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What does "ablution" mean?

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Quick Answer

"Ablution" is the ritual washing of oneself associated with religious observance. The term is not confined to one specific religion, as there are ablution rituals in Islam, Christianity, Judaism and others.

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The word is derived from the Latin root "abluere," meaning "to wash away." It was originally used by chemists during the Middle Ages and referred to the use of liquids for purification. Over time, it became associated with the various religious practices of spiritual purification. One specific example is the Muslim tradition of Wudhu, in which an observer of the faith follows a very specific sequence of washing the hands, face, arms and legs, undertaken with "pure" water.

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