Harmful Mosques and Mosques of Farting!

آحمد صبحي منصور Ýí 2017-07-01

Harmful Mosques and Mosques of Farting!

Published in October 19, 2009

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy



 From our memories in the early 1980s in Egypt, we narrate this funny realistic story that took place in Alexandria, the famous Egyptian city overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Located in one corner of one street in this ancient city was a Sufi mosque with a mausoleum inside it, and in the same street, there was another Sunnite mosque affiliated to and run by members of the (Wahabi) Supporters of Sunna Society. Both peoples who frequent both mosques hated each other so venomously, as Sunnites consider Sufis as heretics and infidels, and Sufis hate Sunnites for their undermining of Sufi orders. The Sunnite mosque people used to attack the Sufi one and its frequenters outspokenly and harshly in all their sermons and forums. People of the Sunnite mosque called the Sufi mosque as (the harmful mosque), an appellation based on this Quranic verse: "Then there are those who establish a mosque to cause harm..." (9:107). This negative appellation given to the Sufi mosque spread all over the city because of the Sunnite frequenters of the Sunnite mosque. This caused much mortification to Sufis who run and own the Sufi mosque in the same street. Sufis had their chance to take revenge when a hot debate occurred inside the Sunnite mosque over a 'serious' issue of fiqh: does farting with its smell and sound spoils the ablution before prayers or not! So many arguments for and against spoiling ablution by farting ensued for a long time between two groups of the Sunnite frequenters and imams of the Sunnite mosque. The first group in the Sunnite mosque insisted that farting spoils ablution as it is like feces and urine mentioned implicitly as spoilers of ablution in these verses: "O you who believe! Do not approach the prayer while you are drunk, so that you know what you say; nor after sexual orgasm-unless you are travelling-until you have bathed. If you are sick, or traveling, or one of you comes from the toilet, or you have had intercourse with women, and cannot find water, find clean sand and wipe your faces and your hands with it. God is Pardoning and Forgiving." (4:43); "O you who believe! When you rise to pray, wash your faces and your hands and arms to the elbows, and wipe your heads, and your feet to the ankles. If you had intercourse, then purify yourselves. If you are ill, or travelling, or one of you returns from the toilet, or you had contact with women, and could not find water, then use some clean sand and wipe your faces and hands with it. God does not intend to burden you..." (5:6). The other group in the Sunnite mosque insisted that farting is not mentioned in the Quran at all as among spoilers of ablution; it is mere letting out of wind of the anus, and not like feces at all. Attempts of those who tried to reconcile both groups failed; each group stuck adamantly to its stance. The debate grew hotter as both groups argued about two types of farting: with or without smells and sounds, as each type would have its fatwa! Such hot debate went beyond the Sunnite mosque to all Sunnite forums and conferences and  Friday congregational prayers sermons. Both groups began to refute the stance/views of one another using heritage books of fiqh. On the other hand, Sufi frequenters of the Sufi mosque laughed at the whole matter and took revenge by calling the Sunnite mosque as (the farting mosque), as they used to feel bad about Sunnites calling their Sufi mosque as (the harmful mosque). Thus, this Alexandrine street was famous in the 1980s by the two mosques: the harmful one and the farting one! Some common people felt shy of such appellations and used the first letters instead to refer to both mosques: the F. mosque and the H. mosque, as the debate, rivalry, and struggle between both mosques increased with the passage of time in their sermons refuting and mocking each other almost on a daily basis.

  After we joined the Supporters of Sunna Society as a preacher since our PhD thesis debunked Sufism and made us popular among Sunnites at the time, and our fame grew as 'moderate' Sunnite thinker who seeks reform from within Sunna and within its frame, our later-on books have given fatal blows to Sufism, and we became one of the leading members of the Sunnite society and we delivered Friday sermons in many of its mosques in Cairo, Alexandria, Damietta, Tanta, and Upper Egyptian cities. At one point in time, we were invited to deliver our speeches and sermons in (the farting mosque), after the battle of debates and counter-debates had abated, as Sunnites of that mosque decided not to go on within such fruitless arguments since no compromises were ever reached to reconcile opposing views, and they felt ashamed because the Sufis called their mosque (the farting mosque). Our fame at the time among Sunnites as the thinker who severely criticizes Sufism and brings forth new ideas, Sunnites of this mosque readily posed the same question to us after we delivered the Friday sermon: Does farting spoils one's ablution or not? Each of the two Sunnite groups with the opposing views was eager to hear our opinion. We were surprised at this question hurled at us suddenly, and we had some news of the intellectual battle of farting that went on before we set food in Alexandria. We felt afraid that the sleeping dogs that are lying sown will wake up again because of getting us involved in such a debate. Eyes of both groups of Sunnites gazed at us, waiting impatiently for our answer. We felt annoyed and baffled about what to say, but we did not show any anxiety. We thought of a way out, as after the sermon we delivered and appealed to them, we might be a leader of one group and an enemy of the other group within this issue of farting that was of vital importance to them; a matter of life and death to them indeed! We felt afraid that they might fight one another with their hands and beat us as result! Quickly, our mind sought a way out so that we escape the silly and dangerous situation and dodge their question, while vowing not to set foot in that mosque ever again. We have decided to talk about various topics to distract them, while saying our view about their silly question implicitly without provoking their fury.                               

1- We said to them that at first, we will narrate to them this historical account: before the first Crusade as the masses of Europe were led by Peter the Hermit, the Sunnite scholars disregarded the imminent danger as they were busy thinking about the most vital issue of a matter of life or death, and they declared one another as infidels when they expressed different views: is touching the nail clipper of a woman, who is not one's wife, spoils the ablution of a man or not? Within the Al-Shafei doctrine, touching the hand of a woman (including her fist and fingers) spoils ablution of a man since this woman is not his wife. They engaged into hot debates whether a man who touches the nail clipper of a woman would spoil his ablution of not, while never thinking about the threat of the European conquerors at their door.   

2- We said to them that they are repeating this story within the history of fiqh, as they are focusing on farting and ablution while never caring to discuss tyranny and corruption in Egypt, and other defeats inside and outside Egypt suffered by Arabs in all fields. So instead of discussing reform on all levels, they are busy talking about farting! 

3- We said to them that the major vice pertaining to the Sunnite religion is to focus on ostentatious matters regarding acts of worship, especially regarding issues that are never mentioned in the Quran. The Sunnite never focus on attaining piety from acts of worship. The Devil lies in the too-much details; for instance, the Quran talks about purification with water in merely two verses, whereas Sunnite fiqh books contain thousands of pages on the very same topic, written by various scholars! The Sunnite scholars (who were busy discussing minute useless details) forgot that all acts of worship aim at achieving piety and avoiding sins; they are not ends in themselves: "O people! Worship your Lord who created you and those before you, that you may attain piety." (2:21); "...and perform the prayer. The prayer prevents indecencies and evils. And the remembrance of God is greater. And God knows what you do." (29:45). This means that real believers must focus on the aim of prayers; i.e., to attain piety in the fear of our Lord God and avoiding sins during one's lifetime as much as one can, so that the high moralistic level will make them earn the right to enter into Paradise, as per 23:1-11. This piety is lost when one focuses on countless Sunnite details about ablution and prayers.    

4- We said to them that in contrast to Talmud-like details within thousands of pages in Sunnite fiqh books about purification with water (ablution and complete ablution), there are not even few paragraphs about piety in prayers and performing them in the fear of God in total concentration and how to make prayers affect our good behavior to avoid sins, etc.

5- We said to them that Sunnite Muslims (whom we call now Muhammadans, but we did no use this appellation in the 1980s) have idolized prayers as ends in themselves, not as means to attain piety. This has turned all acts of worship into pagan rituals, not as means to reach higher moralistic levels in one's lifetime and dealing with others. Sadly, Sunnite prayers are now means of hypocrisy, corruption, and disobedience as those swindlers, corrupter, deceivers, and thieves assume they are forgiven and their sins are pardoned only if they performed the five daily prayers regularly! Thus, it is silly to ignore the loss of the spiritual benefit of prayers while talking about useless issues like farting of men and nail clippers of women! Sunnite scholars of fiqh kept busy inventing such issues to debate endlessly about them while forgetting all about piety.       

6- We said to them that those scholars of the Middle Ages forgot about the fact that acts of worship in Islam are based on facilitation and ease: "...God desires ease for you, and does not desire hardship for you..." (2:185); "...God does not intend to burden you..." (5:6); "...He has chosen you, and has not burdened you in religion..." (22:78). Since God does not mention certain details in the Quran, one cannot add items or notions to Islam as part of its sharia laws at all. Thus, it is a grave sin that these scholars deal with farting as if it were like urine and feces to make things difficult for worshippers for no reason; this deducing manner is corrupt and one cannot invent new Islamic rules of one's own mind. Another grave sin is to turn acts of worship into ostentatious, overt meaningless movements or rituals devoid of all piety. Thus, such empty acts of worship and practices are never beneficial; people now link them to hypocrisy, bad reputation, foul-mouthed persons, immoral behavior, and dealing with people in a deceitful manner. The Sunnite congregation at the mosque listened to us attentively to the last, but then one of them asked us impatiently: (You did not answer our question: does farting spoils ablution or not?!). We realized that typically, Sunnites never understand what they hear, and this bad habit goes on until now!    


 We narrate the above story because until now, some readers of our website are busy thinking and discussing items of minor, small, or no importance at all, while engaging into hot debate about them that last for hours and days! We, Quranists, must keep busy discussing the vital issues that benefit believers, not to tackle trivialities. We are never to forget that all acts of worship aim at attainting piety and regarding them, Islam (Quranism) is based on facilitation and east, not hardship and burdens imposed on people. We are not to forget that God pardons those who err unintentionally. Muslims are never a great nation by verifying crescent of Ramadan and timing of dawn prayers, or by overemphasizing purification with water, and certainly not by debating trivial issues forever though they are not prohibited in the Quran (such as having anal sex with one's wife). Instead, Muslims will be a great nation if they adhere to higher Quranic values and by defending them, especially human rights, human dignity, etc. Muslims will be a great nation only if they stop submission to tyrants (i.e., rulers and religious clergy) so that they submit only to our Lord God. Greatness is achieved only if Muslims focus on values of freedom, peace, justice, charity, kindness, tolerance, generosity, courage, etc. and to avoid sins of injustice, excessiveness, stinginess, disobedience of God, tyranny, corruption, and violence. Thus, real pious Muslims are the ones who practically prove their belief in the Last Day by having and applying the highest moralistic level possible and to the best level in science and civilization within the civil, modern world of today. This cannot be realized unless Arabs/Muhammadans get rid of tyranny and corruption of tyrants (rulers + clergy) who humiliate citizens and deprive them of their basic rights, and yet, the Muhammadans fear such tyrants more than they fear our Lord God.         

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