بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ إِذَا قُمۡتُمۡ إِلَى ٱلصَّلَوٰةِ فَٱغۡسِلُواْ وُجُوهَكُمۡ وَأَيۡدِيَكُمۡ إِلَى ٱلۡمَرَافِقِ وَٱمۡسَحُواْ بِرُءُوسِكُمۡ وَأَرۡجُلَكُمۡ إِلَى ٱلۡكَعۡبَيۡنِۚ
In this lesson, we are going to explore the famous verse of wuḍu [5:6].
Allah the Exalted begins this verse with the statement يأيها الذين ءامنوا | ‘O you who believe…’ this indicates that whatever is going to follow is a specific directive towards the believers, i.e. the Muslims, those charged with executing the responsibilities as per the Sharī’ah.
Thereafter, He the Exalted says إذا قمتم إلى الصلاة | ‘when you stand for prayer…’ this indicates that the following legal injunction is a condition, and in this case, a condition to the validity of prayer. Here the particle إذا is a ظرف مستقبل | a particle that renders the following verbal sentence into the future, i.e. ‘before’ you stand for prayer; also, it functions as a حرف شرط | a conditional particle, in that it turns the sentence قمتم إلى الصلاة into a condition for the following part of the verse.
The جزاء الشرط أو جواب الشرط | answer to the condition, or the satisfying element which fulfils the condition is facilitated by the فاء رابطة | the connecting fā’ in فاغسلوا, whilst what follows is the actual satisfying element.
The جزاء الشرط begins with a command اغسلوا which is a 2nd person, plural, masculine verb whose application is extended to an audience of both males and females. The subject/doer of the verb is the واو الجماعة | the plural wāw which is indicative of the 2nd person, plural, masculine pronoun كُمْ; meaning ‘you all wash…’. The following word وُجُوْهَـ is the مفعول به | direct object of the verb اغسلوا which is why it is in the نصب | accusative case, and since it is a جمع مكسر | broken plural, it will be in the حكم|ruling of a singular noun, and therefore it’s grammatical expression will be a فتحة|fatḥah. This is followed by the 2nd person, masculine, plural pronoun كُمْ which is attached to the direct object before it, by virtue of إضافة | possession. Thus, اغسلوا وجوهَكم means wash your faces.
The following aspect of the injunction أيديَكم إلى المرافق | ‘your hands till the elbows,’ is عطف|an apposition which is facilitated by the conjunction و before it. Thus, its grammatical حكم|governance will be parallel to that of its superordinate معطوف عليه | the apposed, which in this case is وجوهَكم. Therefore, the grammatical expression of the word أيديَـ will also be a فتحة|fatḥah in the نصب|accusative case and it will also be treated as the مفعول به|direct object of the verb اغسلوا. So, اغسلوا وجوهَكم وأيديَكم إلى المرافق means, ‘wash your faces and your hands till the elbows.’
Thereafter, Allah the Exalted says وامسحوا بِـرءوسِكم | ‘and wipe your heads.’ Here another command has been introduced امسحوا|wipe. The مفعول به|direct object of this verb is رءوس which should have also been in the نصب|accusative case and therefore should have taken a فتحة|fatḥah, however, it is preceded by the حرف جر|genitive preposition بِـ which is a governing agent rendering رءوس into the جر|genitive case, thus, it takes a كسرة|kasrah.
The last aspect of this injunction is وأرجلَكم إلى الكعبين|’and your feet till the ankles.’ A continuous reading of this aspect together with the aspect before it وامسحوا بِـرءوسِكم وأرجلَكم إلى الكعبين|‘and wipe your heads and your feet till the ankles,’ from a distance it may seem to suggest that وأرجلَكم إلى الكعبين is the معطوف|apposition of وامسحوا بِـرءوسِكم, meaning that the directive is to wipe the heads and wipe the feet during wuḍu. However, upon closer inspection, وأرجلَكم إلى الكعبين is the معطوف|apposition of اغسلوا وجوهَكم وأيديَكم إلى المرافق, this is why وأرجلَـ ends with a فتحة|fatḥah. Had it been the معطوف|apposition of وامسحوا بِـرءوسِكم then it would have been read with a كسرة|kasrah like رءوسِ before it. Therefore, وامسحوا بِـرءوسِكم وأرجلَكم إلى الكعبين would collectively be read as, ‘and wipe your heads and wash your feet till the ankles.’
However, some would argue, that diacritical markings and dots were a later development and addition to the مصحف|muṣḥaf of Uthman. Thus, how do we substantiate this point? In a nutshell, the Quran was first and foremost transmitted verbally, which will always take precedence, and most of the canonical readings of the Quran substantiate the فتحة|fatḥah on وأرجلَـ. Furthermore, the hadith literature as well as the early fiqh literature support the washing of the feet not the wiping during wuḍu.
Lastly, the question that arises is, why then has Allah the Exalted revealed the verse in this order? According to the jurists, the order in which the actions of wuḍu are to be performed indicate towards the order being legally graded as sunnah, whilst others have argued that this indicates that the order in which the actions are to be performed is in fact farḍ.
Complete translation: “O you who believe, before you stand for prayer, wash your faces and your hands till the elbows, and wipe your heads and [wash] your feet till the ankles.”
Note: this verse establishes the most fundamental aspects of wuḍu, as farḍ/wājib, whilst the other actions can be substantiated from the hadith and fiqh literature.