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I'm having issues understanding the following narration:

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو الأَحْوَصِ، عَنْ سِمَاكِ بْنِ حَرْبٍ، عَنْ قَابُوسَ بْنِ أَبِي الْمُخَارِقِ، عَنْ لُبَابَةَ بِنْتِ الْحَارِثِ، قَالَتْ بَالَ الْحُسَيْنُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ فِي حِجْرِ النَّبِيِّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ فَقُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَعْطِنِي ثَوْبَكَ وَالْبَسْ ثَوْبًا غَيْرَهُ فَقَالَ ‏‏ إِنَّمَا يُنْضَحُ مِنْ بَوْلِ الذَّكَرِ وَيُغْسَلُ مِنْ بَوْلِ الأُنْثَى ‏‏

It was narrated that Lubabah bint Harith said:”Husain bin ‘Ali urinated in the lap of the Prophet and I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, give me your garment and put on another garment.’ He said: ‘Water should be sprinkled on the urine of a baby boy, and the urine of a baby girl should be washed away.

Sunan Ibn Majah 522

I need someone to shed some context on this.

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Urine is ritually unclean and if it soils clothing it needs to be treated before those clothes can be used in acts of worship like salah.

In general the urine of either a male or female needs to be washed. However there is difference among the madhabs on the urine of a child who has not yet been weaned, i.e. does not yet eat food, because ahadith have occured about it (like the one you have quoted or that in Bukhari).

The view of the Hanafis and Malikis is that their urine needs to be washed as well, while the view of the Shafi'is and Hanbalis is that sprinkling water is sufficient for a male but proper washing is required for a female, while a third madhab is that sprinkling is sufficient for both males and females.

The reason for the difference between males and females is not recorded in the hadith but various scholars have given their guesses as to why there is a difference. Among them are:

  • there is a difference in how the urine of a boy and a girl spreads
  • urine of a girl has a fouler smell than that of a boy
  • people are inclined to hold boys more often than girls, so the purpose is to create ease

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