By: Mustafa Umar
It has become a common practice in many parts of the world for men to stand and urinate. The presence of urinals in almost every male bathroom has not only taught, but encouraged, people to stand up while relieving themselves. What does Islam say about this behavior?
First of all, we must remember that our ability to digest food and drink is a great blessing from Allah. We would not be able to survive without a digestive system. However, with every blessing comes a responsibility. Since human waste is impure, Islam teaches us a few rules about how to relieve ourselves in the best of ways.
So what’s the Problem
There are many Islamic guidelines about how to use the restroom. We will only focus on those that pertain to standing and urinating. This common practice has led to the following un-Islamic practices:
1. Shamelessness. One of the bad habits that resulted from the use of public urinals is the loss of shame in the restroom. It is very common to see two men using the bathroom and having a conversation with each other. Had they peeked over just a little bit they would have been able to see the private parts of the other man. The Prophet said, “Allah detests it when two people relieve themselves uncovered and have a conversation.” The Prophet would take so much care to seclude himself that Al-Mughīrah ibn Shu’bah said, “I was travelling with the Prophet. When he needed to relieve himself, he went far away from me.”
2. Impurity. How many urinals have you ever seen that have toilet paper next to them? Probably none. This results in people putting their pants back on without cleaning themselves. The Prophet said, “When you go to the restroom, take three stones with you to clean yourself. That will suffice.” Salman al-Fārisī was told, “Your Prophet has taught you everything, even how to use the bathroom.” He responded, “That’s right. He told us not to…use our right hand when cleaning and to not use less than three stones to clean ourselves after we finish.” ‘Ā’ishah, the Prophet’s wife, said to a group of women, “Tell your husbands to clean themselves with water because I am embarrassed to tell them. This is what the Prophet used to do regularly.” Cleaning yourself, with either a solid substance or with water, is so important in Islam that the Prophet passed by a man’s grave and told Ibn ‘Abbās that the dead man is being tortured, but not for a major sin: “He didn’t used to clean himself after urinating.”
3. Disrespect for others. One of the common habits we find among people who regularly use urinals is that they also stand up while using a toilet. This usually results in a seat covered with urine drops. Very few people care to clean the urine off the seat after leaving, so the next person who needs to use it has to deal with that disgusting mess. In this regard, the Prophet said, “Beware of the cursed ones.” Some people asked, “Who are the cursed ones?” He replied, “People who relieve themselves in public pathways or in shaded areas.” These are two areas where people would be harmed because they walk on the pathways and sit in the shade on sunny days. The same curse would apply to those who leave filth behind for the next person. The curse, in this context, has two meanings: they are cursed by the one who has to deal with the mess they left and they are cursed by Allah for their careless and disgusting habits.
Are There Any Exceptions
The Prophet always sat down and urinated. This is proven by ‘Ā’ishah, his wife, who was constantly present with him, when she said, “Don’t believe anyone that tells you the Prophet used to stand while urinating. He always used to sit down.” The only person who ever contradicted her statement was Hudhayfah when he said, “The Prophet [while traveling] approached a garbage dump and stood while urinating. Then, he called me to bring some water for him, so I did, and he performed wuḍū’.” This is clearly an exception to the rule because he was in a very dirty place. Hudhayfa’s description of the place being a garbage dump reveals to us the context and makes it clear that ‘Ā’isha’s challenge was referring to people who claimed the Prophet did it as a habit. Her challenge stills stands today. When someone tries to misquote the statement of Hudhayfah in order to prove that the Prophet used to stand and urinate just like people do now, we should not believe it.
What Should a Muslim Do
Muslims should try to combat this immorality in their community. We live in societies which claim to be clean and hygienic, yet their toilets are among the filthiest in the world unless they are constantly cleaned. Go visit any gas station, high school, theme park, etc. and see what happens to the toilet if there is no full time janitor available. Islam still has a lot to teach the people of the world about cleanliness. It is such an important principle in Islam that the Prophet said, “Cleanliness is half of faith.” The messenger of Allah has taught us certain rules to observe which benefit both ourselves and society. It is up to us to be proud of this guidance and apply it.
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