Ritual purity in Islam

This article is about hygiene in Islam. For the Jewish Taharah ritual preparation for burial, see Bereavement in Judaism § Preparing the body — Taharah.

Purity (Arabic: طهارة, Tahara(h)) is an essential aspect of Islam. (The same term taharah is also found in Hebrew — see tumah and taharah— applying to purity in Ancient Israel and modern Judaism also). It is the opposite of najis, things which are considered ritually impure are in the state of najāsa.

In the Quran

The Quran says: "In it there are men who love to observe purity and Allah loves those who maintain purity."[Quran 9:108] and also there is one verse which concerned with Taharah or purity and impurity of Human as follow:"O you who believe! The polytheists are certainly impure[najas]: so let them not approach the Holy Mosque after thistheir year. And if you fear poverty, Allah will enrich you out of His grace, if He wishes. Indeed Allah is all-knowing, all wise."[Quran 9:28]

Importance in Islam

Observing cleanliness of the soul, the clothes, and the surroundings is obligatory upon every Muslim, and this is considered as one of the pillars of Islam.

Before offering prayers, it is necessary to perform wudu, and in certain cases, both wudu and ghusl. The purifying agent is always clean water. However, during times when water is not available or is scarce, symbolic wudu and ghusl can be performed with clean dry earth which is known as Tayammum.

If the body or clothes show traces of blood, pus, urine, feces, semen or alcohol, then Taharat becomes essential. The clothes should be washed and the affected part of the body cleaned with pure water, or the whole body given as ghusl as the case may be.

A person must not touch the Quran if the person is not in the state of Tahara. The Quran says: None shall touch it but those who are clean (56:79). When in a state of janaba, one is not allowed even to recite the Quran, let alone touch it. In a state of minor ritual impurity, it is forbidden (in some schools, makruh) to handle the Qur'an and to read it, and is considered to be acceptable (neutral, mubah) to recite it, although it is better liked (recommended, mustahabb) to be ritually pure when reciting the Qur'an. A mushaf is only a Quran if it is the Arabic Quranic text, and a book that contains more than 50% non-Qur'anic material is not viewed as a Quran for the above purposes, even if it contains verses of the Quran or the entire Quranic text. Examples would be a tafsir, or a translation of the Quran such as Yusuf Ali's (with commentary) which contains over fifteen times as much text in footnotes than it does in Quranic text or Quranic interpretation in either Arabic or English, or a book of hadith that contains Quranic verses embedded in the narrations.

Shia views on purity and impurity

In respect to purity of non-Muslims, the majority of Shia Muslims believe in the impurity of non-Muslims. However, there is a minority among Shia which believe in purity of non-Muslims.

Majority views

Some people such as Shaykh Tusi believed that it is not permissible to eat with Kuffar or non-Muslims. Considering non-believers as Najis has been prevalent until twentieth century. Muhaqiq Hilli also believes in impurity of non-believers. Most of maraji (authorities such as Sayyid Ruhollah Khomeini, Nasir Makarim Shirazi, Sayyid Muhammad Rida Gulpaygani, and Sayyid Abu al-Qasim Khu’i) believed in impurity of Kuffar, including Ahle Al Kitab. Of course, Khu'i pointed out precaution ruling in the subject. However, there are some authorities such as Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, Muhammad Fadil Lankarani, Sayyid ‘Ali al-Sistani, and Sayyid ‘Ali Khamene’i who did not believe in impurity of Ahle-Al-Kitab.

Minority views

Some scholars such as Mulla Muhsin Fayd al-Kashani (d. 1680) and 40 Al-Muhaqqiq al-Bahrani (d. 1708) did not believe in the impurity of non-believers, and particularly non-Kitabi. For instance, Kashani believes that the impurity of Kuffar is spiritual and internal, so there is no need to wash after touching them. This group believes in the purity of non-Muslims and of all humans. Some people, such as Muhammad Ibrahim JannÁti, Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadlullah, Seyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad, and Yusuf Sani‘i are part of this group.[1]

Cleaning the teeth

Cleaning teeth is also very important. Muhammad is reported to have said that the angels of mercy turn away from a person whose mouth emits foul smell because of unclean teeth. It is not only unhygienic to neglect cleaning teeth but also an anti-social habit likely to repel people from one's presence. It is narrated by Ibn Majah to "use the Miswaak, for verily, it purifies the mouth, and it is a Pleasure for the Lord. Jib-ra-eel (A.S.) exhorted me so much to use the Miswaak that I feared that its use would be decreed obligatory upon me and upon my Ummah. If I did not fear imposing hardship on my Ummah, I would have made its use obligatory upon my people. Verily, I use the Miswaak so much that I fear the front part of my mouth being peeled (by constant and abundant brushing with the Miswaak)."


The mixed views on the subject came about because tobacco had not been introduced to Arabia at the time when the Qur'an was written in the 7th century A.D. Therefore, one cannot find a verse of Qur'an or words of Muhammad saying clearly that "Smoking is forbidden." However, there are many instances where the Qur'an gives general guidelines, and calls upon Muslims to use their reason and intelligence, and seek guidance from Allah about what is right and wrong. It is universally understood that smoking causes a number of health problems that often ultimately result in death: smoking is, depending on the madhhab, considered to be either makruh or haram, but in Sunni madhhabs it is not considered to cause one to lose ritual purity.


Leviticus 15:16-18 says that after a man emits semen or has sex with a women they must clean themselves with water. This was regarded as hygienic in tenth century Baghdad.[2]

See also


  1. VARRICCHIO & 2010 The Purity of Non-Muslims in Shi‘a Jurisprudence.Journal of Shi‘a Islamic Studies, p. 170.174
  2. Faḍlan, ibn (2014-12-08) [921-06-21]. "18". Mission to the Volga (in Arabic). Volga River: Library of Arabic Literature. p. 203. ISBN 978-1-4798-0350-7. they do not wash themselves when intercourse puts them in a state of ritual impurity. They avoid contact with water, especially in the Winter. again on page 243 in reference this time to Vikings, paragraph 76 "do not wash themselves when intercourse puts them in a state of ritual impurity. They do not even wash their hands after eating. Indeed they are like roaming asses." ([Quran 74:50–51])
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