VICE just came out with an article on the lota or the bidet. The problem I have about the piece is that it focuses on being Muslim. The author explains that she is adamant about washing her bum because using toilet paper alone would be gross. I agree with her mostly, but I am not sure why she focuses on being Muslim. I think the people who are “vocally bewildered” by the butt-cleaning device are usually just American, not non-Muslims.
She is right that Islam teaches that the condition of the body affects the condition of the spirit and to clean before prayer is essential to doing it right, but Muslims use lotas because they are sold to them under that predisposition. They need to be clean to pray, but using a bidet or a lota before praying is a function of commercialism rather than Islam. Javaria Akbar, the author of the article, does hit on some pretty good points, however. For instance, pooping at work does seem to prove problematic for those lucky enough to be used to lotas. And also, like Akbar’s dad, I remember the days when the water pressure of my household bidet would take advantage of my butt.
But, the fact is that this article sort of plays to a weird and also false connection. A guide to anal hygiene would be much better written by a gay bottom rather than a Muslim. Muslims are not all the same. Also, Islam and butt hygiene are as connected as Christianity and beard shaving. The truth is that bidets/lotas are thought to have been invented by the French in the 17th century. Butt cleaning is common through the special toilet in many southern European countries. Italy is well known for them. So are Spain and Portugal and these devices can be found in Albania, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Malta and Greece. They can also be found in South America, especially in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Other than the Middle East, where they are also common, these devices can be found in Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand too.
The truth is that there are such things called the “shataf” which are basically there to comply with Islamic laws about cleanliness. Butt-cleaning, as a general concept, however, is not a Muslim thing. It is a hopefully everyone thing. Go ahead and read the VICE article anyways, it is pretty funny.