Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wudu - Ritual cleansing

Part of the reason for Wet Bathroom Floors in Egypt is Wudu.

As I understand from my muslimah friends: Wudu is the ritual cleansing before each of the fard (obligatory prayers)

It includes washing the hands 3 times and the face and rinsing out the mouth and sniffing water in the nose and then washing to the elbows and then wetting the head and ears and then the feet and ankles(some go upto the shin).

Wudu in Egypt is needed on a physical level to cleanse oneself of all the dirt, dust and pollution, so that one can be clean when standing before God.

But on a spiritual level it helps start the process of getting into a prayer mode. When you focus on the rituals of cleansing, you start leaving behind the stress and strains that have been occupying your thoughts, you start focusing on your upcoming prayers and dialogue with God.

The above explanation is my understanding, errors if any are mine alone - please feel free to correct me.

This ritual cleansing is not unique to Islam. Hindus in India and elsewhere have to take a bath in the mornings before they pray. The previous generations used to be really strict about this morning bath and prayers. Before entering a temple, there will be a water tank(in the older temples) or taps (in the newer ones) for devotees to wash their legs(mainly) hands and face before entering the temple itself. Some of these practices may have been diluted in todays day and age, but the concepts behind this are very similar to the concepts behind wudu.

When entering a church, you often find a basin of Holy Water (blessed on good Friday) The faithful, dip their fingertips in this and then make the sign of the cross with these fingers. Isn't this a ritual cleansing too? We use water(albeit Holy) and then make the sign of the cross as a self blessing and cleansing. (Because the water is Holy, just dabbing it at the 4 spots can cleanse you?)

3 comments:

bee said...

just discovered your blog. you have an enlightening and heart-warming space here.

Anonymous said...

yeah, i read your last blog post about water on the floors and thought wudu might be a reason why. at least i know i have gotten the floor wet a few times cause of it :p
also i really like your blog so far as i've been reading it. i'm moving to cairo/mansoura later this summer and find it very helpful and interesting :)

Anna said...

Nice site.
Maravilhoso!

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