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 also 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 classified as impure, Islam teaches us a few rules about how to relieve ourselves with dignity.
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 unethical practices:
1. Shamelessness. One bad habit that has resulted from using of public urinals is the loss of personal modesty in the restroom. It is very common to see two men using the bathroom while having a conversation at the same time. Had they peeked over just a little they would have be able to see one another’s private parts. This is abhorrent. The Prophet ﷺ (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said,
“Allah detests it when two people relieve themselves uncovered and have a conversation.”1
The Prophet ﷺ 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
2. Increase in impurity. How many urinals have you ever seen that provide wuḍū’ facilities, water fixtures or even toilet paper? Probably none. This results in people leaving the restroom without an appropriate level of cleanliness or washing their hands. The Prophet ﷺ said,
“When you go to the restroom, take three stones with you to clean yourself. That will suffice.” 3
Salman al-Fārisī, the Companion from Persia, was told, “Your Prophet has taught you everything, even how to use the bathroom.” He responded, “That is right. He ﷺ told us not to…use our right hand when cleaning and to not use less than three stones to clean ourselves after we finish.”4
‘Ā’ishah (ra), the Prophet’s ﷺ 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 ﷺ used to do regularly.”5 Cleaning yourself, with either a solid substance or with water, is so important in Islam that once when the Prophet ﷺ passed by a man’s grave he told Ibn ‘Abbās (ra) that the deceased man is being tortured, but not for a major sin: “He didn’t used to clean himself after urinating.”6
3. Disrespect for others. One of the common habits we find in people who regularly use urinals is that they also stand up while using a lavatory. This can result in an unsanitary seat covered with urine and germs. Very few people care to clean the seat, let alone the toilet area after leaving, so, the next person entering has to deal with that disgusting mess. In this regard, the Prophet ﷺ 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.”7
Public pathways and shaded areas are two areas where people would be offended from excrement and filth because they use them so often. The same curse would apply to those who leave filth behind for the next person. The curse, in this context, has two meanings: people are cursed by the one who has to deal with the dirt they left behind and they are cursed by Allah for their careless and disgusting habits.
Are there any exceptions?
The Prophet ﷺ always sat down to relieve himself. This is proven by ‘Ā’ishah (ra), who was constantly in his presence. She said, “Don’t believe anyone that tells you the Prophet ﷺ used to stand while urinating. He always used to sit down.”8 The only person who ever contradicted her statement was Hudhayfah when he said, “The Prophet ﷺ [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’.”9 This is clearly an exception to the rule because the Prophet ﷺ 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 (ra) challenge was referring to people who claimed the Prophet ﷺ did it often as a habit. Her challenge still stands today. When someone tries to misquote the statement of Hudhayfah in order to prove that the Prophet ﷺ used to stand and urinate just as people do today, we should correct it.
What should a Muslim do?
Muslims should try to combat this immorality in their own community by encouraging good standards of hygiene. We live in societies which claim to be clean and advanced, yet their toilets – the most basic of sanitary developments – are among the filthiest in the world. Visit any gas station, high school, theme park, etc. and experience what happens to the restrooms when there is no full time janitor to clean up afterwards.
People of the world still have much to learn from Islam’s frank information on cleanliness. Purity has an environmental impact and is strongly connected to worship; without a clean body, a Muslim cannot pray. It is such an important principle in Islam that the Prophet ﷺ said,
“Cleanliness is half of faith.” 10
The messenger of Allah ﷺ has taught us certain rules to observe which benefit both society and ourselves. It is up to us to be aware of this guidance, learn it and apply it.
The word “Muslim” means one who submits to the will of God, regardless of their race, nationality or ethnic background. Becoming a Muslim is a simple and easy process that requires no pre-requisites. One may convert alone in privacy, or he/she may do so in the presence of others.
If anyone has a real desire to be a Muslim and has full conviction and strong belief that Islam is the true religion of God, then, all one needs to do is pronounce the “Shahada”, the testimony of faith, without further delay. The “Shahada” is the first and most important of the five pillars of Islam.
With the pronunciation of this testimony, or “Shahada”, with sincere belief and conviction, one enters the fold of Islam.
Upon entering the fold of Islam purely for the Pleasure of God, all of one’s previous sins are forgiven, and one starts a new life of piety and righteousness. The Prophet said to a person who had placed the condition upon the Prophet in accepting Islam that God would forgive his sins:
“Do you not know that accepting Islam destroys all sins which come before it?” (Prophet Muhammad (pbuh))
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
Recently I have been discussing Islam with a Christian (Seventh-day Adventist) pastor. To protect his identity, I will call him Kris.
Our discussions started when I attended one night of a biblical prophecy seminar that he was conducting in a rented Church building. His discussion centered on the Sabbath and its importance in Christianity. He claimed that the Apostles of Christ (عليه السلام) kept the Sabbath just as the Jews before them did. After the presentation I approached him with some contradictory information. The Bible implies that the Sabbath is no longer obligatory.
One text that demonstrates this is the narration of the rich man. A rich man approaches Jesus (عليه السلام) and asks Him what must be done to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus (عليه السلام) replies that he must keep the commandments. The man asks which commandments Jesus (عليه السلام) is referring to. He lists off the commandments that are most important to keep and the Sabbath is not one of them. The rich man exclaims that he has kept all of the commandments and Jesus (عليه السلام) replies by saying that he should go and sell his possessions to give to the poor. The man is saddened and leaves. What is important from this narration is that the requirements for entering the kingdom of heaven are listed. They are to avoid murder, adultery, theft, giving false testimony, defrauding people, and dishonoring your father and mother. The last requirement is for the rich man to sell all of his possessions, give to the poor, and follow Jesus (عليه السلام). It was this last requirement that the rich man lacked. Clearly Jesus (عليه السلام) never required an observance of the Sabbath for one to enter the kingdom of heaven. Additionally, there is evidence from the Acts of the Apostles that the Apostles of Christ (عليه السلام) themselves did not observe the Sabbath as strictly as the Kris would have us believe. Yes, there are narrations that state that such-and-such Apostles went to the Synagogue on the Sabbath, but such narration is always followed by “as was his custom”. Sabbatarian Christians like to overlook the fact that there is a discernible difference between doing something out of custom and a religious requirement to do something. Contrarily, there is a narration that speaks about the Apostles gathering and “breaking bread” (i.e. partaking of communion/Eucharist) on the first day of the week; Sunday.