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Ghusl (Arabic: غسلĠusl , IPA: [ˈɣʊsl]) is an Arabic term referring to the full body washing ablution required, if the adult loses the state of body cleanness, in Islam for adults prior to ablution (wudu وضوء) for various rituals and prayers. Ghusl is mandatory for any adult Muslim after having sexual intercourse, orgasmic discharge (e.g. semen),[1][2] completion of the menstrual cycle,[3][4] giving birth, and death by natural causes.[5]

Islam also recommends (i.e. it is mustahab) the performance of the full ablution before the Friday sermon prayer[6][7] and Eid[8] prayers, before entering the ehram, in preparation for hajj,[9] after having lost consciousness,[9] and after formally converting to Islam. Shia Muslims also perform the ablution before Namaz-e-tawbah.

Ghusl should not be confused with wudu, a partial ablution, that Muslims perform before prayer salat.

Water requirements

Ghusl is allowed with the following types of water

  • Rain water
  • Well water
  • Spring, sea or river water
  • Water of melting snow or hail
  • Water of a big tank or pond

Ghusl is not allowed with the following types of water

  • Unclean or impure water
  • Water extracted from fruit and trees
  • Water that has changed its color, taste or smell and becomes thick because something was soaked in it
  • Small quantity of water in which something unclean has fallen, e.g. urine, blood, stool or wine or some animal had died after falling into it
  • Used water of Wudu or Ghusl
  • Water left over after drinking by haraam animals, e.g. pigs or animals of prey
  • Water left by a person who has just drunk alcohol - this water is unclean.

The acts of Ghusl

The Qur'anic mandate for Ghusl comes in the forty-third ayat of sura 4 (An-Nisa (Women)):

"O ye who believe! Approach not prayers with a mind befogged, until ye can understand all that ye say,- nor in a state of ceremonial impurity (Except when travelling on the road), until after washing your whole body. If ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands. For Allah doth blot out sins and forgive again and again."[10]

The phrase for 'contact' in this verse has been interpreted by Hanafi scholars to mean sexual contact, while Shafi'i scholars interpret contact 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 being able to pray, and so on.[11]

Farā'id of Ghusl

There are three fard (obligatory) acts. If one of these acts is omitted, it must be returned to and completed before the remaining acts.

  • Rinsing the inner mouth.
  • Sniffing water and blowing it out.
  • To wash the entire body in a rigorous manner.

Sunnah of Ghusl

Sunnah (optional - practised by Muhammad according to Sunni Hadiths) acts.

  • Washing both the hands up to the wrists.
  • Wash the private parts and remove dirt or filth from the body.
  • Perform Wudu.
  • Water should be poured over the head three times so that it flows all over the body.
  • Pour water on the right shoulder three times.
  • Pour water on the left shoulder three times.

In Islam, ghusl requires the washing of the full body. There are some differences in details between the Sunni and the Shia schools of thought.

Sunni school of thought[12][13]

  1. Start by making niyyah (intention) to perform Ghusl, say Bismillah (in the name of Allah) and cleanse yourself of impurities.[13]
  2. Wash the right hand up to and including the wrist (and between the fingers) three times, then similarly for the left hand.
  3. Wash the private parts and remove dirt or filth from the body.
  4. Perform Wudu as if for prayer. Ensure that the mouth and nostrils are thoroughly rinsed three times. 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.
  5. 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 backs of the knees are washed thoroughly.[13]
  6. Pour water over both the shoulders three times each. Hands should be passed all over the body when water is poured so that no part of the body is left dry.
  7. Move to a clean spot and wash the feet if not washed during Wudu
  8. As at the end of Wudu, it is recommended to recite the Shahada.[13]

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 ahadith describe how ghusl should be performed by Sunni Muslims.

A narration attributed to Aisha bint Abi Bakr reports:

  • Ghusl should be made in a place of total privacy

In another hadith, ibn Abbas stated that Maimuna said that The Messenger of Allah was given a towel (after ghusl), but he did not rub his body with it, but he did like this with water (i.e. he shook it off).[15] In addition, ibn Abbas recorded the following hadith on the authority of his mother's sister.

A narration attributed to Maymunah bint al-Harith reports:

Similarly, Muhammad ibn Saalih al-Uthaymeen said, "Sufficient ghusl means that you rinse your mouth and nose, then you wash your entire body with water, even if that means plunging yourself into deep water in one go.[citation needed]

Complete ghusl means washing your private parts and anywhere else that is contaminated with traces of impurity, then you do full head, then you pour water over your head three times, making sure that it reaches the roots of the hair. Then you wash the right side of the body then the left side."[17]

Shia school of thought [18]

There are two methods of performing ghusl. One is known as ghusl tartibi, and the other is known as ghusl irtimasi.

Ghusl tartibi

"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: First, head down to the neck; then the right side of the body from the shoulder down to the foot; and lastly, 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 reached the hair-roots. While washing the right side of the body, some part of the left side must be washed too, and also, while washing the left side of the body, some part of the right side must be washed.

Ghusl Irtimasi

"Ghusl irtimasi" means a bath involving immersion of the whole body in the water. It is needless to say that such a ghusl 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.

However, ghusl tartibi is preferred to ghusl irtimasi.

Recommendable acts of Ghusl

What has been mentioned above are the wajib acts of ghusl; here we shall explain the things which are recommendable (mustahab, sunnat) during the ghusl. These recommendable acts are five:

  1. Washing both hands up to the elbows three times before the ghusl.
  2. Gargling three times.
  3. Wiping the hands on the whole body to ensure that every part has been thoroughly washed.
  4. Combing the hair with the fingers to ensure that the water reaches the hair-roots.
  5. (For men only) Doing istibra' before ghusl janabat. Istibra', in the present context, means "urinating." The benefit of istibra': If a liquid comes out of one's penis after completing the ghusl, and he doubts whether it is semen or urine, then should he repeat the ghusl or not? If he had done istibra' before the ghusl, then he can assume that the liquid is urine he will not have to repeat the ghusl; he just has to do wudu for his salat. But, on the other hand, if he had not done istibra' before the ghusl, then he has to assume that it is the remnant of semen he will have to do the ghusl again.

'Ubaydullah al-Halabi narrates that someone asked Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) about a man who performs ghusl and then finds some (doubtful) drops (on his penis) while he had already urinated before performing the ghusl. (That is, should he consider the drops as urine or semen?) The Imam said, "He will just have to do wudu (for hi s salat). But if he had not passed urine before the ghusl, then he must repeat the ghusl." (Wasa'il, vol. 1, p. 517. )

This rule of istibra' applies only to men. Sulayman bin Khalid asked Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) about a man who became ritually impure because of sexual intercourse and then performed ghusl without urinating. Then some drops came out of him . The Imam said, "He must repeat the ghusl." Sulayman: "What if similar drops come out of a woman after she has performed ghusl?" The Imam said, "She does not have to repeat the ghusl . " Sulayman: "What is the difference between the two?" The Imam said, "(A woman does not have to repeat ghusl janabat) because what comes out of her is certainly from the (remnants of the) discharge of man." (Wasa'il, vol. 1, p. 482.)

See also

  • Mikveh, the Jewish ritual bath


  1. ^ Sahih Muslim, hadith number 616
  2. ^ Sharh as-Sunnah by al-Baghawi, vol 2., pg. 9
  3. ^ Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz by Shaykh Abd al-Aziz ibn Baaz, vol. 10 pg. 161
  4. ^ Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen by Muhammad ibn Saalih al-Uthaymeen, vol. 11 pg. 318-319
  5. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 23, Hadith number 345
  6. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 12, Hadith number 817
  7. ^ Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Maqaalaat Mutanawwi’ah li Samaahat by Shaykh Abd al-Aziz ibn Baaz, part 12, pg. 404
  8. ^ Sharh Mukhtasar, Volume 2, pg. 102
  9. ^ a b Tamaam al-Minnah by Shaykh al-Albani, pg. 120
  10. ^ The Holy Qur'an/An-Nisa (Women) verse 43 (
  11. ^ Does Touching Woman break Wudu - Dr Zakir Naik
  12. ^ Sahih Bukhari, Book 5: Bathing (Ghusl) Prophet performing Ghusl
  13. ^ a b c d Islam Question and Answer, by Sheikh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid Description of how to do ghusl for major impurity
  14. ^ Sahih Muslim, hadith number 616
  15. ^ Sahih Muslim, hadith number 622
  16. ^ Sahih Muslim, hadith number 620
  17. ^ I’laam al-Musaafireen bi Ba’d Aadaab wa Ahkaam al-Safar wa ma Yakhuss al-Mallaaheen al-Jawwiyyeen by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-Uthaymeen, pg. 11
  18. ^ The Major Abolution

External links

fr:Ablution#Les grandes ablutions