What about the "Ghusl"!
By A. Muhammad

Four acts are mentioned in 4:43, they are: sexual intercourse, illness, travel and the visit to the toilet. Following those four acts, the believers are instructed to 'ightasilu' (wash yourselves). The word 'ightasilu' is a verb in the 'command' form. It means: you shall wash yourselves. The noun from this verb is 'ghusl' and it means washing.

The word 'ghasala' (wash, washed), in the verb or the noun form, has been used in the Quran three times. Those are in 4:43, 5:6 and 38:42. The meaning is consistently to wash.
The instruction to wash in all three verses is not accompanied by a specific method of washing. In 5:6 for example, God instructs the believers to wash their face and their arms. God does not specify a specific method to wash the face and the arms. God is aware that any person knows what it means to wash their face and their arms. If a boy aged 7 or 8 years is told by his parent to wash his hands (before sitting at the dinner table), the boy never asks his parent, "What method should I use to wash my hands"! Nor does he ask, "How many times would you like me to wash my hands?" Even at that young age, every child knows that to wash his hands means to make them clean. No specific method is necessary. For the same reason, it is not necessary for God to accompany the instruction to wash (make clean) with a detailed specific method.

Nevertheless, the simple Quranic command to wash in 4:43 has been turned into an ambiguous command for which we require a precise method, an "Islamic" method that contains specific steps and set frequencies!

A whole ritual has been instated and called ghusl. Needless to say, there is no Quranic reference whatsoever. The absence of Quranic reference is of immense significance in the knowledge that God described the Quran with the following words:

- The Book is "fully detailed" 6:114
- The Book provides "explanations for all things" 16:89
- God confirms, "We did not leave anything out of the Book" 6:38

Sadly, a great majority of so-called Muslims do not accept the Quranic assurances above. They openly declare that the Quran does not have all the details and that the religion is not complete with the Quran alone. When they find no Quranic reference to any subject, they invariably find what they need in the books of hadith:

Or do you have some book in which you are studying? Do you have in it whatever you choose?

The proponents of the ghusl ritual base their ritual on a number of dubious hadith that are falsely attributed to prophet Muhammad. They proclaim their ghusl ritual to be the correct "Islamic" method to follow to comply with the instructions in 4:43.
The various sects differ on the finer details, but they all endorse the ritual of ghusl. The Sunni ghusl goes as follows:

1- Make the intention to perform ghusl for the pleasure of Allah
2- Utter "Bism Allah"
3- Wash your hands three times
4- With the left hand, wash your private parts
5- Wash your hands again
6- Make a complete wudu
7- Wash the head, face and neck three times, including the ears
8- Wash the right side of the body. This includes the shoulder, arm, chest,
stomach, back, genital area, thigh, calf and foot.
9- Wash the left side of the body in the same way as the right side
(The washing must be done in the sequence above to be valid)

The Shia ghusl starts with gargling three times and washing the nose three times. After that, the same Sunni steps are performed, albeit in a different order.
The ghusl ritual, which as mentioned has no Quranic reference, raises the following questions:

1- Bearing in mind verses 6:114, 6:38 and 16:89, which confirm that the Quran is fully detailed and nothing was left out of the Quran, how then do we not find the ritual of ghusl in the Quran? Are the assurances in 6:114, 6:38 and 16:89 false?

2- Is there a right way and a wrong way for washing, or are all ways correct as long as they achieve the objective of 'making clean'?

3- If this "Islamic" way of washing is the correct way to attain physical cleanliness, does that mean that the receivers of the previous Scriptures, who also observed the Salat but who would not have followed the books of hadith, never attained cleanliness?

The answers to the three questions above do not need elaboration, for they are quite obvious. There is no such thing as an 'Islamic' method for washing. Washing is a means to attain the aim of cleanliness. Any method of washing that achieves cleanliness is a correct way of washing.
So much for the ritual of ghusl! What is now needed is to analyse and understand the instruction for washing in 4:43:

O you who believe, do not approach the Salat while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying, nor after sexual intercourse,
until you have washed yourselves; unless you are on the road travelling. If you are ill or travelling, or if any of you has come from the toilet or had sexual contact with women, and you could not find water, then find clean dry earth and wipe your faces and hands. God is Pardoner, Forgiver. 4:43

A number of observations, derived from the above words, need to be analysed:
1- The believers are instructed to wash after four acts: sex, illness, travel, toilet.
2- No specific method for washing is given in the verse.
3- There is no mention as to which parts of the body are to be washed after each of the four acts.
4- The verse speaks of four acts, yet only one command for washing.

The believers are instructed to wash after four acts

The acts mentioned after which washing is required are:
1- Sexual intercourse
2- Illness
3- Travelling
4- Visit to the toilet

We note that ablution (wudu) is not mentioned in 4:43. Therefore, the act of washing mentioned in 4:43 is independent of the act of ablution. Washing after these acts is not part of ablution nor does it require the four steps of ablution mentioned in 5:6. Ablution is to be observed immediately before every Salat, regardless of whether any of the four acts mentioned in 4:43 took place or not.

No specific method for washing is given in the verse

As explained above, God knows that every man and every woman knows from a very young age how to wash themselves. Washing is but one of many acts that are not given elaboration in the Quran. That is because the knowledge thereof is known to all people. The following is a similar Quranic example:

"...... eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinguishable to you from the dark thread"

God did not give a method by which we should eat, nor a method by which we should drink. Once again, God knows that every man and every woman know how to eat and how to drink. We do not need a ritual with specific detailed steps to do something that comes naturally!

There is no mention as to which parts of the body are to be washed after each of the four acts.

It is important here to note that the words in 4:43 instruct to 'wash yourselves'. The words do not specify which parts to wash, nor do the words say to take a full bath.
Contrary to what some interpreters claim, the word 'ightasilu' literally means 'wash yourselves", it does not mean have a full bath.

The reason as to why God did not specify which parts of the body to be washed is because God mentioned four acts after which washing is required. These four acts affect different parts of the body, and thus it is not possible to name one part of the body that would need washing after all the acts mentioned.

Naturally, one who has come from the toilet will not need to wash the same part of his body as one who has been travelling and needs to wash the dust off his face and hands.

The absence of naming individual body parts is therefore not a detail that is missing from the Quran but rather, a common sense matter that every person can easily decide. Every person knows which part of his/her body needs to be washed after each of the four acts mentioned.
This also explains why God did not specifically say "wash all your bodies". It is because there is no reason or logic in having a full bath every time we visit the toilet for example!
Once again, it is stressed that the literal meaning of the word 'ightasilu' is 'wash yourselves' and not have a full bath.

The verse speaks of four acts, yet only one command for washing

This observation related to the words in 4:43, is of extreme importance.
Various scholars and interpreters, in their habit of making Islam much more difficult than how God decreed it to be, proclaim that married couples must have a full bath every time they have sexual intercourse. They claim that the word 'ightasilu' in 4:43 means wash all your body (full bath).

In making such a claim, they have actually dug a hole for themselves!
What about after illness, travelling and visiting the toilet?
Do believers need to have a full bath every time they visit the toilet?
The instruction to wash 'ightasilu' is mentioned only once in 4:43, yet it applies to all four acts (sex, illness, travel, toilet). The words in 4:43 did not advise 4 different methods of washing, one for each of the four acts, but only one command to 'ightasilu' that applies to all four acts.

As a result, they need to answer the following question:
Why have they assigned their obligatory full bath only to follow sexual intercourse and not to follow the other three acts mentioned in the verse?

The mention of four acts (sexual intercourse, illness, travel and toilet) yet only one instruction for washing would surely necessitates that their improvised ghusl should apply after each of the four acts and not only after only one of the four acts!
This self-inflicted inconsistency, which they brought upon themselves, can only be resolved if scholars and interpreters desist from adding man-made rituals to those authorised by God.

The reason why God did not specify one part of the body to be washed, is clearly because each act of the four acts will require washing a different part of the body. Every person would have full knowledge of which part of the body needs washing after each of the four acts.
A person returning from travel would only need to wash the dust off his face and hands, while as for a couple who had sexual intercourse will need to do more thorough cleaning of the parts of their bodies that have been in contact during that act.

Such non-Quranic rituals, such as ghusl, whether in relation to washing or other religious acts, do nothing other than complicate the religion and make it more difficult to practice when God assured us of the contrary:

God wants ease for you, and He does not want hardship for you.

However, there is also a disguised purpose behind instating such non-Quranic requirements. By instating such rules, when they are not found in the Quran, the instigators can then claim that the Quran does not have all the details of our religion.
They are to be told: The Quran does not have any of the details that you fabricated, but it surely has all the details of the religion that God prescribed for us.


Those who insist in upholding non-Quranic rituals, with the claim that the Quran on its own is incomplete, and that the religion can only be completed by the sunna of the prophet, they are in total contempt of God's assurance that the religion is complete in the Quran:

Today, I have
completed your religion for you, perfected My blessing upon you and approved Islam as the religion for you. 5:3

The mere suggestion that prophet Muhammad followed any religious rules or rituals not specifically authorised by God in the Quran constitutes an immediate accusation against the prophet. Namely, that he did not obey God's command for him to follow nothing other than the Quran that was revealed to him:

Say (O Muhammad), "I am not a novelty among the messengers, nor do I know what will happen to me or to you. I follow nothing other than what is revealed to me (Quran). I am no more than a clear warner."

The claim that we must follow the sunna of the prophet, for he authorised many rituals and ways not mentioned in the Quran is also to show total contempt for God's assurance that the sunna of God is the only sunna and that it has no substitute:

Such was the Sunna of God for those who passed on before. You will find that
there is no substitute for the Sunna of God. 33:62

How can it be that the prophet followed a whole body of rules and rituals that do not exist in the Quran, which is now referred to as the "sunna of Muhammad", when he was commanded by God to follow nothing other than the Quran that was revealed to him (46:9, 5:48, 7:2-3)?

It is for those reasons that on the Day of Judgement prophet Muhammad will disown all who abandoned the Book of God and followed a religion that sadly has very little to do with the Holy Quran:

And the messenger said, "My Lord, my people have deserted this Quran."