Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Sunnah of Water Usage

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh

A few years ago, we had a problem with our water heating system and had to boil water to wash with for a week or so, mashaa'Allah. Although we did fill the bathtub for the children initially, I had a little brainwave that we could fill a couple of two gallon containers with water mixed to the right temperature and use a cup to pour it over our bodies. From the first time I did it, I felt I was going back to a strong Sunnah of our Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Oh, my container wasn't a earthen jug or bowl  - it was plastic - but the amount of water I used and the way I made my ghusl reminded me of the ahadith I had read of our beloved Prophet making ghusl from a jug... in fact, sharing the jug with his wife, mashaa'Allah.

Anas said, "The Prophet, upon whom be peace, used to perform ghusl (the complete bathing) with a sa'a of water (1.616 cm) 3 to 5 madd (each 4 madd equals one sa'a). He also used to make ablution with one madd (404 cm) of water." (Related by al-Bukhari and Musim.) Complete bathing would use about 1 bucket of water and ablution, 2 handfuls inshaa'Allah.

'Ubaidullah ibn Abu Yazid narrated that a man asked Ibn 'Abbas, "How much water is sufficient for ghusl?" He answered, "One madd." "And how much is sufficient for ghusl?" He said, "One sa'a." The man said, "That is not sufficient for me." "Ibn 'Abbas said, "No? It was sufficient for one better than you, the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace." (Related by Ahmad, al-Bazaar and at-Tabarani in al-Kabeer. Its narrators are trustworthy.)

'Abdullah ibn 'Umar narrated that the Messenger of Allah passed by Sa'd while he was performing ablution and said, "What is this extravagance, Sa'd?" He said, "Is there extravagance in the use of water?" He said, "Yes, even if you are at a flowing river." (Related by Ahmad and Ibn Majah with a weak chain.)

Extravagance is to use water without any benefit, like washing the parts more than three times. Ibn Shu'aib's hadith, quoted earlier, illustrates the point in question. 'Abdullah ibn Mughaffal narrated that he heard the Prophet say, "There will be people from my nation who will transgress in making supplications and in purifying themselves." (Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and an-Nasa'i.)

Says al-Bukhari, "The scholars do not like one to use water beyond what the Prophet, upon whom be peace, used for ablution."

Well, our water issue was fixed and we crept back into the usual way of using a good 15-30 gallons of water in the shower to bathe and leaving the water running to make wudhu. But I was never the same again about it; Allah, subhaana wa taala, had put an awareness in my heart about my use of water. I not only understood that it was wasteful, but I saw the worldwide situation where we have wasted water to such an extent that it is in short supply in many places and we are constantly told by environmentalists to conserve it. Subhaan Allah! Following the Sunnah is the most effective way to save our precious resources for the generations to come.
Since then, we have changed our approach to water usage. We can easily use the recommended amount of water to make ghusl. Periodically I keep a bowl beside the sink to regulate the use while making wudhu, too. I put two handfuls of water into the bowl and find my wudhu complete before the water is finished! Every now and then I take a bath, or have a long shower, but it is a luxury and I am conscious of the extravagance. Extravagance in comparison to my neighbors, friends, sisters, or relatives? No. Extravagance in comparison to our beloved Prophet, peace be upon him, and what he modeled for us.

There are a few other things I've done to curb my water wastage. I wash the dishes with a soapy sponge and  then rinse them off with slow running cold water. I turn on the shower for a moment to wet myself, then suds up and turn the water back on just to rinse off. I set the tap to a slow trickle, to minimize waste during wudhu and hand washing. If one of the children doesn't finish their water and it hasn't been covered over, I use it for watering plants instead of simply throwing it down the drain.

Oh, you will find plenty of information on the Internet about the importance of water conservation and how to conserve. The issue is, it is Sunnah.


  1. Alhumduulillah. Filling the tub with water for a bath is not very common here, usually a bucket is filled (or kept under a tap and filled as needed) and a mug is used to pour water onto the body for bathing. Clothes washed in a semi automatic washing machine allow us to wash more than one load of clothes in the same soapy water too Alhumdulillah.

    I either rinse the dishes then turn off the tap,scrub them all and then rinse them off, or keep a tub of warm soapy water next to the sink to soak all rinsed dishes in and the rise them off after a while.

    Subhan'Allah, i did use a mug of water for wudu for sometime, but eventually stopped, Jazakullah Khair for your reminder, will adopt the habit again insha'Allah


  2. Umm Shuhadaa,

    Mashaa'Allah, you are such a kindred spirit; I love you my sister! We are so totally on the same page, I feel a strong connection with you. I think we will enjoy this blog together immensely, inshaa'Allah!

    Jazaaki Allahu khayran for sharing your positive applications of the Sunnah.