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Ghusl in Islam means the bathing of the entire body with water. Proof of its legitimacy is embodied in the Holy Qur'an as follows:“ And if ye are in a s ta te of ceremonial impurity, ba the your whole body” (Qur'an 5:6).
Occasions when Ghusl is Required as an obligatory Act
Ghusl is required as an obligatory act in the following cases:
- After the discharge of semen as a result of stimulation whether awake or asleep (i.e. in a wet dream). This state is known in Arabic as "JUNUB". If, after the dream no wetness is traced in one's clothing, bathing is not obligatory. However, in case wetness is found but without recalling any dream, performing Ghusl is obligatory.
- After sexual intercourse (or the mere coming together of the two organs of a man and a woman, even though there may be no actual ejaculation) performing Ghusl is required.
- Following a period of menstruation, a woman is required to perform Ghusl.
- At the end of 40 days after childbirth, a woman is required to perform Ghusl but if the bleeding stops before completing the 40 days period, then she must make the Ghusl as soon as the bleeding stops.
- When a Muslim dies, Ghusi is required for him/her except for the Jihad Martyr (Shahead).
Occasions for which Ghusl is preferred
Ghusl is recommended in the following cases:
- Before going to Jumah Congregational (Friday Prayer).
- Before going to Eid Prayers (Muslim annual feast prayers).
- Before undertaking Umrah or Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah).
- Upon washing a corpse. (According to many scholars, the performance of Ghusl is preferred for a person who washes a corpse).
- When a disbeliever revert to Islam.
Essential Requirements of Ghusl
There are two essential requirements which need to be fulfilled for Ghusl to be valid. These are as follows:
- Intention to perform Ghusl is necessary because it is the dividing line between acts performed as a mere custom and deeds which are rewardable acts of worship. However, the intention is only by heart and need not be uttered.
- The entire body should be washed. Water should reach and flow freely over every part of the body.
How Ghusl is Performed
Besides the above two essential requirements, there are also other voluntary acts recommended for Ghusl. Both the essential and the voluntary acts are now integrated here below to demonstrate how the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to perform the Ghusl:
- Intend by heart to perform Ghusl.
- Wash both hands up to the wrists for three times.
- Wash the sex organs properly.
- Perform Wudhu as usual (in the manner already discussed) except, that the washing of the feet would be delayed until later when all the rest of the body is bathed.
- Pour water over the head three times, massaging the hair to allow water to reach its roots.
- Pour water liberally over the entire body, beginning with the right side and then, the left side ensuring that no part of the body is untouched by water such as the armpits, inside the earlobes, inside the navel, between the fingers and toes, etc.
- Finally, move a little further from where you were and wash your feet, beginning with your right foot and then, the left.
- A woman will perform Ghusl just as a man does, except, that if she has plaited hair, she need not undo it. She only needs to throw three handfuls of water over her head (this is for the Junub [the one who is in the state of major impurity after sexual intercourse or semen discharge] but for the one who has just finished her monthly period or post-birth period, she must undo her plaited hair).
- The person may after completing the Ghusl recite the supplication for concluding Ghusl which should be recited outside the toilet/bathroom and which is the same as the one recited after completing Wudhu.
Acts Forbidden to Persons who are required to Perform Ghusl
Persons requiring to perform Ghusl are forbidden to undertake certain acts. These are as follows:
- Any type of prayer whether obligatory or voluntary.
- Circumambulating the Ka'abah (Tawaf).
- Touching or carrying the Holy Qur'an. However, the prohibition does not apply to other books which contain Qur'anic passages such as commentaries of the Holy Qur'an or works of Islamic jurisprudence.
- Reciting the Holy Qur'an.
- Staying Inside the Mosque.
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