Alsadiqin English Alsadiqin English

Washing hands, feet, face; rinsing mouth before prayer (רחיצת רגליים וידיים) Hebrew Rechitzah, Arabic Wudu

The Talmud requires a person to wash his hands before prayer. A person must wash his hands to the wrists before prayer. Therefore, even though he washed his hands in the morning, if his hands touched a place of filth - i.e., a portion of the body which is sweaty and usually covered: he scratched his head, or in the morning, he did not wash them until the wrists - he must wash them again before prayer. (Sotah 39a). The custom is to wash the right hand three times, and then the left hand three times. In addition, the Shulchan Aruch requires that the face be washed and the mouth rinsed upon rising.

Thus with minor differences, the Rabbinic and Islamic custom of washing before prayer parallel each other. The 33rd point of customs recommend by the Sages of Safed include “Some people go to the Mikveh [every morning]. . . a zealous man was asked: why are the prayers of the Jewish People not answered? He answered: because the Jewish People pray without first going to the Mikveh.”

It is reasonable to conclude that these washings correspond to washings performed in the Temple, both by the Priests and the worshipers. It is has been suggested that washing three times corresponds to the three gates that need to be entered to bring a sacrifice for offering. Thus a Muslim today, washing his hands three times, is doing it in remembrance of the Temple of Solomon.