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In Sahih Al Bukhari there are three ahadith that follow one another. Each of them states a different number of times that ablution should be performed as follows:

Volume 1, Book 4, Number 159

The Prophet performed ablution by washing the body parts only once.

Volume 1, Book 4, Number 160

The Prophet performed ablution by washing the body parts twice.

Volume 1, Book 4, Number 161

(the slave of 'Uthman) I saw 'Uthman bin 'Affan asking for a tumbler of water (and when it was brought) he poured water over his hands and washed them thrice and then put his right hand in the water container and rinsed his mouth, washed his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out. then he washed his face and forearrlns up to the elbows thrice, passed his wet hands over his head and washed his feet up to the ankles thrice. Then he said, "Allah's Apostle said 'If anyone Performs ablution like that of mine and offers a two-rak'at prayer during which he does not think of anything else (not related to the present prayer) then his past sins will be forgiven.' "...

Do these ahadith contradict or is there abrogation here?

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There is no contradiction, you are simply misreading what the hadith are saying.

Of the three, the only one that actually claims how the ablution "should" be performed is the third one. And that simply states that it be "like that of mine", not necessarily "exactly like this one I'm doing right now".

The first two make no such claim, they simply state that the prophet was also witnessed performing the ablution a different number of times on those two occasions.

Insofar as all three reports are considered authentic, the common interpretation is that this indicates that the prophet's ablution did not fix the number of times of washing. You can wash once, twice or three times, and your wudu would still be considered valid.

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  • thanks for this. My 'misreading' was based on the (perhaps false) assumption that if the hadith were written in order to provide people with the example of what should be done via descriptions of Muhammad's actions, then three examples could potentially be confusing. If there are no fixed times to wash and one is considered valid, are there occasions when one might wash more than once or even three times? Feb 20 at 16:18

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