Islam directs us appropriately in all walks of life. The greatness of Islam can be described well when we find that there is no good, that it has not commanded us to do. Likewise there is no bad, from which it has not asked us to refrain. It is perfect and complete in all aspects. A polytheist said to Salman AlFarsi (RA): “Your Prophet has taught you everything, even how to defecate!” Salman said: “Yes, he forbade us to face the qiblah when urinating or defecating” [Tirmidhi, also reported in Muslim and elsewhere]. Islamic sharee’ah teaches us some manners regarding answering the call of nature, to name a few:
(1) Reciting the dua when entering or leaving the toilet. Our Prophet (PBUH) taught us that when entering the toilet, we should say: اللهم إني أعوذ بك من الخبث والخبائث (O Allah, I seek refuge with You from male and female devils).” When leaving the toilet, we should say: غفرانك (I seek Your forgiveness). [Reported by various]
(2) Not to face the Qiblah when urinating or defecating. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “When any one of you sits down to answer the call of nature, he should not face the Qiblah or turn his back towards it.” [Muslim]
(4) The Sunnah is to answer the call of nature sitting, making oneself close to the ground, because this is more concealing, and makes it less likely that spray from one’s urine will come back on one’s body or clothes, making them dirty.
(5) A person should be concealed from the sight of others when answering the call of nature. The Prophet (PBUH) used to prefer to go behind a rise in the ground or a garden of date palms [Muslim]. If a person is out in an open space and can find nothing to conceal him, he should move far away from the people around him. Al Mugheerah bin Shu’bah RA said: “I was with the Prophet PBUH on a journey, when he felt the need to answer the call of nature, so he went far away.” [Tirmidhi]
(6) A person should not uncover his private parts until after he has squatted close to the ground, because this is more concealing, as Anas (RA) reported: “When the Prophet (PBUH) wanted to answer the call of nature, he would not lift his garment until he had squatted close to the ground.” [Tirmidhi]
(7) Not to touch the private part with the right hand when urinating. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “When any one of you urinates, he should not hold his private part in his right hand or clean it with his right hand; and (when drinking), he should not breathe into the vessel.” [Bukhari] Rather, one should use his left hand for it. Abu Hurayrah reported that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “When any one of you cleans himself, he should not use his right hand, he should use his left hand.” [Ibn Majah]
(8) He should be careful to remove all impurity after answering the call of nature, because the Prophet (PBUH) warned us saying: “Most of the punishment of the grave will be because of urine.” [Ibn Majah]. Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) reported that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) passed by two graves, and said: “They are being punished, but they are not being punished for any major thing. One of them used not to protect himself (i.e. keep himself clean from) his urine, and the other used to gossip.” [Bukhari]
(9) He should cleanse himself with water. If unavailable, he may use stones. He should not use bones or dung to clean himself or wipe away the impurity. Abu Hurayrah (RA) reported that he used to carry a vessel for the Prophet (PBUH) to do wudoo’ and clean himself after answering the call of nature. Whilst he was following him, he (the Prophet) asked, “Who is that?” He said: “I am Abu Hurayrah.” He said: “Get me some stones I can use to clean myself, but do not bring me any bones or dung.” So I brought him some stones, carrying them in the hem of my garment, and placed them by his side, then I went away. When he had finished, I came back and asked him, “What is wrong with bones and dung?” He said: “They are the food of the jinn.” [Bukhari].
Uwaym bin Saida (RA) said that: ‘The Prophet (PBUH) came to them at the mosque of Quba’ and said, “God, exalted be He, has praised handsomely the way you purify yourselves in the story about your mosque, so what is this purification which you perform?” [Referring to the verse: “Do not stand [for prayer] within it – ever. A mosque founded on righteousness from the first day is more worthy for you to stand in. Within it are men who love to purify themselves; and Allah loves those who purify themselves” [Al Quran; 09:108)] They said, “By Allah, O Messenger of Allah, all that we know is that we used to have Jews in our vicinity and they used to wash their behinds after defecation, and so we began to wash in the way they did”. According to one hadith, they said: ‘We use stones [to scrape off remainings] and follow this with water’; to which he (the Prophet) said, ‘That is the way [for proper purification]. Let this be your way’. [Al Bazzar]
(10) A person should not urinate into stagnant water, because Jabir RA reported that the prophet PBUH forbade anyone to urinate into stagnant water [Muslim]
(11) A person should not urinate by the roadside or in places where people seek shade, because this is offensive to them. Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Fear the two things that bring curses.” They asked, “What are the two things that bring curses, O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “When a person relieves himself in the road where people walk or in the place where they seek shade.” [Abu Dawud]
(12) One should not greet a person who is answering the call of nature, or return a greeting whilst one is answering the call of nature, out of respect to Allah by not mentioning His name in a dirty place. Jabir bin Abdullah reported that a man passed by the Prophet (PBUH) whilst he was urinating, and greeted him. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said to him: “If you see me in this state, do not greet me, because if you do, I will not respond.” [Ibn Maajah]. The majority of scholars say that it is makrooh (disliked) to speak in the restroom unnecessarily.
These are few of many etiquettes related to the topic. We should think that if the sharee’ah has paid such minute attention to the details of such a mundane matter, what has it got to say about more important issues? We should be grateful to Allah for guiding us to such a beautiful religion with such splendid laws.