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Last Updated: 2012/01/19
Summary of question
I would like some explanation on puberty and its rulings. Please answer my question below.
question
Salam Aleikum to the great marja’ of the Shia world, Ayatullah Uzma Hadavi Tehrani. I have sent a list of questions that I would be very grateful to get responses to.
Subject: Bulugh (puberty) and obligations
1- In the beginning of my bulugh, due to carelessness, and lack of information on religious precepts, I didn’t fast for several years. Does it suffice that I only make up the days I missed or do I have to give kaffarah as well?
2- If one didn’t know that after puberty there is an obligation of janabah ghusl, what is the ruling on the prayers he performed in that state?
3- Is the sweat of ajunub person, whether he has become junub through halal and haram means, najis? And what is the ruling on praying in clothing that the junub person has sweated in?
4- What are the signs of bulugh in boys and if these haven't taken place, at what age does a boy become duty bound?
5- What is the ruling regarding a white colored fluid that is emitted after urination?
6- If a male is certain of the discharge of semen before reaching 15 years of age, but hasn’t prayed and fasted after that due to unawareness of the ruling, or has prayed and fasted, but without performing the wajib janabah ghusl, what is his duty regarding such prayers and fasts?
7- Does a person who has masturbated before 15 years of age, become baligh if there is seminal discharge and does he have to make up for any missed prayers after that?
8- At the age of 19, I learned that a boy may become baligh before the age of 15 due to nocturnal emission or growth of coarse hair in the pubic region; what is the duty regarding the prayers I missed in that period, considering that I don’t know exactly when I became baligh and am not sure about how many prayers have been missed exactly?
9- Do the signs that have been mentioned in the risalahs only belong to when one is awake, or do they hold for when someone is asleep and has ejaculation?
10- If a person becomes junub and is embarrassed to perform ghusl, can he pray with tayammum?
11- Is nocturnal emission something unnatural?
12- Why does Islam order that the whole body be washed when one becomes junub, while only one small part of the body has become dirty? What is the difference between the discharge of semen and excretion of urine, that in the first ghusl has to be performed, while for the second, only washing the portion soiled is necessary?
Concise answer

The response of Ayatullah Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani to all of the questions is as follows:

1- If a person was unaware of his bulugh (religious puberty) or the obligation of fasting at that time, or thought that he didn’t bear the strength to fast, even if this conception developed as a result of what those around him would tell him, then deliberate breaking of the fast will only entail qada (making up for the missed fasts). However, if in all of these cases, he knew that there are chances that he has become baligh or that fasting has become mandatory for him, or that he bears the strength to do so and it was possible for him to confirm the matter and to become certain or sure, and it turns out that it was indeed so, then he must also give kaffarah as a precaution (ihtiyat) as well.

2- He must make up for the missed prayers.

3- The sweat of the junub is pak (not najis) in all cases (if he became junub through halal or haram means).

4- Religious puberty (bulugh) takes place in two ways: 1- Physiological puberty which is the growth of coarse hair in the pubic area and/or ejaculation (ihtilam). 2- After 15 lunar years have passed; this is a sign even if none of the other signs happen.

5- It is pak and doesn’t invalidate one’s wudu or ghusl.

6- The answer to this has already been explained in the responses to questions one and two; the prayers and fasts must be made up for, and if the person’s ignorance was due to negligence and carelessness, he must also give/do kaffarah as a precaution.

7- He is apparently baligh and must make up for the missed prayers and fasts according to what was mentioned in responses one and two.

8- You must only make up for the number of prayers you are sure you missed.

9- Yes. Of course, referring to the signs is only for when you are not sure whether the excretion is semen or not. But if one is sure what was excreted was indeed semen, he will be junub, and if he is sure it wasn’t semen, he won't be.

10- No, there is no embarrassment in janabah, he has to perform ghusl.

11- No, it is totally natural.

12- The obligation of performing ghusl after the discharge of semen and the necessity to perform wudu to pray for one who has urinated has nothing to do with the najasah of the body. It is because of this that in regard to urine, although the urinary organ has become najis, the individual must perform wudu for prayer, while there is no washing of that organ in wudu. This shows that wudu has nothing to do with the najasah of the urinary organ and its washing, or else, washing that part would also have to be a part of wudu. These are matters we just have to accept that Allah has obliged us to do without question. For prayer, the body and clothes must be pak (tahir), and this allows one to be able to pray with wudu or ghusl. Of course, some hadiths state that the reason for washing the whole body in ghusl is because the whole body takes pleasure during seminal discharge. Nonetheless, this is only a hikmah (one of the wisdoms behind it) that the hadiths are expressing, and not the entire reasoning and cause for such, therefore, if someone wakes up and becomes sure that semen has been discharged, even if he didn’t feel it while asleep, he still has to perform the ghusl (and not feeling any pleasure won't be a justification for not performing it).

Detailed Answer

Before delving into your question, we must first draw your attention to the fact that on this website, there are already relevant Q&A’s on most subjects, therefore, our request is that before submitting your question, please go ahead and search IslamQuest using keywords such as “Islam”, “Shia”, “Wilayah”, “Tayammum”, etc., to make sure your question hasn’t been addressed before.

Some of the answers to your questions already exist on this website and that is why we refrained from re-answering them and instead, have specified the number to the corresponding question. Please refer to these questions and in the case of still not getting your answer, contact us with your question.

The answers will be in the order of your questions:

1- If a person has deliberately and without a religiously sanctioned excuse broken his fast, in addition to making up for that fast, he must also give/do kaffarah, regardless of whether he knew that such an act will entail kaffarah or not.[1]

2- Please refer to Question 3302 of this website for your answer.

3- Please refer to Question 7837 of this website for your answer.

4- The signs for bulugh are one of three things: a) Growth of coarse hair beneath the belly and above the reproductive organ. b) Seminal discharge c) The end of fifteen lunar years for males and nine lunar years for females.[2]

Therefore, any of these will be an indication of the onset of the obligation of observing religious duties. For further information on bulugh and growth, you can refer to Questions 3827 and 4927of this website.

5- Please refer to Question 1895 of this website for your answer.

6- Please refer to Question 3100of this website for your answer.

7- As was mentioned in your fourth question, one of the signs of bulugh is the discharge of semen. Therefore, if after this time, one who is duty bound hasn’t performed prayers, he must make them up (qada)[3] and if he didn’t fast without an excuse, in addition to making up for the days missed, he must give/do kaffarah.[4]

8- We inquired the offices of the grand maraji’ in this regard and these are the answers we received:

The office of the Grand Ayatullah Khamenei (may Allah prolong his life):

The number of prayers he is sure to have missed after becoming baligh must be made up for, and he has no duty regarding the amount he isn't sure he missed or not.

Please note that the signs of bulugh are: a) The growth of coarse hair in the pubic area b) Seminal discharge c) Completing fifteen lunar years in males (which is approximately 14 years and 6 months and 18 days in the solar calendar). If any of these signs take place, it is an indication of bulugh and he/she must observe religious duties from then on.

The office of the Grand Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi (may Allah prolong his life):

He must make up for the amount he is sure to have missed, and has no duty regarding the amount he is not sure about.

The office of the Grand Ayatullah Sistani (may Allah prolong his life):

If you didn’t experience any of the other signs before completing 15 lunar years, then you have to make up for the prayers missed from 15 years and on.

9- Considering the fact that in the risalahs of the maraji’, the only exceptions are for the fluid to be discharged with force and that being in women and sick people, these conditions also apply to when one is asleep.[5]

10- There is no shame when it comes to performing one’s religious obligations, and it isn't a religiously accepted excuse. In any case, if you are unable to perform ghusl, your duty will be to perform tayammum instead of ghusl.[6]

Of course, if one deliberately delays the prayer until there isn't sufficient time for performing ghusl, he has sinned, nonetheless, his duty will be to pray with tayammum and it will be valid.[7]

11- Please refer to the second part of Question 2379 for your answer.

12- According to scientific studies, two categories of the autonomic nervous system in the body are the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems that control the functions of the body. These two nervous systems run throughout the entire body and are in all internal and external organs. Sympathetic nerves speed up and activate different organs, while parasympathetic nerves are what slow down organ activity. One set plays the role of the ‘gas pedal’ of the body and the other, the ‘brakes’ so to speak. It is through the balance of these two systems that the body also strikes a balance and functions normally and properly. Sometimes some things happen that hinder this balance, one of them being ‘orgasm’ which is simultaneous with the discharge of semen.

At this moment, it has been proven that one of the things that can ‘re-awaken’ the sympathetic nervous system is contact of the body with water, and since orgasm evidently affects the entire body and hinders the balance of these two systems therein, it has been made mandatory for the entire body to be washed after intercourse and seminal discharge so that the body can regain its balance in these two nervous systems that encompass the entire body.[8]

Having said that, it is important to know that the benefit of ghusl isn't limited to this. In addition, ghusl is a form of worship in and of itself whose spiritual advantages cannot be denied, and that is why even if the entire body is washed, but without the intention of getting near to Allah and out of His obedience, the ghusl will be invalid and must be redone. To put it another way, upon seminal discharge, both the body and soul are affected; the soul is pulled towards lustful desires, and the body becomes weak and slow. Ghusl, which is both purification of the body and, since one of its conditions is to have an intention of nearness (qurbah), is a purification of the spirit, it has a twofold effect on the body and soul at the same time, driving the soul towards Allah and spirituality, and the body towards cleanliness, liveliness and activity.

Aside from all of what was said, ghusl is an Islamic obligation for maintaining the cleanliness and health of the body throughout one’s life, because there are many who forget about their hygiene, but this Islamic ruling pushes them to wash themselves in different intervals and keep their bodies clean. This isn't exclusive to people of the past; even today, there are those who because of different reasons, neglect their hygiene. (Of course, this ruling is an absolute one and is binding even on those who might have just taken a shower and are clean).

The whole of the three facets mentioned above are an explanation as to why one must perform ghusl upon seminal discharge (asleep or awake) and intercourse.

Divine precepts and Islamic guidelines have been legislated to secure the benefit and interest of the people and there has been no other intention behind them; Allah (swt), through these precepts, wants to ensure our spiritual and physical purity.[9]

In a hadith we read that Muhammad b. Ali Majiluyah reports from his uncle, through Muhammad b. Ali Kufi, on the authority of Muhamamd b. Sinan, that he said: In response to some questions we had written to Imam Ridha (as), his eminence wrote:

“The reason for the janabah ghusl is for one to purify and cleanse his spirit from filth and his body of dirt and soil, the reason being that janabah comes out of the entire body, and it is because of this that one must purify the entire body. And the reason this ruling is less strict when it comes to urine and feces is because these two happen more often than janabah, and that is why the Lawmaker, the exalted, due to their [occasional] involuntary emission without any lust [as is the case with semen], and the great hardship [of performing ghusl everytime for their emission], has given consent to wudu for them. In the case of janabah though, it always comes out with [lustful] pleasure and the compulsion of the self (nafs), thus ghusl was made wajib for it.”[10]

It is also noteworthy that all of these reasons are ‘wisdoms’ behind the rulings that the infallibles have disclosed for us and not the complete cause for them.[11] Therefore, although some reasons may have been disclosed and discovered, and there are still some to be discovered in the future, this doesn’t mean that one can make the claim that they are the complete cause for such rulings. Based on this, since we know of Allah and his exalted qualities, and that His precepts are all based on wisdom and that behind all of His rulings stand our very own benefits and harms/dangers, if in a certain case, we don’t know the reason to a particular ruling or it hasn’t been mentioned by the infallible or hasn’t reached us, it shouldn’t compromise our resolve to fulfill it at all.

The response of Ayatullah Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani to all of the questions is as follows:

1- If a person was unaware of his bulugh (religious puberty) or the obligation of fasting at that time, or thought that he didn’t bear the strength to fast, even if this conception developed as a result of what those around him would tell him, then deliberate breaking of the fast will only entail qada (making up for the missed fasts). However, if in all of these cases, he knew that there are chances that he has become baligh or that fasting has become mandatory for him, or that he bears the strength to do so and it was possible for him to confirm the matter and to become certain or sure, and it turns out that it was indeed so, then he must also give kaffarah as a precaution (ihtiyat) as well.

2- He must make up for the missed prayers.

3- The sweat of the junub is pak (not najis) in all cases (if he became junub through halal or haram means).

4- Religious puberty (bulugh) takes place in two ways: 1- Physiological puberty which is the growth of coarse hair in the pubic area and/or ejaculation (ihtilam). 2- After 15 lunar years have passed; this is a sign even if none of the other signs happen.

5- It is pak and doesn’t invalidate one’s wudu or ghusl.

6- The answer to this has already been explained in the responses to questions one and two; the prayers and fasts must be made up for, and if the person’s ignorance was due to negligence and carelessness, he must also give/do kaffarah as a precaution.

7- He is apparently baligh and must make up for the missed prayers and fasts according to what was mentioned in responses one and two.

8- You must only make up for the number of prayers you are sure you missed.

9- Yes. Of course, referring to the signs is only for when you are not sure whether the excretion is semen or not. But if one is sure what was excreted was indeed semen, he will be junub, and if he is sure it wasn’t semen, he won't be.

10- No, there is no embarrassment in janabah, he has to perform ghusl.

11- No, it is totally natural.

12- The obligation of performing ghusl after the discharge of semen and the necessity to perform wudu to pray for one who has urinated has nothing to do with the najasah of the body. It is because of this that in regard to urine, although the urinary organ has become najis, the individual must perform wudu for prayer, while there is no washing of that organ in wudu. This shows that wudu has nothing to do with the najasah of the urinary organ and its washing, or else, washing that part would also have to be a part of wudu. These are matters we just have to accept that Allah has obliged us to do without question. For prayer, the body and clothes must be pak (tahir), and this allows one to be able to pray with wudu or ghusl. Of course, some hadiths state that the reason for washing the whole body in ghusl is because the whole body takes pleasure during seminal discharge. Nonetheless, this is only a hikmah (one of the wisdoms behind it) that the hadiths are expressing, and not the entire reasoning and cause for such, therefore, if someone wakes up and becomes sure that semen has been discharged, even if he didn’t feel it while asleep, he still has to perform the ghusl (and not feeling any pleasure won't be a justification for not performing it).



[1] Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 1, pg. 984.

[2] Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 375, issue 2252.

[3] Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 1, pg. 748, issue 1370.

[4] Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 1, pg. 949, issue 1710.

[5] Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 1, pg. 208, issue 346.

[6] Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 1, pp. 229 and 230, question 181.

[7] Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 1, pg. 377, issue 679.

[8] And the fact that we see in a hadith by Imam Ali b. Musa al-Ridha (as) that he said: “ان الجنابة خارجة من کل جسده فلذلک وجب علیه تطهیر جسده کله” (janabah comes out of the entire body, and that is why the whole body must be washed), suggests that it is pointing to the very same issue.

[9] Makarem Shirazi, Nasir, Tafsir Nemooneh, vol. 4, pp. 293, 294 and 295, Publisher: Daar al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah, Tehran, first edition, 1374 (1985).

[10] Saduq, Ilal al-Sharayi’, vol. 1, chapter 195, pg. 281, Davari Publications.

[11] Of course, in some cases, the infallibles have touched on the reasons to some rulings; these rulings are referred to as mansus al-illah rulings, which means rulings whose reasoning has been mentioned.

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