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Opinions of Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Columnist: Mohammed, Inusah

Islam And Sanitation ……. My Take!

Long before the United Nations General Assembly declared 2008 as International Year of Sanitation, long before the theme “Sanitation for All” was co-sponsored and adopted by consensus by 122 countries at the 67th session of the UN General Assembly to make November 19th World Toilet Day in Singapore, long before the towns and villages stretching to hamlets and ravines responded to the clarion call by the Government of Ghana to make every first Saturday of every Gregorian month National Sanitation Day, a system championed the cause of this single most important issue that when left unchecked could cause malignant diseases such as Ascariasis, Hepatitis, Japanese Encephalitis, Malaria, Anaemia, Typhoid and other lethal diseases and also render man in a complete state of discomfiture.
This system we are talking about is Islam. And the single most important issue referred to is Sanitation. The World Health Organization states that: “Sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and feces. Inadequate sanitation is a major cause of disease world-wide and improving sanitation is known to have a significant beneficial impact on health both in households and across communities. The word ‘sanitation’ also refers to the maintenance of hygienic conditions, through services such as garbage collection and wastewater disposal.
I beg to draw heavy conclusions from the two main religious books in the world to paint a picture on how divinity enjoined us to take the issue of sanitation very high.
In the third book of the Pentateuch (five books of Moses), God taught the Israelites ritual, moral and legal practices rather than beliefs. Specifically, chapter 14:8 states that “And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days.”
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ of Nazareth lamented the hypocrisy of the Jewish elders for not following the traditions written in the law about washing their hands before they eat “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” as stated at Mathew 15:2.
Islam is the most perfect system bestowed unto mankind by Allah as stated in Quran chapter 3:19 “Indeed, the religion in the sight of Allah is Islam.”
In the book Western Civilization through Muslim eyes, the author hinted “Islam stands for harmony and perfection with an unmatched depth and breadth of scope that comprises all aspects of spirit and life. It has the cure for human ills, individual and social, and makes them as plain as the wit of man can devise or comprehend. It sets out to develop all sides of each person: and therefore perforce includes every reality which impacts human existence.” One cannot attain this lofty ideal of Islam until the person has the faith. This is so because Iman (faith) is the light of the intellect, the polish of the consciousness and the harmony of the emotions in the heart. Deeply embedded in this Iman is the issue of sanitation. Keeping the body and its surrounding sane and serene. Ensuring cleanliness. Islam enjoins sanitation in a sense that encompasses every part of the human being spreading to his or her surroundings. From the seat of the body which is the heart that should be purified through outward parts of the body that is washed frequently everyday to every nook and cranny in the body that is sanitized per the dictates of the law of Islam.
It is related by Abu Maalik Al-Ash’ari (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah said: “Cleanliness is a part of Faith. To say AL-Hamdu lillah (Praise belongs to Allah) fills the scale, to say SUBHAN ALLAH and AL-Hamdu lillah ‘Glory be to Allah’ and ‘Praise belongs to Allah’ fill the space between the heavens and the earth, prayer is a light, Sadaqah is a proof (of sincere faith), endurance is a shining glory, and the Qur’an is a proof on your behalf or against you. All men go out easily and sell themselves, thereby setting themselves free or destroying themselves”. (Muslim 403/1).
The Quran is more specific when it stated in chapter 2 verse 222:
” And they ask you about menstruation. Say, “It is harm, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allah has ordained for you. Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.”
The Prophet and his companions exemplified the issue of sanitation to highest degree. Let’s dramatize it and see. The Prophet was quoted to have said “Five things are part of the fitrah: shaving the pubic hair, circumcision, trimming the moustache, plucking the armpit hairs, and cutting the nails”
Deep in the matters of sanitation was the presence of toilets in every Muslim house. As a matter of fact, the hallmark of the Muslim community by then was the abundance of places of convenience and good sewage system in homes and in the public domain.
Nehru wrote concerning the benefits conferred on social progress and the cultural revolution of the Muslims in Andalusia in his book A Glimpse at World History” (p.413): “Cordova had over a million inhabitants, a magnificent public park of about 20 kilometres and suburbs stretching 40 kilometres, with 6,000 palaces, mansions and great houses, 200,000 smaller houses of beauty, 70,000 stores and small shops, 300 mosques, 700 hammams (bath houses) with hot and cold baths for public use.” That was the Cultural Revolution championed by Islam reflecting the extent to which sanitation was upheld by Muslims.
Unfortunately, we Muslims of today have reversed the tides and turn the tables. No toilet in our homes, our bathrooms an eyesore, waste disposal stations virtually non-existent, free-flow of water is almost absent in our lives.
In 2012, when the world had already landed on the moon and had gone to space, the headquarters of Muslim communities in Ghana, Nima witnessed a cul de sac in its sanitation issues. Gorillas’ public toilet blasted rendering the whole area into a state of repugnant smell and a casualty of a smoking man behind the toilet injured and a dead goat. Walk through the streets of Nima and you will have to meander your way through if only you want to persevere in your walk due to stationing of our waste bins. Go to Sodom and Gomorrah, Kokomba Market and other places inhabited by Muslims and you find out that our sanitation practices and Islam are worlds apart.
In 2013, there was a demonstration at Kawo-Kudi because of the Nima-Maamobi unfinished drainage system which has become so landmark that we identify our bus stops with them. Gutter, ‘borla’ to be specific.
The way forward for us in this debacle is to go back to the teachings of Islam and take back our lost heritage.
I rest my case by taken solace in the words of Sayyid Mujtaba Lari, the author of Western Civilization through Muslim eyes. He states:

“History demonstrates unmistakably that whenever the Muslims have constructed their philosophy of life in the spirit of the teachings revealed to them by Heaven, they have prospered: and whenever they have deserted those teachings, adversity and misfortune have been visited upon them. The Muslims who founded the brilliant culture and social wellbeing of the past followed those teachings more closely than we do individual, society and nation alike. “
Inusah Mohammed
NB: The writer is a National Service Person at the Graphic Communications Group Ltd.