Monday, November 20, 2017 - 2 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439
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Is it obligatory to perform major ritual ablution (ghusl) before the Friday prayer?

 Is it obligatory to perform major ritual ablution (ghusl) before the Friday prayer?

Answer

The major ritual ablution is not an obligation before the Friday prayer, according to most scholars. Indeed, it is even said that there is scholarly consensus (ijma’) on the matter [that it is not obligatory].

Commentary:
Whoever comes to the Friday prayers should [not “must”] perform ghusl, wear two clean garments (thawb), and put on perfume. There is no disagreement regarding the fact that these things are recommended. In support of this, there are numerous hadiths attributed to both the Prophet, and to his Companions. Among these are included a hadith attributed to Salman al-Farsi, who reports that the Messenger of God , upon him blessings and peace, once said:

Whoever takes a bath [i.e. the major ritual ablution] on Friday should purify himself well; then he should use the oil he puts in his/her hair, or perfumes himself with the scent of his/her house. Then, he should proceed to the mosque (for the Friday prayer). There, he should not leave a space between himself and the person that he prays alongside. He should pray as much as (God has) written for him, and then remain silent, while the Imam delivers the sermon (khutba). [If he does this correctly] All his/her sins from the previous Friday until that Friday will be forgiven.

This hadith is included by Bukhari. Yet, performing the major ritual ablution is not obligatory according to most scholars. Indeed, it is even said that there is scholarly consensus (ijma’) on the matter [that it is not obligatory]. Ibn ‘Abd al-Bar said: “Muslim scholars, both past and present, agree that the Friday ghusl is not a matter of obligation”. Ahmad, however, knows another report, to the effect that a major ritual ablution on Friday is obligatory. Here, his evidence is that the Prophet , upon him blessings and peace, once remarked that “the Friday ablution (ghusl) is obligatory on each muhtalim”. This validity of this hadith is recognised by the majority, who base their view [that ghusl on Friday is recommended] on it. Their evidence [contra that of Ahmad] is another hadith, with a good chain of transmission (Hasan), narrated by al-Nisa’i and al-Tirmidhi. According to this: “It suffices to perform wudu’ properly for the Friday prayer, though it is better to take a bath”.
 

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