Wiping the Entire Head or Part of the Head in ablution. A Detailed Analysis

Praise be to Allah,


There is some difference of opinions amongst the noble scholars whether wiping over the entire head is obligatory or wiping part of the head is sufficient in ablution.


Position of Hanafi Madhab:


The prescribed obligation in wiping the head is the extent of the forelock [and that is a quarter of the head] according to what al-Mughīrah ibn Shu‘bah reported, that the Prophet (ﷺ) arrived at the camp of a tribe and he passed water. He then performed wuḍū’ and wiped over the forelock and his khuffs.[i]


“The fourth pillar is to wipe a quarter of the head as the Prophet and grant him peace, wiping the front of his head.’[ii]


This is also the position of ath-Thawree, al-Awzaa‟ee( May Allah have mercy on them).


Position of Sha’fi Madhab:


“To make Masah of some part of the head, even if there is no hair. It will not suffice to make only Masah of long hair follows from the head.”[iii]

The evidence of both the group is the saying of Allah, the Most High: 


وَامسَحوا بِرُءوسِكُم

 “… rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads,…”(Surah al-Maida:6)


They consider the particle (bi) to indicate: „a part of (the head).‟

As for the hadeeth: It was narrated from Ibn Al-Mugheerah, from his father, that the Prophet of Allaah (ﷺ)  wiped over the Khuff, the front of his head and his Imaamah (head covering).”[iv]


Hanbali Madhab:


 “wiping over the entire head once”[v]


Maliki Madhab:

“..Wiping the whole head. Starting from the beginning of the forehead up to the end of the skull.’[vi]


The Hanbalis and the Malikis agree that it is obligatory to wipe the entire head but the Hanafis and the shaf’is by contrast agreed that one is only obliged to wipe part of the head, although wiping the entire head is an emulation of the sunnah. However, while the shafis hold that one must wipe some of the head, however small an area, the Hanafees hold that one must wipe one-fourth of the head, which they deemed to be equivalent to the area of the palm of one’s hand.”[vii]


Quranic evidence and relevant Ahadith:


Allah Says,


يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنوا إِذا قُمتُم إِلَى الصَّلاةِ فَاغسِلوا وُجوهَكُم وَأَيدِيَكُم إِلَى المَرافِقِ وَامسَحوا بِرُءوسِكُم وَأَرجُلَكُم إِلَى الكَعبَينِ ۚ وَإِن كُنتُم جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّروا ۚ وَإِن كُنتُم مَرضىٰ أَو عَلىٰ سَفَرٍ أَو جاءَ أَحَدٌ مِنكُم مِنَ الغائِطِ أَو لامَستُمُ النِّساءَ فَلَم تَجِدوا ماءً فَتَيَمَّموا صَعيدًا طَيِّبًا فَامسَحوا بِوُجوهِكُم وَأَيديكُم مِنهُ ۚ ما يُريدُ اللَّهُ لِيَجعَلَ عَلَيكُم مِن حَرَجٍ وَلٰكِن يُريدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُم وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعمَتَهُ عَلَيكُم لَعَلَّكُم تَشكُرونَ



O you who believe! When you intend to offer As-Salat (the prayer), wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to ankles. If you are in a state of Janaba (i.e. had a sexual discharge), purify yourself (bathe your whole body). But if you are ill or on a journey or any of you comes from answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women (i.e. sexual intercourse) and you find no water, then perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands. Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favour on you that you may be thankful.[viii]


Al-Rubayyi’ daughter of Mu’awwidh b. ‘Afra’ said: I saw the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) performing ablution. He wiped his head front and back, his temples and his ears once”[ix].


Abdullah bin Zaid narrated that:

“Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) wiped over his head with his hands, going over the front with them and the rear. He began with the front of his head until they went to the nape of his neck. Then he brought them back again to the place where he began. Then he washed his feet.”[x]


Al-Rubayyi’ daughter of Mu’awwidh b. ‘Afra’ reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) performed ablution in her presence. He wiped the whole of his head from its upper to the lower part moving every side. He did not move the hair from its original position.’[xi]


Narrated Ar-Rubayyi’ daughter of Mu’awwidh ibn Afra’:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to come to us. He once said: Pour ablution water on me. She then described how the Prophet (ﷺ) performed ablution saying: He washed his hands up to wrist three times and washed his face three times, and rinsed his mouth and snuffed up water once. Then he washed his forearms three times and wiped his head twice beginning from the back of his head, then wiped its front. He wiped his ears outside and inside. Then he washed his feet three times.[xii]

Al-Miqdam b. Ma’dikarib reported :

I saw the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) perform ablution. When he reached the stage of wiping his head, he placed his palms on the front of the head. Then he moved them until he reached the nape. He then returned them to the place from where he had started”[xiii].


Amr b. Yahya al-Mazzini reports on the authority of his father who asked ‘Abd Allah b. Zaid, the grandfather of ‘Amr b. Yahya al-Mazini:

 Can you show me how the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) performed ablution? ‘Abd Allah b. Zaid replied: Yes. He called for ablution water, poured it over his hands, and washed them; then he rinsed his mouth and snuffed up water in the nose three times; then he washed his face three times and washed his forearms up to elbow twice; then he wiped his head with both hands, moving their front and back of the head, beginning from his forehead, and moved them to the nape; then he pulled them back to the place from where he had started (wiping); then he washed his feet.[xiv]

 Babz reported:

This hadith has been narrated by Wuwb on the authority of ‘Amr b. Yahyi with the same chain of transmitters and it has been mentioned therein: He rinsed his mouth. snuffed up water in nostrils and cleaned the nose with three handfuls and wiped his head moving (his hand) in front and then back once. Bahz said: Wuhaib narrated this hadith to me and Wuhaib said: Amr b. Yahya narrated to me this hadith twice[xv].


Based on all the hadith, we can easily conclude that wiping the entire head is obligatory. It is not sufficient to just wipe over part of the head. There are three different ways prophet used to wipe over his head:

1 Wiping all of his head.

2 Wiping over the turban only. Said ‘Amru ibn Umayyah, “I saw the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, wipe over his turban and shoes.” (Related by Ahmad, al-Bukhari and Ibn Majah).

Bilal reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “Wipe over your shoes and head covering.” (Related by Ahmad.)

‘Umar once said, “May Allah not purify the one who does not consider wiping over the turban to be purifying.” Many hadith have been related on this topic by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others. Most of the scholars agree with them.

 3 Wiping over the front portion of the scalp and the turban .Al-Mughirah ibn Shu’bah said that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, made ablution and wiped over the front portion of his scalp, his turban and his socks. (Related by Muslim.) [xvi]


As for the Qur’anic words, “…and wipe over your heads…”, this is ambiguous. We should look into the Sunnah for an explanation of the Quran. The Prophet showed us exactly how it is done. Both wet hands should be placed upon the forehead and slowly brought to the back of the head. The hands are then retraced back to the forehead. As for the phrase,

وَامسَحوا بِرُءوسِكُم in the verse 5:6,

Ibn Qudama says “some of the people who claim that which is ordered to be wiped his part of the head only claim that the “ba” in the words means “part of” as if he had said, “wipe part of your heads”. However, we say that in His saying the “ba” is as if He said regarding tayamum. فَامسَحوا بِوُجو هِكُم ( Allah orders us to wipe our faces).


Therefore they are saying that “ba” means “part of” is incorrect and unknown to the scholars of the language”. Ibn Burhan says, “he who claims that “ba” means part of has declared before the scholars of the language that of which they do not know.”[xvii]

Ashawkanee says in nail-ul-autaar: it is not established that it means “part of” and seebaweeh, one of the foremost scholars of the Arabic language has denied that in 15 places in his book[xviii]. 

Ibn al-Qayyim said: “There is not even one authentic hadeeth indicating that the Prophet sufficed to wipe over a part of the head.”[xix] 


As for the hadith of al- Mugheerah. It is narrated that the Prophet wiped over his forehead only and his turban. The response to this is that the Prophet did not only wipe over his forehead, he completed the rest of his head by wiping over his turban. So this is the proof for us and not against us. 


Therefore, Wiping over the head is obligatory even if it is a single hair, as long as it is part of the head. Allah says, 

وَامسَحوا بِرُءوسِكُم 

“And wipe over your heads .” (Al-Ma’idah 5:6) 


Allah Knows best.




[i] (Muslim, an-Nasā’ī, Aḥmad, Abū Dāwūd, and others). The MUKHTAṢAR AL-QUDŪRĪ, A Manual of Islamic law, According to the Hanafi School, Page 38



[ii] Noor-al-Idaah, The Light of Clarification, Hasan Shurunbulali, A classical manual of Hanafi law. Translated from Arabic by Waseem Charkavi, page 46


[iii] Elements of sha’fi Fiqh, Umar Abdul Jabbar- page10


[iv]  Saheeh Muslim, Volume 1, Book 2, Hadeeth Number 634, p. 397-398


[v] Fiqh of Worship, Vol 1 Commentary on ‘Umdat al-Fiqh (The Reliable Source of Fiqh)

Muwaffaq-ud-Deen, Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi , Commentary and translation by: Dr.Hatem al-Haj, page 61


[vi] Muqaddimah al-Izziyyah lil-Jama’at al-Azhariyyah, A Treatise on Maliki Fiqh For an English Audience by Abu al-Hasan Ali al-Maliki Ash-shadhili Translation/ Notes: by Y.A. Quadri and I.O. Oloyede, page 5


[vii] Islamic Jurisprudence according to the four Sunni schools, Abd-al-Rahman al-jaziri Vol 1, page 78


[viii] THE NOBLE Quran, A translation into modern English language by Dr. Muhammad Taqi ud-Din Al-Hilali, Ph.D. & Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, 5:7


[ix] Grade: Hasan (Al-Albani).Reference: Sunan Abi Dawud 129


[x] Grade: Sahih (Darussalam) Reference: Jami` at-Tirmidhi 32


[xi] Grade: Hasan (Al-Albani) Reference : Sunan Abi Dawud 128


[xii] Abu Dawud said: The tradition narrated by Musaddad carries the same meaning

Grade: Hasan (Al-Albani) Reference : Sunan Abi Dawud 126


[xiii] Grade: Sahih (Al-Albani) Reference : Sunan Abi Dawud 122


[xiv] Grade: Sahih (Al-Albani) Reference: Sunan Abi Dawud 118


[xv] Reference : Sahih Muslim 235d


[xvi] Fiqh Us Sunnah, Author, Sayyid Saabiq, Vol-1, page 19


[xvii] Al-Mughni 1/112


[xviii] Nail-ul-autaar- 1/193, Description of prophets Wudu, translated into English by Dawood Burbank, page 11



[xix] Tayseer al-Allaam Sharh Umdatul-Ahkaam” by Shaykh Abdullah ibn Abdur – Rahmaan Aal Bassaam, PDF, Page 22


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