Tahaarat (ritual purity) or Tuhūr is very important in Islam. The Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, has been reported to have said that Tuhūris part of Imān (faith). Purity is of two primary types, i.e., physical purity and spiritual purity. The former is to clean one’s appearance, i.e., the body and dressing, while the latter is to purify one’s heart from spiritual ailments such as hypocrisy, jealousy, anger, hatred, etc. The physical Tuhūr is also of two types, i.e., Ghusl (bathing) and Wudu (ablution).
Islam has provided a complete scheme of the Ghusl and Wudu. Does the Scheme cover the issues as to when is the Wudu or Ghusal compulsory? When are they Mandūb? How to perform Ghusal and Wudu? And in which situations, the Wudu and Ghusal are broken, meaning that a person is required to renew them. In this post, we are going to explain the teachings of Islam about Ghusl.
When is Ghusl Compulsory
There are a number of situations in which Ghusal is compulsory. The Muslim jurists are unanimous about three situations where it is obligatory for a Muslim man or woman to bathe. These situations are as follows:
- Ejaculation out of sexual desire: Whenever a man ejaculates out of sexual desire, the Ghusl becomes obligatory in him in order to receive purity. This situation includes a wet dream as well. Thus, if a person has a wet dream and has an ejaculation, he has to perform Ghusl. Likewise, is a person ejaculates out of sexual desire while he is awakening, he has to perform Ghusl.
- Sexual intercourse: The second situation where Ghusl becomes obligatory for men and women is sexual intercourse. It should be noted here that, in order for Ghusl to become obligatory, it is not necessary to ejaculate. Mere penetration is enough to make Ghusl compulsory.
- After Menses and Nifas: The third situation in which Ghusl becomes necessary to receive purity is when a woman completes her menses Nifas period. A woman has a menses period in 4 weeks and the nifas is the bleeding period after termination of pregnancy.
Situations in which Ghusl becomes obligatory, according to some jurists of Islam
Apart from these three situations, there are a number of situations in which Ghusl becomes obligatory according to some jurists of Islam. In contrast, others do not consider the Ghusl to be obligatory. They only think it to be desirable if a person baths in situations. These situations are as follows:
- On Friday: Some jurists consider the Ghusl on Friday to be wajib, while others consider it to be mandub.
- After embracing Islam: Another situation where the matter of the obligation of Ghusl is controversial between Muslim jurists is the situation where a non-Muslim person enters into the fold of Islam. According to some jurists, in such a situation, that person must perform Ghusl, while others think it to be desirable to do Ghusl.
- After Administering the Ghusl to a dead body: Another situation where there is a clash in the matter of Ghusl among the Jurists of Islam is the situation where a person administers the Ghusl to the dead body. According to the teachings of Islam, a dead body must be washed before putting kafn and offering a funeral prayer on the dead body. Some jurists consider it to be obligatory for a person to take a bath after administering the Ghusl on the dead body, while others deem it to be desirable.
There are some situations where Ghusl is Mandub according to the unanimous opinion of the jurists of Islam. These situations include the ghusl before ihram, on the days of Eidain, i.e., Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, and the occasion when a person is going to join a gathering.
As far the question of how to perform Ghusl is concerned, the proper protocol as described by the Jurists is as follows: A person should have the intention to perform Ghusl, then he should clean his mouth and nose and finally start pouring water on his body in a way that not a single part of his/her body is dry. Please note that if a lady has to perform Ghusal and she has long and congested hair, she does not need to make the water reach every part of the hair.
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It is enough if she manages to make the water reach the roots of the hairs. Please also note that it is the Sunnah of the ghusl that one should pour water on his body thrice and make Wudu before starting with the Ghusal.
Niyyat for Ghusal
As far as the niyyat (intention) for the Ghusl is concerned, according to Hanafi jurists, the niyyat is not necessary for the validity of Ghusl. Thus, if a person who is under obligation to perform Ghusl falls into a pool of water or runs under heavy rain, and every part of his body becomes wet, it is considered that he has performed Ghusl irrespective of the fact that whether or not he intended to perform Ghusl. According to Imam Shafi, however, it is necessary to do niyyat before starting with Ghusal.
In Conclusion: A Path to Inner and Outer Purity
Ghusl, the Islamic ritual bath, holds a unique place in Muslim practice. It signifies not only physical cleansing but also spiritual purification. Obligatory in specific situations, it underlines the importance of inner and outer purity. While opinions on some cases may vary, Ghusl’s significance in Islamic life remains unwavering.