What is the Wisdom Behind Wudu, Wiping of the Head, and Evidence of Wiping One Fourth of It?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel


Could you briefly explain the wisdom behind wiping on the head during ablution? Additionally, how can we justify the cautious approach of considering one-fourth of the head obligatory (Fard) during ablution if it’s not explicitly mentioned in the Quran? Finally, if someone believes the Quran is obligatory (Fard) and Hadith is Sunnah, how can they understand the depth of fiqh and Usul?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

I pray you are in good faith and health. Thank you for your question.

Allah Most High has placed many benefits in wudu, not just to clean our body, but to cleanse our soul before we worship Him and touch His blessed words of the Quran. And to encourage us, one’s limbs will be full of radiance and joy. It is a shield from the attacks of satanic whisperings and a means for angels to protect us further.

Ablution (Wudu) is Radiance on the Day of Judgment

Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Verily, my nation will be called on the Day of Resurrection as brightly radiant from the traces of ablution. Whoever among you can extend his radiance, let him do so.” [Bukhari; Muslim]

Sins Are Wiped Away

Sins are wiped away from the water of wudu, as mentioned in several hadiths. Most sins are committed with the hands, feet, eyes, ears, and head. We have been commanded to pour the water of wudu on these so that these body parts become pure from sins.

Uthman (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever performs ablutions (wudu) and does so well, their sins will leave their body, even from under the nails.” [Muslim; Nasa’i]

Sayyidi Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi (may Allah have mercy on him) explained performing wudu ‘well as performing all the obligatory, sunna and recommended actions while avoiding blameworthy actions such as wasting water. [Nabulsi, Nihayat al-Murad]

Shah Wali-Allah al-Dahlawi (Allah have mercy on him), this hadith in his Hujjat Allah al-Baligha, one of the very best works on the secrets of the Shariah in all its dimensions,

“Cleanliness affects the very roots of the soul and purifies it until it becomes akin to angels. Cleanliness also makes one forget a lot of lowly states.”

[Dahlawi, Hujjat Allah al-Baligha]

Wiping a Forth of the Back of the Head

If one wipes a fourth of the back of the head or any fourth part of the head, it will suffice him.

It has been related by Mughira ibn Shu’ba (Allah be pleased with him), “The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace arrived at a camp of some tribe. He passed water (answering the call of nature), performed ablution, and rubbed his forehead and boots.”

The focus is on the word “forehead” here. This tradition combines two traditions, narrated by al-Mughira ibn Shu’ba (Allah be pleased with him). The first of these is recorded by Ibn Maja in his Sunan and is considered a sound tradition. Related versions from other narrators are found in al-Bukhari and Muslim. The second tradition is recorded by Muslim. Related traditions are also recorded by Abu Dawud, Nasa’i, and Ibn Maja.

Sunna is an Independent, Binding Source of Law

The text of the Quran is not elaborate (is mujmal) on this point, and this (tradition) is linked to it as an elaboration (bayan). The concept of bayan represents a fundamental approach in Islamic law, which assumes that the Sunna is an independent and binding source of law and is the primary source for all bayan. The Sunnah is to be consulted for the elaboration (bayan) of the legal meanings in the Quran.

[Zaylai, Nasb al-Ra’ya, Ayni, Al-Binaya]

I would like you to go through the valuable answers and links below. You will receive guidance and direction in sha Allah.


I pray this helps with your question.

[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Mawlana Ilyas Patel has received traditional education in various countries. He started his schooling in the UK and completed his hifz of the Quran in India. After that, he joined an Islamic seminary in the UK, where he studied secular and Aalimiyya sciences. Later, he traveled to Karachi, Pakistan, and other Middle Eastern countries to further his education. Mawlana has served as an Imam in the Republic of Ireland for several years and taught the Quran and other Islamic sciences to both children and adults. He also worked as a teacher and librarian at a local Islamic seminary in the UK for 12 years. Presently, he lives in the UK with his wife and is interested in books and gardening.