GHUSL: What does ghusl (full ablution) mean?

Lexically, ghusl (or ghasl) means "to wash something with water"; as a religious term, it means "to wash the whole body with clean water”. In fiqh, wudu (ablution) means minor cleaning, the states that necessitate wudu are called hadath al-asghar (minor impurity), ghusl means major cleaning, and the states that necessitate ghusl are called hadath al-akbar (major impurity). Ghusl is also called full ablution.

The following is stated in the Quran: "If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body" (al-Maida 5/6), informing us that ghusl is necessary in order to be freed from the state of janabah; besides, it is stated that menstruation is a period of excuse for women and men are forbidden to have sexual intercourse with their wives until they are clean (al-Baqara 2/22). The words and applications of the Prophet explain that it is necessary to make ghusl when a person is in the state of janabah and when the period of menstruation and puerperium end for women. 

Ghusl is a means of virtual and religious cleanliness like wudu. It both ensures material cleanliness and definitely contains many medical advantages. The importance of ghusl in terms of human health has been stated by both Eastern and Western scientists; ghusl has been the distinctive feature the Islamic nations and the symbol of the importance Islamic civilization gives to bodily cleanliness and health. Through ghusl, the material dirt and smears that can be left on the body by the state of janabah, menstruation and puerperium are cleaned thoroughly. Besides, ghusl contains many benefits in terms of bodily and spiritual health like eliminating the fatigue and languor in the body caused by the state of janabah, establishing a new balance in the body, regulating the blood circulation, and preparing a person for worshipping by eliminating him from dirtiness. In addition, a believer who fulfills this order of Allah with the belief that it has many known and unknown wisdoms and benefits obtains the joy and rewards of obeying Allah unquestioningly.

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