Wudhu is an obligatory act in Islam, especially when a Muslim is about to perform Salah. Wudhu mean washing specific parts of the body to purify them from dirt and najs. The cleaning involved several parts of the body such as hands, mouth, arms, nostrils, head, and feet with clean water, or in case there are no waters around, a Muslim may use the dust (tayamoom).
Regarding the certain body parts to be cleaned while doing wudhu, one of them is washing the back of the neck. While many Muslims do it, many others said there is no valid proof that washing the neck is necessary.
So what is the law of washing neck when wudhu in Islam? From different views, opinions, and schools in Islam, here are the explanation of the law.
- No Valid Proof of It
The claim that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to wash his neck during wudhu considered invalid since there are no saheeh report regarding that matter. Among many hadith that described the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) doing wudhu when he was alive, none of them ever mention that he wash his neck as well. Also read Law of Holding Quran without Wudu
- It is Not Mustahhab
Many Islamic scholars and major Islamic schools such as Shafa’i and Maliki did not agreed that the law of washing neck when wudhu is mustahhab or preferable. Means that a Muslim better not doing it.
- According to a Report, It is Mustahhab
As there are various view regarding this, another report said that it is mustahhab. There were a weak hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah as the base of this opinion. Also read Akhlaq of Prophet Muhammad
“He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) wiped his head until he reached the back of his head (which is the beginning of the back of the head).” (Abu Dawood)
- Washing Neck Doesn’t Validate Wudu
As the reports was weak and no other proof to support it, washing neck is not something mandatory to be done in wudhu. Whether a Muslim wash his neck or not, his wudhu is still considered valid.
- Some Considered As Sunnah
Another view in Islam suggested that washing neck is Sunnah since the act is cleaning. It is according to Al Nawawi, it is sunnah to wipe the neck with new water. Also read Importance of Sunnah in Muslim Life
- Wiping Neck is Protection from Ghull
Imam Al Ghazali also said that washing the neck during wudhu is also sunnah, since it’s a protection from ghull or chain. There are no hadith about this matter, but a Quranic verse did proof that iron chain was tied to the neck of the disbelievers.
“They are those who disbelieved in their Lord! They are those who will have iron chains (al-aghlaal) tying their hands to their necks.” (13:5)
Contradiction of the Law of Washing Neck When Wudhu in Islam
Here are some opinions that contradicts the law of washing neck when doing wudhu:
- Mustahhab is Not Sunnah
While some Islamic scholars and major schools suggested that the law of washing neck is mustahhab, however, it’s different with sunnah. There are three different views in this. The first is what mentioned above. The third is to wash the neck using the same water that used to wash the head and the ear. While the fourth opinion said that neither of the two was mentioned in hadith, as well as the Holy Quran. Also read Effects of not Praying in Islam
- Unproven Matters Could Lead to Wrong Direction
“Whoever does any action that is not in accordance with this matter of ours will have it rejected.” (Muslim)
Through the hadith above, the Prophet (peace be upon him) had tried to warn us the danger of following the action from groundless and invalid sources. Firstly, anything come out of it will be rejected and secondly, it may leads Muslims to the wrong direction.
- Weak Hadith Should Not be a Proof
There are too little reliable sources whether washing neck in wudhu is necessary or not. On top of that, all those resources are weak hadith and narrations. The scholarly consensus had agreed that hadith narrated from Talhah ibn Musarraf which said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) wipe his head until the back of his neck is one of them. Also read The Importance of Hadith in Islam
- Washing Neck is Not Mentioned in the Holy Quran
“…When you rise to offer the Salah, you must wash your faces and hands and your arms up to the elbows, and wipe your head with wet hands and wash your feet up to the ankles…” (5:6)
Wudhu is an act that indeed written in the Holy Quran. The verse above also define one by one which part should be washed by the water. However, neck is not mentioned in the verse which made it not mandatory.
- It is Not Accepted by Islamic Major Schools
There are four major schools in Islam: Hanafi, Maliki, Hanbali, and Shafe’i. Those major schools are all not accepting that washing the neck when wudhu is not mandatory. And regarding the hadith mentioning about it, they are also not accepted as authentic. Also read Law of Equality in Islam
- It’s Never Truly Proven the Prophet Had Done It
All the weak reference and base about washing the neck when doing wudhu only never truly proven that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had done it in the past when he was doing wudhu. If the Prophet (peace be upon him) had truly done it, then there must be number of narrations from shahabah mentioning about the habit.
After reading the explanation above, it is clear that the law of washing neck when wudhu in Islam cannot be regarded as mandatory. In fact, Muslims were given the choice whether to wash their neck when wudhu or not, since it won’t validate or invalidate the act. And the most important thing is not believing groundless source that may lead to the wrong direction of our religion. Amiin.