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Wudu washing: is your college catering to its Islamic students?

Paul Thorn is the Managing Director of

Islam is the second largest religion in the UK, with Muslim people making up around 5% of the total population. For that reason, it’s important to make sure that students who follow Islam are provided with the facilities they need to practice their faith – but all too often, colleges are failing to meet these requirements.

The purification ritual of Wudu is an important aspect of Islam, but most colleges lack the basic facilities that enable Muslims to carry it out. As we’ve seen in recent years, the failure to properly engage Muslim students can have disastrous consequences. Providing adequate Wudu washing facilities can be an important first step in helping your Muslim students feel welcome and included.

What is Wudu?

Wudu – also transliterated as Wudhu – is the act of cleansing the body in preparation for Salaah (prayers) or handling the Qur’an. It is similar to yet distinct from the related ritual of Ghusl, which involves an all-body bath or shower; Ghusl is a full ablution, whereas Wudu is a partial ablution.

While the process of Wudu differs between Sunni Islam, Shia Islam and other Muslim traditions, the basic procedure involves washing the feet, hands, mouth, nostrils, face, arms and head with clean water. The state of cleanliness brought about by Wudu will last until it is invalidated by an impurifying act such as going to the toilet, sleeping, or light bleeding.

Wudu must be performed before Salaah: the five daily prayers known as Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha’a. Since the timing of these prayers depends on the location of the sun, they differ throughout the world and at different times of years; however, some of them will invariably fall within the academic day, meaning that adequate Wudu washing facilities are essential for any college or further education establishment that caters to Muslim students.

Ritual cleanliness is of extreme importance to Muslims; indeed, the Prophet Muhammed taught that “cleanliness is half of faith”.

Wudu facilities

As we have said, the ceremony of Wudu involves washing multiple parts of the body, including the feet – and as you can probably imagine, this isn’t an easy task to accomplish using an ordinary sink. For instance, the basin may be too high off the ground to allow the washing of feet; there may not be enough space around the sink; the taps may be too hot, or too cold; or the sink may be fitted with time-flow taps which need to be held down or constantly pressed.

Muslim students may also find it embarrassing to be seen washing in this manner in the middle of a busy college bathroom. In the Muslim world, Wudu washing facilities come in many shapes and sizes. They can range from simple outdoor taps, to huge communal baths and pools, to more modern devices consisting of a stool, tap and drainage channel for excess water. These are available in one-, two- and three-person configurations and can also be built to order to accommodate any number of users simultaneously.

Depending on the size of your college and on the proportion of Muslim students who attend, you could either install a single Wudu wash unit in each bathroom, or dedicate an entire room or rooms entirely to Wudu washing.

Attitudes towards Wudu

While most young people and educators welcome diversity with open arms, Wudu washing can unfortunately sometimes be met with resistance. Indeed, Muslims in the West may face discrimination from those who see Wudu washing as an inconvenience, or as something intimidating.

More often than not, this comes down to a lack of understanding. It’s a worthwhile exercise to undertake training with your staff and students to demystify Wudu and help them see it as a part of college life. Providing adequate facilities also displays awareness of and respect for the ritual that will help to promote acceptance across your educational establishment.

Paul Thorn is the Managing Director of

With a career spanning 25 years, Paul has worked alongside nurseries, schools and colleges to help them find their ideal washroom solutions.

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