The Importance of Water In Islam, By Murtadha Gusau
In The Name Of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful
Verily, all praise is for Allah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our own souls [and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allah leaves astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah [alone and without any partner], and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” [Ali Imran 3:102]
“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and from him He created his wife, and from them both He created many men and women, and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you).” [al-Nisa’ 4:1]
“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth). He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (SAW) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hellfire and made to enter Paradise).” [al-Ahzaab 33:70-71]
As to what proceeds: Verily the best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAW). The worst of affairs are the newly-invented affairs in the religion and every newly invented affair in the religion is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance and all misguidance is in the hellfire. As to what proceeds:
Servants of Allah! World Water Day is an annual global event celebrated on March 22. The day focuses attention on the importance of universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities in developing countries. The day also focuses on advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
As reported, Nigeria joined the rest of the world in celebrating the 2017 World Water Day with a walk exercise led by the Minister of Water Resources, Engineer Suleiman H. Adamu from Eagle Square to NTA Headquarters, Area 11 Abuja.
The Day is an annual global event usually celebrated every year to create awareness on water resources management and also to evaluate the activities and partners in the sector.
At the event, the Minister of Water Resources, Engineer Suleiman H. Adamu blamed state governments for the severe water shortage in all parts of the country. He declared that it was the duty of the states and the local governments to provide potable water to citizens. The role of the Federal Government, he said, is to give a helping hand now and then, and to provide good policy on this.
Brothers and Sisters! The theme for this year’s celebration was, “Water and Wastewater” and it highlighted the symbiosis between water and wastewater in the quest for sustainable development, and also created an opportunity to consolidate and build upon the previous World Water Days. It also helped to get the latest update on how wastewater is perceived as a valuable resource in the development of the economy.
The Federal Ministry of Water Resources, in conformity with global practices, also had other activities to mark the Day, including a press briefing at NTA Headquarters after the Walk Exercise and a Symposium/Exhibition at the NAF Conference Centre, Ahmadu Bello Way, Kado, Abuja.
Brothers and Sisters! As water has become a matter of concern for the modern world and its international organisations, such as the UN – officially designating a yearly World Water Day observed on March 22, Islam was the first to place such importance on the matter. Being the most important element of nature, and therefore the very basis for all life on earth, water in Islam in terms of importance and necessity is as old and deep-rooted as the religion itself. Islam is a comprehensive way of life based on the guidance of Allah. That’s why it came for the good of humanity – for man’s well-being and welfare in this life and in the hereafter, calling for every good and prohibiting every evil. As a comprehensive way of life, Islam cares for the environment and calls for protecting all its elements that keep life’s balance. The following are some aspects of Islam’s concern for water as a critical element in protecting life:
1. The Importance and Necessity of Water
There are tens of verses that talk about the importance and necessity of water as life-giving, and how important it is to protect and reserve this source of life on earth. Allah the Most High said:
“Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and we made every living thing of water? Will they not then believe?” (Surah Al-Anbiya’, 21:30)
And He also said:
“Allah has created every animal of water. Of them is (a kind) that goes upon its belly and (a kind) that goes upon two legs and (a kind) that goes upon four. Allah creates what He will.” (Surah An-Nur, 24:45)
“It is He Who has created man from water: then He has established relationships of lineage and marriage.” (Surah Al-Furqan, 25:54)
In another place in the Noble Qur’an, Allah speaks of such importance differently:
“And we send down from the sky water in measure, and We give it lodging in the earth, and lo! We are Able to withdraw it.” (Surah Al-Mu’minun, 23:18)
Being sent “in measure” means, as Allah indicates, that water is a highly valuable and precious resource. So if it is not used efficiently, it is therefore in Allah’s power to “withdraw it.”
About the blessings arising from water, Allah says:
“Then We produce for you therewith gardens of date-palms and grapes, wherein is much fruit for you and whereof you eat.” (Surah Al-Mu’minun, 23:19)
2. Islam Forbids Wastage and Water Misuse
Islam is a moderate religion standing firmly against abuse and overuse of anything. Allah said:
“And waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.” (Surah Al-A`raf 7:31)
“And squander not in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the evil ones (Satan); and the evil one is to his Lord (himself) ungrateful.” (Surah Al-Isra’, 17:26-27)
My respected people! Also, there are many hadiths that forbid the abuse of water as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) urged moderation and thriftiness in the use of water during ablution. Upon seeing a man making ablution and using too much water, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“What is this waste?” The man said: “Is there waste in ablution also, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Yes, even if you were near a flowing river.” (Ibn Majah)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) manifested these words with action:
“Narrated Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) used only one mudd (equals a handful of an average-sized man) of water for ablution and one sa’i (equivalent to four mudds) of water for his bath.” (Agreed upon)
3. Islam Prohibits Monopoly
Due to the essential role water plays in life, Islam prohibits monopoly or exclusive control of some people over water resources. Being a gift from Allah needed by all people, water should be freely available to all, and any Muslim or any person who withholds and deprives others of it commits a great sin. That’s why I pity any Government that fails to provide good drinking water to its people.
Inciting believers to share the earth’s resources, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“All individuals share alike in three things: water, pasture and fire.” (Abu Dawud, Ahmad and Ibn Majah)
Also Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet said:
“Don’t withhold excess water so as to prevent therewith the (growth of) additional herbage.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
4. Giving Water in Charity
Supplying water to those who don’t have easy access to it is an appreciated good deed in Islam. As we see in the following hadith, a drink of water is considered a charity by the Prophet. Reported Ibn Abbas, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Every kindly word is a charity; help rendered by a man to his brother is charity; a drink of water given to someone is charity; and the removal of harmful objects from the road is charity.” (Al-Bukhari, Ibn Hibban, and Al-Albani)
Thus, the simple deed of giving water to others is a way for a Muslim to get closer to Allah. In another hadith the Prophet said:
“Receiving your friend with a smile is sadaqah (charity), helping people load their animals is charity, and pouring some water in your neighbour’s bucket is also charity.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Servants of Allah! Not only for humans, even a drink of water given to an animal, a dog, is a charity in Islam: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“While a man was walking he felt thirsty and went down a well and drank water from it. On coming out of it, he saw a dog panting and eating mud because of excessive thirst. The man said, ‘This (dog) is suffering from the same problem as that of mine.’ So he (went down the well), filled his shoe with water, caught hold of it with his teeth and climbed up and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for his (good) deed and forgave him.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! Is there a reward for us in serving (the) animals?” He replied, “Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate being.” (Al-Bukhari)
Also Abu Hurayrah reported Allah’s Messenger as saying:
“There was a dog moving around a well, which thirst would have killed. Suddenly a prostitute from Bani Isra’il happened to see it and she drew water in her shoe and made it drink, and she was pardoned because of this.” (Muslim)
5. Digging Wells, Taps, Boreholes etc.
There are repeated encouragements by the Prophet for his real and sincere followers to do what is good and helpful to others. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Whosoever digs a well will receive reward for that from Allah on the Day of Judgment when anyone amongst jinn, men and birds drinks from it.” (Al- Bukhari and Muslim)
Thanks to the Prophet’s exhortations that Uthman ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) purchased the well of Rumah and endowed its water for public use: “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:
“The one who would dig the well of Rumah will enter Paradise.” So, Uthman dug it. (Al-Bukhari)
It is also considered a great act of “Sadaqah Jariyah” (continuous charity) to dig a well; to bring this critical source of life to those who have water supply problems, and don’t have easy access to it, like here in Nigeria.
6. Combating Water Pollution
As it is the Muslim’s duty to protect and conserve Allah’s creation, preserving water and safeguarding its purity is no exception, particularly with the critical role in preserving life on earth in mind. We must use water wisely and we have to save this resource and keep it clean and pure as much as possible. The Prophet for example warned against water pollution by forbidding urination in stagnant water. Reported Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Avoid the three actions that bring people’s curses: defecating in water sources, on roads, and in the shade.” (Ibn Majah)
The Prophet even taught us not to leave food or drink exposed overnight, in order to be protected from pollution or harmful creatures. He said:
“Cover the vessels and tie the waterskin, for there is a night in a year when pestilence descends, and it does not pass an uncovered vessel or an untied waterskin without some of that pestilence descending into it…” (Muslim)
Fellow Nigerians! As a universal religion born initially in the harsh deserts of Arabia to complete the Message of former Prophets and convey the Divine revelation in its last testament (Qur’an), Islam ascribes the most sacred qualities to water as a life-giving, sustaining, and purifying resource. It is the origin of all life on earth, the substance from which Allah created man (Qur’an 25:54). The Noble Qur’an emphasises its centrality:
“We made from water every living thing.” (Qur’an 21:30)
Water also is the primary element that existed even before the heavens and the earth did. Allah said:
“And it is He who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and his Throne was upon water.” (Qur’an 11:7)
The water of rain, rivers, and fountains runs through the pages of the Qur’an to symbolise Allah’s benevolence:
“He sends down saving rain for them when they have lost all hope and spreads abroad His mercy.” (Qur’an 25:48)
At the same time, the believers are constantly reminded that it is Allah Who gives sweet water to the people, and that He can just as easily withhold it:
“Consider the water which you drink. Was it you that brought it down from the rain cloud or We? If We had pleased, We could make it bitter.” (Qur’an 56:68-70)
In this verse the believers are warned that they are only the guardians of Allah’s creation on earth; they must not take His law into their own hands.
My Dear Brothers and Sisters! In Islam major importance is placed upon purity and cleanliness, but also the essential role water plays in Islam. Purification through ablution is an obligatory component of the Islamic prayer ritual; prayers carried out in an impure state are not valid. This means Muslims are obliged to carry out ritual ablution before each of the five daily prayers. In addition, a more thorough ritual is required on specific occasions. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) urged moderation and thriftiness in the use of water during ablution.
The harsh desert climate of Arabia, the Near East, and Saharan North Africa makes water a highly valuable and precious resource. Islamic Law goes into great detail on the subject of water to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of water within the community.
The Arabic word for Islamic Law “Shari`ah” itself is closely related to water. It is included in early Arab dictionaries and originally meant “the place from which one descends to water.” Before the advent of Islam in Arabia, the Shari`ah was, in fact, a series of rules about water use: the shir`at al-maa’ were the permits that gave right to drinking water. The term later was technically developed to include the body of laws and rules given by Allah.
My people! Water is a gift from Allah. It is one of the three things that every human is entitled to: grass (pasture for cattle), water, and fire. Water should be freely available to all, and any Muslim or any person who withholds unneeded water wallahi sins against Allah:
“No one can refuse surplus water without sinning against Allah and against man.”
Also the Prophetic Traditions say that among the three people Allah will ignore on the Day of Resurrection there will be “the man who, having water in excess of his needs refuses it to a traveler.” (Reported by Bukhari)
Servants of Allah! The Qur’anic metaphors in which water is used to symbolise Paradise, righteousness, and Allah’s mercy are quite frequent. From the numerous Qur’anic references to cooling rivers, fresh rain, and fountains of flavoured drinking water in Paradise, we can deduce that water is the essence of the gardens of Paradise. It flows beneath and through them, bringing coolness and greenery, and quenching thirst. The believers will be rewarded for their piety by:
“Rivers of unstagnant water; and rivers of milk unchanging in taste, and rivers of wine, delicious to the drinkers, and rivers of honey purified.” (Qur’an 47:15)
The water in Paradise is never stagnant; it flows, rushes, unlike the festering waters of Hell. The Qur’an also equates the waters of Paradise with moral uprightness:
“In the garden is no idle talk; there is a gushing fountain.” (Qur’an 88:11-12)
The many specific statements about the topography of Paradise in the Qur’an led to many attempts to map Paradise. Throughout history, Muslim rulers from Moorish Spain to Persia sought to reproduce the image of Paradise in the design of their palace gardens, creating elaborate water features, pools, and fountains. The gardens of the Alhambra in Spanish Granada, the Bagh-é-Tarikhi in Iran’s Kashan, and the gardens of the imperial palaces in Morocco’s Marrakesh all testify to this desire to emulate Qur’anic Paradise on earth. All are designed around water features and fountains that have been subtly woven into the layout of the beautiful parks, hence combining water and the beauty of natural landscape to fill the human soul with faith, joy, and happiness.
Brothers and Sisters! To indicate how important the water is in Islam, the Arabic word ‘Maa’ ‘water’ is mentioned more than 63 times in the Noble Quran and there are also many references to rain, snow and ice. Moreover, as I said, the Quran clearly condemns the wasting of water.
The Prophet Muhammad sees one of his Companions, Sa’ad, performing the ritual ablution wudu that is required before prayer. As Sa’ad is using a lot of water, the Prophet Mohammad asks him:
“Why are you wasting water like this?” Sa’ad is surprised and asks whether it is possible to waste water during ablution. To this the Prophet responds that one must never waste water, even on the banks of a flowing river.” Allahu Akbar!
Brothers and Sisters! Providing clean safe drinking water is a critical function of local, state and federal government agencies.
Yes, ideally the Government should provide free clean drinking water for all its citizens. Diarrhoea/Cholera kills several men and children every day around the world. In Africa, it is the leading killer of children under five years old, causing more deaths than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. But there are very simple solutions to this problem – clean drinking water, hygienic toilets and effective hand washing. Providing people in our countries with access to clean drinking water, effective sanitation and education on the importance of good hygiene practice are some of the most cost effective ways of achieving real results in health. It helps them beat poverty and can help to prevent millions unnecessary deaths every year.
Therefore, I urge our state governments to commit to the provision of pipe borne water for every community and every citizen in the country. It is the most basic utility for civilised existence. It is the least any state government can do for its citizens.
They should know that Governments which are unable to provide potable water for their citizens are failing in their most basic duty. They should do everything that they can to live up to this critical responsibility.
Servants of Allah! I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Quran and Sunnah. I pray that He lets us recognise the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.
O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us, ameen.
My respected people! Anything good I have said in my today’s Khutbah (Sermon) is from Allah the Al-Mighty, and any mistakes are my own and we seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.
May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad and upon his family and Companions.
With this I conclude my Khutbah (Sermon) and ask Allah, the Almighty and the sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is all forgiving Most Merciful.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Rajab 2nd, 1438 A.H. (March 31, 2017), By Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene Kogi State Nigeria. He can be reached through: +2348038289761.