Ablution in Islam

Ablution in Islam

Meaning/ Translation of Ghosl/Vozu (Ablution) in english:

noun: ablution; plural noun: ablutions
the act of washing oneself (often used for humorously formal effect).
“the women performed their ablutions”
a ceremonial act of washing parts of the body or sacred containers.
late Middle English: from Latin ablutio(n-), from abluere, from ab- ‘away’ + luere ‘wash.’ The original use was as a term

Seminar topic: Ablution in Islam

Date of presentation:

References: Quran, Torah, Bible, “Farhang Abjadi” dictionary, “Lesanolarab”, “Majmaolbahrain”, “Mofradat of Quran”,” Ghamusolmaani”,” Altahghigh”, “Aljadval fi Erab Al-Quran” by “Safi Mahmud Ibn Abdorahim”, “Almizan” by “Seyed Mohammad Hossein Tabatabaei”, “Kashfolasrar Va Edatolabrar” by “Rashidedin Meibodi Ahmad Ibn Abi Asad”, “Interpretation of Sur Abadi” by “Abubakr Atigh Ibn Mohammad”, “Alkabir” by “Fakhredin Razi Abu Abdellah Mohammad Ibn Omar”, “Interpretation of Tabari”, “Elalosharaye” by “Sheikh Sadugh”, “Man La Yahzarohu Al-faghih” by “Sheikh Sadugh”, “Foru Kafi” by “Koleini”, Interpretation of Ayashi” by “Masud Ayashi”, “Bukhari’s Sahih” by “Hafiz Abu Abdellah Bokhari”, “Muslim’s Sahih” by “Muslim Neishaburi”, Al-fighh Ela Al-Mazaheb Arbaa”

Historical summary:

Cleanliness and Baptism before implementation of worship in all religious is very important. For example in Judaism people are required to washed out before turning to this religion or before The Victim or login Temples. Also in Christianity before performing the Eucharist, people were required to wash and cleanse their hands. The … is also another striking symbol of the importance if the cleanliness in this religion.


وضو (Vodhu) is rooted from وضا in the meaning of washing and wiping (with wet hand) some parts of the body with the intent of closeness to god. It word has not been used in the Quran and words such as غسل in the meaning of washing and مسح in the meaning of wiping hand has been used instead.

The Ablution verse in Quran: Maeedah – 6:

يَأَيهُّا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلىَ الصَّلَوةِ فَاغْسِلُواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ وَ أَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلىَ الْمَرَافِقِ وَ امْسَحُواْ بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَ أَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلىَ الْكَعْبَينْ‏ِ وَ إِن كُنتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُواْ وَ إِن كُنتُم مَّرْضىَ أَوْ عَلىَ‏ سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنكُم مِّنَ الْغَائطِ أَوْ لَامَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تجَدُواْ مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُواْ صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًا فَامْسَحُواْ بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَ أَيْدِيكُم مِّنْهُ مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَ لَكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَ لِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُون

Because of dissimilar hadiths (narrations) of the character “ل” in the word “ارجلکم”, from the etymological perspective there are two different inferences in the meaning of the verse possible:

– Then wash your faces and your hand to your elbows and wipe a part of your heads and wash your feet to your ankles. (ارجلَکم)

– Then wash your faces and your hand to your elbows and wipe a part of your heads and your feet to your ankles. (ارجلِکم)

The Shee’a and Sunni religious experts based in their own narrations and inferences use one either of these meanings for performing the Vodhu.

Hadiths for ablution:

The interesting point in most of both Sheea and Sunni hadiths is the accordance of the hadith with the way of performing the ablution with the followers of each sect.

In “Bukhari’s Sahih” is narrated: It is narrated From “Ibn Abbas” that he did the ablution like this: He took a handful of water and washed his mouth with half of it and his nose with the other half. The he took another handful of water and washed his face with both hands. Then he took another handful of water and washed his right hand and then his left hand with another handful. Then he wiped his head. Then he splashed a handful of water to his right foot and washed it and did the same for his left foot with another handful of water. At the end he said that I saw Prophet Muhammad doing the ablution like this. (Bukhari – Page 140)

Other hadiths used for elicitation of the way of doing the ablution, despite the details and narrator are exactly the same as this.

In “Man la yahzarohu Al – Faghih” is narrated: “Zararah Ibn-Aleen” asked “Imam Bagher” about the extents of washing the face in ablution. He said: It is the area covered between the thumb and the middle finger of hand from where the hair has started to grow in forehead to the chin and whatever outside of this area is not considered “face”. Temples are not considered face as well. Then he asked: How about the parts covered by hair? He said there is no need to try to reach under the hair by water but the surface of that part should be washed. And the extent of washing the hands is from elbows to the finger tips. The extent of wiping the head is wiping with three fingers all together from the front of the head and the extent of wiping the feet is to put palms on the tip of the toes and wipe it to the ankle and the right foot should be done before the left foot and it has to be done with the remaining wetness of the hands without using more water. The interpreter says: apparently this hadith requiring the wiping of the feet by the whole palms which matched the “Baznathi’s” narration from “Imam Reza” but the more common narration is the “Mash Al-Musamma” which means the extent of wiping should be as much as the amount to be called wiping, with one, two or more fingers. (Al-Faghih – Book 1, Page 72)


The interesting point attracting attention after reviewing the hadiths in this presentation is that most of Sunni books of hadith are dated in 2nd and 3rd centuries and most of the Shee’a books of hadith are being authored after the 4th century. The oldest hadith book of Shee’a is “Asrar Al-Muhammad” or the book of “Salim Ibn Gheys Hilali” dated in 2nd century which the quality of performing ablution is not mentioned in it. It seems like mostly the differences between the quality of performing ablution between Shee’a and Sunni has been started form 400 years after Prophet’s death and is continued until now. And it is strange that it looks like the Muslims have not had any conflicts about performing ablution before that. By removing personal inferences with regard to this research, as said at the end of the Vodhu verse by Allah, goal of performing ablution is cleanliness for meeting Allah (Salaat) and not forcing people to have hardship and difficulty.