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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wudu (الوضوء )

A growing numbers of Muslims living in the United States are seeking to wash their feet in the sinks of public rest rooms. Many public areas, such as airports and universities are installing footbaths to accommodate the demand. To followers of the Muslin Faith footwashing or Wudhu is an integral part of worship. The process involves washing parts of the body with water in preparation for ritual prayers and for handling and reading the Qur'an. According to Sunni Muslims (orthodox) and Shia Muslims (Shi'ites), the custom originates from the sixth ayat of Surah 5 (Al-Ma'ida) in the Qur’an. The Islamic faith lays extreme stress on cleanliness and according to the Muslim religion there are five senses i.e. the eyes, ears, nose mouth, hands and feet. The act of partial ablution (wudu) is thought to dull the senses in order to heighten all thoughts for the worship of the All-Mighty. Feet washing is one of four fard (obligatory) duties which must all be completed prior to prayer. In accordance the feet including the ankles are washed three to five times per day prior to prayer. Custom dictates the right foot is washed first from the toes to the ankles. There are variations but a common process is to use the little finger of the left hand and pass between the toes of both the feet beginning from the little toe of the right foot and ending with the little toe of the left foot. If socks are worn after Wudhu is made, the custom is to pass wet fingers over them instead of a full washing. This is acceptable for 24 hours provided the socks have not been removed. For practical reasons, during a journey travelers can make masah up to three days. When water is not readily available clean soil, rock, or sand is used to perform a ‘dry abution’ (tayammum).

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