This Business of Washing Up: Our Way vs. God’s Way [Quote – 271]

Jun 17, 2011

Imagine yourself living in a place where the temperatures dip to 30 below in Winter and soar to 100 or more in Summer – all Fahrenheit of course. And then it happens to be your day to water the plants, smack in the middle of a Summer scorcher.

So you went outside, on and across the lawn, but wearing sandals and not sneakers or boots. You then came inside, having done your good deed by the plants, and headed straight to the bathroom. There, in the bathroom, it made sense to you that you should wash your hands, which you did.

Then as you were pulling away from the sink and soaking up the moisture in your favorite towel, you asked yourself: What about my feet, with all that stuff from the lawn sticking to them? So, you proceeded to wash your feet. And it felt good to wash them.

And then a little voice inside you spoke, and said: How wonderful it would be to splash some water on your face. And your face lit up at the thought. And you did just that: bathed your sun-baked face in generous splashes of cold water. And did that feel good!

Then, all of a sudden, the memory came flooding back to you: Wasn’t there a man in Arabia, 1400 years ago, where of course there wasn’t much water to talk about in those days, and frankly there isn’t even now, who taught the world precisely the stuff you were struggling with right now?

Didn’t he bundle up this whole washing up business in a neat package and call it Wudu? And didn’t he say that it was God’s way of washing up which he wanted us to learn? He practiced it himself every day and showed everybody how to do it.

So, you said to yourself: You know what? I am going to do Wudu one time. For, all I have to do is add a couple of more details and I have the whole package sealed and signed.

So you went ahead and did a complete Wudu anyway, starting out with Intention and then quickly following that up with the recitation of God’s Blessed NameBismillah, you said: In the Name of God.

And then you washed your hands up to your wrists; rinsed your mouth; rinsed your nostrils; washed your face; washed your hands up to the elbows this time; wiped your head by passing your hands over it; wiped your ears; and then finally washed your feet and walked out of the bathroom, your slippers wet and dripping.

You realized that you were wrestling with two opposite emotions. On the one hand, you were elated that you had done a complete Wudu, as a result of which you were now not only physically clean but also morally and spiritually clean.

And then you marveled what a neat and complete package it was – Wudu I mean, the way you washed up following the way of the prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. It covered all bases and did not leave a single thing to chance.

You could hardly believe that this package was put together by Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, in the deepest heart of a waterless Arabian desert and that too 1400 years ago. Every inch, it sounded like a miracle, if ever anything looked or sounded like a miracle at all.

You felt grateful to God that you were a Muslim and thus were privy to the secret of this miraculous bundle of washing up called Wudu. A set of hygienic protocols and practices you could not improve upon no matter how you tried. And that is what brought on the second emotion and made you sad.

“Why can’t people see this?” you kept repeating to yourself, shaking your head all the time, as if in a trance. “It is so simple and it is so clear!”

You told yourself repeatedly it would not have made the least amount of difference if you had a medical or engineering degree or if you were the bearer of a Ph.D. Nor would it have mattered if, on the other hand, you were a carpenter, a butcher, a baker or a florist.

Anyone anywhere can see, you realized, how severe and imminent and pervasive the need is for people to wash up whether they lived in the Tropics or in the Snow-bound prairies of Montana and Wyoming. And how not one of them can improve upon the divine Wudu package that Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, taught in Arabia all these countless centuries ago.

You were glad that on this particular day you did not just wash your hands, face and feet and exited the bathroom, but stayed a couple of minutes longer and decided to do the entire package of Wudu – your God’s gift to you and to every other human being like you who ever needed to wash up.

You said Alhamdulillah and you said Subhanallah – Praise be to God and Glory be to God respectively. If you were a Christian instead of being a Muslim you probably would have said something like Hallelujah. And that, you realized, would have meant pretty much the same thing: God in his glory!

Deep down in our soul, we are not all that different, are we, you thought.

Thank God for Wudu, you said, for this most perfect and most divine way of washing up, which no human being can do without or improve upon even now, after the passage of 1400 years to its being taught at the hands of God’s last and final messenger to humanity, Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. 


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