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Wudu

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The Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This? Covers the religious, political, and social spheres of global Islam in the modern world

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    Wudu

    Obligatory cleansing rituals performed in order to render the believer ritually pure. Required prior to prayer for both men and women. Consists of washing the hands, mouth, face, arms up to the elbows, and feet. Water is usually poured over the top of the head as well. Among the things that defile purity are sleep, sex, menstruation, and toilet operations. Major ritual impurity (incurred by, e.g., sexual intercourse, menstruation, childbirth) necessitates a ritual bath (ghusl). In the absence of water, ablutions might be performed by rubbing one's hands against clay or sand and passing them over the face and arms (tayammum).

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