Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I can't say until now I've ever had the displeasure of praying beside someone who reeked of garlic. And now I know good and well why someone who has been eating raw garlic isn't supposed to go pray at the masjid! That's a hadith you can find easily in Sahihs Bukhari and Muslim. I did find one hadith where a Companion had gone to pray behind the Prophet (s) and smelled of garlic and the Prophet (s) told him, but upon discovering that the man had a "belt" tight around his chest, he said the man had an excuse.

I wasn't sure what the meaning of this "belt" was. It could be that the garlic was part of an ointment on an injury or something to that effect.

I only bring it up, because I happen to know someone who frequently eats raw garlic (apparently for the health benefits) and then goes to pray in the masjid. It bothered me this morning when I went to pray fajr... the sister beside me and I were praying peacefully... until she bumps into me and I realize that there is a third person in our row now and I move slightly so we can each have a share on the two rugs laid down, and then I smell it.

I kind of wonder, now, if not using garlic to treat a problem but just using it as a generic and regular dietary supplement (yes... eating whole cloves...) implies that the person is excused? Or if she (or in other cases he?) should be aware that this odor is not pleasant to the other worshipers during their salaat.

Should I mention this to her? That I could smell her though there was a person between us? Ask the imam about it? I know this sister know these ahadith about garlic, so it's just odd to me that she chooses to disregard them. I would like to suggest that she not try to pray in a row of sisters if she's been eating garlic but on the other hand, I'm not sure if there's a nice way to make that suggestion...

And you know, a few days ago I bought my first garlic press, hoping to start using fresh garlic (instead of dried minced garlic in a spice jar) in some dishes I want to try. I'm going to have to be wary of when I use garlic to cook and make sure it's cooked. I tried getting some for bread the other day and the kitchen smelled for about two days after.


Anonymous said...

Hey Amy,

At my masjid, when we encounter problems like this, we go to the Imam and mention it. Then, after the prayer, he addresses the problem to the congregation, anonymously of course.
For example, at Eid prayer, when he was saying his khutbah, he asked everyone to please make sure that everyone leave with THEIR shoes, because a brother who came to one of the earlier prayers(they had performed the Eid prayer 4 times, the congregation was too large to pray at once)ended up leaving withh an old worn out pair of shoes that wasn't his!Somebody had replaced his shoes with their old ones!
So, the problem was mentioned and the congregation got the point, without anyone being embarrased.


Amy said...

So you think I should tell the imam someone is coming to pray smelling like garlic and ask him to make an announcement?

Anonymous said...


Not exactly.
You could just mention to him that it was brought to your attention that someone in the sister's area smells very strongly of garlic. And, it distracts others during prayer. Then say that you thought that maybe he could make mention of this topic in his khutbah, not mentioning any names or mentioning that it is directed at anyone in this masjid, just as a reminder for everyone.
That way the message gets across to her and everyone else, but no one was singled out. So, you don't have to say anything directly to her, and the Imam doesn't have to say anything directly to or about her. It just becomes a reminder for everyone.
Also, when you think about it, any khutbah the Imam gives is going to affect some portion of the congregation. That is the point of it. To teach and remind us. So, when this is mentioned, it will remind her and everyone else.


MyHijab said...

if this sister is regularly eating garlic then the smell is secreted through her pores. If its regular as in every day, it no longer becomes an issue of bad breath for example.

I would talk to her. Dont scrunch up your face or harden your voice, just very kindly say that she strongly smells of garlic and it is distracting you from your prayer.

alternatively, pray further away from her if you can.

I think talking to the imam won't help because people who eat raw garlic do not smell it on themselves. a public announcement will not mean anything to her, she will think it is someone else.

Amy said...

Salaam sisters -

This sister knows about the smell of garlic not being good in the masjid. But why she does it anyway... I don't understand.

And I know she eats garlic regularly (especially when she has a cold or something) and it's not a breath issue, but rather her entire smell... I could smell her even though she wasn't even beside me. And this is fajr prayer... not a lot of sisters show up; it was just me, another sister, and the one who smelled of garlic... it's not like there is really somewhere else to pray.

I prayed at home this morning, but yesterday when I went she prayed beside me and I didn't notice any smell.

I myself am not so sure that a khutbah or announcement would be of much effect in this case, because I know she knows about these ahadith.