I found the following article by Shaykh Salman Oudah (hafithahullah) really informative on the entitled issue. Enjoy 🙂
Humrân relates that `Uthman asked for water to perform wudû’. He then washed his hands three times. Then he rinsed his mouth and inhaled and exhaled water. Then he washed his face three times. Then he washed his right forearm to the elbow three times, then the left as well. Then he wiped upon his head. Then he washed his right foot to the ankles three times, then the left as well. Then he said: “I saw Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) perform wudû’ just like this wudû’ of mine.”
It is an authentic hadîth related by al-Bukhârî and Muslim, among others.
Its legal implications:
This hadith, as mentioned by al-Nawawî and others, is one of the primary texts describing how wudû’ is to be carried out. It gives a comprehensive exposition of all the body parts that it is obligatory to wash or wipe over while performing wudû’. This hadith, therefore, comprehends many important questions of Islamic Law pertaining to the performance of this act of ritual purification. We shall discuss one of these: the question of whether rinsing the mouth and inhaling water into the nostrils is an obligatory act of wudû’. There are four opinions on the matter.
The first opinion is that these two acts are obligatory for wudû’ (ritual ablutions) as well as for ghusl (a full ritual bath). This was one of the opinions expressed by `Atâ’ b. Rabâh and al-Zuhrî as well as the opinion of Ibn al-Mubârak, Hammâd, Ibn Abî Laylâ, and Ishâq. It is also one of the opinions that have been related from Ahmad b. Hanbal.
The evidence that they cite to support this view is as follows:
1. Allah says: “O you who believe! When you rise to perform your prayers, wash your faces…” [ Sûrah al-Mâ’idah : 6]
They argue that the nose and mouth are part of the face; therefore it is obligatory to wash them since this verse orders us to wash our faces. Likewise, the practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he performed his wudû’ clarifies for us that Allah’s intended meaning when he commands us to wash our faces is to rinse the mouth and the nose as well as to wash the rest of the face.
2. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When one of you performs wudû’, he should take water into his nose and then exhale it…” [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim ]
This hadith is used as evidence that inhaling water into the nostrils is obligatory during wudû’, since the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered us to do it. This line of evidence also indicates that exhaling the water is equally obligatory. Ibn Qudâmah’s discussion in the Hanbalî law book al-Mughnî indicates that this is indeed the case; that the obligation of inhaling water into the nostrils during wudû’ is not fulfilled unless that water is exhaled as well.
Likewise, the Mâlikî scholar Ibn `Abd al-Barr, writes in al-Tamhîd (4/33):
As for exhaling and inhaling water into the nostrils, they are basically the same in meaning. Inhalation requires taking water into the nasal cavity while exhalation requires expelling it out of the nasal cavity after taking it in. This is the literal meaning of the two words… However, most scholars suffice by mentioning only one of these two words, though both are related to us from the Prophet (peace be upon him).
3. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Perform wudû’ well, run your fingers between each other, and exaggerate in inhaling water unless you are fasting.” [ Sunan Abî Dâwûd , Sunan al-Nasâ’î , Sunan al-Tirmidhî , Sunan Ibn Mâjah , and Sunan al-Bayhaqî ] It is an authentic hadîth.
The fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded us to exaggerate in inhaling water into our nostrils when we are not fasting indicates that even when we are fasting, we should inhale water without exaggeration. Therefore, this gives an indication of the obligatory nature of the act.
In the narration of this hadith found in Sunan Abî Dâwûd and Sunan al-Bayhaqî , it is mentioned that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When you perform wudû’, rinse your mouth.” The chain of transmission for the narration of this hadith containing this addition has been authenticated by Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalânî and al-Nawawî. Ibn Muflih and al-Dhahabî have both said: “Its chain of transmission is good.”
In another narration, it reads: “When you perform wudû’, exaggerate in rinsing the mouth and in inhaling water unless you are fasting.” [Related by al-Dûlâbî, who declares it to be authentic] This narration is evidence that rinsing the mouth is also obligatory.
4. There is a hadith attributed to Abû Hurayrah that reads: “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) ordered the rinsing of the mouth and the inhalation of water into the nostrils.” [ Sunan al-Bayhaqî and Sunan al-Dâraqutnî ]
Both al-Bayhaqî and al-Dâraqutnî relate this hadith by way of the narrator Hadbab b. Khâlid. After studying the various chains of transmission for this hadith, they both come to the conclusion that the hadith is correctly related directly from the Successor Abû `Ammâr without mention of Abû Hurayrah or any other Companion in its chain of transmission, and that all chains of transmission for this hadith that indicate the name of a Companion are weak.
5. The Prophet (peace be upon him) had always made sure to rinse his mouth and inhale water into his nostrils when he performed wudû’. This is what is conveyed to us by all the Companions who took care to observe his wudû’, like `Uthmân, `Alî, `Abd Allah b. `Amr b. al-`As, Abû Hurayrah, `A’ishah, al-Rabî`, `Abd Allah b. Zayd b. `Asim, al-Miqdâm b. Ma`d Yakrib, Ibn `Abbâs, Wâ’il b. Hajar, and Mu`âwiyah. In fact, more than twenty-two Companions have described the Prophet’s wudû’, and not one of them has ever failed to mention that he rinse his mouth and inhale water into his nostrils. Ibn Qudâmah points out in al-Mughnî that this is the case even when the Prophet (peace be upon him) shortened his wudû’ to its bare essentials, performing each act only once instead of thrice. This point has also been mentioned by Ibn Taymiyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, and al-Shawkânî.
Ibn `Abd al-Barr writes in al-Istidhkâr (2/13):
Not one single person has preserved for us from the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he ever left out rinsing his mouth or inhaling water into his nostrils from either his wudû’ or from his ghusl, and he is the one who makes clear Allah’s intended meaning.
Admittedly, the mere practice of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him), however much he may repeat it, is not an indication of it being obligatory, unless there is other evidence to support its being so. This is a well-known principle of jurisprudence. However, Ibn Qudâmah points out:
It is because this action of his is suitable for being an explanation depicting in detail the wudû’ that is prescribed in Allah’s Book, since they (i.e. the mouth and nose) are two features of the face that are not difficult to wash.
The second opinion is that rinsing the mouth and inhaling water into the nostrils are Sunnah acts of both wudû’ and ghusl. This is according to the schools of thought of Mâlik, al-Shâfi`î, al-Awzâ`î, Layth b. Sa`d, and al-Tabarî. It is one of the opinions that have been related from al-Hasan al-Basrî and al-Zuhrî. It is also the view of al-Hakam b. `Utaybah, Yahyâ b. Sa`îd al-Ansârî, Qatâdah, and Rabî`ah. It is the view that `Atâ’ b. Rabâh settled upon.
Ibn Shidâd states that this is the opinion of the majority of scholars. Al-Shâfi`î mistook it to be a matter of juristic consensus, and for that reason he refrained from saying that inhaling water into the nostrils is an obligatory act of wudû’.
The evidence that they cite to support this view is as follows:
1. It is related from `A’ishah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Ten are from the natural way: trimming the moustache, leaving the beard, brushing the teeth, inhaling water into the nostrils, clipping the nails, washing the finger joints, plucking the armpits, shaving the pubic region, cleaning the private area after relieving oneself…” – Mus`ab, a narrator of the hadith, then says: “I forgot what the tenth was, unless it was rinsing the mouth.” [ Sahîh Muslim , Sunan Abî Dâwûd , Sunan al-Tirmidhî , Sunan al-Nasâ’î , and Sunan Ibn Mâjah ]
This hadith, however, does not indicate anything about whether or not these two acts of wudû’ are obligatory. The statement “from the natural way” does not imply that all of the acts mentioned in the hadith are merely Sunnah acts. Some of the acts mentioned, like leaving the beard to grow, are certainly obligatory.
There is a single narration of this hadith related by Abû `Awânah that starts with the phrase “Ten are from the Sunnah…” The Shâfi`î jurist al-Râfi`î [ Fath al-`Azîz (1/397)] uses this narration as evidence that these acts are Sunnah and not obligatory. However, even if were to accept this narration as authentic, this line of evidence does not hold up. What is meant by the word “ sunnah ” in this context is its linguistic meaning: “a way of conduct”, and not its legal, juristic meaning.
2. It is related that Ibn `Abbâs attributed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that: “Rinsing the mouth and inhaling water into the nostrils is Sunnah.” [ Sunan al-Dâraqutnî ]
However, this hadîth is weak. Al-Dâraqutnî says about its chain of transmission: “Ismâ`îl b. Muslim is a weak narrator.” Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalânî and Ibn al-Jawzî also declare the hadith to be weak.”
Even if this hadith had not been weak, the word “ sunnah ” would be understood on its linguistic meaning and not its legal one.
3. Allah says: “O you who believe! When you rise to perform your prayers, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe upon your heads and wash your feet to the ankles.” [ Sûrah al-Mâ’idah : 6]
The argument here is that this verse which describes how to perform wudû’ makes no mention of rinsing the mouth or inhaling water into the nostrils. They further argue that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked about how to perform wudû’, he referred to this verse.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to the one who performed his prayer poorly: “Then perform wudû’ as Allah Almighty has ordered you to…” [ Sunan Abî Dâwûd , Sunan al-Nasâ’î , Sunan al-Tirmidhî , Sunan Ibn Mâjah , Sahîh Ibn Khuzaymah , Sahîh Ibn Hibbân , and Mustadrak al-Hâkim ]
This hadîth has been authenticated by al-Tirmidhî, Ibn Khuzaymah, Ibn Hibbân, and al-Hâkim.
However, there are two objections to using this hadîth as evidence that rinsing the mouth and inhaling water into the nostrils are not obligatory:
The first is that the indication made by the Prophet (peace be upon him) was not intended for the Qur’ân alone, but it also covered whatever comes by way of the Prophet (peace be upon him), since both are revelation from Allah.
The second objection that can be made is that the nose and mouth are included in the command given by the verse, in consideration of the fact that the nose and mouth are part of the face, just like the cheeks and the forehead are, though they are also not given specific mention in the verse.
The third opinion is that these two acts are obligatory when performing ghusl to remove major ritual impurity while they are merely Sunnah acts of wudû’. This is according to the schools of thought of Abû Hanîfah and al-Thawrî. It has also been attributed to al-Hasan al-Basrî. Al-Tahâwî attributes it to al-Layth b. Sa`d.
They cite the following evidence to support the view that rinsing the mouth and nose are obligatory for the performance of ghusl:
1. It is attributed to Abû Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Major ritual impurity is found under every hair, so wet the hair and cleanse the skin surface. [ Sunan Abî Dâwûd , Sunan al-Tirmidhî , and Sunan Ibn Mâjah ]
They argue that in the mouth there is skin surface and in the nose there is hair. Therefore, these places must be washed when performing ghusl on account of major ritual impurity.
However, this hadith is rejected ( munkar ), as stated by Abû Dawûd and Ibn Abî Hâtim. It was also declared weak by al-Tirmidhî, al-Shâfi’î, al-Bayhaqî, al-Dâraqutnî, al-Khattâbî, Ibn Hajar, and others. Al-Bayhaqî also quotes al-Bukhâri as declaring the hadith to be rejected.
Moreover, as al-Khattâbî and others point out, the term for skin used in the hadith ( basharah ) applies linguistically to the outer skin surface of the body – the epidermis – that can be seen by onlookers. The membranes that are found on the insides of the mouth and nose are referred to as the adamah .
2. It is related in a narration going back to `Alî that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever leaves out the place of a single hair during his ghusl to remove major ritual impurity, it will experience such-and-such from the Fire.”
`Alî then added: “Therefore, I wash over my head three times.” `Alî also used to shave his hair. [ Sunan Abî Dâwûd , Sunan Ibn Mâjah , Musnad Ahmad , Sunan al-Dârimî , Sunan al-Bayhaqî , al-Mu`jam al-Saghîr , and others]
The argument given is that the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave a grave warning to those who even fail to wash a single hair while performing ghusl. This, therefore shows the obligation of washing the nose and mouth during ghusl.
The chain of transmission for this hadith contains Hammâd b. Salamah relating from `Atâ’ b. al-Sâlim relating from Zâdân who in turn relates it from `Alî.
The problem is that `Atâ’ – though he is a reliable narrator – exhibited some confusion during the final years of his life. This means that whatever was narrated from him during his early years would be authentic while that which was narrated from him during the final years of his life would be weak.
Due to the fact that Hammâd b. Salamah related hadith from Atâ’ both in his early years and at the end of his life, a number of hadith scholars declared this hadith to be weak. It is possible that hammâd heard this hadith from `Atâ’ near the end of his life.
Moreover, the vast majority of other narrators who relate this hadîth relate it as a statement of `Alî and not as a statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Ibn Hajar discusses this hadith and says: “It has been said that this is correctly a statement of `Alî.” [ al-Talkhîs al-Habîr (1/150)]
3. “Clean earth may be used for a Muslim’s purification even if he does not find water for ten years. Then if he finds water, he should wash with it the surface of his skin.” [ Sunan Abî Dâwûd , Sunan al-Tirmidhî , Sunan al-Nasâ’î , Musnad Ahmad , Musannaf Ibn Abî Shaybah , Musannaf `Abd al-Razzâq , Sunan al-Dâraqutnî , Sunan al-Bayhaqî , Sahîh Ibn Hibbân , and Mustadrak al-Hâkim ]
This hadith was deemed authentic by a number of scholars, including al-Tirmidhî, al-Hâkim, al-Nawawî, and Ibn Daqîq al-`Id.
However, one of the narrators in its chain of transmission is `Amr b. Bajdân al-Amirî, who is unknown. Al-Dhahabî discusses this hadîth in Mîzân al-I`tidal (3.247) saying: “Al-Tirmidhî declares it as good but does not go so far to say it is authentic, on account of the state of `Amr…`Amr has been deeded as reliable in spite of his unknown status.”
A number of scholars have declared this hadith to be weak, including al-Dâraqutnî, `Abd al-Haqq al-Ishbîlî, al-Qattân, and Ibn Rajab.
In any event, what al-Khattâbî says about the term basharah in the other hadîth – that it refers only to what can be seen of the skin and that the term adamah refers to the lining of the mouth and nose – is equally applicable here.
4. Abû Hanîfah relates that it was Ibn `Abbâs’s view that anyone in a state of major ritual impurity who forgets to rinse his mouth while performing ghusl has to perform a separate wudû’.
This was not only the view of Ibn `Abbâs but also the opinion of a number of jurists, including Sufyân al-Thawrî. It is one of the views that was expressed by al-Hasan al-Basrî.
However, this is a question of conflicting opinions. Many others disagreed with Ibn `Abbâs on this matter.
Moreover, the chain of transmission attributing this view to Ibn `Abbâs is not reliable, since it contains `A’ishah bint `Ajrad, who is unknown. On this basis Ibn al-Mundhir declared the narration to be defective. [ al-Awsat (1/379)]
Al-Dâraqutnî observes: “`A’ishah bint `Ajrad has no other hadith but this one, and “`A’ishah bint `Ajrad is not one who’s narrations can be used to establish evidence.” [ Sunan al-Dâraqutnî (1/115)]
Regardless of whether or not this opinion can be authentically attributed to Ibn `Abbâs, it remains no more than his personal opinion on the matter and cannot stand as evidence.
The fourth opinion is that inhaling water into the nostrils is obligatory for both wudû’ and ghusl, while rinsing the mouth is merely a Sunnah act for both. This is the other opinion related from Ahmad b. Hanbal. It is also the view of Abû `Ubayd, Abû Thawr, and some adherents of the Zâhirî school of thought. It is also the preferred opinion of Ibn al-Mundhîr.
The proponents of this view simply argue that the textual evidence for inhaling water into the nostrils is clearer and more emphatic. Some go so far as to claim that there is no textual evidence commanding us to rinse our mouths as there is commanding us to inhale and exhale water from our nostrils. However, as we have previously mentioned, there is an authentic hadîth related in Sunan Abî Dâwûd and Sunan al-Bayhaqî where the prophet (peace be upon him) commands the rinsing of the mouth during wudû’.
In summary , the four opinions on this matter are as follows:
Both are obligatory for the proper performance of both wudû’ and ghusl.
Both are Sunnah when performing both wudû’ and ghusl.
Both are obligatory for the proper performance of ghusl but not for wudû’.
Inhaling water into the nostrils is obligatory for the proper performance both wudû’ and ghusl, while rinsing the mouth is Sunnah.
I have never come across anyone who says that these actions are obligatory for wudû’ but not for ghusl. The reason for this is that if these actions are necessary to remove a person from a state of minor ritual impurity, it follows that they will be necessary to remove a person from a state of major ritual impurity.
Likewise, I have never come across anyone who holds the view that rinsing the mouth is obligatory without considering the inhalation of water into the nostrils as being obligatory as well. This makes sense, because, as Ahmad b. Hanbal correctly points out, the textual evidence establishing the practice of inhaling water into the nostrils is stronger and more emphatic than the textual evidence for rinsing the mouth.
The safest of these four opinions to follow is the first; that it is obligatory to rinse the mouth as well as to inhale and exhale water through the nostrils. This is in consideration that both were part of the constant practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him), as related to us by a good number of people of knowledge. We can quite easily say that the practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in this regard is a clarification of the general instructions given to us in the Qur’ân.
Moreover, anything that the Prophet (peace be upon him) commands us to do is to be taken as an obligation in the absence of textual or contextual indicators to the contrary.
The fact that the general texts describing the performance of ghusl do not make specific mention of these two activities is not evidence for their not being obligatory. It is not necessary for all obligations to be mentioned together in the same texts. Whenever a command is given in the absence of contrary indicators, it is to be taken as an obligation. This is the sure way to preserve the religion and to stay clear of error. And Allah knows best.
Some benefits of this hadith:
This hadith provides us with numerous benefits regarding the performance of wudû’, among which are the following:
1. This hadith gives a comprehensive and detailed description of how wudû’ is to be performed.
2. It establishes that it is preferable for a person to wash his hands before performing wudû’.
3. It establishes the practice of washing each of the limbs three times.
4. It establishes the washing of the right arm before the left arm and the right foot before the left foot.
5. The hadith also shows us the value of using practical demonstrations when imparting knowledge to others. When `Uthmân wanted to teach someone how to perform wudû’, he called for water and performed wudû’ in that person’s presence. Then he said: “I saw Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) perform wudû’ just like this wudû’ of mine.”
This way of giving instruction leaves a clearer, stronger, and more lasting impression upon the learners than a mere verbal explanation. This is because this approach involves the student’s sense of sight as well as his sense of hearing while compelling the student to be more alert and focused on what he is learning.