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What is Wuzu or Ablution?

There are some acts connected with the ablution, but are not obligatory, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not stick to them each time he performed ablution as follows
Mentioning the Name of Allah at the beginning
There are some weak hadiths that mention this act, and all of the chains of these hadiths 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.
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 Hijaz (the old name of the KSA). 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 (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Were it not to be a hardship on my community, I would have ordered them to use a toothbrush for every ablution.” (Malik and Ash-Shafi`i)
`A’ishah reported that the Prophet said: “The toothbrush purifies the mouth and is pleasing to the Lord.” (Ahmad, An-Nasa’i and At-Tirmidhi)
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.
When one uses a toothbrush, it is a sunnah to clean it afterwards. Said `A’ishah: “When the Prophet used his toothbrush, he would give it to me. I would wash it, use it, wash it again and give it back to him.” (Abu Dawud)
Washing the Hands three times at the beginning
This is based on the hadith of Awus ibn Aws al-Thaqafi who said: “I saw the Messenger of Allah make ablution, and he washed his hands three times.” (Ahmad and an-Nasa’i)
Rinsing the Mouth three times
Laqit ibn Sabrah reported that the Prophet said: “When one performs ablution, he should rinse his mouth.” (Abu Dawud)
Sniffing up and Blowing out Water three times
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet ( peace be upon him) said: “When one of you performs ablution, he should sniff water up his nostrils and then blow it out.” (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 (may Allah be pleased with him) 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 Prophet would purify himself.” (Ahmad and An-Nasa’i)
This 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.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Running one’s Fingers through his Beard
`A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that the Messenger of Allah would run his fingers through his beard.” (Ibn Majah and At-Tirmidhi)
Running Water through one’s Fingers and Toes
Ibn `Abbas said that when the Messenger of Allah performed ablution, he would run his fingers through his fingers and toes. (Agreed upon)
It is also related that it is preferable to remove jewelry, for example, rings, bracelets, and so on, while performing ablution. Even though these reports are not accepted as fully authentic, one must follow them, for they fall under the general category of completing and perfecting the ablution.
Repeating each Washing three times
This is a sunnah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) almost always followed. If he acted otherwise, it was just to show that the other acts are permissible. `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) also reported that the Messenger of Allah would repeat each washing three times. (Ahmad, Muslim and At-Tirmidhi)
Beginning each Action with the Right Side
Said `A’ishah: “The Messenger of Allah loved to begin with his right side while putting on his shoes, straightening his hair and cleaning (or purifying) himself.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Rubbing the Limbs with Water
This means to rub the hands over the bodily parts with water. `Abdullah ibn Zaid related that the Messenger of Allah performed ablution, then rubbed his limbs. (Abu Dawud and Ahmad)
Close Sequence
Each bodily part must be washed right after the other in the prescribed sequence (without separating the washing of the different parts of acts not related to the ablution). This is the customary practice of the early and later generations of Muslims.
Wiping the Ears
The sunnah is to wipe the interior of the ears with the index fingers and the exterior portions with the thumbs. The water used to wipe the head is also used for the ears, as the ears are part of the head. While describing the ablution of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “He wiped his head and ears with one wipe.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud) In one narration it states: “He wiped the inner portion of his ears with his index finger, and the outer portion with his thumb.”
Elongating the Streaks of Light
This refers to washing the complete forehead, a practice which is more than what is obligatory in washing the face, and will increase the streak of light (on the Day of Judgment). It also refers to washing above the elbows and ankles. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: “My nation will come with bright streaks of light from the traces of ablution.” Abu Hurairah then said, “If one can lengthen his streak of light, he should do so.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Economizing the Use of Water, even if one is in front of the Sea
Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet( peace be upon him) used to perform ghusl (ritual cleansing of the body) with a sa` of water (1.616 cm) 3 to 5 madd (each 4 madd equals one sa`). He also used to make ablution with one madd (404 cm) of water.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Says Al-Bukhari: “The scholars do not like one to use water beyond what the Prophet used for ablution.”
Supplication while Performing Ablution
There is nothing confirmed from the Prophet regarding supplications during ablution save the hadith of Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari who said: “I came to the Messenger of Allah with water. While he was performing ablution, I heard him supplicate, ‘O Allah, forgive my sins. Make my residence spacious for me and bless me in my provisions.’ I said, ‘O Prophet of Allah, I heard you supplicating such and such.’ He said, ‘Did I leave anything out?” (An-Nasa’i)
Supplication after Ablution
`Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “If one completes (and perfects) the ablution and then says, ‘I testify that there is no god except Allah, the One Who has no partner, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger,” the eight gates of paradise will be opened for him and he may enter any of them that he wishes.” (Muslim)
Praying two Rak`ahs after Ablution
Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said to Bilal, “O Bilal, tell me what good deed you have done in Islam that I hear the sound of your footsteps in Paradise?” Bilal said, “That after I purify myself during the day or night, I pray with that purification as much as Allah has destined for me.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
`Uqbah ibn `Amr related that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “If one performs and perfects his ablution and prays two rak`ahs with his heart and face (completely on his prayer), Paradise becomes his.” (Muslim, Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah)
Other practices (protecting the eyes and wrinkles, removing any rings, wiping the neck, and so on) have not been mentioned here as their narrations are still questionable. But, one may follow them as part of general cleanliness.

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