Muslims and use of water - The No.1 Infotainment blog


The No.1 Infotainment blog

The No.1 Infotainment blog

Friday, 19 January 2018

Muslims and use of water


This is another dry season in Nigeria and many other African countries when most people are in search of water. In this season, most rivers dry up as much as most wells. This is the season in which sellers of water make profit and buyers are forced to economize the use of water. It is the season in which the global importance of water in the life of man is often reconfirmed. In their deep-rooted research centuries ago, scientists decided to coin a formula (H­2O) for use in analyzing the natural contents of water. From such analysis, they identified the various types of water and their uses in an environment. They then concluded that water is actually the source of life for all living organisms. Water is ubiquitous in the environment. It comes from the showers of the sky and stored in the natural bowl of the earth.
According to Encyclopedia Encarta (1993-2008 edition), water is the major constituent of any living matter as it constitutes about 50 to 90 percent of the weight of living organisms. The basic material of living cells called protoplasm consists of a solution in water of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, salts, and similar chemicals.
Water acts as a solvent transporting, combining, and chemically breaking down these substances. Blood in animals and sap in plants consist largely of water and aids transportation of food and removal of waste material. It also plays a key role in the metabolic breakdown of such essential molecules as proteins and carbohydrates.
This process, called hydrolysis, goes on continually in living cells.
Because of its capacity to dissolve numerous substances in large amounts, pure water rarely occurs in nature. During condensation and precipitation, rain or snow absorbs from the atmosphere varying amounts of carbon dioxide and other gases, as well as traces of organic and inorganic material. In addition, precipitation carries radioactive fallout to the earth’s surface.
In its movement on and through the earth’s crust, water reacts with minerals in the soil and rocks. The principal dissolved constituents of surface and groundwater are sulphates, chlorides, and bicarbonates of sodium and potassium and the oxides of calcium and magnesium.
Surface waters may also contain domestic sewage and industrial wastes while ground waters from shallow wells may contain large quantities of nitrogen compounds and chlorides derived from human and animal wastes. Waters from deep wells generally contain only minerals in solution.
Almost all supplies of natural drinking water contain fluorides in varying amounts. The proper proportion of fluorides in drinking water has been found to reduce tooth decay and similar ailments.
Apart from concentrated amounts of sodium chloride, or salt, seawater contains many other soluble compounds, as the impure waters of rivers and streams are constantly feeding the oceans. At the same time, pure water is continually lost by the process of evaporation, and as a result the proportion of the impurities that give the oceans their saline character is increased.
Rainy season
Now, in Nigeria, like in many other African countries, we are expecting another season of rains when, as usual, water will be found everywhere but none will be available for drinking. That is the season in which the sky opens up its generous bowl to pour down water in abundance. But the earth has no room to accommodate the gesture.
That is a period when plants and animals feel that their needs for survival have been grossly exceeded. The world is often flooded with water everywhere and humanity becomes restive. The bounties of Allah seem to be too much for the need of man. In Europe, Asia, Africa and America, the story is one and the same. That is the season in which the world will be grappling with a deluge.
Blaming nature
When this happens, the tendency is for the scientists to lay blame at the door-step of what they call global warming. They will give many reasons, including the depletion of the Ozone Layer, as the cause. But many centuries before scientists began their research, the unlettered Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had taught Muslims how to handle environmental dryness as well as deluge. One of such solutions is to thank Allah and request for a moderation of His largesse. This is the time to realize that moderation rather than excess of anything is the best in man’s life. In Islam, there is no cause or effect of a matter that is not known or cannot be controlled by Allah. Whatever happens in the life of man is by Allah’s permission.
The world is like a queue. You enter it at a point and come out of it at another point. This is one major lesson which every Muslim has come to learn through the observance of daily prayers (Salat). In Salat alone where queues are essential, a lot of lessons are there to learn.
Ritual baths
The very basic lesson to learn in Salat is hygiene. As a new convert to Islam, you have to undergo a ritual bath called Ghuslu-s-Shahadah or Ghuslu-d-dukhul fil Islam (convert’s ritual bath) which is performed with water. When you want to observe any Salat, be it obligatory or supererogatory, you must perform ablution with water. This is called Wudu’. If there is no water, you take to Tayammam (dry ablution). As a Muslim, after an intercourse with your spouse, you must perform a ritual bath called Ghuslul Janabah before you can observe any Salat.
When a Muslim woman completes her monthly menstrual period she must perform a ritual bath called Ghuslul Haydah before she can resume observance of Salat. A Muslim woman who has just completed her blood-dripping period following child delivery must perform a ritual bath called Ghuslu-n-Nifas before she can resume observance of Salat.
A newly born baby in Islam must be taken through a mandatory bath called Ghuslul Wiladah which is also done with water.
Muslim pilgrims must commence their Hajj or Umrah activities with a ritual bath called Ghuslul Hajj or Umrah at their respective Miqat before they enter the condition of Ihram. When a Muslim, male or female is dead, a ritual bath is performed on his or her body. This bath is called Ghuslul Janazah. Anybody who carries out a bath on a dead body must also undergo a ritual bath of purification called Ghuslu-t-Taharah mina-n-Najasah (bath for purifying self from filth).
This is because a dead body in Islam is like a filth which must be disposed of as soon as possible before it starts to decompose and thereby constitutes health hazard for the living. Whoever touches such filth has had a share of it and must therefore cleanse up before observing any Salat. Such a person cannot participate even in Salatul-Janazah on the body of the deceased person which he has just cleaned up until he has taken the purification bath.
Unique hygiene
Muslims are expected to clean up with water through ablution at least five times a day. And, as a prophetic tradition prescribes, they are also expected to perform ritual bath on Fridays in preparation for Salatul Jum’ah though such bath is Sunnah (optional) rather than Fard (obligation). Naturally, women, especially Muslim women utilise water much more than men. They are the ones who take care of the children and, in the process; they clean up for them many times a day. Besides, women are the ones who must clean up for menses every month. They are the ones who must clean up ritually after 40 days, following child delivery. They are the ones in charge of matrimonial kitchens where they use water day and night. Thus, when the demography of women in any society is compared to that of men one can imagine the quantity of water consumed daily or weekly by women.
Given the fact that water plays a central role in the life of a Muslim therefore, two important conclusions can be reached. One is the fact that Islam is absolutely a religion of purity. And that is why Prophet Muhammad was reported to have said that “Allah is pure and He will not accept anything impure.” The second is that Muslims are the greatest consumers of domestic water in the world. This is because, besides using water socially, commercially or domestically like other human beings, an average Muslim uses additional one third of total water used by any non-Muslim on a daily basis.
Muslims’ attitude to dryness
It thus becomes understandable why Muslims feel more worried when there is dryness and water cannot be easily accessed. This is what led to the idea of a special prayer called ‘Salatul Istisqai’ (rain-seeking prayer). This prayer randomly observed by Muslims when shortage of water becomes acute cannot be observed without water ablution. It is a way of reconfirming to Allah that the main purpose of our existence on earth is to worship Him just as the purpose of keeping domestic animals is to serve man. Salatul Istisqai which is usually followed by heavy rainfalls is a major evidence of an existing covenant between Allah and His faithful servants. The wonderful effect of that Salat contradicts any scientific theory. Non-Muslim meteorologists have always wondered how possible it is for rain to fall at an impossible time, following a congregational prayer by some Muslim faithful in a locality or region. But to their amazement, they have regularly seen the potency of such prayer in bringing rain not only for Muslims but for all and sundry. The question is: ‘does any other religion prescribe similar solution to the benefit of mankind? This one trillion Naira question is still begging for answer even almost one and a half millennia after the introduction of Salatul Istisqai as a bringer of rain.
Seeking rain water
That Salatul Istisqai (special prayer for rain) actually brings rain even in a severely dry season remains a puzzle to unbelievers, especially in the West who see everything, including God, as a product of science. Yours sincerely first took part in the observance of Salatul Istisqai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as a student in that country, in 1976. The two rakat prayer had hardly been concluded when the sky opened its shower and rain started falling in torrents. It rained for nine hours continuously in that desert country and flooded the entire Emirates like the historic deluge in Prophet Nuh’s (Noah) time.
It took more than a week before normal social and commercial activities could fully resume. I have since participated in the same exercise twice thereafter, once in Nigeria and once in Saudi Arabia.
However, the effect of Salatul Istisqai is not necessarily immediate. At times, it may take a week or more before the rain starts pouring. And, if, after some time, following the observance of Salatul Istisqai, rain does not come, the Salat can be repeated. Allah has a design for everything. He knows when rainfall will best serve the need of man.
And in seeking such a favour, Muslims must not try to jump the queue.
Manner of observance
Any participant in Salatul Istisqa’ is expected to be in a sober mood and be absolutely confident that the prayer would be accepted. The essence of raising one’s hands to Allah in prayer is to further confirm that there is no intermediary between man and Allah in worship and in prayer. Allah Himself emphasizes this in the Qur’an by saying to Prophet Muhammad thus: “When my servants ask you about Me, tell them that I am very close to them. I accept the prayers of those who seek from Me but let such seekers expect the giving from Me alone; let them be confident in My ability to accept prayer so that they may be guided aright”. However, there is need to correct the wrong notion being spread around that dresses must be worn inside out by those who will partake in Salatul Istisqai. There is nothing like that in Islam.
The effect of Salatul Istisqai in bringing rains is just symbolic of all other prayers by Muslims. No genuine Muslim prayer is ever turned down by Allah. Acceptance of prayer may not be exactly in accordance with human expectation, it may not be as promptly as man wants it but eventually, a Muslim will realize that his prayer has been accepted by Allah without an intermediary.
The role of water in Hajj
Unknown to the non-Islamic world, performance of Hajj every year is a great blessing to humanity rather than just a mere act of worship by Muslims. Hajj is the biggest congregation of human beings on earth.
Allah loves and respects congregations of pious people who praise Him and pray to Him for the needs of the world. That congregation is essential for the continuity of human existence. There is no country in the world today without Muslim pilgrims joining their brethren from other parts of the world in requesting Allah to save the world from perishing. And each year, as such prayers are accepted, the world is confirmed saved despite the evil moves of Yajuj and Ma’juj (Gog and Magog) as well as their agents who are ignorantly pursuing their own destruction every minute. Thus, like Salatul Istisqai which brings water to everybody and not Muslims alone, Hajj is to the benefit of mankind and not Muslims alone. Thus, its preservation must be ensured by everybody in the interest of continued human existence.
Without water, it will be difficult to observe Salat or to fast in Ramadan or to give Zakah or to perform Hajj. Without water, it will be impossible to bear children and bring them up, or to keep farms and sustain them. Water is life. But this is not for Muslims alone. The difference is that Muslims use part of the water to show gratitude to Allah by worshipping Him. Others use it for mundane life alone which is sheer vanity.
Knowledge is like water which softens the earth for seeds to germinate and for plants to be nourished to fruition. Knowledge in Islam is much more important than worship. No one can validly worship Allah without knowledge. And if for this reason alone, it should behoove the entire Muslim Ummah of the world to join and cooperate in using water to worship Allah. That is the essence of knowledge. It cannot be trivialized.

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