Is Intention Required For Wudhoo’?
The fuqahaa disagreed whether intention is a condition for the validity of ablution, although they had agreed on the stipulation of intention as a condition for worship (ibaadah), because of the words of the Prophet (saw), “Actions are but by their intentions.” [Bukhaaree]
A group of fuqahaa, who are the majority, including Ash-Shaafi’ee, Maalik, The Hanbalee, Hammaad, Aboo Thawr, and Daawood were of the opinion that the intention is a condition.
Another group (the minority) said it is not a condition, and this was the opinion of Aboo Haneefah and Ath-Thawree.
The reason for their disagreement over the term wudhoo’ between being a pure ritual (ibaadah), i.e. not subject to rationalization and intended only for the pleasure of Allaah, like salaah and similar forms of mere ritual worship – and between an ibaadah that can also be rational like washing of dirt.
They did not differ about pure ibaadah being in need of intention, and rational ibaadah not being in need of it.
The Hanafees argued that intention is not a condition because the wudhoo’ is an act to fulfil another act (i.e. salaah). The purpose of wudhoo’ is to allow you to pray, like wearing clothes to cover one’s awrah. So wudhoo’ is something which goes towards a main act, like wearing clothes, no intention is needed for wearing one’s clothes, so likewise no intention is required for wudhoo’
In reply to the arguments raised, it is said that there is a difference between wearing clothes to cover ones awrah (before one prays) and between doing wudhoo before one prays. As the texts regarding wudhoo talk about an act of worship. For example one’s sins being forgiven, there being recommended acts related to wudhoo’, an order is required, there is a du’aa after it etc. So these texts prove that it is an act of worship in and of itself. And this is the opinion of the majority as well as bring the strongest opinion.
[Taken from “The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer” by Ibn Rushd, Pp.3-4, and class notes to “Ar-Raud Al-Murbi’” taught by Shaykh Aboo Rumaysah]