Chapter 3.1: Purity

September 29, 2019

Chapter 3.1 – Purity

Think About It! What are some of the things we need to be in a state of wudu for?

            There are a number of Islamic acts that require wudu and others in which it is voluntary to have wudu. It is necessary to have wudu when performing prayers, touching a copy of the Qur’an or verse of the Qur’an, and performing tawaf of the Ka’bah. Some voluntary instances are before sleeping, after waking up, performing the adhan, upon becoming angry, and many others. It is recommended to always be in a state of wudu.

The Importance of Cleanliness-

            One of the most important aspects of being a Muslim is cleanliness. We are taught from a young age the importance of good hygiene and to remain in a state of purity not only when performing Islamic acts, but even when we are not. We should wear clean clothes, keep our homes and personal belongings clean, and clean up after ourselves after using the bathroom. Being clean is a necessary obligation upon Muslims because it assures our dignity as human beings and not animals, and we cannot perform our religious duties. If we are unclean these religious duties are invalid and not accepted. If we take the effort to pray, and read Qur’an, it would be a waste to not have our good deeds accepted because we were unclean.

Types of Impurities:

            The two types of impurities that we comes across are physical impurities and ritual impurities. Physical impurities are usually impurities we come across in nature from other animals and our own urine and feces. Ritual impurity is a state that we enter if anything nullifies our wudu.

Physical Impurity

      Gross Physical Impurity                                                                  Light Physical Impurity

Pig, wine, dog saliva, animal droppings            Bird droppings, urine from animals we eat

Ritual Impurity

Major Ritual Impurity                           Minor Ritual Impurity

Anything that requires ghusl                      Passing gas, urine, or defecating

Gross physical impurities on our body or on our clothing greater than the weight or area of a dirham will nullify or break our prayer. Light physical impurities are tolerated up to a quarter of a body part or section of clothing. Major ritual impurities require the performance of ghusl, whereas minor ritual impurities only require wudu.

Purifying Ourselves:

            If we come into contact with impurities or use the bathroom, depending on the level of impurity we must clean ourselves with wudu or ghusl.


Wudu is performed to exit the state of minor ritual impurity and is a means of purifying one’s sins. It is a requirement for some acts and etiquette for others. Being in a state of wudu is required for the following:

  1. Ritual prayer
  2. Prostration of Recital (Sujood at-Tilaawah)
  3. Touching a copy of the Qur’an or verses of the Qur’an
  4. Performing tawaf of the Ka’bah

When performing wudu, the water should be poured over the body so that at least some drops of water drip off. Anything that prevents water from reaching the skin such as tight rings, or watches should be removed. There are only four obligatory acts in wudu, although most of us usually perform wudu with several recommended acts. For complete wudu, the following criteria must be met:

  1. Washing the face, which is the area between the ears from the top of the forehead to the bottom of the chin
  2. Washing the arms, including the elbows
  3. Wiping at least a fourth of the head
  4. Washing the feet, including the ankles

The following acts are recommended in wudu:

  1. Making an intention
  2. Washing the hands, including the wrists at the beginning of wudu
  3. Reciting bismillah at the beginning
  4. Using the miswaak
  5. Rinsing the mouth thrice
  6. Rinsing the nose thrice
  7. Running the hands between the fingers and between the toes
  8. Starting with the right limb before the left
  9. Washing each limb thrice
  10. Wiping the entire head once
  11. Wiping the ears
  12. Rubbing the limbs while washing them
  13. Washing each limb before the prior one dries
  14. Wiping the neck

There are also several desirable acts when performing wudu:

  1. Protecting the clothes from splashes of used water
  2. Facing the qibla
  3. Stating the intention verbally
  4. Performing the wudu without any assistance from others
  5. Refraining from talking
  6. Refraining from wasting water

Wudu is required after any of the following nullifying ways:

  1. Urinating or defecating
  2. Vomiting if it is a mouthful
  3. Bleeding from the mouth if the blood is equal to or more than the saliva
  4. Sleeping in a non-upright position
  5. Entering in a state such that a person does not have control over his mind such as unconsciousness, or intoxication
  6. Laughing out loud in prayer
  7. Engaging in acts of marital relations



Ghusl is performed to exit the state of major impurity and is also a means of purifying one’s sins. It is a requirement in some cases and etiquette for others. If a person is in a state of major ritual impurity, ghusl is required for the following:

  1. Ritual prayer
  2. Recitation of the Qur’an
  3. Touching the Qur’an
  4. Entering a masjid
  5. Tawaf of the Ka’bah

The following acts require the performance of ghusl:

  1. Ending of one’s menstruation or postnatal bleeding
  2. Emission of mani
  3. Sexual intercourse
  4. Death

There are also voluntary instances where ghusl may be performed and often it is the sunnah to make ghusl at these times:

  1. Eid prayers
  2. Friday prayer
  3. Ihram
  4. Arafat for those performing Hajj

Obligatory Ghusl-

This form of ghusl is sufficient to become ritually pure but does not include all the sunnah acts of bathing. We can perform this ghusl when we are in a hurry or do not have enough time to do a full ghusl. The four requirements are the following:

  1. Making an intention that you are making ghusl to become ritually pure
  2. Rinsing your nose and mouth
  3. Letting water run over your entire body at least once, including the scalp under your hair

Complete Ghusl-

            This is a full chart of ghusl more in-depth and follows the sunnah of how Prophet Muhammad (saw) used to take a bath.



Tayammum is an Arabic word which means intention. The relevance of tayammum is that when water is either not available or when its use is likely to cause harm, one should turn to clean earth with the intention of offering salah and other acts of worship that require wudu. Tayammum is therefore a symbolic ablution, and a way of purification without the use of water.

When does Tayammum become lawful?

The following are valid excuses for performing tayammum:

  1. Lack of access to spare water (not enough of it, or it is a great distance away)
  2. Fear of sickness
  3. Fear of physical harm
  4. Fear of missing the funeral prayer
  5. Fear of missing the Eid prayer
  6. Injuries on half or more of one’s body

 What acts can we do with tayammum?

We use tayammum in place of wudu and ghusl and therefore we can perform any of the acts that would require ghusl or wudu. It is noteworthy that anything that invalidates wudu, also makes tayammum invalid as well. Tayammum also becomes invalid when water becomes available.

How to perform Tayammum-

  1. Intend to perform tayammum.
  2. Start with bismillah.
  3. Strike the clean earth (sand, loose dirt, etc.) gently with the palms of your hands. You can blow on them gently to remove excess dust.
  4. Pass the palms of your hands over the face once.
  5. Strike the earth again and wipe over the hands up to the wrist once by passing the palm of your left hand over the back of your right hand, and the palm of your right hand over the back of your left hand.

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