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Ablution is the act of washing oneself, particularly for the purpose of and in preparation for ritual. In the Islamic case, Ablution is one of the prerequisites for three of the Five Pillars of Islam, namely prayer (salah), pilgrimage (Hajj), and the testimony of faith (Shahadah).


Wudu (الوضوء) ("partial ablution") is the procedure for washing parts of the body using water in preparation for formal prayers (salah) or handling and reading the Qur'an.


Ghusl ("full ablution") refers to the full ablution required in Islam for various rituals and prayers; mandatory for any adult Muslim after having sexual intercourse, any sexual discharge (e.g. of semen), completion of the menstrual cycle, giving birth, and death by natural causes.

Shaykh Gibril Haddad commenting on the erotic nature of surah 78:33[1] (a Qur'anic reference to virgins in heaven), once noted that some men may need ghusl just for hearing the verse.[2]


Tayammum ("dry ablution") is the act of dry ablution using sand or dust, which may be performed in place of wudu or ghusl if no clean water is readily available.

Relevant quotations


The following verse provides an overview of each of the three main Ablution rituals in Islam:

O you who have faith! When you stand up for prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, and wipe a part of your heads and your feet, up to the ankles. If you are junub [sometimes translated as "seminally impure"], purify yourselves [lit. "do tahara"]. But if you are sick, or on a journey, or any of you has come from the toilet, or you have touched women, and you cannot find water, then make tayammum) with clean ground and wipe a part of your faces and your hands with it. Allah does not desire to put you to hardship, but He desires to purify you, and to complete His blessing upon you so that you may give thanks.

See Also


  1. "And voluptuous women of equal age;" - Quran 78:33
  2. Shaykh Gibril Haddad, "Sex with slaves and women's rights", Living Islam, June 2, 2003 (archived), http://mac.abc.se/home/onesr/f/Sex_w.slaves.a.women.html.