Purification and Cleanliness in Islam

Islam has a strong focus around the concept of internal and external cleanliness. The internal cleanliness is based around the ability to fight one’s urges to do wrong or hold ill feelings towards another in their heart. Whilst the external cleanliness focuses around general hygeine. To further support the importance of cleanliness in Islam, it has been recorded that the Prophet Muhammad said that cleanliness is half of faith.

The rest of this article will focus on external cleanliness and purification.

Purification from filth

In the muslim faith it is important to remain pure and clean from tangible filth which includes urine, blood and excrement. Water is considered as the appropriate purifier for a muslim if they were to come into contact with any of these types of filth.

So for example if a muslim had some drops of urine on their garments then it would be considered “proper” to clean them off with water before the garment could be considered as clean.

Purification from ritual impurity

There are two types of ritual impurity which muslims must adhere to in order to satisfy the relevant standards of cleanliness so that they can perform their prayers.

Major Impurity

A muslim is considered to be in a state of major impurity when they have partaken in sexual intercourse regardless if there is no sexual discharge from either male and/or female. Also, when the female is in her mensus then she is also considered in a state of major impurity. In order for the muslim to be rid of major impurity then they must perform Ghusl.

Minor Impurity

Essentially this type of impurity occurs when a muslim goes to answer the call of nature.
To be more explicit this is when a muslim relieves themselves of urine and/or excrement

This state of minor impurity can also be extended to when someone has passed wind, fallen asleep or has become intoxicated. In order to be rid of minor impurity then the muslim must perform Wudu.

What is Wudu?

Wudu is the prescribed way for a muslim to purify themselves from minor impurity. This involves the following:

  1. Washing of the hands.
  2. Rinsing of the mouth and nose.
  3. Washing of the face.
  4. Washing of the arms (hands to top of elbows).
  5. Washing of head (lightly with water).
  6. Washing of the feet upto the ankles.

What is Ghusl?

Ghusl is the prescribed way for a muslim to be rid of major impurity. This is similar to Wudu but with a few differences:

  • Cleaning any obvious filth from the private areas
  • Washing of the hands
  • Washing of the private parts
  • Points 2 through till 5 from Wudu
  • Washing of the right side of the body (top to bottom) and then repeated for the left side
  • Washing of legs and feet

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