Taharah/ Spiritual Purity in Shia Islam is a state of being, when certain conditions are met the person is said to be having Taharah/ Spiritual Purity. There are a lot of religious obligations ie: Salah/ Namaz/ Prayers which could not be done unless the person is having Taharah/ Spiritual Purity. Thus, to be eligible to perform those religious obligations one must acquire Taharah/ Spiritual Purity. Taharah/Spiritual Purity is acquired through Ghusl/ Bath, Wadhu/ Ablution and Tayammum/ Dry Ablution depending on type of Najasah/ Spiritual Impurity and Situation.
Taharah/ Spiritual Purity in Shia Islam is not to be confused with hygiene or cleanliness, both are very different. A person may be very clean and hygienic but that does not mean the person is having Taharah/ Spiritual Purity as well. Urine, blood, semen, pigs, dogs etc are not unclean and unhygienic from biological and physical point of view, but from spiritual point of view they are considered Najis/ Spiritually Impure. Likewise, no matter what much amount of dirt and filth are poured in sea or in a lake, they are considered as having Taharah/ Spiritual Purity.
Taharah/ Spiritual Purity is an act of worship in itself, and to acquire it Niyyah/ Intention is required, else mere performance of acts to acquire Taharah/ Spiritual Purity would not make the person Tahir/ Spiritually Pure. Taharah/ Spiritual Purity is initial level of worship, with which the person performs higher order worships. If Taharah/ Spiritual Purity was all about cleaning then there would never be specific repetitions of acts; say once, twice; in Ghusl/ Bath, Wadhu/ Ablution or Tayammum/ Dry Ablution, rather it would have been asked to continue till the dirt is removed.
Cleanliness or Hygiene are rather pre-requisite for Ghusl/ Bath, Wadhu/ Ablution or Tayammum/ Dry Ablution. Shia Muslims are required to wash or remove all the dirt and filth before beginning Ghusl/ Bath, Wadhu/ Ablution or Tayammum/ Dry Ablution.
One thing which differentiates Shia Muslims from others is that Niyyah/ Intention for Taharah/ Spiritual Purity should be solely worship, the moment any other intention joins it the whole act of Taharah/ Spiritual Purity will become mere washing. Thus, for a Shia Muslim Ghusl/ Bath and Wadhu/ Ablution are not washing or cleaning of face and body. Shia Muslims do not consider Wadhu/ Ablution as having secondary benefits that it keeps our face and hands clean and fresh. Shia Muslim would rather wash face and hands or have a normal bath if he/ she wants to keep face and body clean and fresh. But when a Shia Muslim performs Ghusl/ Bath, Wadhu/ Ablution or Tayammum/ Dry Ablution it is just an act of worship and not washing, cleaning or a part of beauty/ fashion etc.
Non-Shia Muslims who claim that: look performing Wadhu/ Ablution five times a day would please Allah (God) and the by-product of Wadhu/ Ablution is that it will keep your face, hands clean, shiny, moisturised and help us in beautification, dual benefits; for a Shia Muslim these claims are ridiculous and perfect stupidity. When a Shia Muslim performs Wadhu/ Ablution he/ she does not intend to clean or beautify rather the intention or aim is solely and solely just worship of Allah (God). Thus, Shia Muslims are required to wash or scrub till one is satisfied that all dirt, dust or filth are removed from face, hands or clothes before beginning Ghusl/ Bath or Wadhu/ Ablution.
Najasah/ Spiritual Impurity for a Shia Muslim is a state of being which prohibits one from performing several acts of worship, although the person would be very clean or had just taken normal bath, the person may still be Najis/ Spiritually Impure. Najasah/ Spiritual Impurity is all about ineligibility for performance of several religious obligations.
Najasah/ Spiritual Impurity has two levels major Spiritual Impurity and minor Spiritual impurity. To simplify, if a person looses major Spiritual Purity he/ she looses minor spiritual purity along with, he/she become totally Najis/ Spiritually Impure, but if a person who is having major Spiritual Purity looses minor Spiritual Purity he/she would not looses major Spiritual Purity and may easily re-acquire minor Spiritual Purity easily.
Major Spiritual Impurity is acquired by several higher level Spiritually Impure actions or incidences ie: Sexual Intercourse. One looses total Taharah/ Spiritual Purity after those actions or incidences. One becomes Najis/ Spiritually Impure and that Najasah/ Spiritual Impurity could only be removed by Ghusl/ Bath.
Minor Spiritual Impurity is acquired by several lower level Spiritually Impure actions or incidences ie: Urination. One does not loose total Taharah/ Spiritual Purity after those actions or incidences. One becomes minor Najis/ Spiritually Impure and that minor Najasah/ Spiritual Impurity could be easily removed by Wadhu/ Ablution.
Minor Spiritual impurity is lower level Spiritual impurity due to Urination, Excretion, Passing Gas, Sleep, Bleeding from wounds, Intoxication and Unconsciousness. One does not loose Major Spiritual Impurity because of these, and can easily acquire Taharah/ Spiritual Purity by mere Wadhu/ Ablution.
Major Spiritual impurity is higher level Spiritual impurity due to: Sexual penetration no matter whether ejaculation happens or not both man and woman would become Spiritually Major Impure, Voluntary or involuntary ejaculation in men would make them Spiritually Major Impure, Menses or Post-Partum Bleeding would make women Spiritually Major Impure, physical touch or coming in physical contact with an unwashed Human Dead Body no matter how slightly would make living person Spiritually Major Impure. One can acquire Taharah/ Spiritual Purity with Ghusl/ Bath.
Foreplay, Precum, Erection, Lubrication has no effect on Taharah/ Spiritual Purity in Shia Islam, thus, one loose neither minor Spiritual Purity nor Major Spiritual Purity.
Minor Spiritual Impurity prevents Shia Muslims from: Touching Holy Qur’an, names of Allah (God), names of Prophet Mohammed, names of twelve Imams (Aimmah), names of Lady Fatima Zahra. Minor Spiritual Impurity also prevents Shia Muslims from: performing Salah/ Namaz/ Prayers, Performing Tawaf/ Circumbulation of Holy Ka’ba.
Major Spiritual Impurity prevents Shia Muslims from: All preventions of Minor Spiritual Impurity, also from: Entering Masajids/Mosques, Recitation even out of memory those particular chapters of Holy Qur’an which require obligatory prostrations (Sajdah), Observe Sawm/ Roza/ Fasting, Undertake Hajj/ Umra/ Pilgrimage.
Tayammum/ Dry ablution is an alternative ablution for both Ghusl/bath and Wadhu/ablution to acquire both Major and Minor Tahrah/ Spiritual Purity in following cases: If one cannot find water, If using water for Ghusl/bath or Wadhu/ablution can cause severe hardship i.e. sickness, extreme fever, extreme water shortage etc, or If performing Ghusl/bath or Wadhu/ablution would take so much time that time for Salah/ Namaz or prayers get over.
As a pre-requisite of Wadhu/ Ablusion one may wash dirty foots, hands, gargle, clean nostrils with water etc. With Niyyah/ Intention Wadhu/Ablution is performed in following manner in Shia Islam:
- Using right hand’s cup of palm water is poured on forehead; using right hand entire face is washed with that water. One may repeat the step for second time but not thrice.
2.1. Using left hand’s cup of palm water is poured on right elbow, using left hand entire right hand is washed down to fingers with that water. One may repeat the step for second time but not thrice.
2.2. Using right hand’s cup of palm water is poured on left elbow, using right hand entire left hand is washed down to fingers with that water. One may repeat the step for second time but not thrice.
- Using remaining wetness on tips of right finger or right palm, front head is wiped from top of head down to hairline, covering an area of nine digits on fingers, once.
4.1. Using remaining wetness on right palm, upper side of right foot is wiped from toes up to ankles, once.
4.2. Using remaining wetness on left palm, upper side of left foot is wiped from toes up to ankles, once.
As a pre-requisite of Ghusl/Bath one may have a normal bath with soap, shampoo etc to remove dirt from body, gargle, clean nostrils with water etc. With Niyyah/ Intention Ghusl/Bath is performed either Irtimasi Ghusl/ Immersive Bath or Tartibi/ Sequential Bath in Shia Islam.
In Irtimasi Ghusl/ Complete Immersion, whole body is immersed in water like in lakes, sea, pools etc.
Where as in Tartibi Ghusl/ Sequential Bath, first the head above neck is poured with water to make it completely wet, later body below neck is poured with water to make it completely wet.
With Niyyah/ Intention Tayammum/ Dry Ablution is performed in following manner using Dry Earth, Sand, Stones, Dust on wall etc in Shia Islam:
- Both palms are placed on the object ie: Dry Earth, Sand, Stones, Dust on wall.
- Using both palms forehead from hairline down to eyebrows is rubbed upon, once.
3.1. With left palm upper right hand is rubbed from wrist down to fingers.
3.2. With right palm upper left hand is rubbed from wrist down to fingers, once.
Optionally one may, place both palms on the object once again and repeat 3.1. and 3.2 steps second time.
The content on Taharah/ Spiritual Purity in Shia Islam over here is brief explanation; details could be had from further reliable sources.
O Allah! Peace and Salutation be upon Mohammed and House-hold of Mohammed.