I was bouncing my little niece on my knee when I heard it. A rapid series of pops which surprised the both of us. I turned her around to face me, and through the twinkle in her eye, I realized that though I didn’t smell it, she had certainly dealt it. What followed was a feeling of warmth, not due to the release of methane upon my knee, but as a result of a new height our relationship had reached As she stared back at me with those big googly eyes, she my koala bear and I her tree, I pondered at the emotions bubbling up in my insides.
“She loves me, she really loves me”.
The mere mention of flatulence is often met with some mixture of disgust, crinkled noses, and contempt for those that put the theory into practice. It’s understandable why that is, and perhaps in many cases it is a deserved reaction. However, what cannot be lost in this negative bias held by most, is that this very same action is in fact a statement, nay, a DECLARATION, of love.
Before we declare love, we need to understand the language of love, which in this realm leads us to Arabic. Along with Urdu and Pharsi, it is a language in which the spoken word can hold immense meaning, feel so good to roll off the tongue, and inspire the hairs of the listener to stand alert. Single words can encapsulate tomes of understanding, and we find this holds true even in the realm of gaseous releases. Besides “flatulence”, we can also muster the word “fart”, in terming the exit of methane from within us. Yet the question still remains as to what kind of release we are talking about: Loud and obnoxious, or silent but deadly? Besides that, the word “fart” sounds so crude, it doesn’t do justice to an act which is done out of love for another. In order to rectify this issue so that previously held notions don’t interrupt our discussion, we need to introduce a couple of Arabic terms.
The first term is dharta. The “Dh” is pronounced like the “th” in “the”, but you need to take the tip of your tongue deeper inside the roof of your mouth, as opposed to out towards the teeth as you would to pronounce “the”. It should be a deep gutteral sound that emanates from your voice. Similarly the “ta” in dharta is like the “ta” in “tap”, but you need to once again take your tongue in, so that a thick, gutteral “ta” comes out. Now say it all together: dharta. It’s a deep, bassy sound as you work through the “dhar” into the “ta”, which the ending “ta” resulting in thick popping sound. It’s follows pretty clearly, then, that we will use dharta to represent loud and airy instances of flatulence.
The second term is faswah. It sounds like it looks, which the last “h” being almost silent. You don’t really pronounce the “h”, as much as you need to extend a soft breath. In the same way, the flatulence that escapes not with pronouncement, but as an extended, silent, breath, is known as faswah. Yes, faswah is often defined as the infamous “silent, but deadly”. We need one last term defined, so that we can move forward with a sound foundation. That word is simply nadheef; it sounds like you’d expect, with the “dh” the same as in dharta, and it means simply “clean”. With this toolset, our inquiry into the smelly is ready to begin.
The earliest of loves that a person experiences in their life is the love between parent and child. Our parents raise us from birth to be the best of people. It is a high mark they set for themselves, and life throws in twists and turns that may ultimately cause them to fall short, but when you aim for the best and miss, you may just end up with good or better. Indeed, we owe our very existence to them. In many facets of life, the relationship of parent-child transforms into teacher-student. Whether it be the first steps we take, learning to add one plus six, or kicking that first soccer ball, we learn so many basics from our parents In this same vein, who do we learn the etiquette of publicly-passed gas but from them. It was in the post-dinner family gatherings that you’d hear explosions of gastro-intestinal strife, followed immediately by a look of relief. You didn’t hear your mother complain, and you didn’t even see a slight red of embarrassment in your father’s cheeks. Then that day came when you both sat in the shade of a blistering afternoon, and though you heard nothing, the hair on your nostrils seemed to be on fire. That was the day you learned the power of the faswah, and your father explained that the strength of faswah is such that it really should not be shared, and that he did apologize for the accidental sneak. He explained that etiquette calls for only outbursts of intestinal motion, and only those that are nadheef. The mark of stench within one’s intestines is a sign of failing your body’s needs, and so it must be that we take pride only in the nadheef dharta, and that faswah is only a road to fasad (see: chaos).
Every Muslim has a spot deep in their heart for their love of the city of Makkah. Whether one spends their time performing the pilgrimage of Umrah, praying in congregation, or just sitting there and watching the Ka’bah in the quiet hum of the night, it’s a place where one is literally at peace. There is the feeling of an especially direct connection to Allah (May He be praised), experienced on an especially individual basis. This shared connection, then, acts as a source of love and mercy that each person feels for their brothers and sisters in Islam.
Once upon a time in Makkah, a young man found himself having an oily breakfast after the morning prayer. In it was a sweet dessert on the same plate as chickpeas that were cooked in an abundance of oil, all consumed with a flatbread bathed in said oil. As he overindulged along with his travelmates, the check came, and the bill was finally settled. As they walked back into the Grand Mosque, the younger man felt a certain bubbling within. He excused himself from the group, and walked out of the mosque. Once he found himself in the first bit of empty space, he couldn’t control the stupid look on his face as he released. He didn’t fear embarrassment because he knew what was coming would be silent. Years of training had honed this skill. He knew what his stomach needed, and so he let it be. This, of course, wasn’t a faswa, but a rare breed of dharta; a release that had the bombastic proportion of a dharta, but none of the roar.
Of course, once he let it out, he could not walk back into the Mosque without purifying himself through wudu, or ablution The caretakers of the Mosque have constructed a multilevel underground area for the masses of people who very naturally would need to perform wudu, and it is to there our young man headed. The inside of this area for wudu is completely tiled with some mix of marble and porcelain, with a series of taps all along each wall. In front of each tap is a marble stool to rest on as one purifies themselves. So the young man sat himself down, and set his glasses on a ledge by the tap. As he did so, the bubbles of trouble once again rumbled in his insides. The young man looked to his immediate left and right, and found the stools unoccupied. He could barely see a thing without his glasses, but he knew that the closest person to him was at least a couple of stools away. In addition, he knew that what was coming was going to be silent, yet nadheef and of dharta-tic proportions. He took a deep breath, and nonchalantly tilted his body to the left, hoping for a sneaky release. What he didn’t expect is what came next. He did have a release of dharta-tic yet nadheef proportions, but the laws of Physics decided to come into play, and it certainly was not silent. The noise not being enough, the echo of the tiled hall lent itself to amplify the bombast. A fit of horrific embarrassment hit the young man, and he froze. He slowly creaked his neck to his left, and found no one close by. Somehow he turned his head to the right, and there he saw the blurry figure of an old man with white hair and a white beard looking back at him. The old man did not laugh at him, nor did he feel the need to mock. All he did was smile back, almost saying, “I know. I’ve been there. It was nadheef, and so you will not find a frown upon me. We do what we have to do, my young brother.”. Just like that, the smiling old man turned back to his tap, and our young man couldn’t help but chuckle at himself. When he found himself among his travel mates once again, he shared what had just transpired, and they all chuckled as well. Not at him, but with him.
Yet another love is that between a man and woman. When a man and woman get married, their lives are immediately transformed. There is someone seemingly always there, even in the spaces you had to yourself. When you wake up, when you sleep, when you want to be alone, there is another who wants to share all of that with you. However, what may at first seem like an annoyance to put up with, soon butterflies into those single moments of joy and intimacy which add up to a life of love. Among the earliest of these moments that one must deal with is the issue of when to finally break wind in front of a spouse. It’s especially hard on the young and married of today, as society is moving farther and farther away from appreciating the aphrodisiacal qualities of methane. However, it is doubtless that when one pops not the question, but the bubble, that the relationship has reached a point where the two are truly comfortable with each other. It can even be a source of humor for the two, as someone once related to me, “My wife was tired after a long day, so as she was slicing some mozarella for the lasagna, I decided to let one rip. At first there was shock, but then I told her I just wanted to help her with cutting the cheese.” I advise one and all to embrace their gastrointestinal releases as a means to marital bliss. There is no need to tell your wife you want to wait outside the store as she shops inside. There’s no reason to slow down as you walk together. And there’s absolutely no reason to run to the bathroom in your own home. Think of how good it would feel the day you call your husband at work and tell him, “Honeybunny, you exhaled so loudly last night, it woke me up.” Or what if he called to say the same to you.
As long as one fulfills their responsibility of keeping it nadheef, then they should feel free to share the air with those who care.