Ritual Bathing (الغسل)

Ghusl becomes an obligation when semen is ejaculated due to sexual excitement, – even if it is resultant from merely fantasizing in your mind – when the genitalia come into one another, at the end of Haaid (Menstrual cycle) and Neefaas (Postpartum bleeding). (It is also compulsory when it results) from a nocturnal (sexual “wet”) dream that produces a wetness.
Death and Entering into Islam also obligate the Ghusl.

The Ghusl that is obligatory is:

Water is to be poured on all parts of the body and that it inculcates in him. This is to (also) include rinsing the mouth and blowing the nose, rubbing (with the water) all the body parts that one is able (to reach). The Ghusl is not legally acceptable (cannot perform ¡¥Ibadah with it) unless (it is preceded with) Niyah (intention) to remove oneself from the state of defilement.
It is desired to begin by washing the limbs that are washed in Wudu’ except for the feet and to wash the right limbs first and side first.

‘Aisha (radiyallahu anha) reported: When Allah’s Messenger (alayhis salatu was salam) bathed because of sexual intercourse, he first washed his hands: he then poured water with his right hand on his left and washed his private parts. He then performed ablution as is done for prayer. He then took some water and put his fingers and moved them through the roots of his hair. And when he found that these had been properly moistened, then poured three handfuls on his head and then poured water over his body and subsequently washed his feet. (Saheeh Muslim)


The Ghusl is legislated (to be performed before):

  • Salatul Jum’aah
  • The two ‘Eed Prayers
  • For the one who washes a deceased person
  • For Ihraam
  • For the entrance into Makkah

Ghusl (Total Bath)

Allah said:

 وَإِن كُنتُمۡ جُنُبً۬ا فَٱطَّهَّرُواْ‌ۚ

– سُوۡرَةُ المَائدة –

“And if ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body” (Quran 5:6)

Ghusl in Islam means the bathing of the entire body with water. Ghusl is required as an obligatory act in the following cases:

  1. After the discharge of semen as a result of stimulation whether awake or asleep (i.e. in a wet dream). This state is known in Arabic as “JUNUB”. If, after the dream no wetness is traced in one’s clothing, bathing is not obligatory. However, in case wetness is found but without recalling any dream, performing Ghusl is obligatory.
  2. After sexual intercourse (or the mere coming together of the two organs of a man and a woman, even though there may be no actual ejaculation) performing Ghusl is required.
  3. Following a period of menstruation, a woman is required to perform Ghusl.
  4. At the end of 40 days after childbirth, a woman is required to perform Ghusl but if the bleeding stops before completing the 40 days period, then she must make the Ghusl as soon as the bleeding stops.
  5. When a Muslim dies, Ghusl is required for him/her except for the Jihad Martyr (Shaheed).

 Occasions for which Ghusl is preferred

 Ghusl is recommended in the following cases:

  1. Before going to Jumah Congregational (Friday Prayer).
  2. Before going to Eid Prayers (Muslim annual feast prayers).
  3. Before undertaking Umrah or Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah).
  4. Upon washing a corpse. (According to many scholars, the performance of Ghusl is preferred for a person who washes a corpse).
  5. When a disbeliever reverts to Islam.

 Essential Requirements of Ghusl

There are two essential requirements which need to be fulfilled for Ghusl to be valid. These are as follows:

  1. Intention to perform Ghusl is necessary because it is the dividing line between acts performed as a mere custom and deeds which are rewardable acts of worship. However, the intention is only by heart and need not be uttered.
  2. The entire body should be washed. Water should reach and flow freely over every part of the body.

 How Ghusl is Performed

Besides the above two essential requirements, there are also other voluntary acts recommended for Ghusl. Both the essential and the voluntary acts are now integrated here below to demonstrate how the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wassallam) used to perform the Ghusl:

  1. Intend by heart to perform Ghusl.
  2. Wash both hands up to the wrists three times.
  3. Wash the sex organs properly.
  4. Perform Wudhu as usual (in the manner already discussed) except, that the washing of the feet would be delayed until later when all the rest of the body is bathed.
  5. Pour water over the head three times, massaging the hair to allow water to reach its roots.
  6. Pour water liberally over the entire body, beginning with the right side and then, the left side ensuring that no part of the body is untouched by water such as the armpits, inside the earlobes, inside the navel, between the fingers and toes, etc.
  7. Finally, move a little further from where you were and wash your feet, beginning with your right foot and then, the left.


  1. A woman will perform Ghusl just as a man does, except, that if she has plaited hair, she need not undo it. She only needs to throw three handfuls of water over her head (this is for the Junub [the one who is in the state of major impurity after sexual intercourse or semen discharge] but for the one who has just finished her monthly period or post-birth period, she must undo her plaited hair).
  2. The person may after completing the Ghusl recite the supplication for concluding Ghusl which should be recited outside the toilet/bathroom and which is the same as the one recited after completing Wudhu.

 Acts Forbidden to Persons who are required to Perform Ghusl

Persons required to perform Ghusl are forbidden to undertake certain acts. These are as follows:

  1. Any type of prayer whether obligatory or voluntary.
  2. Circumambulating the Ka’abah (Tawaf).
  3. Touching or carrying the Holy Qur’an. However, the prohibition does not apply to other books which contain Qur’anic passages such as commentaries of the Holy Qur’an or works of Islamic jurisprudence.
  4. Reciting the Holy Qur’an.
  5. Staying Inside the Mosque.
This entry was posted in كتاب الطهارة (Book Of Purification) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Ritual Bathing (الغسل)

  1. mariam says:

    assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh!

    shukran for this very informative article.

    barakallahu feekum!

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