Too Many Technicalities to Pray

Too Many Technicalities « Metamorphosis

Blog of a Muslim Biologist, who became an atheist. Here he describes the minute technicalities that must be performed before prayer 5 times a day.
Growing up Muslim, I was taught the mechanics of everyday Muslim prayer and life. By mechanics, I mean, exactly how many times to wash your right hand before your left hand, etc. And if you screwed it up, God wouldn’t acknowledge your prayer!

I had molvies (Imams, Priests, etc.) drill this into my head. If it had been one molvie, I would’ve dismissed it as a freak instance; but it was every teacher, Pakistani and non Pakistani. How many times to pray, exactly when to pray, and what direction to pray. You have to face Mecca, or your prayer will not be accepted. Oh, it’s 2 minutes past Asr prayer…it’s too late.

There are certainly liberal Muslims that are more flexible about the exact techniques…but it’s the molvies and mullahs that take the hardline stance about God’s acceptance of your prayer.

Now what bothers me most is that somebody has the balls to speak for God. I want a note; a signed note from God that says “Mr. X has the authority to speak for me”. Until I see that note, whatever you tell me about God’s wiliness to accept or reject a prayer, I’ll have take with a grain of salt.

There are many contradictions within the many religions. One that bothers me the most is this notion that there is a ceremony involved with prayer. While ceremony is cool for brotherhood type stuff, I don’t need ceremony when I’m all alone.

But most importantly – I can’t imagine any “God” rejecting somebody’s prayer because they didn’t wash their left foot properly before prayer.

God: “Hmm, your Arabic was perfect. And since I can read your thoughts, I know you really understood and meant your prayers. But I can’t get over how you didn’t clean yourself well enough before the prayer. Sorry about your nephew in the hospital…but your prayer – I can’t accept it.”

Me: “You’re going to throw out my prayer for my nephew because of that?!?!”

Look at the how-to of Wudu, the process by which you prepare for prayer:

  1. Begin by saying bismillah (”In the Name of Allah (God)”).
  2. Make niya (intention) to perform wudu and cleanse himself of his impurities.
  3. Wash the right hand up to the wrist (and between the fingers) three times, then similarly for the left hand.
  4. Rinse the mouth and spit out the water three times.
  5. Gently put water into the nostrils with the right hand, pinch the
    top of the nose with the left hand to exhale the water. This is
    performed three times.
  6. Wash the face (from the hairline on the forehead to where facial hair begins and ear to ear). This is to be performed thrice.
  7. Wash the entire right arm, including the hand, up to the elbow three times, then the left arm three times.
  8. Wet hands and starting with your hands flat on the top of your head
    near the hairline, wipe them to the back of the neck and back again to
    the front. This is only done once. This act is called masah of the head. One may make masah over a cap or turban.
  9. With wet fingers, place thumbs at backs of ears, use index finger
    on curves of ear and middle finger to wash the ears (front and back).
    Then the back of the neck is wiped. This is only done once. This is
    called making masah the ears.
  10. Starting with the right foot, wipe both feet from the toes up to the ankles. It is recommended to wash the feet after ablution.
  11. Recite the shahadah.

This is too much – while there was a reason for this thousands of years ago, I don’t think it applies today. I’m a pretty clean guy and if God is too petty to reject any prayer because of the cleanliness of their nostrils…then thanks, but no thanks. Plus, if you have athlete’s foot (a fungal infection of the toes), then do you think rinsing it with water is going to do anything? In fact, now you just got your fungal buddies all over your hands! And right after wudu, you go throughout the mosque shaking hands with everybody! Nice.

As a biologist, I can tell you with good certainty, that after you “rinse” your nose, mouth, ears, feet with your hands, and you have a cold, and you have athlete’s foot, you are a walking microbiology lab full of viruses and fungi. So clearly, washing your hands is a good thing…but without soap, it’s pretty much useless.

I just don’t get why people get hung up on technicalities.

Click on the headline for more from the blog of a refugee from the clash of civilizations.

One thought on “Too Many Technicalities to Pray”

  1. How you managed to become a biologist i’ll never know. I would imagine you would done a lot of research throughout your course but decided to disgard that skill once you had gained your qulaifications. There are dispensations for people who may have infectious diseases such as athletes foot or a cold but perhaps you thought “i’ll take a guess and hope im right”…Read up a little better…Also, didnt realise that 5 minutes in a 24 hour day to keep clean every 4-5 hours was such a pain in the neck…I know exactly what you mean, the amount of effort it takes to clean yourself in a matter of minutes is immeasurable!…

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