2. Cleanliness

June 22, 2013 in The Final Divine Religion ISLAM

Islam encourages physical and moral cleanliness and teaches us how to achieve them. In the Noble Quran it is said:

 “…Allah loves those who keep themselves pure and clean” (Baqara (The Cow), 2:222). Also, the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said:

 “Allah is clean and loves cleanliness.” (Tirmizi, Adab, 41/2799).

It can be observed that HE Prophet paid attention to all types of cleanliness throughout his life. For instance, when he was going to a mosque, going out in public, or visiting a friend, he used to pay attention to dressing neatly, wear a nice scent, and not eat foul-smelling foods that may bother others such as onion or garlic. Abu Kursafah (Allah be pleased with him) who witnessed this narrated:

“My mother, my aunt and I went to Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) to pledge allegiance to him. When we left him, my mother and aunt told me:

 “My child, we have not seen anyone like this person! We do not know anyone whose face is more beautiful, whose clothes are cleaner, and whose words are softer. It was as if light was coming out of his mouth.” (Haythami, VIII, 279-280)

Islam has brought a system that is established upon the principles of cleanliness, pureness, and courtesy. Our Master the Prophet said, “Cleanliness is half the faith.”[1] Almost all of our books of hadith and Islamic jurisprudence begin with the topic of cleanliness. As a basic principle in our religion, some acts of worship are not considered permissible and acceptable without first cleaning the body and the location. On this subject, the rules of going to bathroom have been emphasized. It is commanded that no impurity should spill onto a Muslim’s clothes and they should get cleaned properly. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) wanted his followers to be sensitive to this issue when he said, “Most of the torture in the grave is due to not minding cleanliness from urine.”[2]

Islam commands to wash at least five times the body parts such as hands, mouth, face, head, ears, neck, and feet that get the most exposure to dirt and germs. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said: “The key to paradise is the ritual prayer, and the key to ritual prayer is cleanliness.”[3]

Thus, Islam identifies the cleaning that everyone should perform as worship, provided that, while people perform acts of cleaning, they also get the feeling of worship.

Another issue the Messenger of Allah emphasized is oral hygiene. For this reason, he advised that one must use miswaq (toothstick) at miscellaneous times and especially before making ablution (wudu).[4] He also advised Muslims to increase the blessings of food by washing their hands before and after meals.[5]

Per the requirements of our nature, getting circumcised, shaving pubes, cleaning armpits, grooming the beard and shortening the moustache are some of the rules of good manners and cleanliness that the Messenger of Allah inculcated.[6]

Just as the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) paid attention to cleanliness in clothing, he paid attention to its tidiness and neatness to the same degree. Once when he was in a praying room, a man who looked disheveled came in. HE the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) indicated to him with his hand to tidy up his hair and beard.[7]

The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) did not like his clothes to smell distasteful. He once took off a garment which smelled of wool upon sweating. Our mother HE Aisha, who narrated this, also informed us that our master the Prophet liked sweet fragrances.[8]

The Prophet’s honorable Companions were the kind of people who stand on their own feet. They would work until it was time for the Friday Prayer (Salat al-Jumuah), and come to the prayer leaving their work when it was time. Their bodies’ odor may have reflected this, hence our Master the Prophet said to them: “Why don’t you take a bath on Fridays!” (Bukhari, Jumuah 16, Buyu 15; Muslim, Jumuah 6)

Muslims write the honorable hadith of “Cleanliness is half the faith”[9] in the form of calligraphic masterpieces and hang those frames on the walls of their houses and mosques. They exert themselves on this issue. The famous architect “Mimar” Sinan built public soup-kitchens, waterbeds, drinking fountains, and public baths in every corner of the Ottoman Empire for the welfare, comfort, cleanliness, and convenience of the believers. In Muslim societies, in order for cleaning to be perfect, public baths were built everywhere including villages.

The houses of Muslim are extremely clean. They never enter into a house with their shoes on. Every corner is so clean as to allow to perform the ritual prayer. There is no such as thing as “keeping a pet” at home. They do not let even birds into their houses. M. de Thevenot says the following about the cleanliness and courtesy in Muslim societies:

“Turks live healthy and rarely get sick. None of the kidney problems and many other dangerous illnesses that are seen in our countries are seen here, they do not even know the names of these illnesses. I guess the reason for their perfect health is taking baths so often and being moderate in eating and drinking. They eat very little. What they eat is not composed of lots of different things like what Christians eat.”[10]

The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) strictly prohibited littering the streets that people pass by, places where people cool off, underneath trees, along the walls, and everywhere people sit to rest and relax. One day, he noticed sputum in a prayer room on the wall facing the direction of Mecca. He personally cleaned it. In his blessed face, his anger at the polluter’s act was apparent.[11] Our master the Prophet said in another honorable hadith:

“The good and bad acts of my followers were shown to me. Among the good acts, I saw removal of harmful things out of the way. Among the bad acts, I saw spitting in a prayer room and not cleaning it.”[12]

This hadith specified spitting in a mosque. As much as prayer rooms are places to worship Allah, they are also places where people get together. Believers who are careful about the cleanliness of these holy places will also show maximum care in the cleanliness of the places people commonly use as well as paths, roads, and streets that they pass by. Making these places free of harmful things and keeping them clean is one of the commands of Islam. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) emphasized this issue a lot. When HE Omar (Allah be pleased with him) appointed Abu Musa al-Ashari governor of Basra, he listed keeping streets clean among his duties.[13]

According to a narration, a Zoroastrian owed a debt to HE Imam Azam Abu Hanifa. Abu Hanifa went to the Zoroastrian’s house to collect it. When he came to the door, he noticed that his shoes were dirty. When he shook his shoes, the dirt got on the wall of the Zoroastrian. Confused and not knowing what to do, Abu Hanifa said to himself:

 “If I leave the wall like this, I will cause the wall of the Zoroastrian to look bad, but if I try to clean it, the covering paint of the wall will peel off!”

Then he knocked on the door and said to the servant:

“Please let your master know that Abu Hanifa is waiting at the door. Upon this, the man appeared at the door and thinking that Abu Hanifa will ask for the debt, he started to apologize. But His Highness Abu Hanifa said:

“It is not important at this point” and asked how he could clean the wall after explaining what had happened. The Zoroastrian, affected by this fine and high-minded act, said:

 “Let me first start by purifying my soul!” and became a Muslim at that moment.[14]



[1].     Muslim, Taharah 1.

 

[2].     Ibn-i Majah, Taharah, 26.

 

[3].     Ahmad, III, 340.

 

[4].     Bukhari, Jumuah, 8; Temenni, 9; Savm, 27; Muslim, Taharah, 42.

 

[5].     See Tirmizi, Et‘ime, 39/1846.

 

[6].     Bukhari, Libas, 63-64.

 

[7].     Muvatta’, Shaar, 7; Beyhakî, Shuab, V, 225.

 

[8].     Abu Dawud, Libas, 19/4074.

 

[9].     Muslim, Taharah, 1.

 

[10].   M. De Thevenot, Relation d’un Vogaye Fait au Levant, Paris, 1665, p. 58.

 

[11].   Muslim, Mesajid, 52; Beyhakî, es-Sunenu’l-kubrâ, I, 255.

 

[12].   Muslim, Mesajid, 58. At that time there were no rugs, carpets, and the like in the mosques and the floor was sand. For this reason there were some who spit on the ground.

 

[13].   Darimi, Muqaddime, 46.

 

[14].   Fahruddin er-Râzî, Mefâtihu’l-Gayb (et-Tefsîru’l-Kebîr), Beirut 1990, I, 192.