What is Istinja?
Istinja refers to the Islamic practice of intimate cleaning after going to the toilet. This is something that all Muslims must do correctly both men and women. Muslim women often ask how to do Istinja correctly as it is very important to get this right. As with all forms of ablution in Islam you will need to use water to perform Istinja unless there are circumstances where no water is available. The idea behind Istinja is to remove any impurity from the body and stools and urine are both counted as impure.
Why is Istinja important?
Istinja is an integral part of Islam and is one of the key purity rituals of the Muslim religion.
لاَ تَقُمْ فِيهِ أَبَدًا لَّمَسْجِدٌ أُسِّسَ عَلَى التَّقْوَى مِنْ أَوَّلِ يَوْمٍ أَحَقُّ أَن تَقُومَ فِيهِ فِيهِ رِجَالٌ يُحِبُّونَ أَن يَتَطَهَّرُواْ وَاللّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُطَّهِّرِينَ
Surah at tawba verse 108
The prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said that “Allah loveth the purifiers” and personal hygiene and cleanliness go hand in hand with spiritual purity.
There are also important practical reasons for Istinja that can help with good intimate hygiene. It is estimated that over 80% of infections in the bowel and vaginal area can be caused by poor personal hygiene. Toilet paper is often not adequate to clean this area efficiently and it also has the additional downside of causing itching and discomfort to sensitive skin. Water is a far more effective cleansing method and one which is gentler on the skin. It is also much kinder on the environment as there is no sewage or waste left behind after cleaning.
How to perform Istinja
When at home Istinja should be performed in the private area of your bathroom. When cleaning it is always recommended that you do not use your right hand and that all intimate cleaning is performed with your left hand.
To begin Istinja Islam recommends that women should wait until all urination has stopped. To make sure of this you could try coughing or walking around a little to be sure that there is no urine left as Istinja cannot be commenced until all traces of urine has gone.
Clean oneself with water after urinating, that is done by pouring water on the place where the urine comes out, then washing it gently, whilst taking measures to lighten the pressure of the water coming out of the tap or hose, so that the pressure does not lead to the water splashing onto your body. Then you should wash off the impurity, as all people do.
If you cannot reduce the pressure of the water on the place where the impurity is, then take some water in a small vessel or even in your hand, and wash your private part with it when you have urinated, three times only. By doing that you will purify yourself of urine.
You should do the same thing when defecating; try to reduce the pressure of the water so that drops of impurity will not splash onto your body.
If you cannot do that, then take some water in your hand and wash the place where the impurity is.
How to do Istinja when out and about
We know that Muslim women can often find it hard to perform Istinja correctly when they are not at home, and public toilets are not set up for cleaning with water. To solve this problem many Muslim ladies carry an Istinja bottle with them. This is a travel sized bottle or pouch that can hold water and which can be discretely carried in a handbag or pocket and can then be used for washing after they have been to the toilet. At Femette we know how these can help women to do Istinja, and realise that being able to perform Istinja easily when out can make daily life a lot easier for women in the Islamic community.