I know we’ve all found ourselves caught short from time to time at the the beach or some other place out of reach of a public convenience, and been anxious about what is the correct protocol to follow. Fortunately the authoritative manual of Islamic Jurisprudence the Reliance of The Traveller provides a handy guide. Remember, Allah cares about this.
e9.0 Going to Lavatory
e9.1 It is recommended when one intends to use the lavatory:
(1) to put something on one’s feet, unless there is an excuse (O:such as not having shoes);
(2) to cover the head (O:even if only with a handkerchief or other);
(3) to set aside anything on which there is the mention of Allah Most High. His messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), or any revered name (O:like those of prophets or angels). If one enters with a ring (O:on which something worthy of respect is written), one closes one’s hand around it;
(4) to ready stones (N: or other suitable material (def:e9.5) ) (O:if one uses them) to clean oneself of filth (N:though water alone is sufficient);
(5) to say before entering:
“In the name of Allah. O Allah, I take refuge in You from demons, male and female,”
and after leaving,
“[O Lord,] Your forgiveness: Praise be to Allah who rid me of the hurt and gave me health”;
(6) to enter with the left foot first and depart with the right foot first (and this, together with (3) and (5) above, are not only for indoors, but recommended outdoors as well);
(7) not to raise one’s garment until one squats down to the ground (O: to keep one’s nakedness covered as much as possible) and to lower it before one stands up;
(8) to put most of one’s weight on the left foot while squatting;
(9) not to spend a long time;
(10) not to speak;
(11) when finished urinating, for men to squeeze the penis with the left hand from base to head (O: recommended because this is where the urethra is, and for women to squeeze their front between thumb and forefinger) (N: so urine does not exit later and nullify one’s ablution) pulling lightly three times (O: this being recommended when one thinks the urine has stopped, though if one thinks it has not, this is obligatory);
(12) not to urinate while standing (O: which is offensive) unless there is an excuse (N: such as when standing is less likely to spatter urine on one’s clothes than sitting, or when sitting is a hardship);
(13) not to clean oneself with water in the same place one relieved oneself, if it might spatter, though if in a lavatory one need not move to a different place;
(14) to distance oneself from others if outdoors and to screen oneself;
(15) not to urinate into holes, on hard places, where there is wind, in waterways, where people gather to talk, on paths, under fruit trees, near graves, in still water, or in less than 216 liters of running water;
(16) and not to relieve oneself with one’s front or rear facing the sun, moon, or the Sacred Precinct in Jerusalem.
e9.2 It is unlawful to urinate on anything edible, bones, anything deserving respect, a grave or in a mosque, even if into a receptacle.
e9.3 It is unlawful to urinate or defecate with one’s front or rear towards the direction of prayer when outdoors and there is no barrier to screen one, though this is permissible when one is indoors within a meter and a half of a barrier at least 32 cm. high, or in a hole that deep. When one is not this close to such a barrier it is not permissible except in a lavatory, where, if the walls are farther from one than the maximal distance or are shorter than the minimal height, relieving oneself with front or rear towards the direction of prayer is permissible, though offensive.
eE9.4 It is obligatory to clean oneself of every impure substance coming from one’s front or rear, though not from gas, dry worms or stones, or excrement without moisture.
e9.5 Stones suffice to clean oneself, though it is best to follow this by washing with water. Anything can take the place of stones that is a solid, pure, removes the filth, is not something that deserves respect or is worthy of veneration, nor something that is edible (O: these being five conditions for the validity of using stones (N: or something else) to clean oneself of filth without having to follow it by washing with water).
But it is obligatory to wash oneself with water if:
(1) one has washed away the filth with a liquid other than water, or with something impure;
(2) one has become soiled with filth from a separate source;
(3) one’s waste has moved from where it exited (n: reaching another part of one’s person) or has dried;
(4) or if feces spread beyond the inner buttocks (N: meaning that which is enfolded when standing), or urine moved beyond the head of the penis, though if they do not pass beyond them, stones suffice.
It is obligatory (N: when cleaning oneself with a dry substance alone) to both remove the filth, and to wipe three times, even when once is enough to clean it, doing this either with three pieces (lit. “stones”) or three sides of one piece. If three times does not remove it, it is obligatory to (N: repeat it enough to) clean it away (O: as that is the point of cleaning oneself. Nawawi says in al-Majmu’ that cleaning oneself (N: with a dry substance) means to remove the filth so that nothing remains but a trace that could not be removed unless one were to use water) (N: and when this has been done, any remaining effects of filth that could have only been removed with water are excusable). An odd number of strokes is recommended. One should wipe from front to back on the right side with the first piece, similarly wipe the left with the second, and wipe both sides and the anus with the third. Each stroke must begin at a point on the skin that is free of impurity.
It is offensive to use the right hand to clean oneself of filth.
e9.6 It is best to clean oneself of filth before ablution, though if one waits until after it to clean, the ablution is nevertheless valid(N: provided that while cleaning, the inside surface of the hand (def: e7.4 does not touch the front or rear private parts).
If one waits until after one’s dry ablution (tayammum, def:e12) to clean away filth, the dry ablution is not valid (A: because lack of filth is a condition for it).