Full body ablution (Ghusl) refers to an Islamic ritual in which an adult (Mukallaf) Muslim is recommended to wash his/her full body with specific rulings.
In this article, we will explain different types of full-body ablution (Ghusl) and their rulings.
Muslim jurists have driven the rules of full-body ablution (Ghusl) based on different verses of the Quran and different narrations and traditions. The main verse of the Quran that is referred to in deriving the rules of full-body ablution (Ghusl) is the following:
“O you who have faith! Do not approach prayer when you are intoxicated, [not] until you know what you are saying, nor [enter mosques] in the state of ritual impurity until you have washed yourselves, except while passing through. But if you are sick or on a journey, or any of you has come from the toilet, or you have touched women, and you cannot find water, then make your full-body ablution on clean ground and wipe a part of your faces and your hands. Indeed Allah is all-excusing, all-forgiving.” (4:43)
Based on the above verse, Muslim jurists have provided the following rules for full-body ablution (Ghusl):
Different types of full-body ablution (Ghusl) can be categorized as follows:
a) The full-body ablution (Ghusl) for ritual impurity (Janabah)
b) The full-body ablution (Ghusl) for touching a corpse (Mass al-Mayyit)
c) The full-body ablution (Ghusl) given to a corpse (Mayyit)
d) The full-body ablution (Ghusl) that becomes obligatory on the account of a vow (Nazr), oath (Qassam), etc.
a) The full-body ablution (Ghusl) for menstruation (Haydh)
b) The full-body ablution (Ghusl) for lochia (Nifas)
c) The full-body ablution (Ghusl) for irregular blood discharge (Istihadhah) 
There are some specific times that Muslims are recommended to perform full-body ablution (Ghusl), for example, the Friday Full-body ablution (Ghusl-e Jum’ah), or the full-body ablution (Ghusl) that are recommended to perform on specific Islamic occasions such as the nights of decree. (Laylatul Qadr). 
There are two methods to perform full-body ablution (Ghusl) that will be described in this part. The first thing to do before starting the full-body ablution (Ghusl) is to make an intention for it. However, it is not necessary to perform a separate full-body ablution (Ghusl) for different intentions.
If there are several recommended (Mustahab) or obligatory full-body ablutions (Ghusl) to be performed and one performs one full-body ablution (Ghusl) with the intention of performing all of them, it is sufficient. However, if one of them is full-body ablution (Ghusl) of ritual impurity (Janabah) and the intention is made to perform it, it suffices for all other full-body ablutions (Ghusl), although caution is to make the intention for all of them. 
In sequential full-body ablution (Ghusl), one must – based on obligatory precaution – first, with the intention of full-body ablution (Ghusl), wash the entire head and neck and then the entire body. It is better to first wash the right side of the body, then the left. If one intentionally or due to being negligent in learning the laws of full-body ablution (Ghusl)does not wash the entire head and neck before washing the body, then based on obligatory precaution his full-body ablution (Ghusl)is invalid. Furthermore, based on obligatory precaution, when performing full-body ablution (Ghusl), it is not sufficient to make the intention of full-body ablution (Ghusl) when moving the head, neck, or body while they are already under the flow of water; rather, the part that one wants to perform full-body ablution (Ghusl)on – on the condition that it is already under the flow of water – must be taken out from under the flow of water and then washed with the intention of full-body ablution (Ghusl). 
In this type of full-body ablution (Ghusl) water must cover the entire body in one go. However, it is not necessary for the entire body to be out of the water before starting the full-body ablution (Ghusl): rather it will suffice if part of the body is out of the water and the person goes under the water completely with the intention of performing full-body ablution (Ghusl). An example of instantaneous immersive full-body ablution (Ghusl)is when a person, with the int¬ention of performing full-body ablution (Ghusl), dives/jumps into a swimming pool and in doing so completely immerses himself in the water; or, the person may already be partially immersed in the water and he then completely immerses himself with the intention of full-body ablution (Ghusl). 
In gradual immersive full-body ablution (Ghusl), one must gradually – but in a way that can be commonly considered to be one unified action – immerse his body in water with the intention of full-body ablution (Ghusl). In this type of full-body ablution (Ghusl), it is necessary for each part of the body to be out of the water before it is washed. An example of gradual immersive full-body ablution (Ghusl) is when a person, with the intention of performing full-body ablution (Ghusl), immerses part of his body in a bathtub of water and then takes that part out of the water; then, he immerses another part of his body and takes it out, and so on until all the parts of his body have been immersed. 
The water that is permissible for full-body ablution (Ghusl) can be Rainwater, Well water, water from spring, sea, or river water, water of melting snow or hail, the water of a big tank or pond. Ghusl is not allowed with unclean or impure water or water extracted from fruit and trees. 
Islam considers Praying (Salat) five times a day  as one of the most important practical principles. The more times one does something, the more it becomes part of him/her and his/her character; so does prayer. Also, if there were just one prayer a day, people would be more at risk of skipping it by telling themselves: it is only one! Let’s do it tomorrow! But, essentially, why should Muslims perform the daily prayers? Here are some of the answers to this question.
Of the prerequisites of the prayer is the purity of the body from major impurities [i], minor ones [ii], and the purity of clothes and place. These conditions need a state of physical and spiritual cleanliness to stand before God. So, praying five times a day bounds Muslims to take a bath regularly, wash the face and hands at least five times a day.
These are the practices of personal and public hygiene. According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), the prayers act like a river passes nearby one’s house: “If there was a river at your door and you took a bath in it five times a day, would you notice any dirt on you? That is the parable of the five prayers by which Allah removes sins from one’s soul.”.
Moreover, several narrations recommend wearing perfume and brushing the teeth before ablution (Wudu) and prayers (Salat) [2,3,4]. These and other narrations, emphasize the importance of appearing clean in public and private.
Muslims, all, should pray in the same uniform way, and manner, facing the same direction. No matter what their social position is, where they are on this planet, and what language they speak. This, particularly, means that all human beings are the same before God. Moreover, all the identical acts and words during prayer and positioning towards the same direction, are the practices of promoting solidarity among Muslims, especially when repeated at some times every day.
Praying five times a day at certain intervals is an important tool. Since it allows a Muslim to organize his/her day, be aware of time, practice and take the control over his/her daily life.
Much of what we say in our prayers is actually asking for divine help to be righteous in our decisions and actions. And, God has promised in the Quran to respond to whoever that calls him (40:60). This gives a good feeling. Knowing that a kind, wise and superior power hears us and will help us through the hard moments. He also makes us more confident and determined in our decisions.
Just as we need food to meet our physical needs, Islam teaches us to pray and worship to get the food for our souls. That is inner peace and tranquility.
One of the main objectives of daily prayers (Salat) is to remember God. It also helps to purify ourselves and keep away all the evil thoughts and actions. "Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing ... And Allah knows that which you do." (29:45).
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said that Satan is afraid of the faithful Muslim who performs the prayers (Salat) in their right times. Once a Muslim forgets to do the prayer at the right time, Satan becomes encouraged to tempt him/her to do great sins .
If we once do wrong to someone, we will be ashamed of him/her, or we do not even dare to face him/her the next time we meet. Prayer has the same effect. It is the confrontation of one's conscience, knowing that nothing can be hidden from God, whether manifested or concealed. Then, it becomes more difficult to commit evil deeds when we have to stand five times a day in front of God who knows every detail about us.
Another purpose of prayer for a Muslim is to remember. At fixed intervals, no matter how busy a Muslim is, he/she might ask himself, “OK, why am I here, what do I do in this world?” Also, prayer helps Muslims to be accountable for their daily actions which greatly change their perceptions of life.
On top of everything, worshiping God is the purpose for which the humankind was created: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (51:56).
Last but not least, what do we usually do to one who has done a favor to us? The answer is: try our best to compensate, or at least to thank him/her even several times. Now, how can we compensate the blessings that God has given us? It is not possible! Then, we pray to thank Him for all the wonderful, beautiful blessings that He has given us. Although we do not deserve many of them.
[i] Can be removed by ritual bathing (Ghusl)
[ii] Can be removed by ablution (Wudu)
- Ibn Babawayh, “Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih”, vol.1, p. 316.
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 5, p. 511.
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 5, p. 515.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Al-Khisal”, p. 481.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Uyun akhbar al-Rida”, ch. 30, T. 21.
Unity between Muslims is considered as a crucial matter in Islam. Thus, the Quran compares discordance and disunity among Muslims to “a pit of the Fire”: "And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided...And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it." (3:103). Looking at the former nations, we find them honored and glorious when they were united, but disgraced and vulnerable when they fell apart . Hajj, as one of the obligatory rituals in Islam, is one of the ways which encourages unity among Muslim nations. Let’s see how.
There is no other ritual, social, or political program in Islam greater than Hajj, where every Muslim from any corner of the world finds the chance to approach others and communicate with them freely.
Besides, it provides the opportunity to strengthen the emotional, social, and religious bonds with other Muslims. Hajj is a social kind of worship that represents the glorious Islamic unity through its numerous participants of various nationalities, skin colors, languages, and sects who are like brothers (49:10). They have left behind the religious conflicts, and follow the same intention, perform the same actions, and wear the same outfit.
In Surah Ma’idah, it is stated that coming together around Ka’aba makes Muslims powerful (5:97). In other words, the aim of Hajj for Muslims is not just performing some physical actions. It is to bring Muslims of different races and origins together to get acquainted, communicate with each other, initiate political, economic and cultural relations, and find themselves closer to each other despite their many differences.
Besides, Islam calls “every” Muslim to Hajj, which means that everyone, regardless of origin and skin color, is invited to the land of Allah. It reminds us of what the Quran says; that there is no superiority except rightfulness and the most righteous, is the noblest in the sight of Allah (49:13). This is an important message, especially for the less powerful Islamic nations, causing them to feel more confident and encouraging them to communicate with other Muslims, which ultimately results in a more united Muslim society.
In a discourse that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) has given during one of his Hajj pilgrimages, he described Muslims as brothers, and like a single hand (a united community) when facing the enemies . Emphasizing brotherhood among Muslims during Hajj shows that this ritual was a good representation of unity. Thus, Muslims are expected to support each other and be close to each other as they are during Hajj.
During Hajj, Muslims can exchange ideas with Muslims of other sects. In the early years of Islam when non-Muslims also went to Mecca for their religious rituals, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) took this opportunity to introduce Islam to them and exchange ideas with them to spread his message and find followers in other cities, too. In Hajj, many misunderstandings and ideological conflicts can be discussed among Muslims, and the real beliefs of different sects about the others can be clarified. Hence, the wrong prejudgments and hostilities can be rectified. According to Imam Sadiq (AS), Hajj is a means to gather all Muslims from east to west to let them get acquainted with each other and achieve consensus .
Through the communications that Muslims have during Hajj, they find out the social achievements and national advances in other Muslim nations and might decide to follow their path. They also learn about the social problems and deficiencies of others and might find solutions by further cooperation. Moreover, they become aware of the real political situations of other Muslim countries, especially the difficulties that sometimes other countries impose on them. For instance, one of the goals of Hajj is to announce the support of Muslims for Palestinians and those oppressed in the world. This helps Muslims to become more united against common enemies of Islam.
To summarize, Hajj is a time that a Muslim finds him/herself in the accompaniment of millions of others who wear as simple as him/her and who repeat the same words as him/her as they move around Ka’aba. This is where “one” is transformed into the totality of ‘people’, establishing the universality of the Islamic community with the goal of approaching Allah.
- Imam Ali (AS), Nahj-ul Balaqa, Infallible 192
- M. B. Majlesi, "Bihar al-Anwar", vol. 21, p. 105.
- Shaikh al-Hur al-Aamili, “Wasa’il al-Shi’a”, vol. 11, p. 14