The Middle East and North of Africa (MENA) region is the most water scarce region of the world; it is home to 6.3 percent of the global population but it only has access to 1.4 percent of world's fresh water . The chronic water shortage combined with unprecedented population growth rate and the impacts of climate change is further plummeting the per capita water availability , which is already bellow the scarcity level. All these factors are now moving the policy makers to shift attention to alternative, rather than conventional, sources to satisfy the needs for water in the region.
In theory, the reuse of treated wastewater seems to be both a valid and attractive option for addressing water scarcity in MENA countries. Yet, in practice, this method has had little success within the MENA States. While many of the challenges associated with this issue are financial in nature, the role played by legislation constrains in curbing the possibility of implanting the reuse of wastewater cannot be ignored.
One of the main problematic issues in the area of legislation has been the question of how to harmonize the framework for the reuse of treated wastewater with Islamic Teachings and Traditions, which play a very important role in legal system of the majority of the States composing the MENA region . This issue is really significant since, with the exception of Israel, all the other MENA states are Muslim-majority nations, and in most, if not all of them, no laws contrary to Islamic rules and principles can be passed by the relevant authorities and institutions. Thus, whatever legislation is going to permit the reuse of wastewater in these States must first put in to the test of compatibility with Islamic jurisprudence, known as "Fiqh".
Due to the importance of water as an element used in Islamic Rituals, "Fiqh" has quite an extensive body of rather strict rules evolving water and its usage, which mostly deal with the question of pureness or in Islamic term "Taharat". According to these rules, while in general water is perceived as both a pure and a purifying ("TAHER" and "MOTAHHAR") element in its essence, exposure to uncleanness- called "NAJASAT" can strip it from such characteristic. A water which is impure or "Najis" loses its potability and it can no longer be used for domestic and ritual purposes such as washing clothes or performing "WUDU"- the Islamic procedure washing parts of body in preparation for prayers.
The idea of this paper is to look into the challenges posed by Fiqh into reuse of wastewater and to purpose ways to resolve these challenges. The authors would first look into the principles and rules provided for by Islamic Law on the use of water. By doing this they want to clearly define the restrictions put in place by Fiqh for wastewater reuse, as a result of changes made to the water's purity and purification ability because of previous usage. In order to do this, the authors analyse the characteristics of different types of wastewater in light of Islamic Teachings. Then the possibility of the reuse of each of these types of wastewater for five major uses would be studied. These uses unclude: first, the use of water for domestic purposes; second, the use of water for ritual matters; third, the use of water as a drink; fourth, the use of water in industries; and last, but not least, the use of water in agriculture.
It would then be argued by the authors that while in some areas, such as in ritual and domestic matters, the reuse of treated wastewater may not be permissible, its usage in other sectors such as industries and agriculture is both viable and compatible with Islamic Law. However, this essentially depends on the type of wastewater and the source it comes from.
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