Tahaara – Lesson 5

Major Purification (Ghusl)


Lesson Notes

Major Impurity (defilement):

Major impurity means that a Muslim is in a state that requires a ghusl (bath). The following actions place a Muslim in a state of major impurity (janaba) which makes a ghusl (bath) prior to performing prayer, tawaaf, or touching or reciting* the Qur’aan, mandatory (Fardh):

  1. Menstruation (Ghusl is performed once the menstruation ends).
  1. The discharge of seminal fluid as a result of sexual feeling whether the person was awake or asleep (wet dream).
  1. Sexual intercourse. Once the private parts have come into contact, even without ejaculation.
  1. Bleeding after childbirth (Ghusl is performed once the bleeding stops).

* Even reciting from memory is not allowed while in the state of janaba.

A ghusl is also required in the following instances:

  1. When a non-Muslim embraces Islam.
  1. In the event of death, a Muslims body must be washed before it is prepared for burial.

A bath (ghusl) is preferred (Sunnah):

  1. Before attending Friday prayers (Jumuah).
  1. Before attending the two Eid prayers.
  1. Before adopting Ihraam for Umrah or Hajj.
  1. Before entering Makkah.
  1. After having washed a dead body.
  1. After recovering from unconsciousness.

Ghusl (bath):

The minimum requirements to make ghusl valid are:

  1. The intention to perform ghusl.
  2. Water must reach all parts of the body, including the scalp*

Simply stated, once the intention is made, one can merely have a shower and ensure that all parts of the body are washed.  One can even jump into the sea with the intention, and this will suffice. On the other hand, if one performs ghusl or has a shower and had forgotten to make the intention, then it has to be redone. The intention CANNOT be made afterwards. However, if one wishes to obtain the highest reward for this act of worship then as with everything else one should follow the Qur’aan and sunnah.

How to perform Ghusl:

  1. Start by saying “Bismillah” (In the name of Allah).
  1. Wash your hands.
  1. Wash your private parts with your left hand (if Ghusl for janaba).
  1. Perform the following actions of wudhu as you would normally do:
  • Wash your hands three times (yes, again even though you did it in step 1).
  • Rinse your mouth three times
  • Cleanse your nostrils three times
  • Wash your face three times
  • Wash your arms up to the elbows three times
  1. One has a choice to wash his feet at this step or at the end.
  1. Pour water over your head three times, rubbing it into the roots of the hair and also washing the inner part of the ears.
  1. Pour water of the rest of your body starting with right side (upper part followed by the lower part), and doing the same on the left side. Soap or other cleansing agents may be used. (Do not touch your private parts with the palm of your hand). Make sure that water reached all the recessed parts such as the navel, armpits, and the knees.
  1. Wash your feet (if it was not done at step 5).

Important Guidelines about Ghusl:

  1. *After menstruation a women must untie any braided hair. Ghusl due to sexual defilement, a woman need not untie braided hair.
  1. After ghusl, an ‘additional’ wudhu in preparation for prayer or other acts of ibadah is not required, as the wudhu is encompassed inside the ghusl, as we can see from the aforementioned steps. However care should be taken while washing the rest of the body (steps 4-6), that one does not touch ones private parts with the palm of your hand (which will break your wudhu), as this would constitute that another wudhu be performed after the ghusl.
  1. Even if you did not follow the aforementioned steps, another wudhu is not necessary after a ghusl. The key is that the niyah MUST be correct.
  1. A higher level niyah and ritual includes a lower level one. For example if your niyah is for ghusl janaba then wudhu is included. The levels are:

Fardh Ghusl (janaba, after menstruation etc.); Sunnah Ghusl (For Friday prayer; after washing the dead, etc.); then wudhu

  1. One bath may be taken for two reasons, such as sexual impurity and Friday prayer, or Friday prayer and Umrah, if they occur at the same time, and as long as the intention is made for the ‘higher’ one (or both). An important point here is that if ones intention for ghusl is for Friday prayer only (and forgets that he/she also needs a ghusl for sexual impurity), then it has to be redone.
  1. All actions that invalidate a normal wudhu, invalidates ‘wudhu within ghusl’ as well.
  1. One who is in a state of sexual impurity (junub) is not allowed to pray, make tawaaf, touch the Qur’aan or recite it (even from memory) until he or she has performed ghusl. One in this state may not sit in a mosque but may pass through it. Women in their menstruation also may not sit in a mosque, but may pass through it or fetch something from inside the mosque.
  1. During her monthly period a woman may recite verses of the Qur’aan for the purpose of learning, teaching or remembrance.
  1. A person may enter a public bath (or swimming area) as long as one neither exposes the private area (from the naval to the knees, inclusive as a minimum) nor looks at the private areas of others. Men must not see these parts (aurah) of other men, and women of other women. Needless to say that Muslim men and women should not be at mixed swimming pools.


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