Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Wudu How Do You Do

Washing of feet during wudu - if there is one custom of Islam that I wish I could explain better at times it would be this. Now I know religion is perfect as it is revealed so don't go all 'infidel' on me, but doing wudu in Canadian washrooms can sometimes lead to interesting situations.

For the uninitiated, wudu is ablution that all Muslims have to do before saying the ritual prayers. It's terribly easy, and involves washing hands till the elbows, sprinkling water on the face and feet (to the ankles). In most Muslim countries, public washrooms have facilities to sit down and wash your feet. In fact the public washrooms at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, behind the Journey Behind the Falls ticket booths, have such facilities. But most washrooms are normal, and therefore you have to ... improvise.

Now your imaan (faith) may be strong, but when you enter the washroom at the office for wudu purposes you will always be hoping that there is no one there. OK, the prayer seems to be (temporarily) answered. Wash hands. Check. Sprinkle water on face. Done. Taking care, like a good Muslim, not to splash water and keep things tidy and clean. Now for the feet.

Just at the moment when one sock is off and you are in the crouching flamingo position, balanced precariously on one leg as the other leg is raised as you touch your wet hands on the feet, at that position, someone will enter the washroom.

Or you know, you enter the washroom and the only guy in it is inside a stall, reading the Daily News while doing his Daily 'Downloading'. You proceed to your wudu, wondering all the time what on earth he had for lunch instead of saying your zikrs, and the guy will exit JUST at the moment when you are about to do your feet. It does not matter he stinks and has toilet roll stuck to his boots, he will ask you what you are upto.

This is a good time to tell him a little about Islam and that you are only washing your feet as you want to pray, but that is not the 'cool' answer, is it? I remember once I was in Heathrow airport, London, UK, on the way back to Toronto. I entered the washroom to do wudu. Naturally it wasn't empty, but no one paid any attention to me. All except one Italian gentleman who stood right next to me and asked, "What are you doing?"

It was not a hostile "Go back to your homeland" tone, but a rather polite and genuinely curious tone. And ofcourse I lied.

"Well, you see on long flights, your feet tend to get swollen. It's called thrombosis of the vertebrae. You can get rid of it by sprinkling your feet with cold water."

"Ah," his eyes lit up. "I have that problem too!"

And the guy just rolled up his trousers, took off his shoes and socks and proceeded to do just what I was doing! Just to spite him, I repeated my whole wudu. The poor guy followed my every act. In my defense it was the evil of (extreme) youth that made me do it.

Sometimes the truth may just be simpler, and most people stop bugging you if you say the magic word of religion. And to be fair, all religions have customs that make other people go, "WHaaaat?" I have never gotten around to understanding the 'breaking of a coconut in India on getting a new car' thing.

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19 comments:

Shabina said...

ahahahahahahaha about the italian dude. that is awesome - definitely laughing-club worthy!

Aisha said...

LOOOL... Oh my gosh.. this had me in tears laughing. LOVE IT!!!

Anonymous said...

hehe.. nice one mez... the way you have described is the so called "sober" way of cleansing the feet. I have literally seen people not respect public washrooms by submerging their feet *into* the SINK, while the tap is running, to perform the cleansing of the feet. This is quite a situation to be in especially if someone just walks in, sees a lot of water on the ground and on the sink cabinet. Moreover, it is a completely puzzled look on the Canadian people (the GORAS and the KAALAS) as the first thing that comes into their mind is: WTF is this guy doing? Is he trying to break the tap with his bare foot?

Now that might seem funny, but trust me..some of them do think that way.

Now to shed some light on the BREAKING OF THE COCUNUT, ahem..it happens in the Hindu religion. They do it before they start any new venture (be it a new business, a promotion, a new house, a new car, etc etc). Its a sign of praying/wishing for good luck to happen to them with that thing.

- Behbood

mystic-soul said...

It was hilarious...

I can't stop laughing, I will save this in my hard disk for sure.

mezba said...

Hi guys

Thanx for the comments.

Behbood thanks for the coconut clarification.

mystic-soul said...

Re. Coconut...it has more meaning to it if anyone interested..its here.

The fruit is unique in many respects. The sweet, nectar-like water that it holds, is pure and untouched by the human hand. It is drawn by the tree from its very base to its highest level. The coarsely-knit outer fibres of the coconut represent the jealousy, greed, lust, selfishness and other vices of man, which must be broken up and removed if one is to penetrate and reach the sweet untouched nectar of spiritual purity and bliss. No other fruit has the three distinct, eyes of the coconut. These symbolise the three eyes of man - the two physical eyes plus the third or 'inner eye'. Only this 'inner eye' can penetrate the false, outer facade and reach the ultimate truth. The composition of the coconut is characteristic of the three elements of man. The hard, outer shell, with its course fibres, represent the physical composition. The inner white fruit represents man's psychological element, and the untouched water signifies his spiritual composition.

Anonymous said...

In response to Mystic-Soul's post, the "breaking of the cocunut"...

The meaning described here is more philosophical and I am sure that most people dont even know. But its good to visualize it from a philosophical point of view.

- Behbood

Ali said...

That's hilarious! I've been caught doing wudu in at my college library and whenever someone comes in they try to pay no attention to me. Well the student body is diverse so most of them understand. But, I definately will have to trick someone next time. Should be worth a couple laughs. On that note, this story's would be worth a conversation or two in my lab.

Baji said...

Hello. This is my first time here. Very interesting topics you discuss. I, too, was wondering about Wudu in public. I'm curious, can one bring bottled water to assist in the process??? Thanks.

mezba said...

Hi Baji,

Welcome and thanx for the comments. I am sorry I dont know about the bottled water, but I am sure if it is pure clean water its OK. Whats important is that the parts to be wet are wet.

hafsa said...

You are the next "Maniac Muslim" .. This is great....

:-D

mezba said...

Hafsa,

Thank you.

Jauhara said...

Dear Mezba, has anyone ever said to you, that nobody do wudu like you do?

Shahrazad said...

LOL! I've followed your blog through Liya's Dubai post. I am AMAZED!... lovin your blog!

This post particularly is hilarious and very true in every sense. I'm from Oman but have lived in Scotland for over 5 years for studies! This is EXACTLY what happens during Wudhu! The "praying that no one was around while you lift your bare foot to the sink" LOL!

mezba said...

Juahara, perhaps!

Shahrazad, thanks and welcome to my blog!

Safiyyah said...

I just wipe over my socks and shoes :)

mezba said...

LOl me too!

Nasmira said...

hahahaha!! poor Italian guy!! I'm laughing so so much that my stomach's hurting imagining the scene!!
Oh! I just realized this post was written way back in 2005..I'm reading this 7 years later!!

mezba said...

this post ... still rocking!