The word “wudu” has the meaning of beauty, light and cleanliness. When you perform wudu, the water washes away your sins. Wudu, prayer, gatherings of knowledge, certain adhkar and giving charity all wipe out different types of wrongdoings. We should thus try to perform different actions so that all our wrongdoings are wiped out.
The previous nations and prophets had wudu, although the method may have differed slightly from our wudu. What is unique to this Ummah, however is that on the Day of Judgement its members will be distinguished from other nations by light on their faces and limbs from the traces of wudu.
Those who always extend the washing of their limbs will have constant light on the Day of Judgement. Those who sometimes do so will have light that appears and disappears. This is our opportunity in this life to gain that light.
To extend washing the face means washing above the hairline, washing the ears and washing the neck. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever is able to wash his face more should do so.”
To extend washing the arms means washing above the elbow half way up to the shoulder or beyond. To extend washing the feet means washing above the ankle half way up the shin or beyond. When he made wudu, Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah would wash his arms up to the shoulders and his legs right up his shins.
Extracts from Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz‘s classes on the rulings and etiquettes of purification from Habib Abdullah bin Husayn Balfaqih’s “Kifayat al-Raghib” in Shafi fiqh.