Q & A Wudu' and Purity

Q & A: “Shortening wudu and joining the Prayer…”



Q. I heard that if one fears missing the salah in the mosque, one can shorten the wudu and join the prayer. Is this correct?


If one is sure that one will miss the congregation prayer (salat al-jama`a) by performing the full wudu’, then one may contract it (meaning doing the obligatory aspects [S. washing the face, washing the hands, washing the feet and wiping a quarter of the head]) and join the salah. This is mentioned from a related ruling in the Hanafi manual of Imam Ibn `Abidin regarding contraction of (shortening) the sunna prayer:

“If one fears that by praying the sunna of Fajr prayer and because of it the congregational prayer will elapse and one then shortens the prayer by reciting the Fatiha chapter along with the supplications in both bowing (ruku`) and prostration (sujud) then he may do that because leaving the performance of a sunna is permitted (ja’iz) if it means catching the congregational prayer…”[1]

لو خاف انّه لو صلى سنة الفجر بوجهها تفوته الجماعة و لو اقتصر فيها بالفاتحة و تسبحة فى الركوع و السجود يدركها فله ان يقتصر عليها لانّترك السنة جائز لادراك الجماعة

 If however, one is sure that the congregational prayer will not be missed, then there arise three scenarios with their respective rulings:

Scenario one: If one completes the full wudu’ and the first takbir (S. saying ‘Allahu Akbar!’ when commencing the salah) is missed but despite that the first rak`a is caught, then in this case a full wudu’ should be performed:

“If one thinks that one will miss the first and commencing takbir (al-takbirat al-ula) then one must perform the wudu’ completely [S. literally ‘tathlith’ – washing the limbs three times which is a sunna]. If the takbirat al-ula elapses but the congregational prayer did not finish completely such that if he is able to catch one rak`a with the imam standing or by doing the ruku` then it is better (afdal) to complete the wudu’ than to catch the takbirat al-ula because catching the takbirat al-ula with the Imam is an additional virtue and not a sunna…”[2]

ان ظنّ انّه تفوته التكبيرة الاولى فالتثليث افضل.  و اذا فاتته التبيرة الاولى فقط  لم تفته الصلاة بالجماعة اجماعا  حتى لو كان يدرك الامام راكعا و يحصل معه الركوع حيث لا تفوته الركعة فاتيانه  يسنّة التثليث افضل من ادراكه اوّل الركعة لانّ  ادراك التكبيرة مع الامام فضيلة لا سنّة

Scenario two: If one begins wudu’ at such a time where if the full wudu’ is performed the first rak`a of the salah will be missed but doing a contracted wudu’ will mean catching the first rak`a then in this case it is preferable to perform a contracted wudu’ and catch the first rak`a:

“[…] if one thinks that doing the full wudu’ [S. literally ‘tathlith’ – washing the limbs three times which is a sunna] will mean missing a rak`a of the salah with the congregation then he may contract the wudu’…”[3]

ان ظنّ انّه ان ثلث الوضوء تفوته ركعة من الصلاة مع الجماعة يترك التثليث

Scenario three: If wudu’ is commenced at such a time wherein the first rak`a has already finished and one is sure that by doing a full wudu’ no part of the congregation salah will be missed, then in this case it would be better to perform the complete wudu’:

“[…] if for example one caught a single rak`a of the Zuhr prayer then he has attained the excellence (fadl) of the congregation or its reward. Likewise, if one catches the Tashahhud then he has attained its excellence according to their view because the point here is attaining the excellence and reward of the congregation and in their agreement that by catching the Tashahhud he has attained [the Prayer], he has also thereby accomplished the sunna…”[4]

انّ من ادرك ركعة من الظهر مثلا فقد ادرك فضل الجماعةو احرز ثوابها و كذا لو ادرك التشهد يكون مدركا لفضيلتها على قولهم لانّ المدار هنا على ادراك فضل الجماعة و قد اتّفقو على ادراكه بادراك التشهد فيأتى بالسنّة اتّفاقا

And Allah knows best.

[1] Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar, vol.2, p.58.

[2] al-Ghunaymi, Nihayat al-Murad, p.114.

[3] al-Ghunaymi, Nihayat al-Murad, p.114.

[4] Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar, vol.3, p.56.





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