Commentary on the Hadith concerning the sleep after which it is legislated to wash one‟s hand.

Praise be to Allah,


Narrated Aboo Hurayrah (PBUH ): Allaah‟s Messenger (PBUH) said,

“If anyone of you performs ablution he should put water in his nose and then blow it out, and whoever cleans his private parts with stones should do so with odd numbers. And whoever wakes up from his sleep should wash his hands before putting them in the water for ablution, because nobody knows where his hands were during sleep.”[i]


In the version of Muslim, it says, “…let him put water in his nostrils…”[ii]


And in another version, “…let him rinse out his nose…[iii]


The scholars differed concerning the sleep after which it is legislated to wash one‟s hand.


(1) al-Imaam Ash-Shaafi‟ee and the Majority of Scholars held the opinion that it is legislated after every type of sleep, whether during the night or the day, due to the generality of his words: “…and whoever wakes up from his sleep…” [Not specifying sleep of the night or the day].


(2) The two Imaams, Ahmad and Daawood adh-Dhaahiree specified it to be legislated after awakening from the sleep of the night. They supported their opinion by the fact that the real meaning of al-Baitootah is (spending the night), and therefore, this instruction is concerning the sleep of the night [as mentioned at the end of the hadeeth: “…nobody knows where his hand was during the night”]. They also cited the narration of at-Tirmithee and Ibn Maajah: “If anyone of you awakens from the night.[iv]


The strongest opinion is the second since the exact reason behind the legislation of washing the hands is not actually clear. What is more likely is that it is purely an act of worship (at-ta’abbudiyyah). In that case, there is no room for making Qiyaas (comparison) between the day and the night, even if someone sleeps during the day for a long period of time (as one sleeps in the night), since such a case is not the common occurrence. The rules and laws are connected – primarily – to the case of the majority or that which is common. The apparent meaning of the hadeeth is the specification of sleep of the night.


The scholars also differed as to whether this washing of the hands upon awakening from sleep is waajib (obligatory) or mustahabb (commendable or recommended)


(1) The Majority of Scholars held that this washing is mustahabb (commendable). This has been reported as a view of Ahmad, and the choice of al-Kharqee and al-Muwaffaq and al-Majd.

(2) The most famous opinion of the madhhab of al-Imaam Ahmad is that it is obligatory (waajib), and this is indicated by the apparent wording of the hadeeth.


Important Points Derived from the Hadeeth:

  1. The obligation of sniffing water up into the nose (al-istin-shaaq) and blowing it out (al-istin-thaar). Imaam an-Nawawee said: “Here is a clear indication that al-istinthaar is different from al-istin-shaaq.”
  1. The fact that the nose is considered part of the face in the performance of ablution. This is derived from the text of this hadeeth and the Qur‟anic verse:


“…and wash your faces…” [Soorah Al – Al-Ma’idah’ 5:6]


  1. The legislation of using an odd number [even if it exceeds three] when washing the private parts with pebbles after using the toilet. Al-Majd (the grandfather of Ibn Taymiyyah) says in his book al-Muntaqaa: “This legislation of stopping on an odd the number is understood to be Sunnah if there is a need to exceed three.”


  1. Ibn Hajar said: “Some [of the scholars] have derived from this hadeeth that the actual place of washing (i.e. the private parts) is singled out here for the special allowance [of washing more than three times] as long as any impurities remain.”


  1. The legislation of washing the hands when someone awakes from the sleep of the night. [This is keeping in mind the difference of opinion concerning whether this instruction is specifically in reference to the sleep of the night or even one who awakens from sleep during the day; and the difference of opinion concerning whether this instruction to wash the hands upon awakening from sleep is obligatory or commendable].


  1. The obligation of performing ablution upon awakening from sleep[v].


  1. The prohibition of putting one‟s hand in the water container until washing the hand. This prohibition is either an absolute prohibition (Tahreem) or something detestable (Makrooh), based upon the difference of opinion as to whether the washing of the hand before putting it in the water is obligatory (Waajib) or commendable (Mustahabb).


  1. The excellence of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) method of teaching as he attached to the ruling a clarification of the wisdom so the person under obligation, his faith in it can increase, and so the loftiness and perfection of the Sharee’aah can become evident by that.


  1. The apparent reason for the legislation of this washing is an-Nadhaafah (cleanliness). However, the ruling is determined by the circumstances of the majority. Therefore, it is legislated to wash the hand even if someone is sure that his hand is clean (if, for example, it was wrapped in a bag or something similar).

Allah Knows Best



Arousing the Intellects with the Explanation of Umdatul Ahkaam. The Book Of At-Taharaah by Allama Sheikh Salih Ibn Uthaymeen (May Allah have mercy on him). page 22

Tayseer al-Allaam Sharh Umdatul-Ahkaam by Shaykh Abdullah ibn Abdur – Rahmaan Aal Bassaam. Page 12


[i] Saheeh Bukhaari, Volume 1, Book 4, Hadeeth Number 162, p. 147


[ii]  Saheeh Muslim, Volume 1, Book 2, Hadeeth Number 561, p. 368


[iii]  Saheeh Muslim, Volume 1, Book 2, Hadeeth Number 562, p. 368


[iv] Jaami’ at-Tirmithee, Volume 1, Book 1, Hadeeth Number 25, p. 56, Imaam Tirmithee said, “This hadeeth

is Hasan Saheeh.” Classed as Saheeh by Haafiz Aboo Taahir Zubayr „Alee Za‟i;

[v] Ablution is only preferable after waking up from sleep

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