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Taharah: The Essential Guide to Types of Taharah


Types of Taharah
Types of Taharah

There are several different Types of Taharah, each with their own purpose and method. While most Muslims know about the idea of performing wudhu’ and ghusl, not many know about the other methods of cleansing oneself from impurities; let alone what each type is and when one should choose them over others. In this article, we will go over the basics of taharah, each one’s intended uses and when one might choose to use them rather than wudhu’ or ghusl.


1. Ghusl (Major Ablution)

Ghusl is used for entering into major states of ritual impurity, and makes you ritually clean or tahir. It is performed with water from a body of natural water (rivers, lakes, etc.) when one has a status which requires full taharah. Ghusl is known as ghusl al-Mayyit (the ghusl for a deceased person) if it is done on a dead body before burial. In general, Ghusl consists of three elements: washing specific body parts; ablution; and two rakats Nafal prayer.


2. Wudu (Minor Ablution)

Wudu or ghusl is a ritual purification performed after urinating, defecating, or sexual intercourse. After practicing wudu, one is in a state of purity in which performing ritual prayer (salat) and touching the Qur'an are permitted. According to Islamic law (sharia), wudu must be performed with clean, natural water and in a specified manner that includes washing specific parts of the body in order. These parts are typically washed by their opposites: for example; only with hands wash fingers, from top down and left hand first, etc. After completing these steps one can perform salat.


3. Tayammum (Dry Ablution)

In lieu of Wudhu or Ghusl, a Muslim may perform Tayammum (dry ablution) when water is unavailable. Tayammum is performed by cleaning and wiping both hands on a clean, dry surface (such as dirt or sand) and then passing them over every part of one's face, head, neck, and arms. To ensure that it does not interrupt your Wudhu or Ghusl ablutions for prayer you should take care that you do not actually put your hand in water when performing tayammum . If possible a Muslim should carry some earth from a clean place such as their local mosque where they are permitted to perform their ablutions.


4. Istinja' (Purification after Defecation or Urination)

Istinja’ is one of two Types of Taharah (the other being ghusl) which cleanses a person from impurities when they have urinated or defecated. Ghusl should be carried out immediately after sexual intercourse, and is essential before a Muslim carries out certain acts in Islam. Istinja’ should also be performed after urination or defecation, although its essentiality is disputed by some schools of thought. Regardless, it still has numerous benefits for both health and hygiene; as such, it will always prove useful to keep clean.

Types of Taharah
Types of Taharah

5. Istinja' with Water

Istinja' is using water for cleaning private parts. If a person performs Istinja', his prayer becomes void, except in special cases. If he passes urine, or stool, and does not perform Istinja' after it has been obligatory upon him, his Salat will be void if no water is available. Similarly, if he touches himself without Wudhu', his Salat will also become void. But in both these cases it is necessary for him to perform Tayammum instead of Ghusl and Wudhu'. Also after intercourse one should observe an interval and then perform Wudhu' and Salat. And while performing it there should be no intercourse again until next Ghusl becomes obligatory upon him.


6. Janabat (a state due to sexual intercourse and the like)

It is necessary for a person to be in a state of ritual purity for Salāh and Ghusl. According to most scholars, it is also necessary for tawāf and touching or carrying the Qur’ān. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar, 1/292; al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya 2/278] It is desirable (mustahabb) that a person should be in a state of ritual purity before he carries out any good deed such as studying Islamic knowledge or giving Sadaqah. [Shurunbulali, Imdad al-Fattah] Moreover, it is recommended (mandub) that one should not touch his wife while in a state of janabat.


7. Menstrual Periods

A Muslim woman may notice a thick discharge from her vagina once a month. This is not harmful and should be ignored as it is actually normal. This does not mean that she has menstruated, nor does it mean that she has become impure. However, if blood or a bloody discharge comes out continuously for more than a period of ten days then she must count these days as menstruation and perform ghusl (major ablution) after it ends. For further details, read ‘The Etiquettes of Menstruation’ section later in this book.


8. Postnatal Bleeding (Nifas)

Every woman experiences a period of postpartum bleeding (i.e. bleeding for four weeks after childbirth) in which she is considered nifas, or ritually impure. During postnatal bleeding, women are obligated to follow all nifas rules and regulations in particular, they may not have sexual intercourse until her postnatal bleeding ends. Women also have special obligations when it comes to purification after each menstrual cycle (tahara) and immediately before menstruation begins (‘id khusus). In addition, there are several other minor forms of tahara that require certain steps before prayer is allowed...


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