Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher
Washing one’s hands at the beginning of one’s ablution is recommended. At the same time, washing the arms from the fingertips to the elbows is an integral of the ablution. Is the latter still completely needed if the former recommended measure is observed? In other words, can one wash from the wrists to the elbows when it comes to washing the arms, or must one still wash from the fingertips even if one has already washed one’s hands at the beginning of the ablution?
Q2.Does the hand have to be washed with its accompanying forearm, or can they be washed separately? In other words, can we wash both hands and then proceed to wash both forearms until the elbow, or is it better to wash the right hand and then the right forearm to the elbow and repeat for left?
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
A1. Washing the hands to the wrists at the beginning of one’s wudu does not relieve one from the obligation of washing the hands after washing the face. This is because one of the integrals of wudu is to wash all the limbs in their proper order (see Reliance, e5.1). This means that the integral of washing the arms cannot be fulfilled until one first fulfils the integral of washing the face. Similarly, the integral of wiping the head cannot be fulfilled until one first fulfils the integral of washing the arms, and the integral of washing the feet cannot be fulfilled until one first fulfils the integral of wiping the head.
A2. When washing one’s arms and feet one should wash the right limb before the left (see Reliance, e5.15). However, this is a recommended (sunna) measure and leaving it out does not affect the validity of one’s wudu (Bushra’l-Kareem, 1.26). As such, if one washed both hands before both forearms, one’s wudu would be valid, provided one did this after washing the face. The optimal way to perform the wudu would be to wash the right arm completely, from fingertip to elbow, and then to wash the left arm completely, from fingertip to elbow.
And Allah knows best.