Islamic Laws

Ghusl and Tayammum

By: Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi
Ghusl is a major ablution as opposed to wudu which is a minor ablution. In Islamic laws, ghusl is considered an act of worship; it is an act of purifying oneself from the ritual impurity (najast) caused by sexual intercourse, discharge of semen or blood, and by touching the dead body. The ritual bath given to a dead Muslim before burial is also known as ghusl.
The ghusl for each of these cause has different names: Purifications from the impurity caused by sexual intercourse or discharge of semen is known as ghusl janabat. Purification is known as ghusl hayd. Purification from the impurity caused by irregular bleeding is known as ghusl istihadah. Purification from the impurity caused by post-natal bleeding is known as ghusl nifas.
In Islamic laws, death is also considered a cause of ritual impurity of a Muslim’s body. Therefore, a dead Muslim has to be washed ritually before the burial ceremony. Such a ritualistic bath for a dead Muslim is known as ghusl mayyit. Touching a dead body, before the ritualistic bath, also makes one impure (najis). Purification from this impurity is known as ghusl mass mayyit.
In this chapter we shall the method and the general rules of ghusl. In chapter 4, we shall discuss the rules of ghusl janabat. The related to women have been discussed extensively in my Ritual Ablutions for Women (Tahararun-Nisa’).
Before explaining the rules of performing the ghusl it is necessary to mention that all the ghusls are performed in the same manner; the difference os only in the niyyat of each ghusl. For example, for purifying oneself from the ritual impurity of sexual intercourse, one has make the niyyat that he is doing ghusl janabat’.
Ghusl is a ritual bath; it involves washing of the whole body. There are two methods of performing ghusl. One is known as ghusl tartibi, and the other is known as ghusl irtimasi.

1. Ghusl Tartibi
“Ghusl taribi” means an ordinal bath, performed in three stages.
After washing away the najasat (e,g. semen of blood) from the body and after niyyat, the body has to be washed in three stages: First, head down to the neck; then the right side of the body from the shoulder down to the foot; and lastly, the left side of the body.
Each part should be washed thoroughly in such a way that the water reaches the skin. Special care should be taken while washing the head; the hair should be combed (e, g. with your fingers) so that reached the hair-root. While washing side of the body, some part of the left side be washed too, and also, while washing the left side of the body, some part of the right side must be washed.

2. Ghusl Irtimasi:
“Ghusl irtimasi” means a bath involving immersion of the whole body in the water. It is needless to say that such a ghusl can only be done in a body of water, e,g. a pool, river, lake or sea.
After washing away the semen of blood from the body and after niyyat, the whole body should be completely immersed in the water all at once, not gradually. One has to make sure that the water reaches all parts of the body, including hair and the skin under it.
However, ghusl tartibi is preferred to ghusl irtimasi.
What has been mentioned above are wajib acts of ghusl; here we shall explain the things which are recommendable (mustahab, sunnat) during the ghusl. These recommendable acts are five:
1. Washing both hands up to the elbows three times before the ghusl.
2. Gargling three times.
3. Wiping the hands on the whole body to ensure that every part has been thoroughly washed.
4. Combing the hair with the fingers to ensure that the water reaches the hair-roots.
5. (For men only) Doing istibra’ before ghusl janabat. Istibra, in the present context, means “urinating”. The benefit of istibra: If a liquid comes out of one’s penis after completing the ghusl, and he doubts whether it is semen or urine, then should he repeat the ghusl or not? If he had done istibra before the ghusl, then he can assume that the liquid is urine -he will not have to repeat the ghusl; he just has to do wudu for his salat. But, on the other hand, if he had not done istibra before the ghusl, then he has to assume that is the remnant of semen- he will have to do the ghusl again.
‘Ubayullah al-Halabi narrates that someone asked Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a s) about a man who preform s ghusl and then finds some (doubts) drops (on his penis) while he had already urinated before performing the ghusl. (That is, should he consider the drops as urine or semen?) The Imam said, “He will just have to do wudu (for his salat). But if he had not passed urine before the ghusl, then he must repeat the ghusl.”1
This rule of istibra applies only to men. Sulayman bin Khalid asked Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a s) about a man who became ritually impure because of sexual intercourse and then performed ghusl without urinating. Then some drops came out of him. The Imam said, “He must repeat the ghusl. “Sulayman: “What if similar drops come out of a woman after she has performed ghusl?” The Imam said, (A woman does not have to repeat the ghusl Janabat) because what comes out of her is certainly from the (remnants of ) discharge of man.”2
1. Wasa’il, vol. 1, p.517.
2. Ibid, p.482.
This is a summary of ghusl. The recommendable acts of ghusl are in italics type-face.
1. Remove the najasat (semen, blood) from the body.
2 .Niyyat
3. Wash the hands up to the elbows three time.
4. Gargle three times.
5. Wash the head down to the neck; wipe your hand on the face and neck, and comb the hair with your fingers.
6. Wash the right side of your body from the shoulders down to the feet; include some part of the left side also. While washing, wipe the body with your hand.
7. Wash the left side of your body from the shoulders down to the feet; include some part of the right side also .While washing, wipe the body with your hand.
The validity of ghusl depends on certain conditions which are known as “the conditions for the validity of ghusl”. These conditions are ten in number: three conditions are related to the water, four are related to the person and three to the act of ghusl itself.

i. The Water:
1. The water must be mutlaq (unmixed, pure).
2. The water must be tahir (ritually clean).
3. The water must be mubah (lawful) .The details of these conditions are same as the conditions of the water of wudu.

ii. The person:
4. Niyyat
5. All parts of the body must be clean from the impurity (e.g.semen, blood) before starting the ghusl.
6. Use the water should not be harmful to the person who wants to perform ghusl.
7. The ghusl must be performed by the person himself. (The details are same as in wudu.)
8. The place where ghusl is being performed mst be mubah (lawful).
9. ?The ghusl should be performed either in tartibi manner or in irtimasi manner.
10. All parts of the body must be washed thoroughly as explained above.
1. If more than one ghusl become wajib on a person, e.g., janabat, mass mayyit, etc., then one ghusl with the niyyat of all of them will suffice. Zurarah bin A’yun quotes Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s) as follows: “When you perform ghusl (for example, after down), that one ghusl suffices for the (ghusl of) jananbat, jum’ah, ‘Arafah,nahr, halq, sacrifice and ziyarat. When various ghusls become wajib upon you then one ghusl will suffice… And the same (rule) is for the women; one ghusl will suffice for her ghusl of janabat, ihram, jum’ah, and her ghusl for hayz and ‘idd.”1
1. Wasa’il, vol. 1, p.526.
2. All the ghusl, except the ghusl for “medium is-tihazah,” suffice the performer from wudu-provided none of the nawaqiz of wudu ‘have taken place after the ghusl. So a person who has done ghusl janabat, for example, can pray without doing wudu’. Zurarah quotes Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s) about the method of performing ghusl janabat as follows: “…. there is no wudu, neither before it nor after it.”1
3. If one of the nawaqiz of wudu’ (e.g., passing of urine) takes place during ghusl janabat, then one must perform the ghusl again, and in such a case he is also recommended to do wudu ‘after the ghusl. If one of the nawaqiz of wudu’ takes place during the second ghusl, then the ghusl will be affected; but one has to do wudu after it for salat..
4. If one of the causes which makes ghusl wajib takes place during a ghusl, then there are tow possibilities: (a) either the cause is similar to the cause which necessitated the present ghusl, then one has to perform the ghusl again; (b) or cause is dissimilar to the cause of the present ghusl, then he should complete the ghusl and then do another ghusl.
5. Before washing the right side of the body, if one doubts whether or not he has washed the head and the neck,then he should start again from the beginning .But if the doubts after commencing to wash the right side, then he should disregard his doubt. While washing the left side of the body if one doubts whether or not he washed the right side, then he should wash the right side and then wash the left.
1. Wasa’il, vol. 1,p.515; also see p. 503.
6. Ghusl ‘l-Jabirah:
If one has a bandage on his body, then how should he or she do ghusl? Such a person will do ghusl ‘l-jabirah. Ghusl jabirah can be done by observing the rules mentioned in wudu’u l-jabirah: either one lifts the bandage and washes the wound normally, or he washes only around the wound or over the bandage,etc.
* * *


“Janabat” is a ritual impurity caused by the discharge of semen or by sexual intercourse; and the person on whom ghusl janabat becomes wajib is known as “junub”.
The Qur’an says:
O you who believe!
Do not go near prayers (salat)
when you are… junub.
until you have washed yourselves. (4:43)
When you stand up for prayers (salat), …
If you are junub, then purify (yourselves). (5:6)

There are two causes of janabat:
1. Discharge of semen. If does not make any difference whether this discharge is while awake or in a wet-dream, slight or profuse, intentionally or otherwise, in lawful way of unlawful (e.g., masturbation). In all these cases ghusl janabat becomes obligatory (wajib).
If a liquid comes out from a man and he does not know whether or not it is semen, then he should look for the following three signs: (1) emission with passion ; (2) spurting discharge; (3)feeling relaxed after the discharge. If these signs are found together on him, then he should consider the liquid as semen, otherwise not.
If a secretion is discharged from a woman, then it is precautionary wajib for her to do ghusl janabat provided it came with sexual passion and she felt relaxed after it. But if the secretion comes without the sexual passion or without feeling of relaxation after the discharge, then it is not najis and therefore ghusl is not wajib upon her.
2. Sexual Intercourse. It does not make any difference whether the intercourse was lawful or unlawful, and with or without discharge of semen. In Islamic laws, sexual intercourse is defined as the penetration of the glans into the vagina or anus of the woman. That is, for ghusl janabat to become wajib it is not necessary that full penetration or discharge of semen should take place.
In case of sexual intercourse, ghusl janabat becomes wajib on both the man and the woman.

There are certain things in Islam which are so sacred that a Muslim cannot come into contact with them unless he or she is ritually pure and clean. Based on this concept of sacredness, a junub is forbidden from coming into contact, in various ways, with two of the most sacred things in Islam: the Qur’an and the mosque.
The following four acts are haram for the junub before performing the ghusl. Two are related to the Qur’an and the other two are related to mosques.
1. Touching the writing of the Qur’an, the names and attributes of Allah, the names of the Prophet, the Imams and Fatimah (the daughter of the Prophet). This has already been explained on page 48 of this book.
2. Reciting the verses of the Qur’an in which sajadah (prostration) is wajib .These verses are: verse 15 of chapter 32; verse 15 of chapter 41;verse 62 of chapter 53; and verse 19 of chapter 96. It is better not to recite even a single verse from these chapters.
3. Entering or staying in the mosque.
The Qur’an says, “O you who believe!…Nor (are you allowed to enter the masjid) if you are junub until you have washed yourself except passing thorough.” (4:43) Based on this verse and relevant ahadith, the mujtahids have concluded that a junub is totally forbidden from staying in the mosque.
Of course, as the verse says, one can pass through the mosques (by entering from one door and leaving from the other). However, this exception of passing though does not apply to the following places: the Masjidu ‘l-Haram (the sacred Mosque at Mecca), Masjidu’n-Nabi (the Mosque of the Prophet at Medina), and shrines of the Imams -a junub cannot even pass though them. Jamil asked Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s) whether or not a junub can sit in mosque? The Imam said, “No! But the he may pass through all of them except the Sacred Mosque (at Mecca) and the Prophet’s Mosque (at Medina) .”1Bakr bin Muhammad narrates that once he and his friends were going towards the house of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq, when they met Abu Basir in the way. When Abu Basir came to
1. Wasa’il, vol. 1,p.485.
know that they were going to visit Imam, he joined them. As Bakr and his friends came to know later on, Abu Basir was in the state of janabat at that time. When they entered the house of the Imam and greeted him, the Imam looked towards Abu Basir and said, “O Abu Basir ! Do not you know that a junub person should not enter the houses of the prophets?”! Abu Basir himself has also narrated this incident and quotes the Imam as follows: “Do not you know that a junub should not enter the houses of the prophets and their children…”2
4. Leaving something in taking it out form a mosque.
* * *

The following things are makruh (disliked) for the junub: 1. Eating and drinking is makruh for a junub except after doing wudu’ or gargling or rinsing the nose. 2. Reciting more than seven verses from the Qur’an. This applies to other than the four chapters with wajib sajdah mentioned above. 3. Touching the cover of the Qur’an. 4. Sleeping except after doing wudu’.

1. Salat (prayers) except salatu ‘l-mayyit (the prayer for a dead Muslim) which can be performed even in the state of janabat.
2. Wajib tawaf (the circumambulation of the Ka’bah in hajj). Allah says, “And We assigned Ibrahim and Isma’il to purify My House for the circumambulators (of the Ka’bah)….” (2: 125; 22:26) It is not difficult to infer
1. Wasa’il, vol. 1, p.489.
2. Ibid, p. 489-90.
that if the House is to be cleaned and purified for tawaf, then the people who will be doing the tawaf must also be clean and pure. See also section H in wudu.
3. Fasting .If someone knowingly remains junub until dawn in Ramadan, his fasting will become invalid (batil)

Tayammum is also an act of worship consisting of wiping the forehead and the two hands .It is a substitute for wudu’ and ghusl. The Qur’an says:
O you who believe!…
If you are sick, or on a journey,
or one of you has come from toilet, or you have
‘touched’ (i.e., had intercourse with) your women
and you cannot find water,
then you should do tayammum on the pure earth
by wiping a part of your face and your hands.
(4:43; also see 5:6)

After the niyyat for tayammum, do the followings:-
1. Strike both palms onto the earth.
2. Wipe the palms together over the forehead from the hair-line up the brow and above the nose. “Above the nose” means up to the bridge of the nose. Eyes, nose and cheeks are not to be included. Should the complete palms of both hands wipe the forehead? No, it is not necessary that the entire palms of both hands should wipe the forehead; the important thing is to make sure that the entire forehead has been wiped.
3. Then wipe the palm of the left hand over the back of the right from the wrist down to the fingertips. Then do the same with the right palm on the left.
4. Then again strike both palms onto the earth.
5. Then repeat the acts mentioned in No.3 above.
This manner of tayammum is based on the ahadith which have elaborated on the words of the Qur’an which say, “do tayammum … by wiping a part of your face and your hands.”

The verse of tayammum mentioned above, says clearly that “do tayammum on the pure earth. “Based on this verse and the explanatory ahadith, our mujtahids say that tayammum should be done on one of the following forms of earth (in order of preference):
1. Earth (fine or compacted)
2. Sand
3. Pebbles or stone-other than mineral or precious stones.
If no form of earth is available then, and only then, one can performed tayammum on the dust (that had gathered on the floor or the ground, on a carpet or a cloth). If dust is not available, then mud can be used but in such a way that after the hands have been placed on it, they should be cleaned by rubbing them together.
All the items of tayammum must have the following conditions:-
1. It must be dry as much as possible.
2. It must be tahir (pure).
3. It must be mubah (lawful).
4. The place where the above mentioned things are also must be mubah.

Tayammum can be done in the following seven circumstances:-
1. When enough water cannot be obtained for ‘wudu’ or ghusl.
If there still is ample time for performing salat, then one should wait and pray when he reaches a place where water is available.
When water cannot be obtained, is it obligatory to search for it?
If one knows that water is not available, then it is not obligatory for him to search for it. But if there is a probability of finding water, then it is wajib to search for it until one becomes sure of its unavailability. In the latter case, if one is in plain and clear land, then he should search for a distant of 400 steps in two directions; if he is in a hilly area or in a forest, then he should search for 200 steps in all four directions. However, if one is sure of water’s unavailability in a certain directions, then it is not necessary to search in that directions.
2. When water is available but difficult to reach.
It does not make any difference whether this difficulty is physical or otherwise. Therefore, if reaching for water involves danger of life, reputation or property, then one should do tayammum .For example :owing to old-age or illness it is difficult to reach to the water, or in going for water a person is endangered by animals or thieves; or the owner demands outrageous price for water, etc.
3. When use of water for ‘wudu’ or ghusl is dangerous to one’s health or life.
For example :one who fears that using water might make him sick or prolong his illness, then he should do tayammum. However, if use of warm water in such a case is harmless, then tayammum cannot be substitute of the wudu’ or ghusl.
4. When water is available but is afraid that by using that water he will put himself, his companions or his domesticated animals in danger of thirst. In such a case, one should perform tayammum instead of wudu’ or ghusl.
5. When the time of salat is so short if one starts to do wudu’ or ghusl his prayers will be qada whereas by performing tayammum he will be able to say his prayers in time. In such a case one should do tayammum.
6. When the body or the only available cloth of a person is najis; and he finds that if he uses the water for wudu’ or ghusl, his body or cloth will remain najis. In such a case he should first purify his body or his cloth with the available water and then do tayammum.
7. When the use of water depends on those things which have been forbidden by the shari’ah. For example, the water has been obtained without the permission of the owner, or it is an unlawful (ghasbi) utensil or the utensil is made of gold or silver in which one cannot do wudu’ or ghusl. In all such cases, one should do tayammum.

Similar to what you read in wudu and ghusl, the validity of tayammum depends on certain conditions. These conditions are five in number:-
1. Niyyat. If the tayammum is only one, then it is not necessary to specify it whether it is a substitute of wudu or ghusl.
2. Continuity (muwalat). The acts of tayammum must follow each other.
3. Order (tartibi). All the acts must be done in the order describe above.
4. The parts of the body relevant to tayammum (i.e., fore-head and the two hands) must be tahir and there shouldn’t be any type of cover on the, e.g., ring, nail-polish, etc.
5. Under normal circumstance, a person must do tayammum by himself. But in case of disability, someone else may help him. In the latter case, the helper should take the hands of the helped and strike them on the earth and do the tayammum; if this is not possible, then the helper should strike his own hands on the earth and then wipe the fore-head and the hands of the helped.

If there is ample time for prayers, then one is not allowed to perform his salaat with tayammum unless he becomes sure of water’s unavailability .
What happens if water becomes available while one is performing his salat with tayammum?
If water becomes available while one is performing his salat with tayammum, then there can be two different circumstances : (1) The water was found after he had already gone to the first ruku’ -his salat is valid and there is no need to repeat it. (2) The water was found before he had gone to the first ruku’ -he will have to repeat his salat with wudu. This rule is based on a question which Zurarah had asked Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s): “What should a person do if water comes while he has already started his salat (with tayammum)?” The Imam said,” As long as the person has not yet gone to ruku’, he should leave his prayer and do wudu; but if he has gone to ruku’, then he should continue his prayer. Indeed, the tayammum is one of the two purifications.”1
What happens if water becomes available after one has performed the salat with tayammum?
If water becomes available after the salat has been performed, then it is not wajib to repeat that salat with wudu’.
* * *

Tayammum is a sufficient purification; a person who has done tayammum is permitted to do all those things whose validity depend on wudu’ or ghusl, e.g., entering a mosque, touching the writing of the Qur’an, etc. This is valid for as long as water is unavailable ; once the water become available, tayammum automatically becomes invalid.
1. Wasa’il, vol. 1, p. 991-2.
If more than one ghusls are wajib on a person, then a single tayammum with the niyyat of all those ghusl will suffice.
A person on whom ghusl jananbat is wajib has to do one tayammum instead of the ghusl; there is no need for him or her to do another tayammum for wudu’. But if a ghusl other than ghusl janabat is wajib on that person, then he or she has to do two tayammums: one instead of the ghusl and the other instead of wudu’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button