Being in a predominantly Muslim part of the world when we come from a predominantly Christian country, it is not hard to recognize these as differing identities. A particular aspect of our tour in Medina that piqued my interest was the cleaning ritual (Wudhu or Wudu) that Muslims partake in before praying. To quote our wonderful guide for the day with additional requirements from BBC (2022), the process of this washing is as follows:
- Right then left hand three times
- Mouth three times
- Breathe water in through the nose softly three times
- Wash face at least once, but usually, this is done three times
- Right arm up to the elbow three times
- Left arm up to the elbow three times
- Water from wet hands goes through the hair from the hairline to over the head
- Wipe the back and inside of ears
- Right foot up to the ankles three times
- Left foot up to the ankles three times
This ritual is done in order to prepare for an “appointment before God” as described by Imam Shareef (PBS, 2016). I also learned from BBC (2022) that this cleansing lasts for up to a day when not traveling. It will need to be redone after using the restroom, passing gas, bleeding heavily, having contact with feces, vomiting, going to sleep, or consuming intoxicating drugs (BBC, 2022).
A societal issue that may arise includes being able to realistically sustain and complete the cleaning in a continuously growing, modern society. On IslamQA there are questions from a concerned Muslim about the conditions in which they live/work and personal health problems (passing gas a lot) that cause them to continuously break Wudu (Jakhura). All of their challenges make the process very complicated to complete multiple times throughout the day. They were answered by a respected scholar in the Islamic faith who said things like,” your Wudu will only be deemed to be broken if you are absolutely certain that your Wudu is broken” and “You could seek medical treatment regarding your condition…”. The first answer confuses me because I am curious if it is implying that passing gas does not actually mean that the ritual has been broken. For the second answer, doesn’t that counteract praying to God about the situation (first or at all)? Some of the answers had no correlation to the question that was asked and all of the questions were not answered.