has been adopted from Chapter Four of my Ritual & Spiritual Purity (1989)
since it deals with the ablution related to sexual act.)
"Janabat" is a ritual impurity caused by the discharge
of semen or by sexual intercourse; and the person on whom ghusl janabat
becomes wajib is known as "junub". The Qur'an says:
O you who believe! Do not go near prayers
(salat) when you are... junub until you have washed yourselves. (4:43) O you who believe! When you stand up for
prayers (salat), . . . if you are junub, then purify (yourselves).
B. THE CAUSES OF GHUSL JANABAT
There are two causes of janabat:
1. Discharge of semen. It does not make any difference whether this
discharge is while awake or in a wet-dream, slight or profuse, intentionally
or otherwise, in lawful way or unlawful (e.g., masturbation). In all these
cases ghusl janabat becomes obligatory (wajib).
If a liquid comes out from a man and he does not know whether or not it
is semen, then he should look for the following three signs: (1) emission
with passion; (2) spurting discharge; (3) feeling relaxed after the discharge.
If these signs are found together on him, then he should consider the liquid
as semen, otherwise not.
If a secretion is discharged from a woman, then it is precautionary wajib
for her to do ghusl janabat provided it came with sexual passion
and she felt relaxed after it. But if the secretion comes without
the sexual passion or without the feeling of relaxation after the discharge,
then it is not najis and therefore ghusl is not wajib upon her.
2. Sexual Intercourse. It does not make any difference whether the
intercourse was lawful or unlawful, and with or without discharge of semen.
In Islamic laws, sexual intercourse is defined as the penetration of the
glans into the vagina or anus of the woman. That is, for ghusl janabat to
become wajib it is not necessary that full penetration or discharge of semen
should take place. In case of sexual intercourse, ghusl janabat becomes
wajib on both the man and the woman.
C. THE THINGS WHICH ARE FORBIDDEN FOR A JUNUB
There are certain things in Islam which are so sacred that a Muslim cannot
come into contact with them unless he or she is ritually pure and clean.
Based on this concept of sacredness, a junub is forbidden from coming
into contact, in various ways, with two of the most sacred things in Islam:
the Qur'an and the mosque.
The following four acts are haram for the junub before performing the ghusl.
Two are related to the Qur'an and the other two are related to mosques.
1. Touching the writing of the Qur'an, the names and attributes
of Allah, the names of the Prophet, the Imams and Fatimah (the daughter
of the Prophet). This has already been explained on page 48 of this book.
2. Reciting the verses of the Qur'an in which sajdah (prostration)
is wajib. These verses are: verse 15 of chapter 32; verse 15 of chapter
41; verse 62 of chapter 53; and verse 19 of chapter 96. It is better not
to recite even a single verse from these chapters.
3. Entering or staying in the mosque. The Qur'an says, "O
you who believe!...Nor (are you allowed to enter the masjid) if you are
junub until you have washed yourself except passing through."(4:43)
Based on this verse and relevant ahadith, the mujtahids have concluded that
a junub is totally forbidden from staying in the mosque.
Of course, as the verse says, one can pass through the mosques (by entering
from one door and leaving from the other). However, this exception of passing
through does not apply to the following places: the Masjidu'l-Haram (the
Sacred Mosque at Mecca) Masjidu' n-Nabi (the Mosque of the Prophet at Medina),
and shrines of the Imams a junub cannot even pass through them. Jamil asked
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) whether or not a junub can sit in mosques? The
Imam said, "No! But he may pass through all of them except the Sacred
Mosque (at Mecca) and the Prophet's Mosque (at Medina)." (Wasa'il,
vol. 1, p. 485.) Bakr bin Muhammad narrates that once he and his friends
were going towards the house of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq, when they met Abu
Basir in the way. When Abu Basir came to know that they were going to visit
the Imam, he joined them. As Bakr and his friends came to know later on,
Abu Basir was in the state of janabat at that time. When they entered the
house of the Imam and greeted him, the Imam looked towards Abu Basir and
said, "O Abu Basir! Do not you know that a junub person should not
enter the houses of the prophets?" (Wasa'il vol 1, p. 489. )
Abu Basir himself has also narrated this incident and quotes the Imam as
follows: "Do not you know that a junub should not enter the houses
of the prophets and of their children..." (Wasa'il vol 1, p.
4. Leaving something in or taking it out from a mosque.
* * *
The following things are makruh (disliked) for the junub:
1. Eating and drinking is makruh for a junub except after doing wudu' or
gargling or rinsing the nose.
2. Reciting more than seven verses from the Qur'an. This applies to other
than the four chapters with wajib sajdah mentioned above.
3. Touching the cover of the Qur'an.
4. Sleeping except after doing wudu'.
D. THE ACTS WHOSE VALIDITY DEPEND ON GHUSL JANABAT
1. Salat (prayers) except salatu'l-mayyit (the prayer for a dead
Muslim) which can be performed even in the state of janabat.
2. Wajib tawaf(the circumambulation of the Ka'bah in hajj). Allah
says, "And We assigned Ibrahim and Isma'il to purify My House for the
circumambulators (of the Ka'bah)..."(2:125; 22:26) It is not difficult
to infer that if the House is to be cleaned and purified for tawaf, then
the people who will be doing the tawaf must also be clean and pure. See
also section H in wudu.
3. Fasting. If someone knowingly remains junub until dawn in Ramadan, his
fasting will become invalid (batil).
E. MANNER OF PERFORMING GHUSL
Ghusl is a ritual bath; it involves washing of the whole body. There are
two methods of performing ghusl. One is known as ghusl tartibi, and
the other is known as ghusl irtimasi.
1. Ghusl Tartibi:
"Ghusl tartibi" means an ordinal bath, performed in three
After washing away the najasat (e.g., semen or blood) from the body and
after niyyat, the body has to be washed in three stages: First, head
down to the neck; then the right side of the body from the shoulder down
to the foot; and lastly, the left side of the body.
Each part should be washed thoroughly in such a way that the water reaches
the skin. Special care should be taken while washing the head; the hair
should be combed (e.g., with your fingers) so that water reached the hair-roots.
While washing the right side of the body, some part of the left side must
be washed too, and also, while washing the left side of the body, some part
of the right side must be washed.
2. Ghusl Irtimasi:
"Ghusl irtimasi" means a bath involving immersion of the
whole body in the water. It is needless to say that such a ghusl can only
be done in a body of water, e.g., a pool, river, lake or sea.
After washing away the semen or blood from the body and after niyyat,
the whole body should be completely immersed in the water all at once, not
gradually. One has to make sure that the water reaches all parts of the
body, including hair and the skin under it.
However, ghusl tartibi is preferred to ghusl irtimasi.
F. RECOMMENDABLE ACTS OF GHUSL
What has been mentioned above are the wajib acts of ghusl; here we shall
explain the things which are recommendable (mustahab, sunnat) during
the ghusl. These recommendable acts are five:
1. Washing both hands up to the elbows three times before the ghusl.
2. Gargling three times.
3. Wiping the hands on the whole body to ensure that every part has been
4. Combing the hair with the fingers to ensure that the water reaches the
5. (For men only) Doing istibra' before ghusl janabat. Istibra',
in the present context, means "urinating." The benefit of istibra':
If a liquid comes out of one's penis after completing the ghusl, and he
doubts whether it is semen or urine, then should he repeat the ghusl or
not? If he had done istibra' before the ghusl, then he can assume
that the liquid is urine he will not have to repeat the ghusl; he just has
to do wudu for his salat. But, on the other hand, if he had not done istibra'
before the ghusl, then he has to assume that it is the remnant of semen
he will have to do the ghusl again.
'Ubaydullah al-Halabi narrates that someone asked Imam Muhammad al-Baqir
(a.s.) about a man who performs ghusl and then finds some (doubtful) drops
(on his penis) while he had already urinated before performing the ghusl.
(That is, should he consider the drops as urine or semen?) The Imam said,
"He will just have to do wudu (for hi s salat). But if he had not passed
urine before the ghusl, then he must repeat the ghusl." (Wasa'il,
vol. 1, p. 517. )
This rule of istibra' applies only to men. Sulayman bin Khalid asked
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) about a man who became ritually impure because
of sexual intercourse and then performed ghusl without urinating. Then some
drops came out of him . The Imam said, "He must repeat the ghusl."
Sulayman: "What if similar drops come out of a woman after she has
performed ghusl?" The Imam said, "She does not have to repeat
the ghusl . " Sulayman: "What is the difference between the two?"
The Imam said, "(A woman does not have to repeat ghusl janabat) because
what comes out of her is certainly from the (remnants of the) discharge
of man." (Wasa'il, vol. 1, p. 482.)
G. A SUMMARY OF GHUSL
This is a summary of ghusl. The recommendable acts of ghusl are in italics
1. Remove the najasat (semen, blood) from the body.
3. Wash the hands up to the elbows three time.
4. Gargle three times.
5. Wash the head down to the neck; wipe your hand on the face and neck,
and comb the hair with your fingers.
6. Wash the right side of your body from the shoulders down to the feet;
include some part of the left side also. While washing, wipe the body
with your hand.
7. Wash the left side of your body from the shoulders down to the feet;
include some part of the right side also. While washing, wipe the body
with your hand.