AMERICAN MUSLIMS AND THE RECYCLED WATER DILEMMA

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The need for clean water, in order to perfect one’s faith, poses a serious dilemma for thousands of Muslims in this country who reside in cities where recycled water is pumped into residential homes. For decades, the process of recycled water in residential areas has especially plagued city dwellers with poisonings and diseases. Recycled water is never truly pure, yet it is used in people’s homes for drinking, washing and cooking food and bathing. But for Muslims, the water must be clean.

At an early age, Muslim children are taught that purity and cleanliness are half our faith. Purity (Tahaarah) is defined in Islamic Jurisprudence as ‘the elimination of impurity and the removal of wickedness’. Allah The Almighty says in Holy Quran, “Indeed Allah loves those who repent and He loves those who purify themselves.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ayah 222) The Holy Last Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “…indeed Allah does not like filth and obscene actions.” (Sunan Abu Dawud)

Salah, the prayer performed 5 times a day, is one of the major forms of worship for Muslims. It is a divinely mandated religious obligation and also a means by which one draws near to the Almighty Creator. If performed correctly and with proper prerequisites, it protects the worshipers from obscene actions. Allah The Almighty says, “Verily, Salah prevents from lewdness and wrongdoing. And indeed, the remembrance of Allah (by you) is greatest. And Allah knows what you do.” (Surah Ankaboot, Ayah 45)

However, Allah The Almighty does not accept Salah without purification (wudhu/ablution). Allah The Almighty says in Holy Quran, “O you who believe! When ye rise up for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands up to the elbows, and wipe your heads and (wash) your feet up to the ankles…” (Surah al-Maida, Ayah 6) “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘Allah does not accept any Salah without purification.” (Sunan Ibn Majah) Additionally, Wudhu must also be in place to perform other acts of worship, including the recitation of Holy Quran.

The foremost requirement of Wudhu is that pure water must be used such as river, well, rain, sea and spring water. (Mukhtasar al-Qudoori) These types of water are naturally pure in and of themselves without the interference of filtration systems or purification processes and can, therefore, be used to remove impurities. They are flowing bodies of water and their properties are natural. The same cannot be said for recycled water. By definition, recycled water is used water. It is treated or processed for the purpose of making it suitable for reuse. Used water is unclean and thus cannot be purified because the nature of the water and its qualities are impure, thus, the reason for the treatment it must undergo prior to use.

In Islam, purity cannot be obtained from such water. “The use of previously used water is not permitted for purification from ritual impurities. Previously used water is all water with which a ritual impurity has been removed, or that has been used on the body for the purpose of [seeking] nearness [to Allah].”(Mukhtasar al-Qudoori)

Since recycled water can consist of bath water, and can, as well, contain human waste, one can clearly deduce that it is impure and therefore, not permissible to use for any type of Islamic purification – no matter the processes it has undergone. Filth and impurity only further soil that which it touches. It cannot purify anything.

Muslims residing in such areas face serious dilemmas. Islamic jurisprudence is clear: if the water coming from their taps is recycled and unfit for Wudhu, then any worship performed with such an ablution is not accepted. Also, the use of recycled wastewater can cause health hazards and incurable diseases. It is the responsibility of every Muslim to make certain that their water is pure. The best solution for American Muslims: move to parcels of land in rural areas where pure well water can be accessed for all needs. U.S. Muslims must take heed and beware of the water!

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