The word ghusl is derived from Arabic and means bathing the whole body with water. Ghusl is carried out to purify oneself from major impurities such as childbirth, menstruation, intercourse, etc. There are different types of ghusl and other ways to perform them, and this blog will explain them in detail, along with methods and degrees of ghusl.
In Islam, ghusl is considered a spiritual practice and an important aspect of Islamic hygiene to purify oneself from impurities. As our Prophet Muhammad stated, cleanliness amounts to half our faith.
Ghusl is considered a full-body ablation as compared to a half-body ablation, also known as wudu, which Muslims do before praying. When ghusl is carried out to remove impurities, it is also considered an act of worship that strengthens our relationship with Allah SWT.
In Islamic theology, impurities refer to everything foul and are divided into two categories, which are as follows:
Major impurities require ghusl, such as:
- Post-partum bleeding
Minor impurities are those that require wudu, such as:
- Passing gas
- Emission of blood from any part of the body except the vagina, so much so that the blood runs from the wound
- Emission of pus from any part of the body
There are several situations where ghusl is mandatory, whereas, at other times, it is recommended. Let’s discuss them below.
- Post-partum bleeding.
- When a person dies. (except for a martyr)
- When one goes to meet with other people
- On Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha
- When one goes through any physical change (such as cupping.)
- Before the eclipse prayer
- When entering Ihraam
- After giving ghusl to a deceased person
- On Fridays
- When a kaafir becomes a Muslim, in this case, ghusl is only mustahhab if the kaafir is not Janub (impure by intercourse or ejaculation). If he is Junub, ghusl becomes Fardh
- During various activities of Umrah and Hajj
- Ghusl e Janabat: Performed after intercourse of ejaculation.
- Ghusl e Mayyit: When a ghusl is given to a deceased person.
- Ghusl e Mas-hil Mayyit: If a person comes into contact with a dead body.
- Ghusl e Hayd: Observed after the mestruational period ends.
- Ghusl e Nifaas: Observed after lochia (vaginal discharge after birth)
Just like everything in Islam, ghusl has degrees too. The fardh (obligatory) ghusl and the sunnah ghusl.
Fard Ghusl is the method that has the least steps, and they should be performed with precision; otherwise, the ghusl of a person will remain invalid:
- Cup your hands with water and rinse your mouth with it once.
- Again, cup your hands with water and rinse your nose once, ensuring the water enters your nasal passage.
- Rinse your whole body with water once, ensuring that the water wets every area of your body, especially hard-to-reach places such as the navel, armpits, inside and behind the ear, etc.
The sunnah ghusl includes more steps than the fardh ghusl.
- Make a sincere intention to purify yourself in your heart or mind.
- Then, remove any outward impurities. (If there are any that you can see.)
- Do istinja, which is the process of using water to clean the genitals and rectum with your hand. But if you are sure that the impurity can be removed only by water, then using your hand is not obligatory.
- Perform wudu, as you would for any other prayer.
- Rinse your body with water three times.
- Rub your body to make sure that the water reaches every part.
- Ensure that you are not facing the Qibla (the direction of the Kaaba)
- Remove any jewelry or accessories to ensure water reaches every body part.
- Make a sincere intention to purify yourself in the heart or mind.
- It is preferred to sit down while performing ghusl to cover up the private parts, as modesty is key, but if that is not possible, then it isn’t obligatory to sit down.
- Wash your hands up to the wrists.
- Do istinja and wash off any outward impurities.
- Do wudu, as you would, for any other prayer.
- Fully cup your hands with water, rinse your mouth and gurgle.
- Rinse your nose, ensuring that the water enters the nasal passage.
- If standing on concrete or solid ground, wash your feet while doing the wudu. Otherwise, feet are washed in the next steps.
- Take a small amount of water and rub it on your whole body.
- Rinse your head with water three times.
- Place your right shoulder in the water, ensuring the water reaches the whole right side of your body.
- Place your left shoulder in the water, ensuring the water reaches the whole left side of your body.
- Then wash your feet, but if you have washed your feet, as mentioned in point no. 8, there is no need to wash your feet again.
- If you see or feel that some part of your body did not get wet, there is no need to perform the ghusl again; take some water and apply it on that area.
- Dry off with a towel, and you are done!
All of these steps above should be followed when a female performs ghusl, but there are also certain things that women need to keep in mind. Such as:
- Remove any makeup and jewelry to ensure there is no barrier between the body and water.
- Ensure to thoroughly wet the scalp and rub it to ensure the water gets through every hair strand. If your hair is tightly braided, you don’t have to undo the braid, but make sure to wash your hair thoroughly.
- If you have any waterproof products on, such as henna stickers or nail paint, remove them.
- If water does not reach every part of the body, even if the barrier between the body and the water is a surgical dressing
- Using impure water
- Not having the right intention, i.e., not making a sincere intention in your heart and mind that you are doing this to purify yourself from impurities
Only pure (tahir) water sources can be used to perform ghusl, such as:
- Water from a big tank
- Well water
- Spring water
- Water from melted ice
- Water from a pond
- Water from the sea
- Water from a river.
There are certain things a Muslim isn’t allowed to do unless he is pure, such as:
- Touching the Quran or any other Islamic books
- Reading the Quran out loud (During periods)
- Making Taawaaf.
There are many hadiths in which Prophet Muhammad talks about the topic of ghusl; let’s discuss some of them below:
Aisha RA narrated in a hadith that the Prophet performed baths with mudd and ghusl a sa’. Mudd and SA are both measurements used.
Mudd is roughly estimated to be about 750 milliliters, whereas sa is larger than Mudd, about four times and nearly 3 liters of water.
So when we talk about this hadith, we talk about the amount of water the Prophet PBUH used to perform ghusl, and therefore, we should also try to waste as little water as possible.
Another hadith states that the Prophet PBUH didn’t use to do wudu after he did ghusl. However, it is classified as a da’if (week) hadith.
In another hadith, Aisha RA stated that the Prophet Muhammad PBUH and she used to take ghusl from a single pot called faraq.
In a hadith, the Holy Prophet PBUH forbade women to take ghusl from the leftover water of men and forbade men to take ghusl from the leftover water of women. Instead, they both should take scoopfuls of water together.
Since the advent of showers, this isn’t a problem, but if one gets stuck in a situation where a shower is unavailable, this is an option.
In short, a ghusl is a spiritual act that deepens our bond with Allah SWT and purifies us. It also helps us maintain cleanliness and reflects the principles of purity and devotion, among Islam’s central elements.