The Beloved (pbuh) and water in wudhu

June 3, 2009 at 6:30 pm Leave a comment

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والحمدلله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على أشرف الأنبياء  والمرسلين
In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful the Most Compassionate
All praise be to Allah, and may peace and blessings be upon the most noble of the Prophets and Messengers

We all know how precious water is. Perhaps more so today, when everyday we read about people living with inadequate water supplies (More than 1.1 billion people lack access to safe water, and 2.6 billion lack access to basic sanitation), of anticipated water wars (UN figures suggest there are around 300 potential conflicts over water around the world), of oppressive water distribution regimes (i.e. where Israelis get 4 times as much water as Palestinians, two-thirds of the water consumed in Israel comes from the occupied territories, while nearly half of the Israeli water installations are located in areas that were not part of its pre-1967 zone) and so on. Living in wealthy countries, it almost seems as if these problems are very far away and irrelevent. For this reason, it is important to think of Allah’s Words:

وكُلُواْ وَاشْرَبُواْ وَلاَ تُسْرِفُواْ

“…eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters”
(Surat Al-A’raf, verse 31)

As this verse tells us, we are entitled to eat and to drink but not to be wasteful. This applies to many aspects in our lives. But here, I would just like to concentrate on wudhu (ablution), as this is something that all of us do every single day but perhaps never think that the water we use could be classified as waste, even if it is for wudhu. So how did the Prophet (pbuh) deal with water?

When it came to wudhu, Abdullah bin Zayd (ra) narrated that: “The Prophet (pbuh) made wudu with two thirds of a mudd (of water) and rubbed over his forearms” (Ahmad)

Another hadith relates: “The Prophet (pbuh) also used to make ablution with one madd of water.” (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

A mudd was a measurement used in those days. Mudd literally means to stretch, and the measurement was called a mudd because food sellers would fill both their hands with food and the person selling would stretch their hands out to the buyer with that measurement. So imagine that Prophet (pbuh) would perform wudhu with that amount of water!

So beginning at that starting point sets the bar pretty high, if we were all to measure how much water we use during wudhu… i don’t think 100 mudds would suffice!

One might say it was because they were living in the desert, and did not have water, but the Prophet (pbuh) said:f

لا تسرف في الوضوء ولو كنت على نهر جارٍ
“Do not be wasteful when performing wudhu even if you were at a flowing river”
(Musnad Ahmad)

Most of us, when performing wudhu, waste an immense amount of water. We leave the water running as we switch from washing our hands to our mouths, from our ears to our feet. And not just trickling, actually running. Many of us feel some kind of fear when we hear that wealthy people are amongst those who will be subjected to the longest wait on the Day of Judgment, because they will be asked about everything they spent their money on (which is not a bad thing if they spent most of the money on good!). But what about us, when the Prophet (pbuh) warned us against wasting water even if we were by a flowing river?
One could argue this is different, as a welathy person should be using his money for the benefit of others and not just hisself. But making water pure for us requires a lot of energy. We never ask how this water comes to us, and where this water goes once it goes down the sink. Where I live, for example, we have the 2nd largest carbon footprint in the world because all of our water has to be desalinated, which requires a lot of electricity and heat, and the process reduces oxygen levels in the air and increases greenhouse gas emissions. Those bearing the brunt of the environmental damage are those living in the poorest parts of the world. So even our excess with water consumption, nevermind the wasteful side of it, harms others.

Another thing the Prophet (pbuh) said, which should really force us to take heed:

سيكون قوماً يعتدون في الطهور وفي الدعاء
“There will be people from my nation who will transgress in making supplications and in purifying themselves.”
(Ahmad, Abu Dawud and an-Nasa’i)

If we find performing wudhu with one mudd hard, then let us at least not be classed as transgressors and wasters, and try to perform our religion in all aspects of our life (not just things we we are used to or things that are convenient). Don’t keep the tap running, don’t let the water run at full force, remember that you are not perfecting your worship by wasting water.

May Allah make us of those who revive the sunna of his Prophet (pbuh) in order that we might live this life righteously, and attain closeness to Him in the Hereafter. Ameen.

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