In order to perform salah you must be in a state of purity, which in most cases can be established by doing wudu’, the ritual washing for prayer. But there are certain times when wudu’ will not suffice and you have to do ghusl, which is like taking a complete shower.
A few examples of times you’ll have to make ghusl before you pray are: if you’ve had sexual intercourse with your spouse, if a man ejaculates, if a woman has a significant amount of vaginal discharge and/or has completed her menstrual cycle and/or her post-natal bleeding has ended.
The easiest way to think of Ghusl is like taking a shower; the difference between wudu (the ritual ablution) and ghusl is that the areas of your body that need to be cleaned differ.
Here’s how you preform ghusl:
1. Say Bismillah
2. Wash your genitals with your left hand, clean water and/or soap. If you’re sensitive to soap or body wash just use water.
3. Start the process of wudu, but wait to wash your feet — you’ll see what I mean.
– Wash each hand up to your wrists, 3 times–right hand first.
– Rinse your mouth with water 3 times. (Like when you brush your teeth, you rinse and spit).
– Cup your right hand and take a little bit of water in it and put it in your nose and inhale (don’t choke yourself). With your left hand clean your nose. Repeat 3 times.
– Wash your face, from hairline to chin 3 times.
– Wash your arms from wrist to just past the elbow 3 times each starting with your right arm.
– Take/pour 3 handfulls of water over your head. Your scalp needs to get completely wet here. If your hair is long you don’t have to wash it or get it all wet. You can braid it and the braid can stay dry. Just make sure that your scalp gets wet all over.
– Clean your ears by putting each index finger in your ears and with your thumbs wipe behind your ears. Do this once.
4. Wash whole right side of your body (just turn sideways if you have an overhead shower).
5. Wash the whole left side of your body (again, just turn sideways.
6. Was your feet and ankles 3 times. Start with your right foot and then your left. Use your pinky finger on your right hand to wash between all your toes on both feet.
And don’t forget to recite this du’aa at the end!
Allahumma ij’alni min at tawabeen wa ij’alni min-al mutatahireen.
Translation: Oh Allah, make me among those who are repentant and of those who purify themselves.
And there you have it! Your ghusl is complete!