The informant is a good friend of mine who attends California State University, Northridge where she is studying to become an occupational therapist. She is a second generation American citizen who was born and raised in Burbank, California. Her parents came to the United States from Egypt shortly before she was born. She is a Muslim and can read, write, and speak Arabic fluently.
Informant: In Muslim culture, well at least in my family they say that you must NEVER…EVER… sleep in a bathroom.
Me: And why is that?
Informant: My parents say because your soul leaves your body at night while you are sleeping.
Me: But what does that have to do with sleeping in a bathroom?
Informant: My dad said because the bathroom is considered the dirtiest room in a house there is belief that Jinn which is the Muslim version of the devil or a demon likes to hang out in there well…because it’s dirty.
Me: So what happens if someone were to fall asleep in a bathroom?
Informant: The Jinn will enter their body and they will become possessed because their soul has left your body since they were sleeping.
Me: Wow…that escalated quickly. So what’s the remedy for someone who becomes possessed?
Informant: Something similar to an exorcism.
Me: Damn. Are you a believer or is it just your parents?
Informant: No, I’m not, at least not anymore. When I was younger it used to scare the crap out of me but now it really doesn’t phase me. Plus I have a perfectly comfortable bed why the hell would I sleep in the bathroom (Laughs). But my dad swears it’s true. Ever since I got my cat he’s been extra paranoid because the bathroom can get really messy at times because of the litter box.
I find it crazy how a bathroom can be equated to basically hell, or a demon’s dwelling place simply because it is “dirty”. I asked my informant what happens if you clean the bathroom? She responded that she mentioned this to her dad, but he said it makes no difference because it will eventually be dirty again. This shows how symbolic and metaphorical the Muslim culture can be with dirtiness being parallel to evil. But after talking more with my informant this belief makes sense because Muslims take hygiene very seriously. Before prayer, they must be clean and as pure as possible. For many Muslims, taking a bath is symbolic for washing off impurities. Impurities that may involve sin therefore reinforcing the idea of the bathroom being dirty and a common place for the Jinn to thrive and like to hang out.