20 May 2012
[For the non-Muslims, it is the ablution that Muslims must normally perform before every prayer. It involves three renderings of each wash, of the writs, mouth, nose, face, neck, arms, feet...]
Traditionally the mosques used to have a mini-tank called the Hauz for all worshippers to perform the wazoo. I have witnessed abhorrent scenes of Muslims dipping their feet right in the Hauz while, on the the very next seat, another Muslim was gargling with the same water.
Any protest, at what should seem to any civilized person as a valid criticism, was usually met with scorn: "yeh hamari riwayaat hain, aapki science isme na thonsiye" [this is a matter of tradition, don't thrust your science upon these].
Mercifully, albeit 50 years too late, the traditional Hauz has given way to far more sensible water taps.
True, those that bathe in the "holy" Ganges have no business to give me or Sam Kadri a lecture on hygiene. Equally Muslims can not profit by shutting their eyes to a patently sensible suggestion for reform.
While on this subject somebody asked: what is the purpose of washing THRICE? Clearly, it had to do with cleanliness. If so, he continued to ask, why can't we now substitute it with washing once, but with soap? Imagine mosque wazoo tanks also dripping liquid soap drops like any good wash basin!
Your comments? Here is a test of our courage: do we accept meaningful - at least harmless - reforms and take a stand for it, or feel too insecure in challenging the tradition to do so
Clearly your Islam is very egalitarian, Mr Anis Faruki. I dare say if we were to put to vote the possibility of wazu being performed with soap and with just one wash, most Muslims would decry it as impermissible, or even invalid.
What do other friends say?