Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

SmartWUDHU': Recycling Ablution Water for Sustainable Living in Malaysia

Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

SmartWUDHU': Recycling Ablution Water for Sustainable Living in Malaysia

Article excerpt


The ablution ritual consumes large amount of water, especially in musollas and mosques, where the greywater is allowed to run free and drain away. As quoted in the Hadith, Prophet Muhammad reminded Muslims to avoid wastage, even when performing the cleansing ritual or ablution prior to prayer. The ritual, locally known as known as wudhu ', requires a Muslim to wash exposed body parts with clean water. In Malaysia, most ablution system consists simply of a row of water taps with a drainage trough to carry the greywater to main drains. As the tap is usually left running, much good water is wasted in the process. Considering the unnecessary wastage, a simple recycling system can be designed to collect, treat and reuse the ablution water within a close-loop system for non-potable water applications, such as toilet flushing, general washing, plants watering and flowerbed cultivation. This approach does not only introduce practical engineering solutions in promoting sustainable living, it is also in-line with the Islamic principles of using natural resources in a prudent manner. By referring the University's own mosque, a study was conducted to develop and verify a conceptual model of the ablution water recycling system, named SmartWUDHU', which fulfills the requirements of Islamic teachings yet viable from the engineering perspective. A simple ablution water output prediction model was next proposed to more accurately quantify the capacity and efficiency of the close-loop water recycling system. Water quality check was also carried out to gauge the effectiveness of treatment against regulated standards as well as religious provisions. The SmartWUDHU' system, retrofitted or installed new, exemplifies a successful merge between engineering know-how and religious doctrines for enhanced quality living now, and into the future.

Keywords: greywater recycling, water wastage, Islamic perspective, recirculation efficiency

1. Introduction

The ablution ritual usually takes up several minutes at a miming water facility, allowing a considerable amount of water to go to waste when only handfuls of water are collected and used at each step of the ritual (Tuan Ab Rahman, 2008). Consequently, the ritual, when performed en masse in musollas and mosques, especially during the Friday prayers, entails significant wastage of treated water (Prathapar et al., 2004).

From the religious point of view, did the Almighty Allah not declare that He does not love the wasters: "O children of Adam, take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes), while praying and going round (the Tawaf of) the Ka'bah, and eat and drink, but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not those who waste by extravagance" (The Noble Qu'ran, Al-A'raf, 7:31). This is a clear reminder to Muslims to always practice moderation and conservation with a heightened sense of gratitude (syukur). As reported by Ibn Majah, the Prophet, on seeing a man performing the ablution ritual by a river in a wasteful manner, has declared in answer to the man's question of israaf (wastefulness or wastage) in wudhu' : "Yes indeed, (do not waste) even if you perform them on the bank of a rushing river" (Ibn Majah - Book 2, Hadith 425). These records explicitly indicate the need to review and improve, if possible, the current practice of performing the ablution ritual, specifically in the aspect of water conservation.

Greywater generated from the ablution ritual is relatively clean as it contains no soap or solid impurities, but small amounts of microorganisms mainly from gargling. Hence by capturing this marginally contaminated water and channeling it through basic treatment, the water can be recycled and reused in non-potable water applications. The treated water can be used indoor for flushing toilet bowls and general washing, while outdoor applications include irrigation of flowerbeds, plant nurseries as well as car-washing. All these clearly show how the ablution water can be reused in beneficial ways with a close-loop water recycling system. …

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