The meaning of ablution:
Ablution, or purification, is a prerequisite for the performance of valid prayers. It may be defined as cleansing from material spiritual pollution.
The Conditions of the Validity of Ablution
1) Belief ( i.e. being a believer )
2) Being in control of one's faculties
3) Having attained majority
4) Ability to use a purifying agent
5) Availability of a purifying agent
6) Covering by ablution of all the designated parts
7) The absence of any pollution which renders it null and avoid, e.g. the absence of menstruation or a post-natal bleeding in women
Ablution may be categorized in
a) Minor Ablution ( wudu' )
b) Major Ablution (ghusl)
c) Dry Ablution (tayammum)
a) Minor Ablution
The four parts of minor ablution are:
1) Washing the face
2) Washing the hands up to the elbows
3) Rubbing of the head
4) Washing the feet up to the ankles
b) Major Ablution
Major ablution is secured by washing the whole body. It is obligatory after sexual intercourse and after the menstrual period in women.
c) Dry Ablution ( Tayammum)
Dry ablution consists of wiping the face and the hands up to the elbows on dry clean earth or sand. The worshipper has to beat the earth with his two hands twice, once for wipping the face, and the second time for the hands up to the elbows.
The conditions for a valid dry ablution are:
2) The availability of clean earth, and the absence of water
3) Covering of all the designated parts. Clean earth may include clean dust, or sand, or rock, for one of the Traditions of the Prophet affirms that: " All the earth has been given me as a place for prayers (Prostration) and as a purifier ".
Ablution, whether minor, major or dry, has been enjoined on believers in the sixth verse of the fifth Chapter of the Qur'an.
" 0 ye who believe, when ye rise up for prayers. wash your faces, and your hands up to the elbows, and lightly rub your heads and wash your feet up to the ankles. And if ye are unclean, purify yourselves. And if ye are sick or on a journey, or one of you cometh from the closet, or ye have had contact with women, and ye find no water, then go to clean high ground and rub your faces and your hands with some of it. Allah could not place a burden on you, but He would purify you and would perfect His grace upon you, that ye may give thanks ".
Thus ablution, being a divine injunction makes the cleansing process five times a day a necessary stage of purification before prayers. In the words of one of the traditions of the Prophet :" The key to prayers is purification ".
Invalidity of Ablution
Ablution is no longer valid when any uncleanness is emitted from either of the two openings. An uncleanness may include blood, or bloody saliva, vomiting or a major uncleanness (sexual intercourse)