x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

The importance of being clean for prayer

Fatwas address such issues as tolerating the poor hygiene of others, eating garlic and the proper protocol with hotel toiletries.

ABU DHABI // Unhygienic fellow worshippers are no excuse for skipping prayers, according to one of about 100 fatwas issued by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf) this month. The ruling came after a Muslim looked for clarity on the issue of showing up to the mosque in "sweaty or dirty" clothes.

"If you find any of your brother worshippers smelling unpleasantly, that should not be a valid excuse for your to leave the Jamaa [congregational] prayer as there will be a loss in goodness and reward," said a fatwa in response. It later specified that Muslims should "always" come to prayers clean. Awqaf issues daily fatwas through its centre in Abu Dhabi in response to questions, either submitted online or phoned in, about what is permissible under Sharia law.

The Awqaf also reminded worshippers not to head to the mosque after eating garlic, as the smells "offends" those trying to pray. The Prophet Mohammed said, "He who has eaten from this plant should not approach us and should not offer prayer along with us." On the issue of debts and those who have loans with banks, a fatwa urged followers to make all payments on time as it is considered a "debt" that should be honoured and paid back when able to do so.

The fatwa sent a counter-warning to the questioner, explaining that if extra money was taken as penalty for late payment, it would be considered reba, or interest, and forbidden in Islam. Another question came from a family, concerned that their habit of packing up the creams and shampoos offered by hotels might not be allowed. The fatwa indicated that Muslims could take such toiletries, and food, from the room, but within limits.

"You have already paid for the disposable items like shampoo and soap, and so you are allowed to take them with you unless explicitly told by the establishment not to take them with you," replied the fatwa. "It is known that hotels don't offer anything unless it has already been paid for." In another holiday-related question, someone asked "whether it is okay to love a particular place". Doing so is permissible, provided it was a favourable place in the eyes of Allah, such as mosques, one's own country or holy places such as Mecca and Madina. The fatwa ruled out a love of "shopping places".