By merely mentioning the name of Allah before any action a barrier is placed between us and the forces of darkness and evil. When our actions are safe from evil and darkness we are ready to travel the path to Allah.
The Prophet ﷺ said that the person who does not mention the name of Allah when performing wudu has no wudu. Most of the scholars took this to mean that is recommended to say ‘bismillah’ when performing wudu, while a few regard it as being compulsory.
It has also been narrated that if someone mentions the name of Allah when performing wudu their whole body will be purified from wrongdoings. If they do not, however, only the places that water reaches will be purified.
The minimum is to say ‘bismillah.’
The most complete formula is:
بِسْمِِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيم
رَبِّ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ هَمَزاتِ الشَّيَاطِينِ وأَعُوذُ بِكَ رَبِّي أَنْ يَحْضُرونِ
الحَمْدُ لِله الَّذِي جَعَلَ الماءَ طَهُوراً
اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ على سَيِّدِنا مُحَمِّدٍ وآلِهِ
‘In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate. My Lord, I seek refuge in You from the insinuations of the devils and I take refuge in You, my Lord, against their approaching me. Praise be to Allah Who made water a means of purification. O Allah, bestow prayers upon our Master Muhammad and his Family.’
A person performing wudu should only remember Allah and not speak to anyone. It has been narrated that the person performing wudu is surrounded by a dome of light, but if he speaks the dome is removed.
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.