Why is water so important for Islamic rituals?

For those who read the earlier entry about water recycling and are now wondering why water is so important for Islamic rituals, here is something from a book of Shāfiʿī fiqh that I am working on:

Purification is cleanliness. Allah Most High said, “He sent down upon you from the sky, rain by which to purify you,” [Q8:11]. This verse is evidence for the possibility of removing ritual impurity and filth. Additional evidence comes from the Prophetic narration that “[sea water] is purifying and its dead are lawful.” (The report was transmitted by Abū Dāwūd, 84; al-Tirmidhī, 69—who said it is ḥasan ṣaḥīḥ; al-Nasāʾī, 1:50, and in Al-Sunan al-Kubrā, 58; and Ibn Mājah, 386.)

Read more…