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Ghusl (Arabic: غسل Ġusl, IPA: [ˈɣʊsl]) is an Arabic term to the full-body ritual purification mandatory before the performance of various rituals and prayers, for any adult Muslim after having ejaculation or completion of the menstrual cycle.
The washing is also recommended but not required (i.e. it is mustahabb) before Jumu'ah and Eid prayers, before entering the ihram in preparation for Hajj, after having lost consciousness and after formally converting. Sunni Muslims also perform the ablution before Namaz-e-tawbah (Prayer of Repentance).
Ghusl is often translated as "full ablution", as opposed to the "partial ablution" of wudu وضوء that Muslims perform after lesser impurities such as urination, defecation, flatulence, deep sleep, and light bleeding.
Types by purpose
Ghusl becomes obligatory for seven causes, and the ghusl for each of these different causes has different names:
- Ghusl Janabat is ghusl performed after sexual intercourse or ejaculation.
- Ghusl Hayd is following menstruation.
- Ghusl Nifas is following lochia (vaginal discharge after giving birth, which can occur for up to 6 weeks after birth)
- Ghusl Mayyit is ghusl performed on a dead Muslim.
In some denominations, two further categories obligate ghusl:
- Ghusl Istihada is for irregular bleeding (in women).
- Ghusl Mas-hil Mayyit becomes obligatory if one directly touches a dead body.
- Ghusl also becomes obligatory following a vow or oath to perform it.
Similar to wudu, some water is permissible for use for ghusl whereas some water is not. Permissible water sources include:
- Well water
- Spring, sea, or river water
- Water of melting ice
- Water of a big tank or pond
Ghusl is not allowed with unclean or impure water or water extracted from fruit and trees.
The acts of ghusl
O you who have believed, do not approach prayer while you are in a state of drowsiness until you know what you are saying or in a state of janabah, except those passing through [a place of prayer], until you have washed [your whole body]. And if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and find no water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and your hands [with it]. Indeed, Allah is ever Pardoning and Forgiving.[Quran 4:43 (Translated by Sahih International)]
The phrase translated as 'intercourse' in this verse has been interpreted by Hanafi scholars to mean sexual contact, while Shafi'i scholars interpret it to mean both physical and sexual contact. Hence, the Hanafi school of thought does not require one to take wudu if there is non-sexual contact with a member of the opposite sex, while the Shafi'i school of thought does require wudu before salah and so on.
Farā'id of Ghusl (Hanafi Guidelines)
- Rinsing the inner mouth
- Sniffing water and blowing it out.
- Washing the entire body.
Sunnah of Ghusl
Optional alternate method as demonstrated by the Islamic prophet, Muhammad:
- Washing both the hands up to the wrists.
- Wash the private parts with the left hand and remove dirt or filth from the body.
- Perform wudu (ablution).
- Pour water over the head three times, and rub the hair so that the water reaches the roots of the hair.
- Then wash the body, making sure that the water reaches all parts, starting with the right side of the body and then the left and rubbing it with the hands so that the water reaches the entire body.
Sunni school of thought
- Start by making niyyah (intention) to perform Ghusl, say bismillah (in the name of Allah) and make the intention to cleanse yourself of impurities.
- Wash the right hand up to and including the wrist (and between the fingers) three times, then similarly for the left hand.
- Wash the private parts and remove dirt or filth from the body.
- Perform Wudu as if for prayer. Ensure that the mouth and nostrils are thoroughly rinsed one time. If sitting on a stool or stone while bathing then the feet should also be washed when performing Wudu. But if sitting in a muddy place, feet should not be washed at this stage.
- Water should be poured over the head three times so that it flows all over the body, ensuring that the roots of hairs and parts not easily reached by water such as the back of the knees are washed thoroughly.
- Pour water over the both shoulders three times each (starting from the right shoulder). Hands should be passed all over the body when water is poured so that no part of the body is left dry.
- Move to a clean spot and wash the feet if not washed during Wudu
- As at the end of Wudu, it is recommended to recite the Shahada.
"Ash-hadu-Allah-illaha-illahahu wa-ash-hadu ann-muhamaddan ab-duhu wa rasuluhu"
If, after Ghusl, one recalls that a certain portion of the body is left dry, it is not necessary to repeat the Ghusl, but merely wash the dry portion. It is not sufficient to pass a wet hand over the dry place. If one has forgotten to rinse the mouth or the nostrils, these too could be rinsed when recalled after Ghusl has been performed.
The following hadith describes how ghusl should be performed by Sunni Muslims.
Ghusl should be made in a place of total privacy.
In another hadith, Ibn Abbas stated that Maimuna said that Muhammad was given a towel after ghusl, but he shook off the water instead of rubbing his body with it. In addition, Ibn Abbas recorded the following hadith on the authority of his mother's sister. A hadith attributed to Maymunah bint al-Harith reports:
Things that are makruh in ghusl.
- To perform ghusl at a place where anybody is watching you.
- Performing naked ghusl while facing towards the Kaaba.
- Talking in ghusl.
- Doing ghusl opposite to farad ghusl.
- Reciting Dua other than Bismillah.
Shia school of thought
There are two methods of performing ghusl. One is known as ghusl tartibi, and the other is known as ghusl irtimasi.
"Ghusl tartibi" means an ordinal bath, performed in three stages.
After washing away the najasat (e.g., semen or blood) from the body and after niyyat, the body has to be washed in three stages: head down to the neck; then the right side of the body from the shoulder down to the foot; then the left side of the body.
Each part should be washed thoroughly in such a way that the water reaches the skin. Special care should be taken while washing the head; the hair should be combed (e.g., with your fingers) so that water reaches the hair-roots. While washing the right side of the body, some part of the left side must be washed too, and vice versa.
"Ghusl irtimasi" means a bath involving immersion of the whole body in the water. It can only be done in a body of water, e.g., a pool, river, lake or sea. After washing away the semen or blood from the body and after niyyat, the whole body should be completely immersed in the water all at once, not gradually. One has to make sure that the water reaches all parts of the body, including hair and the skin under it.
Ghusl tartibi is preferred over ghusl irtimasi.
Recommendable acts of ghusl
- Gargling three times and washing the nose three times.
- Performing the acts of wudu before the actual washing
- Wiping the hands on the whole body to ensure that every part has been thoroughly washed.
- Combing the hair with the fingers to ensure that the water reaches the hair-roots.
- (For men) Doing istibra' (urinating) before ghusl janabat. If a liquid comes out of a man's penis after completing the ghusl, and he doubts whether it is semen or urine, he does not need to repeat the ghusl as long as he also urinated before the ghusl. If he did not urinate before the ghusl, then he must repeat the process. This rule of istibra' applies only to men.
- Baptism, the Christian ritual bath
- Mikveh, the Jewish ritual bath
- Misogi, the Shinto ritual bath
- Sahih Muslim, Hadith number 616
- Sharh as-Sunnah by al-Baghawi, vol 2., pg. 9
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- Wasa'il al Shia, vol. 1, p. 482.