4uni2c # 13726B If a litter is enough, a gallon is a waste


*** (This article had been published in “Harakah” BIL 1867 * 27 RAMADAN -8 SYAWAL  1434 / 5 – 15 OGOS 2013 * PP 5878/07/2013(032524), on page N19)

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If a litter is enough, a gallon is a waste

To begin with, Iet me reveal to my interested readers the ‘doa’ (citation) that had become my routine reading after my daily prayers. “Oh Allah, do grant me the (feeling) of love upon You, upon the angles, upon all your messengers (rasul), especially Muhammad s.a.w. (pbuh), his family members and his companions, upon all your prophets (nabi), saints (wali), learned people (alim ulama), upon people who love You and anything that brings me nearer to Your Love. And please do make me feel the love upon You is more pleasing to me, than the plain water”

I had been reading the above “doa” since I was about to graduate from University of Malaya more than 35 years ago. I quoted the doa from a religious book that had been translated into Malay. The original book was in Arabic, written by a great Islamic scholar, Al-Ghazali. In this contact, my main concern is only about the ending part of the doa which refers to “water”. It made me wonder for quite some years, why water was the object chosen by the writer to compare with the love for Allah. Why not gold or diamond which to all of us are definitely more precious than water. After a lengthy thought, finally I could appreciate why water was chosen instead of gold and diamond. Yes, if without gold or diamond any man could still live comfortably.  But without water any living thing would die. Hence, it is justifiable that water is more invaluable than anything else, thus more suitable to compare it with the love for Allah, than gold and diamond.

For every Muslim, water is a very important element in his life. Prior to performing his prayer, a Muslim needs to perform ablution by using water. Ablution is a religious practice of washing one’s face, hands and feet, plus applying a little water on his hair or head before washing his feet. Taking ablution before performing a prayer is mandatory. In other words, without ablution his prayer will be considered as null and void. Hence, water is considered as very invaluable to every Muslim for his entire life, be it for the present, and as well as for the life in the hereafter.

The usage of water by all Muslims in Malaysia for ablution is certainly an interesting fact to ponder upon. One could imagine, if every Muslim adult uses to performing 5 times ablutions per day, how much water is required everyday by him alone solely for the purpose. What more if by all Muslims in Malaysia cumulatively. The volume must be very huge and significant, which deserves serious attention of the authority which is entrusted to ensure that water is always sufficient for every house hold.

I am quite sure that, almost every Muslim might easily feel offended if a non Muslim were to tell him that he is wasting water for ablution. Such remark might even be misconstrued as insulting Islam itself. This could be seen as a serious offence since Islam is the official religion of Malaysia. Since issues pertaining to others’ religious practices are considered sensitive, Muslims cannot expect that any non Muslim will dare to comment on any practice which the former claimed to be Islamic.  Hence, it is the obligation of every individual Muslim to comment on what his fellow Muslims do, should he see they are deviating from the true Islamic teachings. Being a concerned Muslim, I too feel duty bound to comment on common practices by most Muslims which I see are not according to the true aspiration of Islam. My concern in this writing is particularly on the issue of water “wastage” in performing ablution.

As far as I could understand, in performing ablution, a Muslim is urged or recommended (sunat) to minimise the amount of water used. In other words, Islam does not like a Muslim to spend water lavishly for the purpose of ablution. There is even a hadith (a tradition of the messenger) which implies that minimising the amount of water for ablution is still recommended even if one is taking ablution by a riverside. Hence, what more if at places where water supply is scarce. For example the lands of deserts, including the holly lands of Mecca and Medina. Similarly, while one is in a flight on his pilgrimage to Mecca or to any other destinations.

When we were preparing to set off for our pilgrimage to Mecca some years ago, Tabung Haji (Pilgrimage Fund) officials taught us the way to minimise the use of water while on flight. We were supplied with a small bottle each, which would enable us to spray its water content when pressed on its top. The idea was to minimise the use of water in taking ablution while on flight. I think the bottle could only hold less than 0.2 litter of water which was deemed enough for one’s single ablution. This meant that it was not impossible to perform an ablution with such a little amount of water, provided we knew the way to do it and with the assistance of a device (i.e. the spray bottle).

I do not know since when the Pilgrimage Fund officials started to teach its Mecca bound clients to minimise the use of water for ablution. However, I do believe that since then a great number of Muslims in Malaysia were already informed that using minimum water for ablution is recommended (sunat) by Islam. Thus, I would expect that by now most of them are particular about the use of water for ablution. In other words, they are more conscious now about the amount of water that they would use for taking ablution. Not only conscious, but also are making effective effort to minimise its use in order to reap the highest reward as promised in the said “hadith”.

However, frankly to say, such phenomenon is not a reality yet in Malaysia today. Just take a look at most individuals taking ablution at the mosques and suraus. How many of them are conscious about the water they are using for ablution. Regret to say that most of them are using gallons of water just to perform an ablution. A gallon is equivalent to about 4 litters.  While washing their faces, they just let the water flowing out of the taps wastefully. Some even turn on the taps with full blast. I guess, for an ablution each of them would spend not less than a gallon of water or even more. If five times per day, prior to performing his mandatory daily prayers, it could come up to 25 gallons each per day. Just multiply by the total number of Muslims in Malaysia performing 5 prayers per day regularly. Certainly the amount being used just for ablution alone is very huge in volume.

By portraying such scenario, I wish that every Muslim would give a thought on the issue of water. Just try to visualise the burden that he posts onto the authority, specifically the one that has been entrusted to ensure that every house hold gets enough supply of clean water daily. The people of Selangor especially should be more conscious about water now because water has become an important issue faced by them and the state government. While the water issue could be tackled at the supplying end by the government, why not effort be sufficiently made to tackle the issue at the consumption ends as well?  Those at the consumption ends are made up of every single citizen including you and I.

Here, I would like to call upon all relevant parties within Muslim society in Malaysia to pay heed to the way the water is being spent. As an individual Muslim, one should feel obliged to reduce the amount of water he is using for taking ablution. He does not need to use the spray bottle but at least try to use a simple device (such as a plastic cup) for performing the ablution. By using a cup or bottle for performing ablution, he could reduce the wastage of water because the water is not let to flow out of the tap wastefully as I had mentioned ealier. He would also know the amount of water that he needs for an ablution. Hopefully, through time, he would be able to improve his ablution by reducing the amount of water he used.

On the part of the mosques and suraus, effort should be made to ensure that all taps are always in good condition so that not even a drop of water would flow out of the taps unnecessarily. Defected taps which leak water should be replaced as soon as possible. Good quality taps have some advantages. By enabling the users to control the flow of water easily, good taps help the users to minimise the use of water while performing ablution. Unfortunately, regret to disclose here that many mosques and suraus do not maintain their taps satisfactorily. As a consequence, wastage of water due to leaking is not uncommon. Not only that, wastage also occurs in the toilets when users could not control the flow of water from the tap while washing themselves. This is due to cheap and bad quality taps been installed.

Besides the mosques and suraus, all schools especially religious Islamic schools, should also emphasise on the water issue, to the students. Significant effort should be taken to train the students the technique of performing ablution by using minimum amount of water. With such training, when the students leave the school upon completing their school education, they would continue with this practice. In other words, they will not use water lavishly for performing ablution for the rest of their lives. Firstly because it had been instilled into them the principle that Islam discourages them wasting water, even for ablution. Abstaining from what Islam discourages to do will be rewarded by Allah.

Secondly, the reduction in the use of water for ablution would certainly reduce the cost on the government to provide sufficient supply of water for the whole nation. This could be considered as a very meaningful contribution of all Muslims to their nation. It also serves as a manifestation that Islam is anti wastefulness. In fact, Islam aspires for full utilization of resources irrespective of cheap or expansive resources. Water is just an example.

My experience during performing pilgrimage to Mecca had made me realised about some bad attitudes existed among our fellow Muslims with regards to water. During my three-night stay at Mina, I did come across several individuals performing ablution using mineral water from the bottles. To me, it was an abuse of a valuable resource. The mineral water was supplied by Tabung Haji solely for drinking, considering drinking water was scarce there and then. Water for ablution was already made abundantly available by the local authority of the area.  However, probably due to the negligence of Tabung Haji staff to observe the stock of the bottled drinking water,  these individuals could manage to abuse the water. If at such a place these individuals did not show the right attitude towards water, what could we aspect out of them at the mosques or suraus in Malaysia.

Before I pen off, let me share with my readers about how I utilised the water fully.  Whenever I wanted to perform ablution at home, I would place an empty container in front of me. The purpose was to collect the water that I had already used for ablution. Then I would use the water to flush off the toilet bowl after using it. I had been doing this for the last more than 20 years. Since then, I guess I had managed to save not less than 150,000 litters of clean water from being wasted just for flushing off toilet bowls. I believe that Allah does appreciate such a little effort of mine, and had made me deserved a commensurate reward, insyaAllah (with His will). By inducing my readers now (with this writing), to practise thriftiness in using water for taking ablution, I would also hope for a greater reward from Allah in the hereafter. Wasallam.

Other Relevant  information:

The way Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) performed ablution   6-minute  VIDEO Clip: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151656081231779&set=vb.708771778&type=2&theater

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OPajar   # 13726B


~ by OPajar on 2013/07/26.

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