Skip main navigation

Wudu – an Islamic practice

Mark Bryant explains and presents wudu - ritual washing undertaken by Muslims before performing ritual acts of worship
Muslims perform ritual washing or purification known as wudu before they pray. They also perform wudu before other acts of worship, such as walking around the Kaaba, during Umrah or Hajj, or reading the Quran. So when we begin wudu, we start off with an intention which basically devotes the action to God. We then wash our hands three times, the spiritual aspect of washing our hands three times is that the sins fall off with every drop of water that comes from our body. Other parts of the body are then washed, repeated three times in the following order. Mouth.
Nose. Face.
Head and back of the neck. Ears, and feet
We finish wudu by reciting the proclamation of faith known as the Shahada. Wudu is more than just the outward actions of cleaning the body. It’s also about reflecting on our inward spiritual purity So wudu is an act of worship in itself. If it is carried out slowly and mindfully, one can feel connected with one’s Lord. After completing wudu, people talk about a feeling of calm a sense of peace can descend over you. And you’re ready now to face your Lord in whatever act of worship you want to do, such as prayer.
Because wudu, is as much about spiritual cleanliness as physical cleanliness, if there is no water present, a Muslim can do what we call tayammum, which is to use some sand or stones instead. As wudu is an act of worship, God doesn’t really want to burden you if you don’t have any water present so sand or stones can be used as a replacement.
There’s an increasing awareness of the environmental impact of water use for water. Islam teaches that we should respect the environment, so Muslims are expected to act responsibly towards the environment and to use as little water as possible when they perform their woodland There is a story where the Prophet, peace be upon him, advised someone making wudu to be careful about the amount of water that they were using, even if they were close to a river. So we are, as Muslims, meant to be very careful about wastage. One way to save water, especially if it’s in limited supply, is to use a spray rather than flowing water.

In this video, Mark Bryant explains and presents wudu – ritual washing undertaken by Muslims before performing ritual acts of worship such as prayer and reciting from the Quran.

This video is produced and narrated by Mark Bryant, Research Development Officer at the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK, and a member of the production team for this course.

In some of the explanations of scrupulosity OCD in the previous steps of this activity, ritual washing has been identified as a source of anxiety for some Muslims. Mark’s explanation of wudu in this video demonstrates the ways in which wudu, as a mindful act, can have a calming effect which can increase a Muslim’s sense of connection with God and the physical world around them.

As with many religious beliefs and practices for Muslims that are related to mental health problems, a careful and Islamically-informed explanation of the meaning and purpose behind the belief or practice can be an effective counterbalance to concerns and anxieties around them.

Over to you

What points from this video would you use to explain wudu to a Muslim who is concerned about their ability to perform ritual washing correctly before praying?

Share a summary of your explanation below.

This article is from the free online

Understanding Mental Health in Muslim Communities

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now