Brief Fiqh Reminders – Woe to (the dry) heels, because of the fire!
In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
“Waylun (Woe) to (the dry) heels, because of Hell-fire”.
This hadeeth teaches us the importance of performing ablution properly and that none of the obligatory acts of ablution is to be abandoned, and this is why a threat of punishment is attached to it. The heels have not been mentioned here specifically because the ruling only applies to them, but rather they are mentioned because in most cases they are not washed properly, especially when a person rushes his ablution. This hadeeth has a story related to it in the Saheeh as follows: Abdullah Bin Amr [rahimahullaahu-anhu] said, “We returned from Mecca to Madeenah with the Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ), and when we came to some water on the way, some of the people were in a hurry at the time of the Asr prayer and performed ablution hurriedly; and when we reached them, their heels were dry, no water had touched them. The Prophet (ﷺ) said with a loud voice, “Woe to (the dry) heels, because of Hell-fire”.
This word ‘Waylun (woe)’ is a word that indicates threat of punishment. It is said that it is a valley in hell and a great punishment. The mention of heels is not specific in relation to the ruling in this affair, rather if one was to leave other parts of the body which should be washed properly, then this threat of punishment also applies. The threat of punishment here is for the person who did not wash his heels properly and a threat of punishment in the hell fire is not issued except due to a major sin. In a hadeeth reported by Imaam Ahmad and Imaam Abu Dawud, the Prophet [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] saw a man on whose heels there was a dry spot, the size of a Dirham; so the prophet commanded him to perform ablution again and repeat his prayer, which shows that Salaah is not accepted if the obligatory acts of ablution are left. This hadeeth necessitates a great benefit regarding the status of Salaah in the religion, because when it is the case that the one who performs ablution, goes to the Masjid and prays in congregation at its prescribed time, but then he falls short in his ablution – even on a small spot on his body- is threatened with punishment, then what about the one who does not even pray or abandons the prayer out of laziness?!
[An Excerpt from explanation of Umdatul Ahkaam by Shaikh Abdur Razzaaq Al-Badr (may Allaah preserve him). Lesson 2]