The Holy Prophet has stated "The key to paradise is Prayer (Salaat), and the key to Prayer is cleanliness." (Saheeh Muslim). Here cleanliness means that the place of Prayer and the person’s clothes, should be clean. Furthermore, the person should be clean from the greater and smaller impurities - i.e. he should not be in need of a bath (Ghusl) and should be with ablution (Wuzu).
The Holy Prophet said: “The angels of mercy do not enter a house in which there is an image, a dog or a person in a state of greater impurity (Janabah)." (Abu Dawood).
The water to be used
Water used for bathing or for ablution must be in its natural state - i.e. free from colour, smell and taste. Furthermore, it must be unused. If the body is free from impurities, the water once used for bathing or ablution still remains pure, but cannot be used again for bathing or ablution. Similarly if one is in need of ablution or bath, and he dips or touches the water with any unwashed (un-purified) part of his body (finger, nail, hand etc), it will render the water as used - and therefore not useful for ablution or bathing. Using such water for drinking or cooking is disliked (Makrooh). However this water can be used for washing clothes.
In order to make "used" water capable of being used for bathing or ablution, add clean unused water in greater quantity to it - or simply pour more clean unused water in the utensil so that the utensil begins to overflow. This will make the entire water usable for bathing or ablution.
The obligations in ablution (wuzu)
The following four (4) acts are obligatory in ablution:
- Washing the entire face: that is from the top of the forehead to the bottom of the chin and from ear to ear. Water must flow over the entire skin area at least once. If the moustache or eyebrows have thick hair, it is obligatory only to wash the hair. If the hair is sparse, the skin must also be washed. Similarly, if hair in the beard is not thick, the inner skin must be washed. The area around the lips which remains exposed in the natural state when the mouth is closed, must also be washed.
- Washing both hands, up to and including the elbows. Washing any body part means that at least two drops of water must have flowed over each and every spot of it (not leaving out any spot equal to the breadth of a hair). Simply wetting the body part or spreading water over it like oil, or the flowing of just drop is not classified as "washing" - and will not complete the ablution or bath. All types of ornaments which are tight to the skin must be removed and the skin below it washed, as described above. If nail polish has been applied, ablution or bath cannot be complete without removing it. However, ablution or bath will be complete in cases where the thing remaining on the skin is such that it is continuously or sometimes required and to remove it causes a burden - whether such a thing is above or below the nails or on any other part of the body - or whether such a thing is hard and water does not reach the skin below it - such as dough on the hands of kneaders, paint on the hands of a painter, henna for women, ink for the writer, sand or mud for the labourer and kohl under the eyelids or ordinary dirt for the common man.
- "Masah" (Stroking with wet hands) of one fourth of the head: Hands should be wet for performing the "Masah" whether due to water remaining from washing the hands, or by wetting them with fresh water. If the hands remain wet after "Masah", it will not suffice for "Masah" of any other body part.
- Washing both feet: It is necessary to wash both feet fully - i.e. all sides of toes, inner parts of the toes, top part of the toes, heels, soles and the entire ankles. If water does not reach between the toes naturally, it is necessary to do “Khilaal”, i.e. pass the little finger between them to make the water reach there.
The Sunnah (Prophet's traditions ) in ablution (wuzu)
The following acts are Sunnah (Prophet's traditions) in ablution:
- Making an intention (Niyah) for obeying Allah and for the gaining of reward.
- Performing ablution while sitting in a clean place.
- Reciting "Bismillah Shareef" at the beginning of ablution.
- Washing both hands up to the wrists.
- Brushing the teeth with "Miswaak"
- Rinsing the mouth thrice with water from the hand.
- Rinsing the nose thrice by inhaling water up to the nose bone.
- Using the right hand for inhaling water into the nose.
- Cleaning the nose with the little finger of the left hand.
- Inserting fingers between the spaces in the fingers and toes (to make sure that water passes through it).
- Running all fingers through the beard.
- Performing "Masah" of the entire head.
- Performing "Masah" of the ears.
- Maintaining proper order of washing of the different body parts.
- Washing three times each body part that needs to be washed.
- Washing the next body part before the previous one dries.
Method of performing ablution (wuzu)
Make an intention (Niyah) for obeying Allah and for gaining of reward, and after reciting "Bismillah Shareef", wash both hands up to the wrists. Then brush the teeth with "Miswaak". Hold the "Miswaak" in your right hand - little finger at the bottom, three middle fingers at the centre, and the thumb at the top bottom side of the "Miswaak". Begin with the right upper teeth, followed by the left upper teeth. Then brush the right lower teeth followed by the left lower teeth. Brushing should be in horizontal movements.
Then taking water from the cup of the hand, rinse the mouth thrice. Then inhale water into the nose thrice and clean the nose with the little finger of the left hand.
Then wash the entire face - that is from the top of the forehead (where the hair begins) to the bottom of the chin and from ear to ear, without leaving any spot equal to the breadth of a hair unwashed. If the person is bearded, he should then run his fingers through the beard.
After this, wash both hands, up to and including the elbows (right hand first, followed by the left).
Then wet both hands and perform "Masah" of the entire head, as follows: Join the tips of the three fingers of both hands (i.e. other than the thumb and the little finger), and keeping them on the forehead pass them over the entire head till the nape of the neck, while keeping the palms away from the head. Pass the palms over the nape of the neck and bring them forward. Then use the upper phalanx of the index finger to rub the inner part of the ears and the thumb for the back of the ears. Then use the back of the fingers to do "Masah" of the sides of the neck.
Then wash both feet up to and including the ankles, beginning with the right foot. Use the left hand for washing the feet. Insert the left hand little finger between the spaces of all toes, starting from the small toe (moving right to left) in case of the right foot, and starting from the big toe (moving right to left) in case of the left foot.
Upon completing ablution, make it a habit of reciting the “Kalemah Shahadat” (The words of bearing witness) as in the Hadith there are glad tidings of paradise for such a person.
Things that break (nullify) ablution (wuzu)
The following acts (or incidents) break the ablution:
- Excretion of any matter from the frontal or posterior excretory organs.
- Vomiting in mouthful quantity.
- Discharge of blood, pus or yellowish liquid from the body - which makes the discharge flow.
- Sleeping while taking support from any object.
- Flow of water from an infected eye.
- Laughing out loud whilst in Prayer.
- Loss of consciousness, or onset of insanity.
The excellence of Miswaak
The Holy Prophet said: “If I had not found it hard for my followers or the people, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Miswaak for every Prayer."
The Holy Prophet () also said: “Make the (brushing with) "Miswaak" a must - for it cleans the mouth, and the Lord also gets pleased. (Musnad Ahmed)
Scholars say that using the "Miswaak" has 70 benefits, of which one is the remembrance of the “Kalemah Tayyebah” (the Pure Words) at the time of death and ease in death.
Using the "Miswaak" is a Sunnah in ablution. The "Miswaak" should neither be very hard nor very soft. It is better to use "Miswaak" made from branches of the olive, “pilu” or “neem” trees. The "Miswaak" should be as thick as the little finger, and a maximum of one span in length. It should also not be very short so as to make it difficult to use.
Hold the "Miswaak" in your right hand - little finger at the bottom, three middle fingers at the centre, and the thumb at the top bottom side of the "Miswaak". Do not close the fist. In this way, the user remains protected from "haemorrhoids" (piles). Brushing should be done in 'horizontal' movements, not in the vertical. Begin with the right upper teeth, followed by the left upper teeth. Then brush the right lower teeth followed by the left lower teeth. All these should be done thrice, and the "Miswaak" be rinsed every time.
The 3 obligations on bathing (Ghusl)
- Gargling: Water must reach right from the lips up to the base of the throat.
- Inhaling water up to the nose bone: Water must reach through both nostrils and wet the entire area, up to the nose bone.
- Washing the entire body in such a manner that water flows over every part of the body, not leaving dry any spot equal to the breadth of a hair.
If any food particles are stuck in the teeth, these must be removed. Likewise the nose must be cleaned from any dust stuck inside it, and then the nose washed with water up to the beginning of the nose bone. However, care must be exercised during fasting so as not to overdo it.
Bathing (Ghusl) according to Sunnah
Make an intention (Niyah) for bathing and at first wash both hands up to and including the wrists. Then wash the excretory organs even if there is no impurity. Then cleanse the body area that has any impurity and perform the ablution, without washing the feet. If having a bath on a stand (high area) you may wash the feet too. Next, rub water (like applying oil) on the body to wet it. Then pour water thrice over the right shoulder followed by thrice over left shoulder. After this, pour water over the head thrice and then thrice properly over the entire body. Rub the hands over the entire body to ensure that no spot equal to the breadth of a hair remains dry. If the feet had not been washed at ablution, wash them after moving away from the bathing spot.
While bathing take care that you should not be facing the “Qiblah”, nor speak nor recite any supplications. Also bathe in a place where there is no exposure.
Things that make bathing compulsory
- Discharge of semen in state of sexual excitement.
- Ejaculation while asleep.
- Intercourse with either sex, whether semen is discharged or not.
- Woman completing her menses.
- Stoppage of impurity for a woman after childbirth (or miscarriage etc.).
Tayammum (Purification with soil)
The time for Tayammum (When can one do Tayammum ??)
A person in need of bathing or ablution must do "Tayammum" if he is incapable of using water. Some important conditions of performing "Tayammum" are as follows:
- There should be no sign (or knowledge) of water being available for a distance of at least one mile, in all the four directions.
- An illness which would get severely aggravated or get prolonged upon using water. This could be the person’s own judgement from experience or the opinion of a pious reliable doctor.
- Extreme cold which could cause the person to die or fall ill if he takes a bath, and no warm blankets are available to keep out the cold after bathing.
- Danger of missing the train or bus etc., if he alights from it in order to use water.
- Danger of missing the Fajr (Dawn) Prayer or the congregational Prayers of Eid.
Method and some important rules regarding Tayammum
Three things are obligatory in "Tayammum"
- Making an intention (Niyah) that the particular "Tayammum" is for ablution or for bath or for both.
- Passing soiled palms over the entire face, not leaving out a single spot equal to the breadth of a hair.
- Passing soiled palms over both arms up to and including the elbows, not leaving out a single spot equal to the breadth of a hair.
At first, make an intention and after reciting "Bismillah Shareef", strike the hands on any solid matter which is related to the earth i.e. soil, mud, stones, marble or any such thing upon which is considerable dust. If the hands get soiled with too much dust, strike the base of one thumb upon the base of the other to loosen it. Then pass both hands over the entire face, not leaving out even a single spot equal to the breadth of a hair. The area around the lips which remains exposed in the natural state when the mouth is closed, should also be covered in this "Masah". If the person is bearded, he should then run his fingers through the beard.
Strike the hands again on the soil. Now perform "Masah" of the right arm, by placing the inner portion of all fingers, except the thumb, on the outer portion of the right arm. Pass the left hand fingers over the finger tips of the right arm up to the elbow. Coming back from the elbow pass the palm over the inner side of the right arm up to the wrist. Then do "Masah" of the right thumb using the inner side of the left thumb. Similarly, repeat the entire process for the left arm.
While striking the palms on the soil or mud, the fingers must be kept open. If dust has reached between the fingers, "Khilaal" should be done (by rubbing other fingers between them). If the palm had been struck on stone or other such thing by which dust does not reach between the fingers, then “Khilaal” becomes obligatory.
Women should take extra care during "Tayammum" by moving ornaments (such as rings) in order not to leave the area below them - whereas nail polish should be totally removed.
If cold water is harmful in sickness, warm water should be used if available. If warm water is unavailable, "Tayammum" should be done.
If any portion is covered by a bandage (or plaster) because of an injury, then "Masah" with wet hands should be done over such bandage - and the rest of the body washed as usual with water. If pouring water does not cause harm, water should be poured over such bandage. In due course if it is not harmful to do "Masah" over the injured part, "Masah" should be adopted immediately. Later when washing the injured portion will not cause harm, it will become obligatory to wash it. It should therefore be understood that when the ability exists, the superior act must be performed and the lesser act will no more suffice.
If very little time is left for offering Prayer, and it is feared that the time will lapse if one takes a bath or performs ablution, one must perform the "Tayammum" and offer the Prayer. It is however incumbent to repeat such Prayer after proper bathing or ablution.
If the excuse due to which "Tayammum" was done does not remain any more, it will make the "Tayammum" invalid. The occurrence of anything that breaks the ablution will also break the "Tayammum" which was done in place of ablution. Similarly the occurrence of anything which makes bathing compulsory will break the "Tayammum" which was done in place of bathing.
Purifying impure clothes
To purify an impure cloth, first wash it properly and then squeeze it with full strength until water does not drip from it any more, even if further strength is applied. Then wash the hands, and again wash the cloth, squeezing it with full strength until water does not drip from it any more even if further strength is applied. Wash the hands again and wash the cloth for a third time - then squeeze it with full strength until water does not drip from it any more even if further strength is applied. The cloth has now become pure.
If a person has applied full strength to squeeze out water from the cloth, it will be pure for him - but if another person having more strength squeezes it and some more water drips from it, then the cloth will be pure only for the former and not for the latter.
This rule should be remembered well. Every person should purify his / her own clothes or else purify them in running water. The method of doing this is to at first wash the clothes with soap or in a washing machine, and then put them in a utensil (e.g. bucket) and pour water into the utensil until the cloth gets covered in the water and the utensil starts overflowing. The flowing water will render the cloth pure.
Fine clothes, shoes, carpets etc., which get damaged due to wringing / squeezing, must be washed and dried until water does not drip from it any more. Then wash again and let it dry a second time. Then wash again and let it dry for a third time. This will make it pure.