Despite its dry landscape, Qatar has one of the world’s highest domestic water consumption rates.
Muslims in Qatar say more efforts can be made to be mindful of how much water is used at mosques nationwide as worshippers prepare for prayers.
As per Islamic guidance, Muslims must cleanse themselves using water, in a process called ablution, before stepping onto the prayer mat for their five daily prayers. However, calls have now been made to ensure an end to over usage of water at prayer facilities across the country, where scenes of running taps are a regular occurrence.
Saiful Pranto, a resident of Qatar’s Education City Male Housing, said methods can be enforced to avoid such incidents and conserve water consumption at local mosques.
“We can set, or such, install efficient water fixtures which will measure water savings by its implementation. As well, we can promote awareness about water conservation through different environmental signage and uses of natural resources, and encouraging responsible water uses,” Pranto told Doha News.
Pranto, who is an an active member of the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies (QFIS) Masjid Circle, a group dedicated to the coordination of prayer, said he tries to be conscious of his own consumption during ablution (wudhu).
“I am mindful about my water consumption. I am always vigilant about any leaks or drips to prevent water wastage, as I aim to always contribute to a more sustainable and responsible approach towards vital water resources,” Pranto added.
Despite its dry landscape, Qatar has one of the world’s highest domestic water consumption rates. According to the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Qatar’s water security remains one of the world’s most challenging issues in the country.
At an estimated 450 litres per person per day, Qatar’s domestic water consumption doubled between 2010 to 2020 amid a rise in the country’s permanent population.
For Abdiqani Ibrahim, a university student in Qatar, he believes the water problem is heightened especially by citizens not having to pay water bills, which he suggests enforces a lack of care for over consumption.
“Since living here, I’ve found that Qatar’s masjids aren’t advocates for water conservation, even during practices of wudhu,” Ibrahim told Doha News.
Somali-born Ibrahim said this is not the case in other countries around the world, particularly his homeland, where local mosques and congregations are dedicated to avoid wasting water at home and at ablution spaces inside places of worship.
“It’s a lot different from home. We would have lectures on water efficiency since it’s a finite resource not only in Somalia but worldwide,” Ibrahim expressed.
Despite this, the 23-year-old student believes that conversations by local imams are bound to happen sooner than later, especially with sustainability becoming a key area of focus for authorities in Qatar.
“Protecting the environment and helping sustainable development are and have been at the forefront of Qatar’s priorities. So I’m sure that there will be a discussion fixated on ansy inch of initiatives that aid in implementing such resolutions,” Ibrahim added.
In 2021, initiatives were raised on the issue of water used for ablution during the biweekly regular session of the Central Municipal Council (CMC) by Qatar officials. Qatar at the time was facing an air, land and sea blockade that forced authorities to ensure the country was self-sufficient in resources.
At the time, Hamad bin Lahdan al-Mohannadi suggested water can be reused to irrigate plants and trees around places of worship.
A vital ruling in Islam
Water occupies a key role in Islam and is recognised by followers as a blessing that is referenced precisely 63 times throughout the holy Quran.
For imams in Qatar, the principle of water conversation is both encouraged and promoted by the religion itself.
“I’m always encouraging people, specifically Muslims, not to waste anything or spend more than what you need. The prophet would preach don’t waste the water in your in wudhu, mentioning don’t do that even if you’re making wudhu from a river,” Sheikh Mohammed added.
The imam suggested remembrance is a crucial key in conserving water since it’s a gift from God. He said Muslims can become more conscious if they set their intentions and continuously remind themselves that it is an order from God.
“I’m doing it for Allah, it’s something I have been told to do. I’m supposed to do it the way Allah liked, the way he wanted it,”” the imam suggested.
Additionally, the imam believes the duty to save water comes in two parts, as it is the responsibility of the government and the community.
Imam Mohammed, who chose a different name for anonymous reasons, told Doha News that some government initiatives have came into fruition over the years but failed to work.
“They tried to put something on the water tubes to reduce the water level. But it failed to work because it became a nuisance as the water would stop between sessions,” the imam said.
Some facilities in Qatar still have auto-shut-off water isolation valves, however, these are usually limited to the country’s most prominent and extravagant mosques.
Located inside Qatar Foundation’s Education City, the EC mosque is seen to be one of Qatar’s most contemporary and among the most popular places of worship in the country.
Worshippers using ablution facilities inside the facility are able to conserve their water usage thanks to automatic taps, which only run for seconds before switching off again. Like Education City, the country’s state mosque, Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Mosque, carries automated ablution taps for approximately 30,000 of its visitors.
However, local Sheikh Hazem Ragab said even if mosques installed automatic taps, individuals could still take advantage by placing their hand under the sensor to force the water to flow.
“The advice I give is to run the water on as low as possible, whether they’re using automated or manual taps. Running water is waste. We’re talking about reducing the waste as much as possible,” Ragab told Doha News.
While such initiatives help save thousands of litres of water per year, smaller mosques located in more local neighbourhoods have yet to adopt the technology. Mosques like Bin Rabia Al-Malki and Green Mosque, both of which are frequented by hundreds of worshippers per week, have yet to upgrade their taps.
As with other local places of worship, both of the Doha-based mosques instead offer awareness stickers calling on Muslims to conserve their water usage. While such initiatives are a step in the right direction, it’s clear that upgraded technology would have more lasting impact for the environment.
Despite the different approaches, the question remains whether initiatives by the local government will be put together to hold mosques responsible for the water used.
“It’s the responsibility of everyone, on a level of an individual, everyone needs to be careful, mindful of these instructions by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the practice by the prophet,” Ragab voiced.
“At the level of the country or the Masjids, awareness needs to be made through lectures, guides, and whatever means they can use to propagate these issues,” the Sheikh added.
“I have hardly heard anyone address this issue, whether in a lecture or a khutba, for as long as I remember. So this responsibility is at the level of the community, the government, and the ministries.”