Have you considered the water which you drink?
Issue 70 July 2010
The Qur’an asks very simply for human beings to consider the blessing of water. The Prophet Muhammad said that the reward for giving someone a glass of water is the same as praying two rakats of prayer. Yet running to your tap hardly amounts to a great effort, so what why is water considered so important in Islam? Laura Feetham looks at the issues of water around the world; a resource which most of us take for granted.
Not long ago, a friend of mine played host to a Nigerian schoolteacher on an educational exchange program. As the hostess embarked upon a grand tour of her two-bedroom flat, explaining how to work the shower, the dishwasher and her exhausted washing machine, she was asked a simple question – “Where does your water come from?” Baffled, she mulled it over for a few seconds, realised she didn’t have a clue and mumbled something about “pipes and tanks.” Her guest was equally nonplussed. How was it possible to have such an abundance of something and simultaneously not have the faintest idea how it got there? When my friend relayed to me her embarrassment she summed up the crux of the issue; she had simply never thought about it. Like millions of other individuals across the world, she had always just taken for granted that with a twist of a tap or the push of a button, one can have an almost unlimited amount of water with which to quench dry throats, wash dirty dishes and revitalise parched lawns. Additionally, water purification systems in the developed world are so sophisticated that the liquid which flows from our taps is crystal clear and perfectly sterile, even in London where each glass of water has passed through several other individuals before reaching us.
Living in an environment where water is so freely available, it would be easy to believe that the situation is universal; that there is plenty of water to go around, and with a little bit of technical wizardry and infrastructure, anyone can have a stream of clean, refreshing water at their fingertips. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth.
As the global water situation becomes increasingly fragile, nations are beginning to recognise the scarcity of freshwater leading some to suggest that the next major world conflicts will be fought over water.
Figuring it out
The precious substance of water is used for a huge variety of purposes. From the bare essentials of drinking and washing right through to the leisure industry which consumes masses of water every year, emel finds clarity by examining the reality of water in numbers.
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