#498: Washing More Than Thrice for Ablution


Assalamualaikum w.b.t. What is the ruling of washing the body parts of ablution more than thrice? The reason is I saw some people washing their hands or faces multiple times, maybe five times or more. What is the ruling of this action and is it permissible? Hope for an explanation.



Waalaikumussalam w.b.t.

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.

Definition of ablution

Lexically, wudhu’ (ablution) is the name for an action that uses water to wash certain body parts. Wudhu’ is taken from the word (الوضاءة) which means cleanliness and invigoration.

Whereas according to syarak, wudhu’ is the usage of water to wash the specified body parts. It is named wudhu’ for it is purifying and invigorating. There are also conditions, fardhu and sunnah that must be fulfilled. [1]

More clearly put, wudhu’ means cleaning certain things with several specific actions that begin with intention, washing one’s face, washing both hands, wiping one’s head and end with washing both feet on certain conditions and requisites. [2]

The sanctioning of wudhu’

Allah SWT sanctioned wudhu’ to purify oneself from hadas (state of religious impurity) for those who want to perform certain worships such as holding the mushaf al-Quran, pray, tawaf, and others. Allah SWT states in the Quran:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ ۚ وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُوا ۚ

“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. And if you are in a state of janabah, then purify yourselves.” [3]

Syeikh al-Sa’di said that there are numerous rulings (that can be issued) from this verse. Among them are the commandment of performing the prayer, the valid condition of purification (from hadas) for prayer and that it is not obligatory to perform ablution when the time for prayer begins, however, it is obligatory when one wants to pray and others. [4]

Syeikh al-Maraghi stated in his commentary that the obligation of ablution is only when one wants to pray and he is in hadas (impure state). [5]

Furthermore, Rasullullah PBUH also encourages his ummah to perform ablution in situations other than worship such as when one wants to sleep, eat, or is angry and others. This matter is mentioned by Syeikh Abdullah Ibn Abd al-Rahman Bafadil al-Hadramiy in the book al-Muqaddimah al-Hadramiyah, he said:

يُسْتَحَبُّ الْوضُوءُ مِن الفَصْد والحَجَامَةِ والرُعَافِ وَالنُّعَاس وَالنَّوْمِ قَاعِدًا مُمكنا مَقْعَدَته والقَيْء وَالقهقهة فِي الصَّلَاة وَأَكْل مَا مَسَّتْهُ النَّار وَأَكْل لَحْم الْجَزُور وَالشَّكّ فِي الْحَدَث وَمِن الْغَيْبَة والنميمة وَالْكذب والشتم وَالْكَلَام الْقَبِيح وَالْغَضَب ولإرادة النّوم ولقراءة الْقُرْآن والْحَدِيث وَالذكر وَالْجُلُوس فِي الْمَسْجِد والمرور فِيهِ ودراسة الْعلم وزيارة الْقُبُور وَمن حمل الْمَيِّت ومسه

“It is sunnah to perform ablution when one is going to do cupping, experiences nose bleed, sleepy, sleeping while his bottom is unmoving, vomits, coughs in prayer, eats something that is grilled on fire, eats the flesh of camel, in doubt of whether one is in hadas, ghibah, backbite, lie, insult others, uttering bad words, angry, wants to sleep, recite al-Quran and hadith, dhikr, sitting in a mosque, passing through a mosque, learning, visiting a grave, carrying or touching a deceased.” [6]

Likewise, in a hadith narrated by al-Bara’ bin ‘Azib R.Anhuma, Rasullullah PBUH said:

إِذَا أَتَيْتَ مَضْجَعَكَ، فَتَوَضَّأْ وُضُوءَكَ لِلصَّلاَةِ، ثُمَّ اضْطَجِعْ عَلَى شِقِّكَ الأَيْمَنِ

“Whenever you go to bed perform ablution like that for the prayer, lie on your right side,” [7]

Valid conditions of ablution

For valid conditions of ablution, Syeikh Dr Muhammad Zuhaili have divided them into several matters and they are:

  • Using pure water to perform ablution and it is conditioned to know that the water used is mutlak water although through one’s dzhan (assumption).
  • Nothing is hindering, which means nothing is hindering or preventing water to come into contact with the body parts of ablution.
  • Flowing water on the body parts washed.
  • Nothing is hindering the person from performing ablution such as menstruation, nifas (childbirth bleeding), touching one’s private parts and others.
  • Knowing the methodology of performing ablution.
  • Removing or cleaning the ablution body parts from filth and najis. [8]

Likewise, in al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, the valid conditions of ablution are presented and among them is using clean water and which must flow on the ablution body parts. [9]

Body parts that are obligatory to be washed

Habib Hasan bin Ahmad al-Kaff stated there are six requisites of ablution. Four of them are based on the verse of the Quran which is; washing one’s face, and both hands, wiping a part of one’s head and washing both feet. While the remaining two followed the sunnah and they are setting the intention and performed the actions in order. [10]

Thus, simply put, we know that the obligatory body parts to be washed are:

  • The whole face after setting the intention.
  • Washing both hands up to the elbows.
  • Washing a part of the head of at least three strands of hairs.
  • Washing both feet up to the ankles.
  • Washing all the previous body parts in order.

Other than the obligatory body parts stated, there are other very encouraging sunnah (sunnah muakkad). Some examples are; reciting Basmalah when one starts to perform the ablution, washing one’s hands before putting them into the water vessel, rinsing one’s mouth, sinus rinsing, washing the entire head, washing both ears, beginning each of the washing with right side of the body part, washing them in succession, thoroughly washing them, washing each body part thrice and others. [11]

It is sunnah to wash each of the ablution body part trice

There are numerous narrations which described how the Prophet PBUH performed his ablution. Scholars have stated that among the sunnah is to wash each of the ablution body part thrice as stated in a narration of Uthman bin Affan RA, where:

أَنَّهُ دَعَا بِمَاءٍ فَتَوَضَّأَ عِنْدَ الْمَقَاعِدِ، فَتَوَضَّأَ ثَلاثًا ثَلاثًا، ثُمَّ قَالَ لِأَصْحَابِ رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : هَلْ رَأَيْتُمْ رَسولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَعَلَ هَذَا ؟ قَالُوا : نَعَمْ

“He called for water and did wudoo` in al-Maqa`id. He did wudoo’, washing each part three times, then he said to the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). “Did you see the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) doing {wudoo`) like this?” They said: “Yes.” [12]

Syeikh Daud al-Fatani stated that it is counted as thrice with every wash (flow of water) on the body part and the water is wiped or washed on the body parts thrice. [13]

Washing the body parts of ablution more than thrice

However, in a narration from Abdullah bin Amr, it is narrated:

جاءَ أعرابيٌّ إلى النَّبيِّ -ﷺ- يسألُهُ عنِ الوُضوءِ؟ فأراهُ الوُضوءَ ثلاثًا، ثمَّ قالَ : هكَذا الوُضوءُ فمَن زادَ على هذا فقَد أساءَ وتعدّى، وظلمَ

“A Bedouin came to the Prophet (ﷺ) to ask him about Wudu’, so he showed him how to perform Wudu’, washing each part three times, then he said: ‘This is Wudu’. Whoever does more than that has done badly, done to extremes and done wrong.'” [14]

Scholars have stated that washing the body parts of ablution more than thrice is makruh. In this matter, Imam al-Nawawi said:

وَقَدْ أَجْمَعَ الْعُلَمَاءُ عَلَى كَرَاهَةِ الزِّيَادَةِ عَلَى الثَّلَاثِ وَالْمُرَادُ بِالثَّلَاثِ الْمُسْتَوْعِبَةِ لِلْعُضْوِ وَأَمَّا إِذَا لَمْ تَسْتَوْعِبِ الْعُضْوَ إِلَّا بِغَرْفَتَيْنِ فَهِيَ غَسْلَةٌ وَاحِدَةٌ

Scholars agreed (ijma’) that it is makruh (to wash the body parts of ablution) for more than three times. And what is meant by three washings is the flowing of water on the entire body part. However, if it isn’t possible (to wash) the entire body part with two washings, hence, the two washings are only counted as one wash.”[15]

Imam Syafie also mentioned this matter in his book:

وَلَا أُحِبُّ لِلْمُتَوَضِّئِ أَنْ يَزِيدَ عَلَى ثَلَاثٍ وَإِنْ زَادَ لَمْ أَكْرَهْهُ

And I dislike for anyone who performs ablution to increase (the washings) more than three times. However, if he increases (performs more washings), I don’t rule it makruh. [16]

Imam al-Nawawi explained that the meaning of the above word Imam Syafie said ‘I don’t rule it makruh’ means that ‘he doesn’t prohibit it.’ Likewise, in other statements of Imam Syafie, he said that he dislikes it if a person increases the washings more than thrice (when performing ablution), however, if one did so, the matter doesn’t affect him and he isn’t sinful. [17] This shows that the act of washing more than three times for every body parts when performing ablution is makruh.

Although washing more than three times for ablution is makruh, the act doesn’t invalidate his ablution for as long as the water is thoroughly used to wash the body parts of ablution. His ablution is still valid. This is as stated by Imam al-Nawawi:

إذَا زَادَ عَلَى الثَّلَاثِ فَقَدْ ارْتَكَبَ الْمَكْرُوهَ وَلَا يَبْطُلُ وُضُوءُهُ هَذَا مَذْهَبُنَا وَمَذْهَبُ الْعُلَمَاءِ كَافَّةً وَحَكَى الدَّارِمِيُّ فِي الِاسْتِذْكَارِ عَنْ قَوْمٍ أَنَّهُ يَبْطُلُ كَمَا لَوْ زَادَ فِي الصَّلَاةِ وَهَذَا خَطَأٌ ظَاهِرٌ

“If someone increases (the washing) more than 3 times, then, he has committed a makruh matter. However, (such an act) doesn’t invalidate his ablution. This is ours (Syafie) and the madhhab of most scholars. Al-Darimi cited from a group of scholars in his book al-Istizkar, that the ablution is invalidated, just like (the ruling) if a person adds or increases (the requisites) in his prayer. This opinion is clearly wrong.” [18]


According to the above discussion and deliberation, we conclude that washing body parts of ablution more than three washings are makruh. However, the ablution is valid and it doesn’t invalidate the ablution as long as the water is washed thoroughly to the entire body parts of ablution completely.

However, the washing is only counted after the water has washed the body part thoroughly (the washing). Although, if one cannot thoroughly wash a certain body part except with two splashes of water for instance, then the two splashes of water are counted as one washing. Imam al-Ramli stated that the condition before washing for the second or third time is that the obligatory washing (first washing) is completed. [19]

We’ve also answered several other issues regarding the ablution washing in Ahkamal-Syari’yyah #477: The Number of Washing When Performing Ablution

Let us all contemplate the words of Syeikh Mulla Ali al-Qari who said that being excessive in performing ablution such as by increasing the washings more than three times, there is no good in such excessive matters. [20]

Wallahu a’lam.


[1] See al-Mu’tamad fi al-Fiqh al-Syafi’i, 1/69

[2] See al-Budur al-Tali`ah Syarh Risalah al-Jami`ahpg. 123

[3] Surah al-Maidah: 6

[4] See Tafsir al-Sa’di, pg. 222

[5] See Tafsir al-Maraghi, 6/61

[6] See al-Muqaddimah al-Hadramiyyah, pg. 37

[7] Narrated by al-Bukhari (247) and Muslim (2710)

[8] See al-Mu’tamad fi al-Fiqh al-Syafi’e, 1/70

[9]  See al-Mausu’ah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 43/330

[10] See al-Taqrirat al-Sadidah, pg. 82

[11] See Kasyifah al-Saja, pg. 20

[12] Narrated by Ahmad (488). According to Syeikh Syuaib al-Arnaut the sanad is strong. (See Musnad Ahmad, 1/523)

[13] See Matla’ al-Badrain, arranged by PMWP, 1/54

[14] Narrated by al-Nasaie (140)

[15] See al-Minhaj Syarh Sahih Muslim, 3/109

[16] See al-Umm, 1/47

[17] See al-Majmu’ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 1/439

[18] See al-Majmu’ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 1/440

[19] See Nihayah al-Muhtaj,1/188

[20] See Mirqat al-Mafatih, 2/421