(Part 2) Public restroom etiquettes: Meet the elephant in the room!

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6) Extra-hygiene means extra-danger

In your effort to be super hygienic, don’t wash your hands so many times or do ablution so obsessively that you flood the whole place. Use the water reasonably.

Another extreme is flushing the toilet with foot instead of a hand. People, with hands PLEASE! Acrobatics required to use your foot to flush raise your risk of injury from slipping and falling – if you’re standing on one leg to flush the toilet. A flamingo can do it well, you can’t. It may end you up in way more mess than you thought you can get into, from touching the handle.

Some people go to extra length by not sitting on the seat and hovering closely above it. Now, if you were in the one ply cubicle, the floor art is understandable, because they move with a tiny gush of wind even. So, please, don’t hover above the seat, making it difficult for you to find balance.

You are in a world of communicable diseases, I accept! But a research says that 18% of your phones are more germ-ish than the toilet seat (unless you put the phone ON the toilet seat). So might as well save yourself the extra agony and perch your rear end on the seat. Don’t be a human spaceship.

If you are going all Indian toilet style up on the European toilet, then at least clean after yourself. Your shoe/slipper prints will be all over the seat. Roll the tissue around your hand and just clean it. I’m sure your mother taught you that as well, before you had an accident, in which you lost your memory on cleaning manners. By ‘you’ I mean people, not YOU, of course. You wouldn’t do that, would you!?!

7) Patience is virtue, lying is not

You may usually find a long line in front of washrooms, in places where there are little to no WCs available. Usually, the queue would literally be hanging by the bathroom doors (if handles are available that is, otherwise – hanging by the holes). You may just want to stand in line calmly, because the person in front of you deems every move from you as a line-breaking threat, and they have thought of every clever way to stop you. It may include physical violence as well. What impatience does to human beings sometimes!

There are times, when calm is a word in dreams only. You will enter a stampede and the next thing you know, you’re in a washroom.

And even though it sounds like a better option than waiting in line, and you may want to be the one to start that stampede through witty pretense – but it’s not! It usually involves pushing, shouting, hitting, lying, knocking each other down, etc. (perhaps hair pulling as well). Bad deeds don’t add up to success. Even if you manage to push all other contestants in line, it won’t feel like a victory. So avoid being in that group.

Don’t claim ownership of the bathroom. Or tell people that you’re waiting for your family member in there (thinking we all are after all brothers and sisters since Adam and Eve were our greatest fore-parents). Your turn will come, Insha’Allah, don’t worry.

Save yourself from unnecessary lies. (And who doesn’t know, lying is bad anyway.) Don’t render your Hajj/Umrah or any religious act that you are going to perform afterwards or performed before, useless.

8) Your kids are YOUR responsibility

Help the little ones before you help yourself. Their level of control is zero, as compared to yours. But first commode in the first row is always the bad choice, because that’s where the most uncontrolled splatters are. Which of course makes sense – they couldn’t make it any further. So walk a little (or perhaps run like a wind), holding your gag reflexes on standby, as you poke through all the stalls anticipating post-culinary exploration disaster. But there will be a cleaner one; I can guarantee (almost 90%). Don’t lose hope. Just un-witness the ones witnessed in line.

When you’re making sure that your kids are not eating their own boogers, also make sure that you are not the one sticking it on the walls. If you find such things, don’t feel ashamed to clean it off with the help of tissues, etc. I have personally witnessed women picking up someone else’s baby’s diapers and throwing them into the trash bags and cleaning up the area, just to provide better environment for the newcomers. It’s not an easy task. May Allah (swt) reward them immensely. Ameen

So, please! Those with diaper-clad babies – when you change the diaper of your baby, please, throw it into the dumpster. Babies’ faces are cute but their feces are not. Don’t just roll it in the air and let fate decide its destiny. Thus, when you clean after yourself, please, do that for the baby as well. Man or woman – whoever is taking it for the team.

9) Don’t abuse the toiletries

Sometimes the flush is not working, because of too much toilet paper clogged inside (or too much dinner). You may see the dustbin beside the pot, empty! And you wonder why do people throw everything around, while there is space for everything given? People who lead adult-lives, by the adulthood they should know how to use a chair with a hole in it. It is something that they have been taught to use and have been using since fifteen years or so. Definitely we are the disease!

If the faucet sensor doesn’t work once, no need to constantly hit the poor thing, because it may fire back, by automatically turning itself on, when you will least expect it. Be gentle with the public property. You don’t want to go outside explaining people that it’s not what they think it is.

Forego the hand dryer altogether, because it probably won’t work anyway. Because you may stand there with your hands outstretched (crowding the place) waiting for some magic to happen – but it won’t. If the restroom looks well-maintained, then probably it will work, but usually it doesn’t; and all you do is make the crowd turn into a mob.

Save people some space and wipe your wet hands with tissue instead, if you wish.

Under dire circumstances, don’t jiggle someone else’s door handle angrily. Either you will lock them inside permanently or break the handle. Both ways, your future isn’t bright.

Don’t take your overloaded purse/bag inside the toilet. Sometimes the hooks aren’t very strong. Sometimes there are no hooks at all. Either way, draping it around your neck may be the last resort. Hand it over to someone close outside the restroom. Don’t bring them in, just so they could wait outside your stall, holding your bag. It will crowd the area unnecessarily.

(If you think this all as a mere exaggerated joke, I would just say you’ve been extremely lucky. But these guidelines will help you in the future, whenever you get out of the warm folds of your home sweet home.)

10) Stay God-conscious

Jokes apart, this is something serious, because one of the grave punishments includes someone not being conscious about cleanliness.

We can’t single-handedly eradicate the lack of hygiene issues in public restrooms, but we can dilute its strength. We will not be fighting. We will go on patiently and will always work upon this issue, until it doesn’t need to be worked on anymore. This is just a small step towards some basic awareness – but a small step is better than nothing, better than an intangible ideal.


Please, make purification your half faith! Our religion is so beautiful and complete. It teaches us how to live a life – from the smallest details to the biggest of issues, and bathroom etiquettes are the very basic of life.


Basically, a good policy is:


Try to leave the vicinity in the condition you would wish to find it. Treat it like you usually treat your own toilet at home, especially when the guests are coming. Be the best version of yourself that ever existed. Be the super-you. You got it in you somewhere, so just be that.


Be the change you want to see in the world. And if we, Muslims, are not going to practice the best of the manners taught by their religion, how are we ever going to preach? Actions speak louder than words. Even if nobody is watching you, Allah (swt) is. Angels are taking notes. You will be rewarded. Insha’Allah.


May Allah (swt) guide us all to the best behaviour that wouldn’t hurt us or people around us. Ameen.

Do I Really Love My Baby?

Vol 5 - Issue 2 The flip side of MotherhoodThe love I developed for my baby during the nine months of pregnancy quickly vanished over the long duration of sleepless nights that followed his birth.

I didn’t notice it at first, but it was becoming obvious that this is too much to handle. I was overwhelmed, scared, paranoid and crying over every little thing.

I’ve always looked at babies as innocent, harmless creatures just hanging around, crying when hungry, sleepy or wet. The truth about babies dawned on me, after I took up the mommy duty. The truth about babies became scarier, when I couldn’t differentiate between my son’s hunger and colic cues.

Helpless, anxious and frustrated, I was afraid I’m hurting my baby. I couldn’t figure out why he’s crying. I couldn’t understand, why the women were bombarding me with questions and observations such as “He’s still hungry. Didn’t you feed him?” “You don’t know how to nurse him.” “If you don’t have enough milk, give him a bottle, he’s not taking the bottle, is he gassy, or is he sleepy?” “His diaper is full, when did you change him last?” I’m asking myself these same questions, I don’t know myself. So please just stop.

I was restless inside. I couldn’t sleep due to the fear that he might wake up soon and disturb my slumber anyway. I wanted to scream. I did many times. I pulled my hair, smacked my head and cried a lot. “I just want to sleep! Please, I just want to sleep!” I fought with my husband. I fought about everything existent and non-existent.

I told them I might be suffering from post-partum blues. Nobody believed me. It sounded too dramatic and “western”. I knew my hormonal fussiness reduced after twelve days. But I was still hormonal and crazy, just not as much as the first two weeks after delivery.

In this chaos, I had begun to un-love my son. Yes, I changed him, rocked him to sleep, nursed him and walked with him – did everything else I had to do. But, unfortunately, I couldn’t love him… I tried to find the emotion within myself, I really did.

It was like being in a perfect relationship for nine months and then going through a rough breakup. I wanted to patch things up, but I couldn’t forgive him for the sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion. Don’t even ask me, what went through my head regarding my husband and everyone else at home.

In this chaos, I had begun to un-love my son. Yes, I changed him, rocked him to sleep, nursed him and walked with him – did everything else I had to do. But, unfortunately, I couldn’t love him…

I seriously considered packing my bags and leaving with my son. I don’t need anyone! I can do this on my own, without people accusing me of having insufficient milk and lacking diaper changing skills.

But I stayed. I’m glad I did now. It’s been seven months and those sleepless nights seem so far away. But I shudder every time I think of it. He still wakes up during the night, but its okay, because he falls asleep quickly. These nights are better than the ones at the start. I get his cues now. I know what he likes and dislikes. I know what to do most of the time.

Sometimes I catch him looking at me, simply staring at my face. And then he smiles. It’s like he’s checking, if I’m still there and then telling me how much he loves me, too.

I enjoy preparing his food, even on days when I’m totally not in the mood. But I push myself to do it, because I want him to eat healthy, homemade baby food. I don’t want to give in to the packed foods. I know it’s easy, and I’m sure it’s not harmful. But I still can’t get around to introducing foods to my child that were cooked and packed months ago.

He’s the first one; you always do it for the first child, people tell me. Oh really? Are you telling me that you love your first kid more than the others? Okay fine, love is debatable, but the concern regarding their health and diet would always be crucial, wouldn’t it? At least for me it is and would stay the same. My mom had four kids; she fed us all homemade food. She didn’t cook up special pureed meals just for me, because I’m the first child, and then relaxed with my three pesky brothers, who came along later. So, please, don’t tell me about the first kid thing, because it’s not true.

I’m hygiene crazy; I wash his toys, rinse his bowl and spoon with boiled water before putting in food. I clip his nails, oil his hair and moisturize his skin after baths and before bed. We have a routine now, and most of the time it works. I have time to shower now, use the loo and even brush my hair! I also have time for naps, workout and meals.

This too shall pass is what I kept reading online during my mental frenzy. And, Alhamdulillah, I’m so grateful to Allah (swt) that I’ve made it this far. I know there’s more to the package. Teething is around the corner. Then there’s the constant fear that my son will put something harmful in his mouth, nose or ear. He might fall and bump his head, if he tries sitting up, when I’m not looking. I fear my niece might trip on him, sneeze, cough or maybe sit on him like she’s almost done thrice already. I’m afraid she’ll want to share her snacks of sliced cheese with him or maybe her gummy bears or chips!

I’m always afraid. But then I calm myself down. In my heart, I say a little prayer. I ask Allah (swt) to look out for my son, when I’m not looking or when I’m unaware of things that can potentially harm him. I remind myself that I can’t prevent accidents that are meant to be. Like the time he rolled with his walker outside the kitchen door and down onto the garage floor. The incident unravelled within seconds. There were three people around, yet nobody noticed he was speeding out the door. I was there too. This was last week. The scene is fresh in my mind, and it will always be.

I’m always afraid. But then I calm myself down. In my heart, I say a little prayer. I ask Allah (swt) to look out for my son

So am I finally in love with Abdullah? Is this constant concern evidence of my love for him? Or is it just a fear? Is it both? I think it’s both. You are always afraid for the one you love to be harmed. It was easy to love him, when he was inside the safe, protected home in my womb. But now there are all these external things to worry about.

Like, will he be a loser at school? Will the other kids like him? Will he study well? Am I feeding him well, am I not feeding him enough? Will he love me, will he disrespect me?Will he pray, will he willingly read and love the Quran? Will he hold his dad’s hand and walk to the Masjid for Salah? And then I say a little prayer inside. A prayer my Dad taught me, when I first told him I’m expecting. A prayer he prayed for all his children before and after their births. Ya Allah (swt) make my child healthy, wise and beautiful. (Sehatmand, Hakeem aur Khoobsurat in Urdu)

May Allah (swt) guide my son, my husband, me and the rest of the family onto the Straight Path. May Allah (swt) guide you and your families, too. May Allah (swt) bless us all. Ameen

Till next time, happy parenting!

Handling Hygiene with Kids

Jul 10 - Handling Hygiene with kids

“My mother never hires a maid with small children,” says a friend of mine, “She thinks they are dirty; constantly smelling of their infants’ and toddlers’ waste on their clothes, as their hygiene is poor.”

I recall an incident I witnessed back in my own childhood. We were at a private swimming pool, when a few mothers caused a furor. A boy aged 3-4 relieved himself outside the pool. The boy’s mother, without any mortification, calmly walked him to the toilet as he continued to poop, marking their path with droppings. Everyone at the scene duly expressed what they thought of the mother’s ‘potty’ training skills. As for us, children, we were just grateful he decided to ‘go’ before getting into the pool.

It is not just uneducated women, who have low standards of hygiene with their children, is it? Even educated mothers need training about maintaining overall cleanliness after they have a baby – in their persona, home and environment. Getting dirty in cleaning up is a mandatory part of a mother’s life, especially during the first three years post-baby. There are no two ways about it – it is her job and she must know how to get it done effectively.

Doing away with hang-ups

Just like medical students must give up any queasiness in handling blood, human flesh, organs or cuts, new mothers, too, must give up innate abhorrence to human waste and body excretions.

In order to bring up a healthy and happy child, a mother must accept the fact that from now on anything that comes out of her baby’s body has to be cleaned up by her: spit-up

milk, nose goop, vomit, earwax, saliva, excreta – you name it. When a mother happily accepts this as part of her ‘job’, she can move past it quickly and efficiently.

As Muslim women, we should ultimately believe in and hope for the great reward promised by Allah (swt) for doing this so-called ‘dirty’ work. We will be rewarded not just for efficiently rearing a clean baby, but also for upholding the high standards of Taharah (purity) and cleanliness required by Islam.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) stated: “Cleanliness is half of faith.” (Muslim)

Read relevant literature

Issues of Taharah need to be understood in-depth by reading Islamic literature on its do’s and don’ts. Websites, such as askimam.org and islam-qa.com, answer everyday questions about hygiene issues regarding children, e.g., what to do if a child urinates on its mother’s clothing? Does washing a baby’s excreta invalidate Wudhu?

Sheikh Uthaymeen replied to this question as follows: “With regard to changing a baby’s diaper, if you mean the act of changing in itself, this does not affect the validity of one’s Wudhu. If you mean that it involves touching something that is Najis (impure, i.e., the baby’s urine and stools), this does not affect your Wudhu either, because there is no connection between touching something Najis and the validity of one’s Wudhu. There is scholarly consensus on this point. All one has to do is wash one’s hands to get rid of any Najis material.

“If you mean that it involves touching the child’s private parts: whether the child is a boy or a girl; in the case of a child under the age of two years, the rulings on Awrah (that which is to be covered) do not apply, as the scholars have stated. So if you touch them, this does not affect your Wudhu. And Allah (swt) knows best.” (Islam-QA.com)

Make use of modern cleaning resources

Gone are the days of cloth diapering and hand-washed clothes! Now, new mothers can avail resources that maintain hygiene and purity, from waterproof cot mattresses and sheets, to wet wipes and ‘breathable plastic’ diapers, hand sanitizers and baby bath gels, to fully automatic washing machines. Also, cleaning materials, such as absorbent sponges, flannels and scented floor wipes, help a lot during potty training a couple of years after the birth, in which ‘potty accidents’ regularly need to be cleaned up!

Here are a few tips, regarding how a mother can clean up leakages efficiently:

Wet bed

During the first few months, when a first-time mother is learning the ropes herself, she might be too exhausted to change the baby’s diaper before falling asleep, having to face a wet baby, bed sheet and mattress in the morning.

  1. Change the baby’s clothes first. Put on a clean diaper and dry clothes; feed him/her, then proceed to the next step.
  2. Take the sheet to the tap. Wash just the wet area of the bed sheet with running water. Do NOT immerse the entire sheet in a pail. The urine on the wet portion should be drained away completely, using a minimum amount of running water.
  3. Once the wet spot has been washed, purity is restored. Wring it dry. You can wash it further with soap/detergent, if you wish. You do not need to wash the entire bed sheet.
  4. As a precaution, place a large rubber mat covering the entire mattress to prevent it from getting soiled in case of leakages. You can place the bedsheet over this rubber mat.

Soiled mattress or carpet

Remove any solids (feces or vomit) with dry tissue first; then, discard the tissue in the toilet. An absorbent, damp cloth should then be used to clean the soiled patch on the mattress/carpet thus:

  1. Wash the cloth with water under a tap, wring, and rub the patch; repeat this, until the stain is considerably gone, and the soiled area on the carpet/mattress has lost its smell.
  2. Mix enough detergent in some water and repeat the process: wet the cloth in the soap-water, rub the patch, rinse the cloth, wring; wet, rub, repeat. Eventually, the patch of carpet/mattress will be thoroughly clean and pure.
  3. Once it has dried, prayer can be performed on it, Insha’Allah. Using an absorbent cloth to rub the area repeatedly ensures that the excreta are completely removed.

On the go:

Some items are essential for mothers of babies and toddlers on the go: wet baby wipes, changing (waterproof) mat, some extra diapers, small plastic bags (for waste disposal), a plastic bottle filled with tap water, tissues (or a tissue roll) and hand sanitizers.

Make your children wash their hands before and after eating; make them use the toilet in such a way that after they are done, an onlooker cannot tell that it has been used. Tell the boys never to urinate while standing and always wash themselves after answering the call of nature. If they are old enough, they can have small aerosols of air fresheners in their toilets to use.

As mothers of the next generation, we have to leave no stone unturned in inculcating high standards of cleanliness and purity in our little ones from day one, whether, we are in our private spaces or in public.

“Allah is clean, and loves cleanliness.” (Ibn Majah)