What is Ghusl?
All followers of Islam are instructed to perform ritual purifications which are known as ablutions. These ablutions are divided into two types. The first is Wudu which is a shorter form of ablution that is performed before formal prayers or holding the Quran. This covers the extremities such as feet, hands, ears, mouth, nose and head. There is then a more rigorous form of cleaning which is known as Ghusl. Muslims should all know how to make Ghusl and when it needs to be performed. It is particularly relevant to women as they are required to perform Ghusl after their period and after childbirth once post-natal bleeding has finished. Women also need to perform Ghusl after sex. There are a number of different ways of thinking about how to perform Ghusl and the methods can depend on whether you are following the Sunni or Shia traditions.
Ghusl and the traditions of Islam
Ghusl lies at the very heart of the Muslim religion and has a fascinating history. There are many different versions of how the purification ritual came about but all Muslims agree that it is an integral part of their faith.
How to Perform Ghusl
One of the most frequently asked questions from women who are new to the Muslim faith is how to Ghusl. Although it may seem like quite a complicated process it soon becomes second nature once you are used to it. Most Muslims learn how to do Ghusl using the Sunni method.
Firstly there is a certain type of water you will need to use and some water is prohibited to be used for Ghusl. Water used should come from a clean source such as rain water, well water, sea water, melted snow or water from a pond or big tank. This means that generally water from household taps and showers is fine to use as long as they are not contaminated.
There are two forms of ghusl:
Acceptable form: in the sense that if a person only does ghusl in this manner, his ghusl is valid and he becomes purified from major impurity. But if a person doesnt perform this kind of ghusl properly, his ghusl is not valid.
Complete and preferred form: this is the type which it is mustahabb to do but is not obligatory.
As for the obligatory and acceptable form it is as follows:
1. Form the intention to purify oneself from impurity: janaabah (impurity following sexual discharge), menses or nifaas (postpartum bleeding).
2. Wash the entire body with water once, making sure that the water reaches the roots of the hair and the places that it cannot reach easily, such as the armpits and backs of the knees, as well as rinsing the mouth and nose, according to the correct scholarly opinion.
As for the complete form, it is as follows
1. Form the intention in the heart to purify oneself from major impurity: janaabah (impurity following sexual discharge), menses or nifaas (postpartum bleeding).
2. Then say Bismillah and wash the hands three times, then wash any dirt from the private part.
3. Then do wudoo’ as for prayer, a complete wudoo’.
4. Then pour water over the head three times, and rub the hair so that the water reaches the roots of the hair.
- Then wash the body, making sure that the water reaches all parts, starting with the right side of the body and then the left, and rubbing it with the hands so that the water reaches the entire body.
There are also a number of other processes you can follow although these vary in different schools of though and whether you are following Sunni or Shia based Islam so it is always a good idea to consult your own Imam as to what they require.
When you have finished you will need to go out of the bathroom or place that you are washing in and say the ghusl dua. This is a short prayer to Allah (swt) and a proclamation of your devotion and purification. The prayer is as follows:
Ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allaah wahdahu laa shareeka lah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasooluhu.
( I bear witness that there is no god except Allaah alone, with no partner or associate, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.)
Allaahumm aj alni min al-tawwaabeena waj alni min al-mutatahhireena
( O Allah, make me one of those who repent and make me one of those who purify themselves)
How to do Ghusl in the shower
Of course people often ask how to do Ghusl in the shower and luckily this can be a convenient way to practice ghusl. Water from household showers will usually meet the purity requirements and you can decide how to perform Ghusl in either a sitting or standing position. It is required that Ghusl should be done in a place of privacy so your bathroom at home is the ideal situation. A shower is also an easy way to make sure that your whole body has been covered in water and washed.