No one can deny how important cleanliness is whether it’s personal, dietary, environmental or even spiritual (concerning beliefs, thoughts and feelings), but “Muslim cleanliness” is truly squeaky-clean as it incorporates both physical and spiritual aspects with very strict and clear commandments and recommendations.
- When does a Muslim become impure?
The Messenger of Allah (May blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) also said:
God is pure and loves purity,” [Ibn Majah].
Which means that cleanliness and purity are of the highest of virtues as it is a sign and a part of faith.
Here we will only discuss the physical aspect of purity. So, In order to understand the Islamic point of view on the subject of cleanliness, we should know that a Muslim can be:
- Junub: This is a state of uncleanliness after having sexual intercourse, orgasmic discharge (e.g. semen), completion of the menstrual cycle and post-partum bleeding ending. This can be cleaned by Ghusl (full ablution).
- Taher but not in Wudu: That is a Muslim not in any of the previous conditions but did not perform ablution after being necessary after urinating or defecating, one breaks wind, one falls asleep lying down, one loses consciousness, one directly touches the genitals or if one becomes excited, leading to a subsequent discharge. This can be cleaned by Wudu (partial ablution).
- Complete Taharah: That is the cleanest one can be; ready to perform any act of worship that one must be in a state of complete purity for.
- What does it mean “clean” in Islam?
Complete “Taharah” (the Arabic word for true cleanliness, both spiritual and physical) in Islam is a very wide term. In fact, it is discussed in whole chapters in the books of Islamic Jurisprudence and Creed.
It details all aspects of kinds of water permissible to use, purifying body, clothes, home, neighborhood and also environmental cleanliness. Not only this but also the spiritual aspect of Tahara; that means being free from sin and idolatry that means true “believing in the Oneness of God and behaving righteously”. This complete view of purity is evident in this verse; Allah says:
Truly, God loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.” [Quran.com/2/222].
“Taharah” is important (physical cleanliness) which is a crucial condition for valid and accepted multiple Islamic acts of worship.
- How important is Taharah?
Both Quran and Sunnah emphasized over and over on how crucial cleanliness is to a Muslim’s religion, health and life in general. In Quran we read:
Cleanse your garments and keep away from all pollution,” [Quran.com/74/4].
“Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean.” [Quran.com/2/ 22].
And in Hadiths: “Cleanliness is half of faith.” [Sahih Muslim].
Also He (PBUH) said: “Don’t ever come with your hair and beard disheveled like a devil.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
- What are the degrees (ways) of cleanliness in Islam?
There are three ways of cleaning one’s self in Islam not neglecting the point that a Muslim is never impure:
- “Ghusl” Ritual purification: (full ablution) full body washing and ablution is a part of it. Ghusl is mandatory after having sexual intercourse, orgasmic discharge (e.g. semen), completion of the menstrual cycle and post-partum bleeding ending.
- “Wudu” Ablution: (partial ablution) rinsing the mouth, cleaning and douching the nose, washing the face, the arms, rubbing the head, cleaning the ears and then by washing the feet-sequence taught by the Prophet (PBUH) with pure water, is an important part of ritual purity in Islam to be able to perform certain obligatory acts of worship especially Islamic five times daily Salah (prayer).
- “Tayammum” Dry ablution: This is ablution using purified sand or dust, which may be performed in place of ritual washing (Wudu or Ghusl) if no clean water is readily available or if one is suffering from a condition where water may induce harm to the Muslim.
- What about personal hygiene?
Islamic personal hygiene is exemplary. It is all recommended by the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) the last messenger of Allah:
There are five acts which conform to the pure nature: Circumcision, removing of the pubic hair, clipping the nails, plucking the underarm hair and trimming the moustache.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Those were followed by all of the Prophets of God, and enjoined on the believers by the laws that they brought from their Lord. This is not all so, let’s make it easier and to the point. Along with the previous five it is recommended to:
- Washing of hands before and after eating and after waking up from sleep.
- Oral hygiene through cleaning the teeth with the use of any effective mean or a form of toothbrush plant called “Miswak” as frequent as possible after meals and preferably for every Salah.
- Cleaning nostrils is a part of ablution, the importance of which is only recently scientifically recognized.
- Performing ablution is obligatory for Salah.
- Washing with water after relieving one’s self in bathroom (Islamic toilet etiquette).
- Bathing (full ablution) is recommended as often as possible but at least once a week before Friday’s congregational prayer.
- Cutting the nails weekly preferably before Friday’s congregational prayer and not after more than forty days.
- Removing of armpit (plucking) and pubic hair (shaving) is recommended every four weeks with a maximum of forty days.
- Taking care of head hair; cleanliness and tidiness wise.
- Shortening of mustache and growing the beard out is a Prophetic recommendation.
- Clothes cleanliness:
A Muslim’s appearance is considered a part of faith and submission, and a front as well as a call for Islam. Subsequently a good deal of care was given to tidiness, cleanliness and odor of Muslim garments in both Quran and Sunnah:
In Quran Allah says: “And your clothing purify” [Quran.com/74/4].
Abdullah bin Mas’ud narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), observed:
“He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise. A person (amongst his hearers) said: Verily a person loves that his dress should be fine, and his shoes should be fine. He (Prophet) remarked: “Verily, Allah is Graceful and He loves Grace. Pride is (means here) disdaining the truth (out of self-conceit) and contempt for the people.” [Sahih Muslim].
The Prophet (PBUH) said:
Washing and the use of tooth-stick (for brushing) are necessary for every adult (person) on Friday; and everyone should apply perfume whatever one has.” [Sunan Abi Dawud].
- Environmental Islamic awareness:
Allah has made Man as a successor on earth: “And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” [Quran.com/2/30)]. So, it is only logical to act as responsible as possible.
Let’s make it easier and to the point here as well:
- Muslims are commanded to do no harm or mischief to every living and nonliving creation of Allah and to repair every blighted thing they can.
- Removing harm of the way of the people is a recommended and rewardable act in Islam.
- All kinds of Littering is prohibited by the Messenger (PBUH) whether it is rubbish, garbage, bad words and foul language or even noise making and loudness.
- Spitting or nose blowing on the street is prohibited by the Messenger (PBUH).
- It is strongly forbidden to relieving oneself (urinate or defecate) close to, in or by flowing water that people use for drinking or washing.
- No plant should be cut or destroyed in vain and, no animal should be harmed or killed except for a valid purpose.
- Every animal or plant in one’s care should be cared for diligently.
- Beauty is a goal in every viewed object so; Muslims are obliged to introduce beauty in every aspect of life even with a smile up on meeting each other.
“Taharah” basically means to be free from filth both physically and spiritually. Allah Almighty said:
Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.” [Quran.com/2/222].
So, undoubtedly it is of supreme value to be clean inside out. Every human being must lead a life marked by its purity in order to earn the approval of his Creator. Muslim purity and piety is indeed exemplary.