The Subtle Ablution

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~ Camille Helminski

O you who have attained to faith!
When you prepare for prayer, wash your face, and your hands and arms up to the elbows,
and pass your wet hands lightly over your head, and wash your feet up to the ankles.
And if you are in a state requiring total ablution, bathe yourselves.[1]
But if you are ill, or are traveling,
or come from satisfying a need of nature, or have been intimate with a woman, and can find no water—
then take pure sand or earth, passing therewith lightly over your face and your hands.
God does not wish to impose any difficulty on you, but wants to make you pure,
and to bestow upon you the full measure of His blessings,
so that you might have cause to be grateful.
And remember the blessings which God has bestowed upon you,
and the covenant by which He bound you to Himself when you said,
“We have heard, and we pay heed.”[2]
And so, remain conscious of God:
truly, God knows well the secrets of hearts.

[5:6–7]

Wudu, the Partial Ablution

Ablution is the ritual washing that opens the way for prayer. “Ablution is the key to prayer.” (Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad) As one cleans the body one is simultaneously, with intention, clearing the inner capacities as well and on the subtlest levels, renewing one’s connection with one’s Sustainer. We strive to as much as possible always be in a state of ablution, so that we might rightfully be continuously in prayer and ever ready for a meeting with our Lord, ready to greet death when it arrives, and better able to participate with gratitude in the gift of this Life.[3]

Declare the intention that one is washing for the purpose of worship and purity, to be in a state of receptivity and clear openness to the Divine Presence.

  1. Wash the hands up to the wrist three times. As one washes one’s hands, one considers how one uses one’s hands, and offers a prayer that they might be used for the Good, for healing, for the sharing of Grace, that they might touch with compassion. One gives gratitude for the capacity of opening and closing of one’s hands, for touch, and the dexterity of fingers, and the Life force enlivening.
  2. Rinse clear the mouth with water three times. As one washes one’s mouth, one considers what enters and goes out from one’s mouth—how do we eat, and how do we speak—and one offers a prayer that one might be guided to accepting the best nourishment to enter through one’s mouth into the sacred vessel of this body, and to be guided in right speech, that all words flowing from this mouth might be of benefit, of kindness and compassion, of Praise for the gifts of the capacity to receive nourishment and to communicate, to share wisdom, to speak from the heart (may the prayer of my tongue be the prayer of my heart), to recite Holy Revelation, to sing songs of Grace, to offer prayer in resonant sound.
  3. Cleanse the nostrils of the nose by sniffing water in and out of them three times. As one washes the nostrils clear, one considers what one breathes—with gratitude for the air that brings us continued life, that purifies our cells, for the capacity to perceive fragrance, which enhances our capacity for taste and the perception of guidance to that which is Beautiful and that which is wholesome and healing for us. And We breathed into him of our Spirit [32:9].
  4. Wash the whole of the face three times with both hands, forehead to chin, encompassing from ear to ear. As we wash our face, we consider how the face is the place of manifestation of individual being, how our faces might shine with awareness of the Life-Giver; as our hands pass over our eyes, we consider what we perceive with these eyes, where do we let our glance rest? And we offer the prayer that these eyes might also see that which is Good and Beautiful and encourage that in this world, within each other, and within our communities, and look for ways to support that all around us, and with insight, within our own hearts.
  5. Wash the right arm three times up to the top of the elbow, and then wash the left arm. As we wash these arms, we consider how much we are able to move and embrace. We offer a prayer to awaken to the renewal of our extended receptivity, of gratitude for the strength given us, in whatever might be our capacity, and the possibility of refreshing the electromagnetic field of our reach. We pray that our movement might be for the Good, in alignment with the best of our being, the truest capacities of our God given nature.
  6. Wipe over the whole head from the hairline of the forehead to the back of the neck once with wet hands. As our hands pass over the crown, we honor also this portal of light, that last place to close over with bone when we arrive in this world, still resonant with subtle energy, and we give thanks for all our capacities and receptivity of mind and the structure that protects it, for the sensitivity of hair and its warming and cooling protection. May this mind, this sensitive brain, be used for good purpose, for recognition of the Beauty and Power of the Divine in everything and the enhancement of benefit and blessing, and support of each other in this amazing universe.
  7. With dampened fingers, wipe the inner side of both the ears with the forefingers and their outer sides with the thumbs. As we refresh our ears, we offer prayer for better hearing of the messages of the Divine through all the sounds of this creation, of the resonances of Revelation, paying attention to what it is to which we listen. And as we wash the outer edges of our ears, we might also open our awareness to the refreshment of all the subtle energy points of the ears that link so perfectly with all the parts of our body.
  8. Wipe around the neck with wet hands, bringing one’s awareness to this sensitive area that contains nerves of conveyance between head and torso and extremities, relaxing any tense energy that may have accumulated there, easing constriction, opening, and giving thanks for all the communication between systems of this body.
  9. Wipe each of your feet up to the ankles, three times, beginning with the right foot. (If shoes and socks or stockings are on and the socks or stockings have been on since last performing the ablution, one may simply wipe the hands over the socks. If it is more than twenty-four hours since the last full ablution, one takes off one’s socks, and again washes the feet fully.) As we wash our feet we consider where it is they have been walking, where we might best be called to walk, and where we are walking now, to prayer. With awareness and intention, we might bring the traversal of these feet always within a place of prayer, carrying that state of prayer with us everywhere. On the Day when we are called to stand in the Presence of God, it is our hands and feet that shall bear witness [24:24]. We remember and give thanks for the gift of these feet, these toes that allow us balance, for the capacity to stand and walk about the spacious earth of our Sustainer, and we pray for the Best Guidance to inform our direction, with the Light of our Beloved, and the most Holy Purity: Ya Hadi, Ya Nur, Ya Quddus.

Ghusl, the Full Ablution

  1. We declare the intention that this cleansing is for the purpose of worship and purity, of greater receptivity and connection with our Sustainer.
  2. We wash the whole body including the nostrils, mouth, and head, and as with the more frequent partial ablution, with gratitude for the capacity of water to refresh us, to renew our electromagnetic field, to purify and awaken us to this moment of Reality.

Tayammum, the Symbolic Ablution

  1. One declares the intention that this washing with sand is for the purpose of worship and purity, of greater receptivity and connection with our Sustainer.
  2. Touch earth, sand, or stone lightly with both hands and then wipe over the face with them once as is done in the partial ablution. This earth itself is sacred and has the capacity to re-ground us in true alignment, in recognition of our true orientation with our Sustainer, in worship, in service, and in love of our fellow human beings and all creatures, to be true khalifas, representatives of the Divine Force, the Divine Inspiration within this magnificent Creation.
  3. Touch earth, sand, or stone lightly with both hands and then wipe over the right arm to the elbow with the left hand and then the left arm with the right hand. We purify and reset our intention and proceed to prayer.

We can recognize that there are many levels of purification of our beingness. As we feel the refreshing quality of the water (or sand), we open to that refreshment and cleansing, both outwardly and inwardly, and within our hearts and subtlest senses and energetic perceptivities, as well, in all the realms of our being, restored to our true nature (fitrah), allowing the light to awaken more and more fully within and all around us:

O children of Adam!
Indeed, We have given you garments to cover your nakedness, and as a thing of beauty;
but the garment of God-consciousness is the best of all.
This is one of God’s messages—that human beings might take it to heart.
[7:26]

“Ablution upon ablution is light upon light.”
~ Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad

Nur ala Nur ala Nur
Ya Quddus

 


 

[1] There are two forms of ablution: the partial ablution (wudu) and the complete ablution, a full bath. There is, also, a symbolic ablution (tayammum), for when no water is available or a person cannot use water due to health issues. One wants to be in a state of purity (outwardly and inwardly) to be ready for prayer or reading the Qur’an, and as best one can, one strives to always be in a state of ablution, pure, and receptive, in harmony of alignment.

Certain conditions nullify this state of purity and one needs to renew it: discharges from the body (urine, stools, gas), the flow of blood or pus from the body, vomiting, falling asleep, becoming intoxicated. These actions or conditions require the refreshment of the full ablution: sexual intercourse, wet dreams, the expiration of a woman’s menstrual period, after childbirth.

[2] It is said that in Pre-Eternity, we were asked by God, “Am I not your Lord?” And we responded: “Yes.” [7:172] And in this world, reminders come to us: The Messenger, and the faithful with him, have faith in what has been revealed to him by his Sustainer: they all have faith in God, and His/Her angels, and His/Her revelations, and His/Her messengers, making no distinction between any of His/Her messengers; and they say: “We have heard, and we pay heed. Grant us Your forgiveness, O our Sustainer, for with You is all journeys’ end!” [2:285]

[3] The faithful are those whose hearts tremble with awe whenever God is mentioned, and whose faith is strengthened whenever His/Her signs are conveyed to them, and who place their trust in their Sustainer—those who are constant in prayer and spend on others out of what We provide for them as sustenance: In truth, these are the faithful! They shall have stations of dignity with their Sustainer, and forgiveness, and a most generous provision. [8:2–4]

 

2018-06-01T13:16:27+00:00