In this study, we are trying to examine the system of purification in both religions; Islam and Hinduism. Basically, we will discuss the issue of ablution and bath and their equivalent in Hinduism.
Spiritual Purification in Islam
According to the Islamic jurisprudence, the impurity is of two types: impurity of heart and soul that comes from wrong faiths, bad ethics and from committing sins and crimes. This type of impurity or filth is the most detested one according to the Islamic mysticism. But how can we purify our minds and hearts of such dangerous spiritual filths and impurities? The answer is that if a person is drowned in the mud of impurities due to false and deviated faiths,then he can remove those filths with the true and right ideas and faith by studying both paths; right and wrong; both ideas: true and false, comparing them on a free logical and philosophical basis. Referring to the experts of the related subject and consulting the fair and knowledgeable personalities is helpful in this regard.
Spiritual and intellectual purification can be achieved through studying relevant religious scriptures and comparing them with different faiths and philosophies of the world. However, this mission is complicated and tough but not impossible as many people have studied the books of Islam and became Muslim and denounced their previous wrong ideas and faith.
Furthermore, you can study the articles prepared by islamforhindus on different subjects, like: The Concept of God in Hinduism, Who Is God? Incarnation and Prophethood between Islam and Hinduism, Angels in Hinduism, etc..
Moreover, you can seek the help of common books and articles on the Islamic faith, ethics and spirituality to remove wrong ideas and faith in order to purify yourself of bad habits and bad ethics then you can decorate yourself with the true faith, good ethics and behaviors. The E-Da`wah Committee Sites in different languages of the world are very helpful in this regard. Our respective E-Da`wah committee offers live chat service that enables an eager person to talk to an expert on religious and philosophical issues anytime. In fact, now, we have chances and facilities for learning and enlightening than ever before,so there is no excuse for an able person to wander in darkness.
Physical Impurity according to Islamic Jurisprudence
The second type of impurity is the impurity of external body or garment which is the subject of this study.
Impurity is of two kinds; the visible filth and the invisible filth. The visible filth includes; stool, urine, dung, horse excreta, blood, matter of the wound, dog, swine, etc. If something become impure due to mingling with any of the above-mentioned filths, there are some ways to purify it. The visible filth can be purified by washing it with water in a proper way, like the cloths and garments, etc. Sometimes, hard objects can be purified by rubbing them with other objects, like knives, sole of the shoes, mirrors, etc. because these objects do not have pores, so the impurities cannot be absorbed by them. Therefore, they do not require washing and squeezing.
Additionally, if any impure thing is burnt and becomes ashes, it becomes pure. Also when any impure thing is converted into another thing until the previous nature is changed into a new one, the thing becomes pure.(1)
The rulings of this type of issues can be studied in the books of Islamic jurisprudence or can be sought from any Fatwa center like Egyptian Dar al-Ifta.
What is Visible and Invisible Impurity?
Invisible impurity includes discharge of semen with lust.If the semen was discharged due to a lustful dream or a sexual intercourse, the doer becomes impure whether semen was discharged or not. In all such cases, a person becomes impure that makes him unable to perform the prayer or to enter the mosque.However, this impurity is invisible and based on the order of Allah the Almighty, though there are scientific reasons that support the ruling of purification in the case of invisible impurity.
When a person is in the state of invisible impurity, his visible body is still pure and does not pollute anything that comes in contact with him. According to the Islamic ruling, a menstruating woman can touch anything in her home or kitchen, glass, pot, jug, pen notebook and laptop and nothing will become impure. However a menstruating woman is not allowed to touch the Glorious Qur’an or to enter a mosque. Moreover, if a man or woman is in a state of janabah(i.e. had a sexual discharge), then he or she is not allowed to touch the Glorious Qur’an or to enter the mosque or to perform the prayer until he/she purifies himself/herself or bathe the whole body.
Cases of Impurities for Women
There are some impurities that are specific for women only; like the impurity related to menstruation and the impurity related to the flow of blood for 40 days after giving birth to a child. Both impurities are invisible as it is mandatory to wash the entire body after the stoppage of the bleeding period. But in Islamic jurisprudence, the invisible impurity does not make something impure if touched by a person having the invisible impurity. Also the body of the person having an invisible impurity is pure but he is not allowed to touch the Qur’an and to perform the prayer and to enter the mosque until the person takes bath or washes it away. Though he can eat, drink, sit with people, buy and sell and can do all other works.(2)
It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) came across him in one of the streets of Madinah while he was junub (in a state of impurity). So he slipped away from him and went to take a ritual major bath. Then he returned to him, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “O Abu Hurairah! Where have you been?” He replied: “I was junub: so I disliked sitting in your company while I am not pure.” The Prophet said: “Subhan Allah! (Allah is free from imperfection!) A believer never becomes impure.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
From this story, we learn some important rulings of purification; one of them is that sexual intercourse requires a major bath but this ruling is based on a spiritual and divine base that does not require uncleanness in physical body unlike the Hindu philosophy in this regard because menstruation of a Hindu woman causes impurity for the physical body of the woman in a real sense that is why the body of the menstruating woman makes everything impure that was touched by her.
In Hinduism, a menstruating woman is traditionally considered impure. During menstruation, a woman is not allowed to enter the kitchen and temples, sleep in the day-time, bathe, wear flowers, have sex, touch other males or females, or talk loudly. She may not mount a horse, ox, or elephant, nor may she drive a vehicle. Women themselves are seen as impure and polluted, and are often isolated as untouchables, unable to return to their family, for the length of their period.
However, according to the Islamic ruling a menstruating woman is allowed to exercise all works including remembrance of Allah, recitation of supplications.(3)
She can cook, drive, read, write, and meet the people. There are only few particular worships and ritual activities that are not allowed for her during the period. In addition, according to Islamic Jurisprudence, even a husband is allowed to sleep with his menstruating wife, kiss her and hug her, and the husband can exercise all types of natural and permissible sexual activities with her if she agrees except vaginal and anal sex.(4)
Causes Invalidating the Ablution and Bath
Wudu’ (or minor ritual ablution) is invalidated by passing gas, stool or urine, flowing of blood from wound, vomiting of full mouth, deep sleep or fainting.In all these cases, a person requires a minor ablution when he intends to perform the prayer.(5)
However, bath (or major ritual ablution) is invalidated by exercising sexual activityand after menstruation or bleeding of a child birth for a woman or excretion of semen with lust for both sexes.
This is about the system of purification in Islam. We tried to present it briefly. In the coming part of this article, we will shed light on the philosophy of purification in Hinduism.
(1) Muhammad `Ubaidullah, Tuhfatul-Hind, , Matba`atHashmi, India, 1860, p.94
(2) Sajjad –ulHashmi, Teachings of Islam, vol.3, Ahl-Us-Sunnah, Publications 162, Grey Street, Burnley, U.K. 1999, p. 83.
(3) Al-Fatawa Al-Hindiyyah, Amiriyyah printing press, Egypt, second edition, 1892, vol. 1, p. 38.
(5) Hasan ibn `Ammar Ash-Shurunbulali, Nur Al-Idah, Dar Quba, Damascus, without date, p. 55.