Washing hands before placing them in the water after waking up

In the name of Allah,


Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) 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]. Click here for commentary on this hadith. 


The scholars differed as to whether this washing of the hands upon awakening from sleep is wajib (obligatory) or mustahabb (commendable or recommended). Noble scholars also disagree on whether this washing applies upon waking from night sleep or throughout the day.


Ibn Hajar said: Although this hadith apparently seems to be related to the utensils of the ablution, it includes all other utensils and bathing water containers. However, if there is a big pool of tank of water then it is permissible to immerse hands into it. This is applicable whether one awakens from sleep during the night or day. However, Ahmed views it to be obligatory upon awakening from the sleep of the night. [ii]


The al-Imaam Ahmad madh-hab holds that it is required (wajib), as indicated by the hadeeth’s apparent meaning. In the Hanbali madhab, people must wash their hands three times after deep sleep at night. Sleep during the day does not necessitate hand washing. They assert that it is solely a religious act, in which case there is no need for Qiyaas (comparison) between day and night.  This is true even if someone sleeps for a long time during the day since that doesn’t happen very often. As a general rule, the rules and laws are based on the most prevalent scenario. The hadeeth appears to speak to night sleep. Click here to know their supporting evidence.

Sheikh Salih Al Fawzaan also favors this opinion. He said:

“This was an order of the Prophet; therefore, this action is mandatory. The rest of the time, it is only recommended that one washes his hands before wudhu.[iii]


The majority also support the claim that it is sunnah and not obligatory on the basis of the verse of the Quran: (what means): {When you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces.} [Quran 5: 6]

The instructions say to perform Wudhoo by washing your face first, not your hands.


Imam An Nawawi said: that the overwhelming majority of scholars of old and recent days agree that the instruction is one of discouragement and not prohibition. If a person does not observe this and dips his hands into the water before washing it, the water is not considered impure and the person has not committed any sin. Those who say that water becomes impure in such a case is a weak view. This is because the original state of water and a person’s hand is that both are pure. They cannot be ruled impure on the basis of doubt as confirmed by Islamic principles.[iv]



May Allah’s peace and blessings be on the last and final prophet



[i] Bukhari 162

[ii] [Bulugh al-Maram – Collection of hadith by al-Hafidh ibn Hajar al-Asqalani. With brief notes from the book Subul-us-Salam written by: Muhammad bin Ismail Al-Sanani.  English Publication- Hadith 35. Page 30 Darus-salam Publishers.

[iii] A Commentary on Zad al-Mustaqni’, the Book of Purification, Salih al-Fawzan, page 84]

[iv] Sahih Muslim (Volume 3): With the Full Commentary by Imam Nawawi (Al-Minhaj bi Sharh Sahih Muslim), Translated by Adil Salahi, page 156


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