Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn (d. 1421 AH) said:
The scholars have differed concerning whether or not touching one’s penis or anus invalidate wuḍūʾ or not? There are several opinions in this matter:
1. Touching One’s Genitals Invalidates Wuḍūʿ
The position of the Ḥanbalī madh`hab which is that it invalidates wuḍūʾ. Their evidence is as follows:
- The ḥadīth of Busrah bint Safwān (رضي الله عنها) who narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Whoever touches their penis should perform wuḍūʾ.”1
- The ḥadīth of Abū Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه): “If one among you reaches their penis with their hand without a cloth, then it is obligatory on him to perform wuḍūʾ”2 and in another narration: “reaches his genitals.”3
- A person’s sexual desire is awakened upon touching his penis or anus which may cause unintentional discharge without him perceiving it. Therefore, what is considered the probable place for that which invalidates the wuḍūʾ should be given the ruling of invalidation in a similar way to sleep [according to the Ḥanbalī madh`hab].
2. Touching One’s Genitals Does Not Invalidate Wuḍūʿ
Touching one’s penis does not invalidate wuḍūʾ. This is evidenced as follows:
- The ḥadīth of Ṭalq ibn ʿAlī (رضي الله عنه) who asked the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) about a man who touches his penis during ṣalāh: “Does he need to perform wuḍūʾ?” The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) answered: “No, it is but a part of your body.”4
- One’s original state is that his purity remains intact without invalidation. We will not leave this foundation without evidence that is assured. The hadiths of Busrah and Abū Hurayrah are both weak [according to this opinion]. In so long as there exists a possibility, we remain in our original state of wuḍūʾ. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said [concerning flatulence in ṣalāh]: “He should not abandon it until he hears its sound or smells its stench.”5 This concerns that which would obligate wuḍūʾ which we can perceive [through smell or sound], just as this issue concerns a reason that would obligate wuḍūʾ but from a purely legislative standpoint. So in this issue we should not turn except to that which we are assured of, [just like in the issue of flatulence we only act upon what we can smell or hear].
3. Touching One’s Genitals With Sexual Desire Invalidates Wuḍū
If the penis is touched with sexual desire, then the wuḍūʾ is invalidated. Otherwise, it is not. This opinion combines the ḥadīth of Busrah and Ṭalq ibn ʿAlī. If combining the hadiths is possible, then it must be done over grading one as being more authentic than the other or claiming one to be abrogated. Combining them stipulates acting in accordance with all of the evidence, while grading one as more authentic obligates abandonment of the other ḥadīth.
This opinion is supported by his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saying: “It is but a part of your body.” If you were to touch your penis without feelings of sexual desire, it would be as if you touched any of your other limbs. Thus, your wuḍūʾ would not be invalidated. However, if you were to touch it while harbouring sexual feelings, this would invalidate the state of wuḍūʾ. This is because a clear reason is present which is the possibility of discharge leaving your body without you perceiving it. So if it is touched with feelings of sexuality, performing wuḍūʾ is obligatory. If it is touched without sexual feeling, it is not obligatory to perform wuḍūʾ. Also, touching it in this way [with sexual feelings] is different to touching any other body part.
They [the supporters of this opinion] say—while debating the Ḥanbalī madh`hab—we have a fundamental principle that supports us over you. This is that you claim that touching a woman without sexual feelings does not invalidate the state of wuḍūʾ while touching her with desire does, because it is the most probable position for occurrence of that which invalidates.
Others commensurate the hadiths on this issue saying that the ḥadīth of Busrah relates that which is recommended (mustaḥabb), while the ḥadīth of Ṭalq is meant to negate the obligation of performing wuḍūʾ. The evidence of this is in the wording of the ḥadīth [of Ṭalq]: “Does he need to..” which is a clear formulation for the purpose of enquiring about obligation.
4. Touching One’s Genitals With Sexual Desire Renders Wuḍū Recommended (Mustaḥabb)
This is the opinion adopted by Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah (رحمه الله): Performing wuḍūʾ after touching one’s penis is recommended (mustaḥabb) in all situations, even if touched with sexual feelings. If we say it is recommended, then we mean that it has been legislated and there exists a reward in carrying it out and it is precautionary.
As for the claim that the ḥadīth of Ṭalq ibn ʿAlī is abrogated because he came upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) for the first time while he was building his mosque in the first year of the hijrah and then never returned to him afterwards, this is incorrect because of the following:
- We never resort to claiming abrogation unless commensurating all the evidence in a given issue is impossible. In this issue, it is possible.
- Within the ḥadīth a reasoning is given for wuḍūʾ not being invalidated. The validity of this reasoning will never cease. In so long as the ruling is attached to this reasoning and the reason remains, the ruling must also remain. For all rulings reflect the reasoning to which they are attached. The reasoning mentioned here is: “It is but a part of your body.” Since there will never come a day wherein a person’s penis is not a part of him, this ruling cannot be abrogated.
- The scholars say: The sequence of historical events cannot be inferred simply from the early acceptance of Islām by a narrator, or his early narration from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). This is because it is fully plausible that the companion in question may have taken a narration from another one of the companions. We mean by this: if two companions narrate two hadiths that apparently oppose one another and one of those companions accepted Islām after the other, we do not immediately assume that the ḥadīth of the latter will automatically abrogate the narration of the former. It is plausible that he narrated it from another companion altogether or that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) told him what he now narrates well after he accepted Islām.
In summary: If a person touches his penis it is recommended (mustaḥabb) for him to perform wuḍūʾ, whether he touched it with sexual feelings or not. As for the opinion that performing wuḍūʾ is obligatory for the one who touches it with sexual feelings, this stance is very strong. However, I am not completely sure regarding it. He may perform wuḍūʾ as a precautionary measure.
 Authentic: narrated by Aḥmad 4:406-407, Abū Dāwūd: 181, al-Tirmidhī: 82, al-Nasāʾī: 163 and Ibn Mājah: 479. Graded authentic by: Aḥmad, Ibn Maʿīn, al-Bukhārī, al-Nawawī, and others.
 Authentic: narrated by al-Ṭabarānī in ‘al-Muʿjam al-Awsaṭ’: 1850, al-Bayhaqī: 522-523, and al-Dāraquṭnī: 542. Graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in ‘Saḥīh al-Jāmiʿ’: 7144.
 Ibn Ḥibbān: 1118; see previous footnote.
 Authentic: narrated by Aḥmad 4:23, Abū Dāwūd: 182-183, al-Nasāʾī: 165, and al-Tirmidhī: 85. Graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in ‘Al-Mishkā’: 320 and by Ibn Ḥazm, al-Ṭaḥāwī, and Ibn al-Madīnī. Others have graded it weak including: al-Shāfiʿī, Abū Ḥātim, Abū Zurʿah, and al-Nawawī.
 Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 137.
Source: Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 1:279-284
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī