late) Maulana Waheed uz-Zaman, we have copied what he had written in the brackets, the last part of this tradition, states that Holy Prophet (s) ordered the act of wiping, he then with his hands marked a line from his toes to his shin-bone. We invite those with sense to ponder over this tradition so that they can deduce the true Sunnah of Prophet (s) that he taught to his companion.

A narration by Abdullah bin Amr

We read in Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 3, Number 57:

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr:
“Once the Prophet remained behind us in a journey. He joined us while we were performing ablution for the prayer which was over-due. We were just passing wet hands over our feet (and not washing them properly) so the Prophet addressed us in a loud voice and said twice or thrice: “Save your heels from the fire.”

The Urdu translation has an interesting addition:

“It is reported from Abdullah bin `Amr: Once the Prophet remained behind us in a journey. He joined us while we were performing ablution for the prayer which was over-due. We (due to haste) were just passing wet hands over our feet (and not washing them properly) so the Prophet addressed us in a loud voice and said twice or thrice: “Save your heels from the fire.”
Sahih al Bukhari, Volume 1, page 159-160, Translated by Maulana Abdul Hakeem Akhtar Shahjehanpoori, published by fareedia book stall 40, Urdu bazaar Lahore.

This Hadeeth needs further analysis. If we look at the words by Abdullah bin Amr, he said that they we performing ablution and were wiping their feet. Now the learned Maulana Abdul Hakeem Akhtar Shahjehanpoori in a strange manner has added to it in the brackets that they were doing that being in a hurry. Whatever the haste, had the order been to wash the feet, what is the likelihood of the Sahaba doing something different in the presence of the Prophet (s)? The tradition says that the prayer had not even started yet, whereas one can even join the congregational prayer in the last Rakah. Let us assume that Abdullah indeed wiped his feet rather than wash them and the Holy Prophet (s) was watching him, the Prophet (s) was the founder of the Shariah, he would have definitely asked Abdullah why he was wiping his feet rather than washing them.

If one concentrates on the words of the tradition it supports the Shi’a belief which says that the feet should be wiped in ablution and if the feet are dirty, first they should be washed, dried, and then ablution be performed. The words of the tradition say that the Holy Prophet (s) just pointed out to the heels of Abdullah and the only possible reason for it can be that his heels may have been dirty he was unaware of this and the Prophet (s) brought this to his attention. Had the order been of washing the feet, the Holy Prophet (s) would have immediately asked him not to wipe his feet and wash them instead, not cautioning him for wiping the feet indicates that the feet are supposed to be wiped while performing ablution.

Salat is an act that is performed five times a day. The Prophet [saww] would have taught the Sahaba the correct method of ablution on countless occasions. The Sahaba were not immature or stupid minded enough to suggest that after years of being Muslim, they still had no grasp over the correct method of ablution. The tradition proves that the Sahaba wiped their feet before the Prophet (s) and he raised no objectin to this act.

We have cited several Sunni traditions that prove that the Prophet (s) and the Sahaba would wipe their feet when performing Wudhu. If the adherents of Mu’awiya argue that traditions also exist that demonstrate the Prophet (s) washed his feet then we will say that this dilemma is yours, not ours. It is telling that the bulwarks of you’re the Deen, your Sahaba and Khaleefa’s, lack of the Prophet’s Sunnah was such that they could not even agree on a matter as basic as how the Prophet performed Wudhu, something he would have done before them on a daily basis for 23 years!

The comments of Imams of Ahle Sunnah Ibn Jarir Tabari and Sheikh Mohiuddin bin Arabi

Renowned Ahle Hadith scholar Waheed-uz-Zaman Zaman writes:

Lughaat Al-Hadees, Vol. 2 Page 86, By Waheed Al-Zaman

Lughaat Al-Hadees, Vol. 2 Page 86, By Waheed Al-Zaman

“Allamah Ibn Jareer Tabari and Sheikh Mohiuddin bin Arabi have said that the worshipper is free to either wash the feet or wipe them. Ikrama and a few others also report the wiping of feet.”
Lughaat ul Hadeeth, volume 2, Book: Letter ‘seen’ page 86, published by Meer Muhammad Kutb Khana, Aaram Bagh, Karachi.

At another place he writes:

“According to most of the Ahl’ul Sunnah the washing of feet is obligatory, some have said that either washing or wiping can suffice and the worshipper is free to either wash his feet or wipe them.”

Washing the feet was the forced Bidah of Umar

We read in Ahl’ul Sunnah’s esteemed work ‘Izalatul Khifa’ Volume 3 page 305, Bab Rasail Fiqh Umar:

“And there are many problems that arise from conflicting Hadeeth al Farooq adopted a simple method, a method that all Mujtahids follow Umar on, such as the issue of Umrah and Hajj, Wudhu and Mutah…”

We read in Tafseer Durre Manthur page 292 verses of Wudhu:

“Umar said to the Sa’d: We don’t deny that the Prophet ordered the wiping of the feet, yet can you tell us whethet after the revelation of Surah Maida he continued to wipe his feet?”

The details from Izalatul Khifa and the inference from Tafseer Durre Manthur is that the wiping or washing the feet in Wudhu was the subject of intense dispute, one that neither the Prophet (s) nor Abu Bakr were able of quelling. On the issue of wiping Umat used his famed bravery to brow beat people to wash their feet. We say that in the same way that the fiour Takbeer funeral prayer was a Bidah of Umar so was the edict to wash the feet during Wudhu.

Wiping over shoes is Bidah

We read Sharh Fiqh Akbar, page 76:

Imam Abu Hanifa was asked ‘What is the aqeedah of Ahl’ul Sunnah wa al Jamaah. He replied, to deem Abu, Umar as most superior in the world, loving Uthman and ‘Ali, wiping over shoes and reading Salaat behind one of bad character”.

One clear Bidah that Muawiyah’s followers have concocted relates to the wiping over shoes. Allah (swt) has issued an edict to wipe over the feet in the Qur’an, yet they say ‘Rather than wipe we will wash our feet, and if anything is going to be wiped it will be out shoes!’. These people possess no logic. When they have decided that they will not wipe their shoes, why the need to wipe over animal leather? Animal skin can be from a halaal or haraam animal, can be dirty or clean.

Wiping over shoes contradicts the edicts Ibn Umar and Imam Malik

We read in Fatah Bari Sharh Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1 page 309:

عن أبي النضر عن أبي سلمة عن بن عمر قال رأيت سعد بن أبي وقاص يمسح على خفيه بالعراق حين توضأ فأنكرت ذلك عليه

Ibn Umar said: ‘I saw Saad bin Abi Waqas wiping over the shoes during ablution when he was in Iraq, therefore I objected on him’

Sheikh Mustafa al-Adawi in the footnote of Ibn Qayim’s fameod work Zaad al-Maad, Volume 1 page 162 stated:

أحاديث المسح على الجوربين لم يصح فيها خبر

“The Hadiths about wiping aover the socks, nothing of them are Sahih”.

Au Jaza al-Masalik Sharh Muwatta Imam Malik Volume 1 page 248 Bab Masah Khafeen, also records Imam Malik’s objection to wiping over shoes. Imam Fakhruddin Razi in Tafseer Kabeer, Volume 5 page 489 similarly records:

وأما مالك فإحدى الروايتين عنه أنه أنكر جواز المسح على الخفين ، ولا نزاع أنه كان في علم الحديث كالشمس الطالعة ، فلولا أنه عرف فيه ضعفاً وإلا لما قال ذلك

“One of the two narrations from Malik that he reject wiping over the shoes and there is no dispute that he (Malik) was like the shining sun in science of hadith therefore if he didn’t notice any weakness (in the hadiths which allow wiping over the shoe) he would have not said that.”

Wiping the neck during Wudhu is another Bidah

As evidence we have relied on the following Sunni works:

  1. Fatah Qadeer Sharh Hidayah, Volume 1 page 31, Dhikr Wudhu
  2. au Jaza al Masalik Sharh Muwatta Imam Malik Volume 1 page 34
  3. Fatawa Qadhi Khan Volume 1 page 17 Dhikr Wudhu
  4. Nayl al Aawtar Volume 1 page 193 Dhikr Wudhu
  5. Meezan al Kubra page 228

Fatah al Qadeer:

وقيل مسح الرقبة أيضا بدعة

“It has been said that wiping the neck is also Bida”

au Jaza al-Masalik

There is no Hadeeth to evidence the wiping of the neck, which is why such an act is Bidah

Nayl al-Aawtar

قال : وليس هو بسنة بل بدعة

He (Nawawi) said: ‘It is not Sunnah, nay it is Bidah’

Appeal to justice

We have through honesty proven that the followers of Mu’awiyah adhere to three Bidah’s in relation to Wudhu:

  1. Washing the feet
  2. Wiping the shoes
  3. Wiping the neck

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