In this post it is intended to show how scrupulous standards of personal hygiene are attained by the Muslim following the injunctions of the Qur'an and the example of the Prophet Muhammad-upon whom be peace.
toilet protocols, as prescribed in Islam, are mandatory to all Muslims. Non‑Muslims might loathe reading this episode on Islamic toilet voodoo, as it contains obnoxious, tasteless, indecent, and uncivil manners and customs, largely followed by desert Bedouins during Muhammad’s time. Lest we forget, Allah will never forgive a Muslim for deviating from His standard of Islamic toilet habits as demonstrated by Muhammad.
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.
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 are 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 severe 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:
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.
We will now examine a few outstanding features of Islamic toilets.
Jinns and Devils Haunt Islamic Toilets
If we happen to be in an Islamic Paradise, we might be completely surprised that many Muslims still believe these Islamic voodoos. For example, if you are in a village in Bangladesh or Pakistan, you will come across with many devout Muslims who will vouch that they had seen jinns inside their primitive latrines. A few of them might even swear that the local Imam or an Islamic mendicant had been able to chase out jinns and devils from their toilets when the jinns or devils caught their women in the toilets. Note that it is usually the women (pretty ones) who fall victims to the jinns and devils residing in rural Islamic latrines.
Please do not laugh. If we were to believe the following ahadith then it is certainly true that Islamic toilets are the perennial abodes of jinns and devils.
In Sunaan Abu Dawud (1.0006) we read that toilets are frequented by jinns and devils. Sunaan ibn Majah (1.296) writes that devils visit public toilets.
Let us read in full the first hadis:
Sunaan Abu Dawud, Book 1, Number 0006:
Narrated Zayd ibn Arqam:
The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: These privies are frequented by the jinns and devils. So when anyone amongst you goes there, he should say: "I seek refuge in Allah from male and female devils."
Pray Before Entering an Islamic Toilet
Since jinns and devils visit Islamic toilets, Muhammad instructed his followers to offer prayer when entering a lavatory. We have already read a hadis on this. Here are a few more.
Pray when answering the call of nature…(Sahih Bukhari, 1.4.144)
When you enter a lavatory say, “O Allah, I seek refuge in Thee from wicked and noxious things.”… (Sahih Muslim, 3.0729)
When entering a toilet, say a prayer: O’ Allah I seek refuge with you from all offensive and wicked things (evil deeds and evil spirits)… (Sunaan Nasai, 1.19)
To screen you from jinns, when visiting toilet say Bismillah… (Sunaan Tirmidhi, 130)
Do Not Hold Your Penis With Your Right Hand
Please do not be offended when you read this weird Islamic Toilet manner. In Islam, it is haram to hold your penis with your right hand when you defecate or urinate. Regarding your penis manner, while in an Islamic Toilet, there are many ahadith, in all the Sahih Sitta (the six authentic) on this specification of Allah. In many of these ahadith Muhammad (that is, Allah), specified that when inside a toilet one may use his left hand to hold his penis. We may wonder about women, I am yet to find a hadis where Allah has specified that women cannot hold (touch) their pudenda with their right hand. So we may assume that women are free to use either hand to cleanse themselves.
Here is a collection of a few interesting ahadith on Islamic manners of cleaning yourself in the toilet.
Do not breath while drinking water; do not touch penis in lavatory and do not cleanse private parts with your right hand... (Sahih Bukhari, 1. 4.155)
While urinating, do not hold penis with your right hand... (Sahih Bukhari, 1.4.156)
While in a toilet do not touch penis with your right hand… (Sahih Muslim, 2.0512)
While urinating or defecating do not touch your penis with your right hand… (Sunaan Abu Dawud, 1.1.0031)
When urinating do not touch your penis with your right hand… (Sunaan Nasai, 1.24, 25)
Use left hand for private parts…(Mishkat, 1.185)
Do not touch male organ with right hand… (Mishkat, 1.183)
Use left hand for touching private parts… (Mishkat, 1.185)
Rules on Islamic Defecation
In the Qur'an there is very little or none about Allah’s stipulation on Islamic Toilet procedures. However, some Islamic scholars believe that Allah revealed verse 9:108 in connection with the proper method of cleaning oneself after defecating. Let us read verse 9:108 from the Qur'an and a hadis from Sunaan Abu Dawud:
9:108. Never stand you therein. Verily, the mosque whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety is more worthy that you stand therein (to pray). In it are men who love to clean and to purify themselves. And Allâh loves those who make themselves clean and pure (i.e. who clean their private parts with dust [i.e. to be considered as soap) and water from urine and stools, after answering the call of nature] (Tr. Hilali and Khan).
Historical Ottomn toilets on display. Please note how the
they indicate the only correct position during defecation.
Please note that the translators have inserted their own comments. They are of the opinion that in Islamic ritual of defecating dust may be considered as soap.
Here is what a hadis says:
Sunaan Abu Dawud, Book 1, Number 0044:
Narrated Abu Hurayrah:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The following verse was revealed in connection with the people of Quba': "In it are men who love to be purified" (ix.108). He (Abu Hurayrah) said: They used to cleanse themselves with water after easing. So the verse was revealed in connection with them.
One compulsory provision of Islamic toilet manner is that during defecation a Muslim must position himself in such a manner that neither his face (that is, penis or women’s vulva) nor his back (that is, buttock) should face the Qibla (Kaba). Muslims must obey this rule whether defecating in an open desert or inside a latrine in his house.
Here are a few ahadith on this:
While defecating in the open space neither face nor turn your back towards Qibla (Kaba); instead, face the east or the west… (Sahih Bukhari, 1.4.146)
While excreting or urinating do not face the Qibla…(Sahih Muslim, 2.0504)
When defecating in the desert do not face Qibla nor turn your backside towards Qibla; use three sods and your right hand to cleanse your private parts… (Sunaan Tirmidhi, 128)
While defecating do not face or show backside to Allah… (Mishkat, 1.185)
Interestingly, Muhammad, at times, had violated Allah’s rules. Here is the proof:
Muhammad urinated by turning his face towards the Qibla…(Sunaan ibn Majah, 1.325)
Muhammad defecated facing Jerusalem… (Sahih Bukhari, 1.4.147)
Qibla compass comes handy when you are
forced to defecate in an open desert etc.
Muhammad stipulated that if you wear a ring, you must remove it when going inside a toilet. True to this funny Islamic Toilet protocol, a hadis in Sunaan Abu Dawud (1.0019) and Sunaan ibn Majah (1.3033) state that Muhammad used to remove his ring when visiting a toilet.
Another interesting hadis in Sahih Muslim (7.2942) says that a Muslim can defecate in a river. In this case there might not be any necessity to cleanse his anus, as river water will do the job. Curiously, a hadis in Sunaan Nasai (1.50, 51) says that having defecated, and having
cleansed yourself, you should rub two hands on earth.
Here are a few more interesting ahadith on defecating in Islamic manner:
After defecating do not use bones or dung; use stones to cleanse yourself… (Sahih Bukhari, 1.4.157)
Use odd number of stones (minimum three) to clean your private parts... (Sahih Bukhari, 1. 4.162)
Use three stones to clean yourself after defecating... (Sunaan Abu Dawud, 1.0040)
When visiting a toilet carry three stones with you… (Sunaan Abu Dawud, 1.1.0040)
After you defecate, use two clods of earth; do not use dung… (Sunaan Nasai, 1.42)
If you defecate in a desert use three stones, no need to use water… (Sunaan Nasai, 1.44)
Rules on Islamic Urination
If we are confounded with bizarre Islamic rules on defecating, here are more rules on urinating Islamically.
Muslim youth uses his mobile telephone to take a picture of
his friend urinating (STANDING) on the ruins of St. George
church in the southern Kosovo town of Prizren
Do not urinate in stagnant water… (Sunaan ibn Majah, 1.343)
Do not urinate standing; Umar did that but Muhammad reprobated him… (Sunaan Tirmidhi, 133)
At night you may urinate in a vessel… (Sunaan Nasai, 1.32)
At night Muhammad used to urinate on a wooden vessel... (Sunaan Abu Dawud, 1.0024)
Do not urinate in a hole… (Sunaan Nasai, 1.34)
Urinate in a soft ground… (Mishkat, 1.185)
Do not urinate in a place of bath and then take bath there… (Sunaan Nasai, 1.36)
Do not return salutation when you are urinating… (Sunaan Nasai, 1.37)
After urinating sprinkle water on your private parts. (Sunaan Nasai, 1.136, 137)
As was often the case, Muhammad had violated his own rules on urination.
Muhammad urinated standing...(Sahih Bukhari, 1. 4.226)
Muhammad had urinated standing…(Sunaan ibn Majah, 1.305
Islamic Bathing Rules
Here are a few interesting rules on Islamic bath (ghusl):
Females cannot use the leftover water by males, but the males can use the leftover water by females...(Sunaan Abu Dawud, 1.0081)
Muhammad forbade the use of leftover water by females to be used by males...(Sunaan Abu Dawud, 1.0082)
Muhammad and his wives took bath from the same vessel of water…(Sunaan ibn Majah, 1.379)
Leprosy is caused by taking bath in water exposed to the sun…(Mishkat, 1.245)
6. To wash the hands before eating.
7. To clean the teeth after meals and in between.
8. To be in a state of wudu for the five times daily prayers by rinsing the mouth, cleaning and douching the nose, washing the face, the arms, rubbing the head, cleaning the ears and rubbing the neck and then by washing the feet-sequence taught by the Prophet.
One fact which emerges from the above is the emphasis placed on the use of water for maintaining cleanliness and ritual purity. This emphasis is all the more pronounced when one remembers that the instructions were given first to a people who lived in the desert, in a place where there was little water, not sufficient even for the cultivation of crops.
For a Muslim these instructions are turned into a habit from early childhood even in the simplest of Muslim homes. Let us now consider the blessings that arise from these practices.
get rid off. Surgeons when washing up for operations devote much time to brushing the tips of the fingers. Washing the hands is as essential in tropical countries as it is in non-tropical but industrialised countries.
Muslims because of the habit of eating with their hands-which incidentally has much to recommend it as against the use of knife and fork-are used to washing their hands before eating. The Prophet of God, peace eb upon him, also taught Muslims to wash their hands after rising from sleep. This principle of hygiene is perhaps not even appreciated even by teachers of hygiene.
Rinsing the mouth
Muslims can make wudu five times a day and each time they rinse the mouth three times. They also rinse the mouth after each meal or after eating anything ... in between meals. Thus they rinse their mouth nearly eight times in sixteen hours-that is, roughly every two hours.
By rinsing in the manner prescribed, any food or particle accumulating in the inter- dental spaces are washed away. The regular rinsing of the mouth is recommended in the prevention and treatment of diseases of the teeth, gums and the mouth.
In addition to rinsing the mouth, Muslims have a tradition based on the practice of the Prophet-peace be upon him of cleaning their teeth with miswak which is the forerunner of the present-day toothbrush. Muslims also have the practice of cleaning the interdental spaces with wooden pins. This is highly desirable with the type of food eaten which makes full use of the teeth.
It is no doubt the result of such meticulous care of the teeth that caries of the teeth is uncommon in Muslim countries. Children in some poor countries may suffer from obvious bone diseases but have beautiful teeth.
Douching the nose
The Prophet-peace be upon him-instructs Muslims to clean their noses by douching after rising from sleep and every time they make wudu. An ordinary face wash only cleans the outer part of the nose. Douching the nose is the only way to clean it from inside. This helps to wash away the dried secretion inside the nose stuck to the lining. The inner lining of the soft part of the nose is the skin which has hair follicles. These hairs trap the dust particles going inside and the secretion blowing out through the nose. They can thus become coated with the nasal secretion and dust.
Rubbing the inside of the nose with the little finger-which is ideally situated opposite the thumb-is the only way of making sure that the area is cleaned. Muslims also regularly trim the hair inside the nose.
Cleaning the nose in the manner of the Prophet is thus very useful in preventing the infection of nose sinuses (cavities inside the bones of the face), boils in the hairy part of the nose and nose bleeding. Also the lining of the nose has a tendency to get dry in hot and in cold, humid countries. In this respect douching is useful to wet the nasal lining: cold water run into the nose, like cold air shrinks the lining of the nose. It is the safest form of shrinking agent for blocked noses.
A clean and free nose does smell better than a blocked one. Keeping the nose clean also prevents the infection of the ears and throat. The use of the handkerchief to blow the nose instead of cleaning the nose with water is not hygienic. The dirty handkerchief is carried in the pocket and while perhaps the handkerchief is changed the next day, the pocket is not! it is better to carry disposable tissues. Blowing the nose properly and thus keeping it clean is often considered antisocial. Even people who instruct others to blow their noses do not do it themselves in company-so great is the social pressure.
Washing the face
In this process the part of the face from the forehead to the chin between the two ears is washed, The important part in this area, apart from the nose and mouth, is the eyes. The face, being one of the exposed parts is liable to get dust laden. Washing the face cleans it and gives a relaxed feeling, keeping away the feeling of tiredness. Keeping the face clean is helpful in preventing certain skin diseases.
The eyes are always washed along with the face but especial effort is to be made to clean the inner corner of the eyes with the index finger as the hand is carried from forehead to the eyes. The inner corner of the eye is the region where secretion often accumulates.
Secretion left in this region not only gives an impression of untidiness but is also a source of infection. In washing the eyes, the lids, the eye ashes, the conjunctiva (the transparent covering of the globe for the passage of tears) are washed. Washing these structures is essential in preventing and treating certain diseases and indirectly and in some respects directly helps in maintaining sight. Washing the eyes especially with cold water shrinks the inner lining of the lids and removes itching and soreness.
In desert and dusty atmospheres, the washing of the eyes is extremely essential. It is equally essential in the industrialised societies with dirty atmospheres and artificial lighting which often produces much harmful glare.
The skin of the head (scalp) is covered with hair which, with the industrial dust in the air, becomes dust laden. Incidentally, covering the head not only prevents it becoming dirty but also protects it from extremes of temperatures. As custom has it, the majority of people in industrialised societies remain bareheaded. In some countries people are not allowed to swim in a public pool without a head cap.
A scaly condition of scalp-polyriasis Capitae (dandruff) is very common in the West not only in the westerners but also in the easterners who adopt western culture. Predisposing conditions are skin, application of chemicals to the hair and emotional factors.
It is desirable to avoid application of chemical creams. Pure, natural oils like coconut oil as used in the east are more to be recommended. In the circumstances it would be correct to assume that rubbing the scalp with wet hands five times a day should be beneficial to the maintenance of a clean and healthy-feeling scalp. Also recommended in this regard, incidentally, are adequate diet and rest.
Without the conception of wudu, the ears would be left out from the process of washing the face. In making wudu, the ears are cleaned by force of habit. The outer ear of pinna is not a uniform surface but has deep grooves due to the structure of underlying cartilage. These deep grooves are the ideal place for dust to accumulate. The only way to clean the ear is to run the moist index finger through these grooves. The outer orifice of the outer ear can ideally be cleaned by a moist index finger. The part of the ear most likely to be forgotten is the back of the pinna. There is a deep groove here and again it is an ideal place for dirt to accumulate.
The deeper part of the outer canal can be cleaned satisfactorily only by an ear specialist. But one can attempt to clean it by winding cotton wool on a match stick. Cleaning the outer ear in the above manner prevents its being infected. I saw fewer cases of infections of outer ear during my two years stay in Saudi Arabia where the treatment is free and the atmosphere dusty, than I have seen during my practice in England.
The custom of carrying a perfume laden cotton wool in the ear in Muslim countries is certainly the only way of carrying it without further. I think it has the advantage of masking the smell of any discharge from the deeper part of the outer ear canal.
People living in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and other industrial towns know how much the collar of the shirt gets dirty in a single day. In addition to accumulating dirt, the neck perspires under the collar. Cleaning the neck five times a day keeps it clean and prevents the collar being dirty and keeps away the perspiration.
Most of the day the feet are covered with socks and remain inside a tight shoe. The spaces between the toes perspire and the perspiration does not evaporate. Thus the skin between the toes become moist and is liable to become infected. A condition known as athlete's foot-epidae morphytose-is very common among the sock users in humid climates. The predisposing factors are humidity non-permeable socks, orthopaedic defects and unsuitable footwear. When the feet are washed special attention should be given to cleaning the spaces between the toes and in cold and humid climates, to dry up the skin before putting on the socks.
Taking off the shoe and socks and washing the feet gives a very relaxed and refreshed feeling. It also removes the smelly perspiration and therefore the smell of the socks. Also, one of the reasons that people are not so regular in cutting the nails of the toes is that they do not see the nails most of the time, The saying, 'out of sight, out of mind' holds true in this regard. Washing the feet is a useful reminder to attend to the nails.
From the above it can be seen that in wudu the part of the body which perspire most and give rise to offensive odour are cleaned. The cavities of the body like the mouth and the nose which are rich in bacteria are cleaned. Wudu thus prevents infection of these parts and prevents body odour. It gives the confident feeling which the manufacturers of deodorants advertise-without any cost. It has the additional advantage over deodorants that it removes the cause of body odour instead of masking it. And if perfume is used in addition to this, as is the Islamic custom, one can imagine the fragrance of Muslim societies.
Wudu is also an excellent prescription for relaxing the tight garments, although tight garments are not recommended for the Muslim man or woman. In the process of making wudu, the tie, tight trousers, and tight socks are loosened or removed for sometime. The act by itself gives a feeling of relief. Washing the face and feet, and blowing the nose and cleaning the mouth is very refreshing.
It requires five specialists-Ear-nose-throat, eye, dental surgeon, chiropodist and general surgeon-to give the complete picture of personal hygiene. Even they cannot co-ordinate and integrate it in the simple, practical and effective way which the Prophet, following llah's instructions, set for the daily routine of a Muslim's life. And this was 1400 years ago, long before many peoples even began to concern themselves with these matters. There may be other secrets for mankind in the Muslim principles which will be discovered with the advance in scientific knowledge, but for myself as a Muslim and incidentally as an ENT surgeon the present facts are enough to convince me of the genuineness of the Prophetic mission of Muhammad and the unparalleled nature of his work.
Of course this assertion does not reflect the idea of using scientific knowledge as the criterion of good and bad, or right and wrong. It is only an exercise in trying to understand the ways of Allah. For the Muslim's belief in religious principles is not conditional on being proved or disproved scientifically. In fact, scientific observations cannot be used as a criterion for they are ever changing.
We may now deal with some other Muslim habits and practises which go to make up the Muslim conception of personal hygiene. This concept embraces two aspects: the aspect of being clean in the sense of being free from dirt and dust and the other of being clean in the sense of being pure-a condition akin to surgical asepsis wherein the body and its covering garments are free from any stains of body excreta and other similar unclean substances, most of them teaming with bacteria.
Muslims are asked to clean the perineal region and the region between the thighs by washing with water especially after defecation or urination. In the absence of water, the instructions are based on the surgical principle of cleaning away from the cleaner to the dirtier area.
The habit of cleaning the pereneal region with tissue paper alone does not in fact clean the area; it only wipes off the faeces and spreads a thin film of faecal matter over the area. The combination of modern scientific knowledge which makes tissue paper commercially available and Muslim cultural practice would produce the best results. Thus tissue paper can be used first and water afterwards, The same principle can be applied to other fields end thus a society better than the present one can be produced.
Method of defecation
Muslims adopt a squatting position and according to the hadith they have to lean heavy on the left foot. They also use the left hand in the toilet of the region. These ail seemed to be based on anatomical knowledge. Professor Ian Bird in his text-book of Surgery writing about appendicitis states that the squatting position helps complete evacuation of the colon and thus avoid stagnation at the tail end of the gut.
The last part of the digestive tract where faeces accumulates is in the left side; hence the leaning on that foot is helpful. Similarly the use of the left hand help to press the left thigh against the left side of the abdomen. In spite of this method (squatting) being superior to the sitting position, most of the toilets in new governmental buildings in Muslim countries have western type of toilets-which people, it is interesting to note, use in the eastern way. In cold countries where splashing of water has to be avoided some research on this line can produce a design of toilet meeting both requirements.
Muslims have to clean the area between the thighs and the groin by washing thoroughly with water after urination. Here again, the etiquette while urinating is to adopt a squatting position. This also has an anatomical basis being the only way of evacuating the passage from the bladder completely. Further, it helps to avoid splashing of urinary droplets over the body or clothes, though this can be achieved by building receptacles at higher level.
It should be remembered that urine and faeces are unclean substances teeming with bacteria. The habit of washing the pereneal region along with the habit of shaving the hair In this region enables the Muslim to keep this region which is the greatest source of body odour, clean and free of smell.
Circumcision which is practised by Muslims is in line with this objective. The medical advantages enjoyed by Muslim men as a result of practising this custom-apart from cleanliness of the area is freedom from strains of urine, i.e. the lessening of near absence of uretheretes, paraphysinosis and carcinoma in the region in man. In woman, writing about the incidence of diseases of the cervix in "Pill on Trial", Paul Vaughan and Dr, S. 1. Macmillan noted: "None of these diseases produce the evidence indicating the relation between the customs of circumcision and a carcinoma of the cervix." Yet it is surprising that in scientifically minded England, it is getting more difficult to have a child circumcised under the National Health Service.
In cases where the toilet of the lower part of the body-between the umbilicus and the knee is neglected a host of unpleasant effects and diseases can arise:- body odour, boils or absess in the region, skin diseases in the region and infections of the various parts of the area, In cold climates where woollen garments are used, it is especially essential to keep the area clean as the garment is not changed frequently.
Even the use of underpants does not solve the problem. Underpants should be used in addition to and not in place of. People who do not pay attention to these hygienic principles are carrying on their body bacteria laden clothes.
Every Muslim and Muslimah-after puberty- has to take a bath. When married, a bath is necessary when the spouses have sexual contact. Women have to take a bath after their cycle. Unmarried men have to take a bath after ejaculation. in addition Muslims have to take a bath before the Friday prayers.
Taking a bath on Friday, putting on clean clothes and using perfume are all recommended and are important measures for having a fragrant congregation on Jum'a day instead of a smelly one. In huge crowds a stuffy atmosphere is likely to develop when people perspire more both in hot and in cold countries.
Method of Taking bath
Muslims are not allowed to take a bath in stagnant water. Further, the dirty parts of the body are washed first and then the cleaner. The habit of taking a bath in the tub is not hygienic. While sitting in the tub full of water, all the dirt from the body floats over the water and sticks to the margin of the tub. When the water is allowed to drain away the level of the dirt can be seen sticking to the lower part of the body.
Even when the tub is filled with clean water the dirt that has stuck to the body and the sides of the tub contaminates the water. If the tub has to be used, the best way is to wash the lower part of the body and the arm pits first. Then after cleaning the tub again fill it with water and stay in it as long as is desired. Lastly, wash the whole body with running water.
The mere awareness of these hygienic principles is often not enough. My wife was astounded at the practice of taking a bath in the tub, even in hospitals and especially after delivery. She has had her three children delivered at three different hospitals in England and on every occasion she was asked to have a bath in the tub. She tried to point out that taking a bath in the tub was bad enough but was especially so after delivery.
Taking a bath or making ghusl involves the preliminary of performing wudu: washing the hands, mouth, nose, face including eyes, rubbing the head, ears, neck, and washing the feet. Thereafter the whole body is washed, the right side first and then the left.
This article has been written partly to make Muslims realise the richness of their culture. One would expect the scientifically advanced people to be more appreciative of certain hygienic principles but often this is not so.
The advance of scientific knowledge by itself cannot and does not ensure that people would make use of this knowledge. A Muslim, however when adopting and carrying out the principles of Islam does so with the conviction of their usefulness and great benefit, and also
Two distinct advantages of Islamic culture are its direct approach-in this case to remove the cause of uncleanliness-and its universality which implies that it can be practised in the poorest of societies.
The believers in the days of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and for a long time afterwards perhaps did not understand the entire significance of the Prophet's teachings, but believed in them nevertheless. Today, the scientific mind tries to understand this significance and the inner meaning behind certain habits and practices. This indeed is a healthy attitude, so long as one remembers the limitations of the knowledge of the day, and the completeness of truth embodied in the religion of Islam.