Assalamualaikum SS Mufti, I want to ask a question. It has been a habit of mine to purposely neglect the sunnah parts of ablution if it’s cold, for example in Subuh time and I just perform the obligatory parts of ablution. I would leave washing the sunnah parts such as breathing in water in my nose, washing my ears and others. Are my actions permissible?
Hope for an explanation from Mufti. Thank you.
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
The first thing that should be understood is that the sunnah worships is divided into three parts:
- Muakkad (encouraged) sunnah: Sunnah that is highly encouraged and if it is performed a person will receive rewards for it and he will not be sinful if he leaves it. But he deserves to receive the curse of Allah SWT if he purposely leaves it. It is a sunnah that the Prophet PBUH always performed and he rarely ever leave it, such as congregational prayer, adhan, iqamah and reciting another surah after al-Fatihah in prayer and others. (Refer Usul al-Fiqh al-Islami li Wahbah al-Zuhaili, 1:84)
- Non-Muakkad sunnah: Sunnah that is sanctioned but is not muakkad sunnah; where if one performed it, he will receive rewards for it and he is not sinful if he leaves it and he does not deserve to get the curse of Allah SWT if he purposely leaves it. It is a sunnah that the Prophet PBUH sometimes perform and he would usually leave it, such as the four sunnah rakaat prayer after Asar prayer, fasting every Mondays and Thursdays and others. (Refer Usul al-Fiqh al-Islami li Wahbah al-Zuhaili, 1:84)
- Zawaid sunnah: Sunnah that is the completion for a mukallaf, which is everyday actions of the Prophet PBUH. Some examples include the way the Prophet PBUH eat, drink, walk, sleep, wear his clothes and others. Following these actions is in truth a completion of our great love to the Prophet PBUH. However, whoever leaves them, he is not cursed for it. (Refer Usul al-Fiqh al-Islami li Wahbah al-Zuhaili, 1:84)
Scholars have set the parts which are obligatory for ablution in accordance with the following statement of Allah SWT:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ ۚ
“O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles.”
Surah al-Maidah (6)
The parts which are obligatory to be washed are:
- The whole face including the intention.
- Washing hands up to the elbows.
- Washing a part of the hair with at least three strands of hair.
- Washing the feet up to the ankles.
- The body parts stated above should be washed in order.
Other than the stated obligatory body parts for ablution, the others are highly encouraged sunnah (muakkad sunnah). Among them are, reciting Basmalah when starting one’s ablution, washing the hands before putting them in the washing basin, gargle, breathing in water inside one’s nose, wash the whole head, wash both ears, start each body parts from the right side, perform each washing continuously, each washing is washed three times and others. (Refer Kasyifah al-Saja Syarh Safinah al-Naja: 20)
Hence, leaving an encouraged sunnah (muakkad sunnah) is not sinful but deserving to get the curse of Allah SWT if it is left purposely for it is the commandment of the Prophet PBUH. The reason is, the Prophet PBUH himself commanded his ummah to perfect their ablution promising that whoever perfect his ablution, then his sins will be washed off from his nails. The Prophet PBUH said:
منْ تَوَضَّأَ فَأَحْسَنَ الوضوءَ، خَرَجَت خَطَايَاهُ مِنْ جسَدِهِ حتَّى تَخْرُجَ مِنْ تحتِ أَظفارِهِ
“He who performed ablution well, his sins would come out from his body, even coming out from under his nails.”
Sahih Muslim (1026)
Furthermore, the Prophet PBUH also warns those who take their ablution lightly and did not perform it perfectly which we have discussed previously in Al-Kafi #818: Taking Ablution Lightly. From Abdullah bin ‘Amr:
تَخَلَّفَ عَنَّا النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي سَفْرَةٍ سَافَرْنَاهَا فَأَدْرَكَنَا وَقَدْ أَرْهَقَتْنَا الصَّلَاةُ وَنَحْنُ نَتَوَضَّأُ فَجَعَلْنَا نَمْسَحُ عَلَى أَرْجُلِنَا فَنَادَى بِأَعْلَى صَوْتِهِ وَيْلٌ لِلْأَعْقَابِ مِنْ النَّارِ مَرَّتَيْنِ أَوْ ثَلَاثًا
Once the Prophet (ﷺ) 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 (ﷺ) addressed us in a loud voice and said twice or thrice: "Save your heels from the fire."
Sahih al-Bukhari (60)
Whereas according to the words cited in Sahih Muslim, Abdullah bin ‘Amr R.Anhuma said:
رَجَعْنَا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- مِنْ مَكَّةَ إِلَى الْمَدِينَةِ حَتَّى إِذَا كُنَّا بِمَاءٍ بِالطَّرِيقِ تَعَجَّلَ قَوْمٌ عِنْدَ الْعَصْرِ فَتَوَضَّئُوا وَهُمْ عِجَالٌ فَانْتَهَيْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ وَأَعْقَابُهُمْ تَلُوحُ لَمْ يَمَسَّهَا الْمَاءُ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- وَيْلٌ لِلأَعْقَابِ مِنَ النَّارِ أَسْبِغُوا الْوُضُوءَ
“We were on our journey home with the Prophet PBUH from Mecca to Medina. In the middle of our journey, we stopped at a place with water. Some of us are in a hurry taking their ablution fearing that the time for Asar would end. When we approached them, we saw their heels are dry, unwashed with water. Then, the Prophet PBUH said: Cursed on those heels (unwashed for ablution) for they will be burned by hell fire. Complete your ablution properly.”
Sahih Muslim (593)
According to the above discussion, we would like to state that other than the obligatory body parts stated above, all others are sunnah muakkad. The reason is, the Prophet PBUH always washed them and he rarely ever leave them.
Thus, whoever performed them will receive great rewards from Allah SWT. However, whoever purposely leaves them, then he is not considered as sinful if he leaves it due to certain reasons such as cold weather and others.
Nonetheless, if he purposely leaves it continuously without any reasonable reason, then it is makruh (undesirable).
Hence, we ask all of us to strive in performing every worship perfecting it the best we could by not leaving the sunnah washing in ablution if there is not a need to leave them. May Allah SWT give us guidance and strength to always worship Him all the time. Amin.