Thursday, May 01, 2008

Islamic Toilet Part One - Allah promises great rewards for emulating Muhammad's habits, manners, and instructions.

(A note of caution: The contents of this article might offend some readers)
First, let us focus on a few verses of the Qur'an where Allah says a Muslim must emulate Muhammad's manners, traditions, and practices at all time.

Sunnah is my practice: Allah promises great rewards for emulating Muhammad's habits, manners, and instructions

In verses 3:132 and 4:80 Allah says that obeying Him and Muhammad (i.e., Muhammad’s examples) is mandatory. This means Muslims have no choice but to follow Muhammad's deeds, as this constitutes the obeying the commands of Allah. A similar command is echoed in verse 33:36 where Allah stipulates that provisions (rules and examples, even toilet rules) set by Allah and Muhammad is binding to all Muslims; there are no alternatives. Ibn Kathir adds more punch to Allah’s command He writes that this verse is general in meaning and applies to all matters, i.e., if Allah and His Messenger decreed a matter, no one has the right to go against that, and no one has any choice or room for personal opinion on that case.
Allah decrees in verse 33:21 that He has made Muhammad an excellent example for the believers to follow and in verse 68:4 Allah reminds the Muslims that Muhammad is the exalted (ultimate/excellent) standard of character. Ibn Abbas says that Muhammad has great character traits with which Allah has honoured him.
Allah promises great rewards for emulating Muhammad's habits, manners, and instructions. In verse 33:71 Allah declares that obeying Allah and Muhammad are the highest achievements, and in verse 3:31 Allah sets a condition that if any Muslim loves Allah then he/she must follow Muhammad, and Allah will forgive his/her sins. Verse 4:13 guarantees paradise for those who blindly obey Muhammad.
Allah prescribes sever punishment for not emulating Muhammad. In verse 47:33 Allah says that if Muslims do not obey Muhammad, then He will nullify all their good deeds. In verse 48:13 we read that Allah has prepared a blazing fire for those who reject Him and his apostle Muhammad. In verse 58:5 Allah has decreed that those who reject Allah and His messenger (Muhammad) will be reduced to dust.
Here is what Ash Shifa (p.316) writes about imitating Muhammad absolutely:
It is also known that the Companions were in the habit of imitating the actions of the Prophet, whatever they were and in every way, just as they obeyed whatever he said. They threw away their signet rings when he threw his away. They discarded their sandals when he discarded his. They used as a proof for facing Jerusalem when going to the lavatory the fact that Ibn ‘Umar saw him doing so. Others found a proof for other actions both in the category of worship and general custom by saying, “I saw the Messenger of Allah do it.”

Once we acknowledge Allah’s dicta in the above paragraphs we will understand why the Muslims follow a few weird toilet manners, though those habits were the customs of the Arab Bedouins millennia ago. In Islam, there is no date of expiry of Muhammad’s traditions and practices they are eternal.

It is also important to keep in perspective the primitive toilet facilities in Muhammad's household. The truth is: Muhammad, including his wives, used to relieve themselves in the open desert, under the open sky. The males could defecate any time of the day or night, but Muhammad's wives were restricted to answer their calls of nature only at night. Described by a few ahadith, we have a glimpse of the abject toilet facilities in Muhammad's family.

Here are a few examples:

  • Wives of Muhammad answered the call of nature in the open field...(Sahih Bukhari, 1.4.148, 149)

  • During Hajj some of Muhammad’s companions had their penises dripping with prostrate fluid…(Sunaan Abu Dawud, 2.10.1785)

  • When defecating together (two men) do not converse, do not look at each others private parts…(Sunaan ibn Majah, 1.342)

  • Carry three stones while relieving yourself in desert…(Mishkat, 1.186)

To be certain, let us read in full, one hadis from Sahih Bukhari:

  • Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 4, Number 148:Narrated 'Aisha:The wives of the Prophet used to go to Al-Manasi, a vast open place (near Baqia at Medina) to answer the call of nature at night. 'Umar used to say to the Prophet "Let your wives be veiled," but Allah's Apostle did not do so. One night Sauda bint Zam'a the wife of the Prophet went out at 'Isha' time and she was a tall lady. 'Umar addressed her and said, "I have recognized you, O Sauda." He said so, as he desired eagerly that the verses of Al-Hijab (the observing of veils by the Muslim women) may be revealed. So Allah revealed the verses of "Al-Hijab" (A complete body cover excluding the eyes).

The above hadis also tells us why Muhammad imposed veils on Islamic women.

To be continued....


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