The Truth behind Muslim Footbaths and Muslim Prayer
There has been no lack of controversy behind tax-payers money used to accommodate Muslims footbaths. On university campuses, in public schools, and at airports, special Muslim accommadation demands are an issue. These demands include prayer rooms and prayer “trailers” for airport shuttle bus and cab drivers, special prayer accommodations for Muslim children in public schools; the list goes on and on.
But what is the truth behind a Muslims demand for special accommodations to support these required religious Sharia laws? And why are these special accommodations not considered discrimination, prejudice, or bias while other faith groups have been denied far less accommodations under the claim of separation of church and state?
After reading a testimony from a woman that converted to Islam to marry an Iranian born man who shared that prayer is not required on a strict schedule and Muslim prayers are commonly “made up” after work or school in Islamic countries including Iran, I decided to investigate the facts behind Islamic Law, footbaths and prayer requirements.
After doing a little research I discovered that Islamic authorities agree that footbaths are not required to fulfill their washing rituals prior to prayer and that provisions have been clearly defined. According to Islamic Law, you have a symbolic washing alternative or you can wash in one location and pray at another and this one washing can last you through an entire days prayers.
In addition, I have also discovered that provisions were made to “make up” prayers to accommodate people at work or school, allowing prayers to be postponed.
In light of these facts, one has to ask what the intentions are for requiring special accommodations through tax-payer dollars. Could this be the tactic they are employing to increase their visible presence in the United States? In the CIA World Factbook published in July of 2007, they reported that the Muslim population represents only 0.6% of the US Population, while Christians reported at 78.5% and Jews reported at 1.7% and yet they are demanding that our President refer to Judeo-Christian AND Islamic faith, claiming equality and weight within our country.
Next time we hear an Islamic organization demands or receives special accommodations, I hope this report will cause people to pause and ask for the facts that support their “requirements”, that we will take the time to investigate, and will have the courage to debate the issues without intimidation.
Footbaths and Ritual Washing Requirements
According to a Saudi Arabian publication Titled “Foreigners Guidance Center in Qassim Zone” published in 1991 by Wakf Endowment-Gratis 1411h, 1991, there are three forms of ritual washing or “Ablution” that are approved according to Islamic Law, called Tayammum or “Complete Substitue for the Ablution” as follows:
Complete Substitute for the Wadu or Ablution (tayammum)
Tayammum or resort to pure earth may substitute for the ablution and even the bath. This is allowed in any of the following cases:
- When a person is sick and cannot use water;
- When he has no access to water in sufficient quantity,
- When the use of water is likely to do him harm or cause any disease;
- When the performance of ablution makes the person miss a funeral or Eid prayer, which has no substitute.
In any of these instances it is permissible to make tayammum which is performed as follows:
1. Strike both hands slightly on pure earth or sand or stone.
2. Shake the hands off and wipe the face with them once in the same way as done in the ablution.
3. Strike the hands again and wipe the right arm to the elbow with the left hand and the left arm with the right hand.
This tayammum is a symbolic demonstration of the importance of the ablution, which is so vital for both worship and health. When Islam introduced this repeatable ablution, it brought along with it the best hygienic formula which no other spiritual doctrine or medical prescription had anticipated.
Canadian Society of Muslims
According to the Canadian Society of Muslims who is directly linked to The Islamic Institute of Civic Justice-The Muslim Court of Arbitration, They agree with Saudi Arabia’s Wakf interpretation of the Law regarding a Substitute for the Tayammum Ablution, calling it “Symbolic Wadu” follows:
Tayammum , the Symbolic Ablution
- Declare the intention that this act is for the purpose of worship and purity.
- Touch earth, sand, or stone lightly with both hands and then wipe the face with them once as done in the partial ablution.
Touch earth, sand, or stone lightly with both hands and then wipe the right arm to the elbow with the left hand and the left arm with the right hand.
Masjid (Mosque) of Tuscon
According to the Masjid of Tuscon, Arizona who belongs to the International Community of Submitters, also agrees with Symbolic Ablution. They also provided us with supporting Qur’anic texts to support their interpretation stating “personal opinion about ‘cleaner is better’ by adding more steps to God’s steps (7:171).”
They go on to say “If you are looking for being in the ‘cleanest’ physical state, then you may need nothing less than a complete digestive wash and shower each time, immediately followed by the prayer. This is not practical and you can’t help but realize this. You can never have enough steps and conditions or be completely clean because the body has constant organ secretions, surface bacterial decay etc. Besides, there could be endless arguments on how clean is clean. Is a water rinse best or a detergent scrub. Is it okay to repeat a garment or must garments be worn fresh for each prayer? Should the knees and armpits also be included and so on. God’s practical religion has already taken all this into account, and if God wanted us to do more steps, He would have mentioned it (6:19, 38, 114, 18:109). Imagine the plight of a shop level mechanic quite covered in oil all day!”
They then quote:
“GOD wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may fulfill your obligations, and to glorify GOD for guiding you, and to express your appreciation (Surah 2:185).”
Besides detailing the four steps of ablution, verse 5:6 clearly establishes that the Wudu is a symbolic cleaning ritual. (See also 4:43).
[5:6] O you who believe, when you observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), you shall: (1) wash your faces, (2) wash your arms to the elbows, (3) wipe your heads, and (4) wash your feet to the ankles. If you were unclean due to sexual orgasm, you shall bathe. If you are ill, or traveling, or had any digestive excretion (urinary, fecal, or gas), or had (sexual) contact with the women, and you cannot find water, you shall observe the dry ablution (Tayammum) by touching clean dry soil, then rubbing your faces and hands. GOD does not wish to make the religion difficult for you; He wishes to cleanse you and to perfect His blessing upon you, that you may be appreciative.
From the verse we can see that a Wudu holds good as long as it is not broken by the conditions listed in the verse. At the same time, it doesn’t say that the Wudu must be done only at the moment before each prayer, as someone may find it convenient to do the ablution at a particular place and pray at another location subsequently. We also know that a Wudu holds good for more than one prayer if it is not broken. Surely during this time, the person will have become ‘dirty’ from ambient dirt while the body will have continued its secretions and exposure to germs and bacteria!
Another proof is the dry ablution (Tayammum) when you cannot find water. The Tayammum which involves just two actions namely, rubbing the face and hands with clean dry soil is itself symbolic to the rest of the four steps done with water! God did not even ask us to wipe our heads or rub our feet with soil, yet this form of Wudu is absolutely valid!
Muslim Student Association-University of Southern California
The guidelines provided by the Muslim Student Association are indeed authoritative, deriving from the largest network of Islamic organizations in the United States.
In order to understand the weight of religious authority the Muslim Student Association has in the United States, one needs to understand these organizations origins, which is one of the oldest national Islamic organizations founded in the United States. MSA was found by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1963, a fundamentally Islamic organization linked with global terror including al-Qaida.
The MSA, also referred to as the Muslim Student Union has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. MSA is “a religious organization dedicated to establishing and maintaining Islamic societies on University and College campuses”. MSA also supports clubs on Public School Campuses.
Muslim Brotherhood also founded the North American Islamic Trust in 1971, The International Institute of Islamic Thought in the 1980’s, The Islamic Society of North America in 1981, The American Muslim Council in 1990, The Muslim American Society in 1992.
About the Muslim Brotherhood
The Muslim Brothers (Arabic: الإخوان المسلمون al-ikhwān al-muslimūn , full title “The Society of the Muslim Brothers“, often simply الإخوان al-ikhwān , “the Brotherhood” or “MB”) is an international SunniIslamist movement and the world’s largest, most influential political Islamist group , particularly in Egypt. Founded by the Sufi schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna in 1928, several linked groups have since formed across many nations of the Muslim world.
These groups are dedicated to the credo:
About Islamic Society of North America
The vision of ISNA is “to be an exemplary and unifying Islamic organization in North America that contributes to the betterment of the Muslim community and society at large.” ISNA is an association of Muslim organizations and individuals that provides a common platform for presenting Islam, supporting Muslim communities, developing educational, social and outreach programs and fostering good relations with other religious communities, and civic and service organizations. ISNA’s annual convention is generally the largest gathering of AmericanMuslims in the United States. Islamic Horizons is the bi-monthly publication of ISNA. ISNA Elementary School.
Finally we come to the closing authority regarding Substitution or Symbolic Wudu in which we find that MSA also agrees with our other sources and mentions an additional provision which involves “wiping the socks” as follows:
Tayammum (purification with clean earth)
Tayammum means to resort to pure earth as a substitute for clean water for purification. One may resort to Tayammum in the following cases:
- When water is not available, or it is available but it is insufficient for both Wuduu and drinking needs.
- Inability of an individual to use available water due to illness.
- When the use of water may prove to cause sickness or illness.
Tayammum is performed in the following sequence:
- Bring Niyyah in the heart.
- Say: ” Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem.” In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful.
- Strike the hands with the open palms on clean earth, stone, sand, or gypsum. Shake off the excess and wipe only the face and the arms to the elbows.
Tayammum is a complete substitute for Wuduu and Ghusl, hence it may be used to perform anything that Tahaarah, purification, is essential for, such as Salaah, handling Al-Quran, etc.
Mashul Khuffain (wiping the socks in wuduu)
Al-Islaam, as a sign of grace and facility, has allowed a Muslim to wipe over the socks with wet hands for the purpose of Wuduu, if the socks have been worn after performing a Wuduu where the feet were washed. One may wipe over the socks for a day and night if one is staying, and three days if one is on a journey.
Humaam An-Nakha’ee (r.’a.) related:
“Jareer bin Abdullah (r.’a.) urinated and then made wuduu and wiped on his khuffs (leather socks), so he was asked: You do that after urination? Jareer answered: Yes, I saw the Prophet (s.a.s.) urinate and then made Wuduu and wiped on his socks.” (Muslim/Al-Bukhaaree)
As for the procedures of Mash, wiping on the socks in Wuduu, after one has washed up every part of Wuduu up to the ears, one needs not remove the socks; instead, one may wipe over the upper part of the socks once. One then starts wiping the feet from the toes and closes up with the ankles for each sock.
Prayer Schedule and Requirements
Also found through the MSA of USC website is a guideline for As-Salaah (The Regular Prayer) as follows:
“However, the majority of the scholars agreed that it is permissible to make up the missed Fard prayers at any time, be it after the Subh or after the ‘Asr prayers, because the Prophet said:
“Whoever forgets about a prayer, should offer it whenever he remembers it.” (Al-Bukhaaree/Muslim)
“The Prophet’s wife, ‘Aaishaa, reported that the Prophet used to make up the missed Sunnahs of Zuhr.”
Qadaaus Salaah (making-up missed prayers)
If a prayer could not be offered at the prescribed time, due to some valid reason, one should offer it as soon as possible, the sooner the better.
When one Fard prayer, such as the morning prayer, is missed, it should be offered as soon as possible. But if two or more prayers are missed, they should be offered in their order, Zuhr before ‘Asr, etc.
If the time of one prayer has expired and the time of the next prayer is due, the prayer that is expired should be offered first, if the time of the present prayer is long enough for both prayers, then the prayer that is due should be offered afterward.
The missed Sunnah prayers need not be offered unless they are Sunnahs Muakkadah, such as Witr, two Sunnahs of Subh prayer and the Sunnahs before Zuhr.
Al-Jam’u Bainas Salaatain (combination of two prayers)
A worshiper may be allowed to combine two prayers. This combination may be Taqdeeman, that is in advance, when the two prayers are offered together in the time of the first prayer, such as offering Salaatuz Zuhr in its correct time and Salaatul ‘Asr before its correct time.
“If you can offer this prayer every day do it, but if you can’t do it every day, do it once every Friday, if not, once a year, if not, once in a lifetime.” (Abu Daaud)