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. 
Prayer in Islam (Salat) is the most important practical principle such that no one can be exempted from [i]. Soldiers involved in a war, patients in hospitals, passengers on airplanes or ships, all should perform the prayers (Salat) even with some modifications based on their circumstances. Of course, Islam has placed a lot of emphasis on prayer for some reasons. These reasons are reviewed in this article as the Philosophy of Prayer in Islam.
According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP): “The prayer is the pillar of religion, and its parable is that of the prop of a tent – when the prop remains upright, the pegs and ropes remain straight and upstanding, but when the prop bends or breaks neither the pegs nor the ropes remain upright” . This statement highlights the importance of the prayer in Islam.
The inclination toward goodness and avoiding evils are of the outcomes of practicing the prayers. "Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing ... And Allah knows that which you do" (29:45). In other words, the prayer in Islam is the base, and every other act of a Muslim is influenced by that.
There are two main roles for the prayer in Islam: the spiritual promoter and the permanent reminder. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “The prayer of a person is (in reality) a light in his heart, so whoever desires, can illuminate his/her heart (through the prayers)” .
Doing the prayers every day, one repeatedly remembers God in intervals, renews his\her promise of servitude to God, purifies him\herself and tries to keep away all the evil thoughts and actions . According to Imam Ali (AS), Evil will be jealous of the person who stands up for the prayer because he sees the Mercy of God encompassing that person . Hence, the prayer as a repeated reminder stops from sins and develops Infallibility.
Some discuss that why one should perform the prayers five times a day? Is it to show up every day and remind God that we are there and we are His servants? Of course not! As stated earlier, it is to remind us of God unceasingly and to remember that we are His servants. If one forgets for an instant that He is present everywhere and observes us (“Neither drowsiness befalls Him nor sleep” (2:255)), he\she might be easily at the risk of committing evil deeds. These evil deeds might be harmful to either oneself or even others. So, the prayer has both the individual and social consequences.
A real prayer has some prerequisites; cleansing through ablution (Wudu), standing in the presence of God with the whole heart and body, not wearing usurped clothes or not performing the prayer in a usurped place, etc. According to Imam Ali (AS), the prayer will not be accepted if the clothes of a person and where he\she does the prayer are not lawful (Halal) . Moreover, Imam Ali (AS) said that whoever performs the prayer and perceives what he\she is doing and saying, his\her sins will be forgiven once the prayer ends .
All these demonstrate that the attempt for performing a true prayer results in several accomplishments such as respecting the rights of others, purity of the appearance and the inner self, etc. Having fulfilled all these conditions, one could meet the divine requirements and reach the happiness promised through performing a “complete prayer”.
Some people suppose that they do not need to perform the prayers. They say that serving the human beings who are the creatures of God equals worshipping God. They claim that there is no need to do the prayers as an act of worship. Instead, they try to do good to other humans. To answer, the prayer is a support for the morals and social principles. As stated above, it reminds us of the ethical behavior, the social responsibilities that one has towards others, and prevents from doing wrong to others . Hence, the prayer can never be replaced with any other good deed.
[i] The only exception is about women during menstruation.
- Shaikh al-Hur al-Aamili, "Wasail al-Shia", p. 214.
- A. al-Hindi, “Kanz al-Ummal”, vol. 7, T. 18973.
- Allama Majlisi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 82, p. 207.
- H. Harrani, "Tuhaf al-Uqul", p174.
- " Makarim al-Akhlaq", p. 300.
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. The root of the word in most of the dictionaries refers to strong heat or burnt earth. Some commentators use this meaning to refer to the heat and hardship that people endure during Ramadan fasting. However, there is another meaning for the root of the Arabic word “Ramadan” which refers to the clouds and the rain at the end of summer and beginning of fall.  Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “Indeed, it is called Ramadan because it burns the sins”.  In this narration both meanings can be adopted, since based on the first meaning it burns the sins, and based on the second meaning, it quenches the fire that is the consequence of sins.
Contemplating on the verse of the Quran “The month of Ramadhan is one in which the Quran was sent down as guidance to mankind, with manifest proofs of guidance and the Criterion…” (2:185), one can conclude that the second meaning that was mentioned for the word “Ramadan” is more suitable to describe this month; a month in which blessings and bounties of Allah (SWT) shower on His servants. One of those blessings as mentioned in the above verse is the Holy Quran which was revealed in Ramadan on the greatest night of the year: “Indeed We sent it down on the Night of Ordainment” (97: 1). In another verse, Allah (SWT) mentions, “We sent it down on a blessed night.” (44:3)
The three mentioned verses have some points that can help us think and discover if the month of Ramadan became a holy month after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) brought Islam, or was it always a holy month throughout history?
As mentioned in the above verses and other verses of the Quran, Allah (SWT) tells us that:
1- The Quran was revealed in the Holy month of Ramadan. (2:185)
2- The Quran was revealed on the night of decree. (97: 1)
3- The night of decree is so high in a position that no normal human being can understand its status and value: “And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months.” (97:2-3)
4- According to verse 44: 4, every firm ruling is dispatched on that night. These rulings are the decrees concerning the way the affairs of the world should run until the same time next year. Such a concept which is related to the creation should have been an eternal matter and could not have come about just by the advent of Islam.
By doing simple math on the above verses, we can conclude that before the Quran was revealed, the night of decree existed as a blessed night, and by Allah’s will the Quran was revealed in this blessed night. Therefore, Ramadan always existed as a blessed month in which the night of decree has always been a prominent night.
The word fasting is mentioned a few times in the Quran when Allah orders Prophet Zachariah (PBUH) and Saint Mary to avoid talking to people: “Then if you see any human, say, ‘‘Indeed I have vowed a fast to the All-beneficent, so I will not speak to any human today.’’ (19:26)
The above verse shows that there have been different traditions of avoiding specific things, which has been called fasting. However, the verse of the Quran that makes fasting an obligation on Muslims says: “O you who have faith! Prescribed for you is fasting as it was prescribed for those who were before you, so that you may be Godwary.” (2:183)
The commentators of the Quran have disagreed about the purport of this verse. Some argue that the phrase as it was prescribed for those who were before you is referring to the concept of fasting only. It means that the previous nations were told to fast like you are told, however, the verse is silent about the time or the way of their fasting. Others, say that as it was prescribed for those who were before you means that the fast of Ramadan was prescribed for them exactly in the same way that it is prescribed for you.
Looking into the rules and descriptions of fasting in Christian and Jewish traditions would certainly support the first view since neither of these religions have fasting in Ramadan as part of their traditions. However, some commentators, quoting Hasan al-Basri have argued that the verse refers to Christian fasting which was originally ordained to be in Ramadan but they changed it over time. They say that fasting during the Lent season which in Christian tradition is related to the testing of Jesus in the wilderness is not the original concept of fast in Christianity. Rather, what was originally prescribed for them was the fast of Ramadan, but since as a lunar month it circulated over different seasons, the leaders of the church decided to fix it in the spring and add ten days to it as an atonement for such a change. It was then called Lent and related to the 40 days of Jesus’s tests in the wilderness.
However, we have to regard this as an odd view, since nothing in history can support such a development. Thus, as most of the commentators say, as it was prescribed for those who were before you, means that people of previous Scriptures were also told to fast, although not exactly in the month of Ramadan.
However, there is a third view here which can be regarded as a combination of the above two views, and as a view that makes the sanctity of Ramadan of a primordial nature. It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (AS) that “Allah (SWT) has not made fasting of Ramadan compulsory on any nation before Muslims.” He was asked about the interpretation of the verse “as it was prescribed for those who were before you”, where he replied: “Allah had made fasting of Ramadhan compulsory on the Prophets before you, but He prioritized this nation by it and made fasting an obligation on the Prophet and his followers.”  This means although fasting of Ramadan was not prescribed for previous nations, the past prophets used to honor Ramadan by fasting during the month. Something similar to this is reported about Hajj too. It is narrated that although Hajj is an exclusive obligation of the nation of Islam, however, prophets of the past nations including Moses and Jesus performed Hajj.
It is also narrated that the first Prophet who fasted was Prophet Adam: “when Adam ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, that fruit remained in his stomach for thirty days, and it was then that Allah made the thirty days of fasting obligatory on Adam and his generation.” 
In conclusion, what could be firmly said, is that fasting is not an obligation specific to Muslims only. All nations who received Scriptures were also told to fast like Muslims are told to fast, although the details about how and when they must fast may have been different.
- Mizan al-Hikmah, Hadith No. 7441
- Man- la- Yahzuruhul faqih, vol. 2, p. 99
- Man- la- Yahzuruhul faqih, vol. 2, p. 74
- Imam Fakhr-e Razi, Tafseer Surah Al-Baqarah, P. 59