06/08/2006, 00.00
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Quick, "approved" ablutions with first Islamic washing machine

A fatwa has approved the use of "Auto Wudu Washers", the first-ever machines that will allow Muslims to wash their face, forearms and feet, as required before prayer, in three minutes flat.

Cairo (AsiaNews) – "Auto Wudu Washer" (AWWs) is the name given to the first-ever automatic machine that will allow Muslims to carry out necessary ablutions before prayers in three minutes flat. Invented by a non-Muslim, an Australian of Malaysian origin, Anthony Gomez, the machine has been "approved" by a fatwa of the Australian Islamic council and has also received the approval of a renowned Egyptian cleric, sheikh Abdul-Khaliq Hasan Ash-Shareef.

Breaking the news about the invention, IslamOnline.net quoted Gomez as saying that 600 orders for his invention had already been placed from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.

The machine (see photo) has a washing unit for ears, mouth and face, one for forearm and elbow washing and another for feet and ankles, according to Islamic norms on prayer. Completely computerized, AWWs will save water and time, and, said their inventor, "they work without having to touch any taps as they are operated by infrared sensors". In three minutes, ablutions are done. No price has been fixed yet for the machine, but it will be "affordable", continued the inventor, who is already planning a model for families.

Gomez said the idea of such a machine came to him as he was on a ferry trip between Taba in Egypt and Aqaba in Jordan. "The toilet was dirty and very crowded," he said, "and many pilgrims were performing their ablutions putting their legs in the wash basin and then standing on the dirty floor, which is not hygienic at all."

Asked for his views on the invention of Gomez, the scholar Abdul-Khaliq Hasan Ash-Shareef said he saw nothing wrong in such a machine as long as the basic pillars and requirements of ablution were strictly observed in a right and precise way. "There is a spiritual aspect of ablution that should be observed by a person using such modern means," he said. "Muslims should not forget they are actually performing a worship act and not a routine act of washing bodily parts."

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