Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The American Revert's Bathroom!

One of the things that most intrigued me when I came to Islaam is the issue of the bathroom.

I learned that there is a du'a for entering the bathroom:

"[بِسْمِ اللهِ] اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْخُبُْثِ وَالْخَبَائِثِ".

[Bismillaahi] Allaahumma 'innee 'a'oothu bika minal-khubthi walkhabaa'ith.
(Before entering) [In the Name of Allah] . (Then) O Allah , I seek protection in You from the male and female unclean spirits.

Reference: Al-Bukhari 1/45, Muslim 1/283. The addition of Bismillah at its beginning was reported by Said bin Mansur. See Fathul-Bari 1/244

And a du'a for exiting the bathroom:


I seek Your forgiveness.

Reference: Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah and At-Tirmithi. An-Nasa'i recorded it in 'Amalul-Yawm wal-Laylah. Also see the checking of Ibn Al-Qayyim's Zadul-Ma'ad, 2/387.

(Above from "Fortress of the Muslim," Darussalam Publications, on IslamicAwareness.net)

There are also rules (etiquettes) for the bathroom.  For example, a Muslim is not supposed to mention the name of Allaah t'ala in the bathroom.  And a Muslim is not supposed to greet another Muslims with "As Salaamu Alaikum" in the bathroom.  A Muslim is not supposed to use the right hand for cleaning the private parts after using the bathroom (and while you're at it, clean three times). And a Muslim is supposed to enter the bathroom with the left foot, and exit the bathroom with the right foot.

The etiquette of the bathroom can be overwhelming to the new Muslim!

In simple Islaamic terms, the bathroom is considered a dirty place.  So much so, that a lot of Muslims run in and out of the bathrooms like someone is chasing them!

It always appalled me to see the condition of some of the bathrooms in our masjids, and in the bathrooms of some of our Muslim businesses: water all over the place, dirty toilets, paper towels (if they have them at all) on the floor, no hand soap, etc. 

And many Muslim homes are no better.  One thing I've noticed is that the bathrooms of most Muslim homes are very simple and inornate.

Sometimes this is a dilemna for the American Muslim because we Americans love our bathrooms!

The average American bathroom is not only a place for relieving yourself and showering; they can serve other purposes.

We Americans like to read in our bathrooms.  Many of us keep books in our bathrooms:

My personal favorite :)

Some Americans like to have plants and pretty things in the bathroom:

Some Americans love fancy handsoaps & handcremes and flowers in their bathrooms:

Last but not least, a lot of us Americans love to take long bubble bath soaks, sometimes with candlelight:

How does a person dash in and out of the American bathroom, lol.  What do you think?


Anonymous said...

A lot of Muslim (w.e race)and the Japanese are on the same mindset : '' Do your business, and get out''. So much so that in the Muslim households I have visited (In Morocco) the traditional ''bathrooms'' (uninfluenced by the west) have two separate rooms. One for the toilet and a bidet and another room called the ''shower room''. Same thing for the Japanese. The shower room has all kinds of body lotions and creams and scented stuff while the bathroom is plain and boring. I find plants in bathrooms real nasty. :X :P

MoOn said...

As a born Muslim I still give a great care for my house bathrooms. My parents has magazines, lotions, soaps of of all kinds in their bathrooms. I follow similar steps lol. But I see what you mean, masjid's toilets are a mess unless someone is hired to clean them. If you happen to come to the middle east toilets on highways are a disaster but again it depends. Toilets in malls are so clean.

Emiratesque said...

Interesting post.

I grew up in a family that is obsessed about cleanliness, that I believe it caused a phobia of germs for me. I became a germophobe. Most of my friends are the same. So, I can't use public toilets, and if I had to, I would be armored with anti-bacterial wipes, doing acrobatic moves to avoid any germs and najasah..lol

Funnily, one of my best friends takes his ipad to the bathroom with him to play games, and sometimes even his laptop so he can watch some shows. He says, being married with kids, that is the only (me) time he can have. In the bathroom, imagine?

As for me, I have different categories for books; Bedtime books, cafe books, bathroom books.... So yeah, a book is a must in the bathroom.

C said...

Asalaamu Alaikum

I noticed two things no maybe three things about muslim bathrooms..whoops 4 things..sorry. One lots of muslims have no towels to wipe your hands in the bathroom. Why? They often have no curtains either so that everyone can see you ...gross..what's the point of hijab then?? Third they wear flip-flops in the bathroom because they think there could be najis on the floor and finally no toilet paper. I know you have to use water but you need to dry yourself too. I don't have books in my bathroom or magazines because you are supposed to get out quickly as that is where shaitan lives. We never had books in the bathroom growing up either in our Christian home and no offense but I thought that was only what 'white trash' did.

Emiratesque said...

The cleanliness of toilets reflect people's understanding of hygine. So I don't think there is Muslim bathroom or Christian bathroom. Because we could fall into generalizions and stereotyping. It's true that religions influences, and greatly, people's lives, but when it comes to something as private as personal hygine, each person, no matter what religion they follow, have different habits and understanding of hygine.

For example, sometimes unfrotunately, I have a Muslim man standing next to me in a masjid who smells awful, and in many times, fortunately, worshipers next to me would smell really nice. Both are Muslims, but both have different perception of what's proper personal hygine.

Also, in terms of bathrooms and hygine, culture plays a big role. Sometimes cultural traditions, that are not necessarily religious and could be wrong, is stronger than the religion itself. So you have Middle Eastern Muslims, North African Muslims, Asian Muslims, Europian Muslims, American Muslims, ...all are Muslims, but each have their unique culture, and within each culture people are unique and have different habits and understanding of what personal hygine is.

I think this is the longest I wrote about bathrooms..thanks to you Safiyyah :D

Suslique said...

as salamu aleykum!
el Shahlab, wonderful comments i totally agree with everything you've said.

i want to add that sitting too much on a toilet (reading, for example) increases a risk of hemorrhoids. so it's healthier to do your business and get out asap lol

Emiratesque said...

@ Suslique,

You really made me laugh! :D

I don't usually read more than few pages, not a whole novel. (I feel I am sharing too much) Also, I was talking about reading in the bathtub :)

Sorry Safiyyah, I seem like I flooded this post with comments :)

Safiyyah said...

@MuslimJedi: why do you find plants in the bathroom to be nasty? Plants are good for any room in the house. They clean the air.

@MoOn: It's always a pleasant surprise for me to find a nice clean Muslim bathroom :)

@ el Shahlab: I know what you mean by using public toilets. I really do get in and out when I have to use them. And, lol, I can relate how the kids won't give you peace of mind unless you go to the bathroom. And even then, they are knocking on the door :) And, oh, "flood on," I love your feedback :)

@ C: lmao about "white trash" My husband gets real mad at me when I use that term :)

@ Suslique: of course I agree that hygiene depends on the person and can lead to generalizations and stereotyping. I am providing my experiences and observation. I definitely notice difference in the bathrooms of many Muslims vs. many non Muslims.

Anonymous said...


Haha. Well, If I were a plant, I wouldn't want to be left suffocating in a room where people defecate. It leaves a nasty smell and I don't want the poor plants to potentially ''breath in'' that. Also when taking a shower, humidity is bad for the plants. Then again I also don't leave my toothbrush on the sink ( I am a strong believer that when I flush the toilet ''the mist'' lands on my toothbrush LOL)

My aunt has a bunch of magazines and plants in her bathroom. Poor plants :(

@C : ''two things no maybe three things about muslim bathrooms..whoops 4 things..sorry.''

Eek Ukhti, how many Muslim households have you been to? This has never happened to me haha ; Muslim Households are the cleanest.

Let's not generalize with the ''muslim households'' term.

You and I are both Muslims and I assume we don't keep our households dirty like those you've mentioned :P

Marie said...

I don't find anything objectionable in categorizing bathrooms as "Muslim" and "non-Muslim". Anyone who's been around Muslims will be able to identify the differences.

I always laughed at the "necessity" to wear flip-flops into the Middle-Eastern bathroom to guard against spiritual pollution. In fact, the physical pollution necessitates the use of flip-flops!

Also, there's the attitude toward the door. To this day, my kids and I differ on the etiquette of keeping the bathroom door closed when no one is in there. They (raised in the Middle-East) think the door should be closed all the time, and I (raised in America) think it should be left open when not in use.

Safiyyah said...

I never heard about closing the door. Is that a cultural practice? I don't think it comes from the religion, but I could be wrong.

And there is definitely such a thing as Muslim bathrooms. am ashamed to say it.

Ask any new Muslim about their reaction to the bathrooms in MANY masjids. They don't look like the bathrooms in most churches and synagogues :(

Anonymous said...

This post reminds me of a discussion I had with a sister in the bathroom of the Islamic Center of D.C. She had just arrived from Tanzania and though she was a guest in our masjid, she proceeded to start cleaning the filthy bathroom. She didn't work there--she came for salat. MashAllah. She said the masjid was above the filth...Allah's house was above the filth that people created in it. Cleanliness is supposed to be a part of the Muslim's character, so no matter what we think of bathrooms and the filth that goes into the toilets, bathrooms should still be approachable and clean. Besides, we aren't going to the bathrooms just to dirty ourselves up--we are going to rid ourselves our waste!

Great post Sis Safiyyah...makes me think back to the days when I saw a flower pot in the bathroom for the first time...what's this for, I asked?!?! Are you sure that's the right utensil for that purpose!? LOL

@MuslimJedi, actually, humidity is good for some plants...just think tropical and warm-weather plants...keeping them in the bathroom might be a good deed in some cases for their survival! Greenhouse effect! :)

MovieGuruMaker said...

best thing would be having a seperate toilet room and shower room! I really hate doing wudhu or ghusl in the same room as the toilet, but you get used to it in the west.
@muslim jedi, apparently if you leave the lid of the toilet open when flushing it, then bacteria sprays all over the room not just your toothrush, so be careful to shut the lid first!
@marahm, the flip flops is or najasah that is transfered through wetness, so it is spiritual at the same time. I too never heard of the shutting the bathroom door, my husband is Iraqi Arab and he never mentioned it and neither did his family, not sure it is a middle eastern thing...
As for dirty masjid bathrooms, there is no excuse, as others have said, this room is or cleansing as well as releasing dirty things from the body, people who go it there need to keep it clean as possible so that people dont get najasah on their clothes or body, how can that happen if the floor is all wet and with tissue everywhere etc? Inshallah we can learn to be more considerate about bathrooms and volunteer to help keep our masjids clean as much as possible inshallah