Ruling on washing hands upon getting up
Fatwa No: 36103

  • Fatwa Date:23-1-2014 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 22, 1435
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Question

The Messenger, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, forbade the one who wakes up to put his hand in the water container unless he washes it three times. Is such a forbiddance obligatory or just recommended? What is the evidence?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Whoever gets up after sleeping, let him not put his hand in the water container until he washes them thrice, for he does not know where his hands rested at night.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Scholars of Fiqh differed in opinions about the ruling of washing the hands before putting them in the water container once the person wakes up. The majority are of the view that it is recommended, not obligatory. The Hanbali scholars said that it is obligatory, making it exclusive to sleeping at night since it conforms to the wording of the Hadeeth “rested at night”. In his book Al-Mughni, Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

Washing hands at the beginning of Wudhoo’ (ablution) is recommended in general, whether one wakes up from sleeping or not. It is not obligatory if one is awake, with no dissenting voice in this regard. After getting up from sleep at night, its obligation is disputable. It is obligatory according to Ahmad, and this was apparently known from him and approved by Abu Bakr. It is also the opinion of Ibn ‘Umar, Abu Hurayrah and Al-Hasan Al-Basri, based on the Hadeeth where the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "Whoever gets up after sleeping, let him not put his hand in the water container until he washes it thrice, for he does not know where his hands rested at night." The wording of another narration reads: "…let him not dip his hand in (the water for) his Wudhoo’ until he washes it three times." [Muslim] The Prophet's command is an obligation, and his order not to do something is a prohibition. Nevertheless, it is said to be recommended, not obligatory. This is an opinion adopted by ‘Ataa’, Maalik, Al-Awzaa‘i, Ash-Shaafi‘i, Is-haaq and the Hanafi scholars as well as Ibn Al-Munthir. That is because Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {When you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces.} [Quran 5: 6]

Commenting on the verse, Zayd ibn Aslam said: “It means when you wake up, since it is implicitly included in the verse, and the order is to perform Wudhoo’ without commencing it with washing the palms. In brief, the Hadeeth indicates that it is recommended since the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) mentioned the reason behind washing them, namely, “For he does not know where his hands rested at night.” The existence of doubt, however, does not affect the original state of purification, similarly as if one is certain about his Wudhoo’ and is doubtful that it has been invalidated. This indicates that recommendation is intended here.

Allaah Knows best.

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