Istinjā’ (Purification After the Call of Nature) [Detailed]

Definition of Istinjā’

  • In the Arabic language, ‘istinjā’, or ‘abstertion’ means to wipe and clean an impure area.
  • In the terminology of sharīʿah (Sacred Law), istinjā’ is the process of cleaning those body parts from which impurities such as urine, faeces and the like is secreted, as it is not sufficient simply to perform wudu while the site from which they were secreted remains contaminated. Rather, it is necessary to dry and clean the site at which the impure substance was secreted

Materials Used to Perform Istinjā’

There are two things with which istinjā’ is permissible:

  1. Ideally, istinjā’ is to be done with water.
  2. All those things which have the capability of cleaning albeit with the condition that they are free from impurities e.g. toilet paper. It is not appropriate to use anything of value e.g. silk or cotton. similarly, objects which enjoy respect like paper on which words have been written, even if the writing consists of disconnected letters, since letters themselves enjoy respect; and blank paper, provided that it is suitable for being written on.

As for toilet paper and other materials with which one might clean oneself, they serve as an acceptable substitute for water even if it is available; however, it is preferable to use water, and even more preferable to combine the use of water and other acceptable material. It is mustaḥabb (recommended) to first use toilet paper or any other hard material in odd amounts and to then follow it with water is sunnah.

Method of Istinjā’

  • Istinjā’ is to be performed with the left hand when the substance secreted has ceased to have flowed.

Ruling of Istinjā’

  • Istinjā’ is a religious obligation; in some cases, sunnah mu’akkadah (emphasised) and in some wājib (mandatory), for both men and women. Hence, one must perform istinjā’ to remove any and all impure substances secreted by the body –even if a given secretion occurs rarely- such as blood, pre-seminal fluid and wadi. It is deemed makrūh (disliked) for an individual to neglect it.
  • If when excreting impurity which in weight equivalent to the weight of 4.86g (in the case of a solid substance) or the area of the inner concave of the palm (in the case of a liquid substance), spreads around the private parts, it will be obligatory to remove it and water will be prescribed. If it is not removed, ṣalāh will not be valid. If the najāsah (filth) does not exceed this amount, it is sunnah to wash it and the ṣalāh performed in this state will be makrūh tanzīhī (mildly disliked)
  • If someone cleans himself and a trace of impurity still remains, after which his buttocks perspires and his perspiration gets onto his clothing, his clothes will not be considered contaminated even if the impurity which has gotten onto them amounts to more than the excused amount.
  • If after istinjā’, a bad odour remains on one’s hand, it will be considered clean. Nevertheless, the elimination of any bad odour is preferable.
  • If there is a possibility of one’s ʿawra (nakedness) being exposed in front of others during the process of istinjā’, it is permissible to leave out istinjā’ and move on to do wuḍū (ritual ablution).
  • If one is unable to do istinjā’ himself, it is permissible for one’s wife to assist him. If one does not have a wife to help him, one is excused from doing istinjā’.

Definition of Istibrā’

  • Istibrā’ means to clear the urinal passage from droplets of urine until one is convinced and certain that no droplets will exit the urine passage and nothing more will remain to be eliminated, which would otherwise prevent the validity of one’s wuḍū (ritual ablution), which in turn will render ṣalāh impermissible to perform. Thus, it is improper to begin wuḍū (ritual ablution) without having carried out istibrā’.

Ruling of Istibrā’

  • Istibrā’ is wājib (mandatory) for men due to the nature of their organ.

Difference Between Istinjā’ and Istibrā’

Istinjā’ and istibrā’ and two separate things. The former is sunnah in some cases and in others obligatory, while the latter is at all times wājib (mandatory).

Method of Istibrā’

  • Istibrā’ can be achieved by a number of methods e.g. coughing, walking, squatting etc. but a common and effective method is to wrap a tissue in such a manner that the droplets get soaked without soiling the clothes. The method of istibrā’ will differ for each person, according to their physical nature. The objective is merely to have conviction that there is no urine remaining in the urine tract which could possibly exit.
  • The advantage of doing istibrā’ with the aid of toilet paper, is that a person is not confined to the toilet; rather he can go about his daily routine whilst all the droplets gradually clear out from the urine passage and are absorbed in the toilet paper.
  • If the urine from the toilet paper (which was wrapped) spreads on the clothes, then the clothes will also become impure. Wuḍū (ritual ablution) will become invalid the very moment a droplet comes out. Therefore, water should not be used until the droplets have exited.
  • A rubber band may also be used to keep the tissue in place.

Ruling for Women

  • The ruling of istibrā’ is specific to men. Nevertheless, women should also be wary of urine droplets and wait till they are completely surebefore washing themselves.

Impurity of Water in the Toilet

  • The water in the toilet bowl is regarded as impure, both before flushing and after flushing.
  • An easy method of avoiding contact with the water is to place toilet paper in the toilet so that one is protected from splashes.
  • If splashes from the toilet bowl do fall on one’s body or clothes, then one should work out the area of the impurity. If the estimated area exceeds the size of the inner concave of the palm, then it is not permissible to perform the prayer until the soiled areas have been thoroughly cleaned.


  • If someone is accustomed to doubts as to whether urine droplets have ceased or not after doing istibrā’, then he should sprinkle water over his private parts and his under-garment and pay no attention to the doubts.

(Taken from “The Fiqh Manual (Purity)”, prepared and compiled by BMPublications)


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