Prof. Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Alsoheem


Source: Cultural Values in the Message of Prophet Muhammad

Published On: 13/10/2012 A.D. – 27/11/1433 H.




Cleanliness means purification. In Islam it includes all aspects of life, cleanliness of body, heart, speech, actions, food, drink, clothes and streets and suburbs; it is physical and moral purification. The most important of which is getting our hearts clean from polytheism. Allah says: “O you (Muhammad) enveloped in garments, arise and warn! And magnify your Lord (Allah)! And purify your garments. And keep away from ar-rujz (the idols)!” (Surah Al-Muddathir: 1-5).

These were among the first verses that were revealed to the Prophet (Peace be upon him), in which he (Peace be upon him) is ordered by Allah (Glory be to him) to purify his garments from filth and his heart from polytheism and not to approach whatever can lead to idolatry.

Ibn Jarir said: “Purifying your garments is of many interpretations among the religious scholars. Some see that you have to wear garments while you are totally purified from sins and every act of treachery. On the authority of A`krma, a man came to Ibn Abbass asking about the interpretation of the verse ‘purify your garments.’ He replied: ‘It means not to wear them except when you are completely purified from sins and any act of treachery.’ Then he mentioned a poetic verse supporting his opinion”.

Another interpretation is that your clothes have to be bought by legally earned money.

Others say it means all your actions have to be done well and perfectly[1]. As we can see, all the different interpretations imply the purification of the outer and the inner being.

Ibn Hajr said ‘purify your garments’ means from dirtiness; and it is said that ‘garments’ in Arabic is an implicit indication of the soul and its purification, while ar-rujz means idols[2].

Al-Mubarkpuri said: “Magnify your lord, shun the idols, and unlike the polytheists that pay no attention to dirtiness, purify your garments from all kinds of dirtiness[3].

It is not enough to purify only from polytheism, but one has to -become purified from all sins and their effects. The five daily prayers and ablutions are established for this purpose.

Abu Hurairah reported that Allah’s Prophet (may peace be upon him) said: “When a bondsman – a Muslim or a believer – washes his face (in the course of ablution), every sin he performed with his eyes will be washed away from his face along with water, or with the last drop of water; when he washes his hands, every sin they wrought will be effaced from his hands with the water, or with the last drop of water; and when he washes his feet, every sin towards which his feet have walked will be washed away with the water or with the last drop of water, with the result that he comes out pure from all sins”[4] .

Cleaning the private parts should also be done before establishing prayer. Allah praises those who love to be perfectly purified saying: “There is a mosque whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety; it is more worthy of the standing forth (for prayer) therein. In it are men who love to be purified, and Allah loves those who make themselves pure.” (Surat At-Taubah: 108)  Ibn Jarir said that it means they like to purify themselves after using the toilet[5].

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) warned against not keeping safe from being defiled by urine.

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), reported that Allah’s Prophet (may peace be upon him) happened to pass by two graves and said: “They (their occupants) are being tormented, but they are not tormented for a grievous sin. One of them carried tales and the other did not keep himself safe from being defiled by urine”[6].

It’s preferable also to take a bath and use perfume before the weekly Friday prayer. Salman Al-Farsi narrated: “Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, ‘Anyone who takes a bath on Friday and cleans himself as much as he can, and puts oil (on his hair) or perfumes himself, and then proceeds for the prayer and does not force his way between two persons (assembled in the mosque for the Friday prayer), and prays as much as is written for him, and remains quiet when the imam delivers the sermon, all his sins in between the present and the last Friday will be forgiven.’” So whoever tries to come closer to Allah with this great act of worship, Allah will purify him from sins from one Friday to another Friday, with addition of three days, as long as he did not commit major sins.

The Prophet also said: “Whoever performs ablution, and does it well, then comes to offer the Friday prayer, his sins (which he committed) will be pardoned between that Friday prayer till the next Friday and three days more”[7].

There is also fasting of Ramadan, which was prescribed as an annual purification. Abu Hurairah narrated: “Allah’s Prophet said, ‘Whoever establishes the prayers on the night of Qadr (Divine decree) out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards (not to show off) then all his past sins will be forgiven’”[8].

Umrah and pilgrimage were also legislated to be performed once in life, so as to render one completely purified and if he performs them properly, he would return from them as he was on the day his mother gave birth to him (i.e. free of sins). On the authority of Abu Hurairah, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “Umrah is expiation for the sins committed between it and the previous umrah; and the reward of hajj mabrur (i.e., the accepted pilgrimage) is nothing but Jannah[9].

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “Whoever performs hajj and does not commit any obscenity nor commit any evil, will return as sinless as a new-born child”[10].

In addition to these acts of worship that purify sins and errors, there is another kind of worship related to the outer cleanliness for one`s body.

Ablution is prescribed before every prayer, and taking a complete bath is prescribed for the worshipper in a state of major ritual impurity (sexual discharge, menstruation, childbirth) and before Friday prayer.

Abu Hurairahh narrated: “Allah’s Prophet said, ‘Five practices are characteristic of the fitrah: circumcision, shaving the pubic region and armpits, clipping the nails and cutting the mustaches short’”[11].

Having reviewed what it is necessary to clean in Islam, Murad Hoffman, former German Ambassador to Morocco, commented: “I can say frankly that I happened repeatedly to get a bad smell from those sitting next to me at opera concerts in Paris or the Lincoln Centre in New York or the national theatre in Munich, but I never happened to get the same bad smell in Muslims’ Mosques.” Then he asked: “Could this mean that Muslims are cleaner?”

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) also ordered people to speak good words, perform good deeds and to dress cleanly. He (Peace be upon him) said: “Verily, your mouths are the pathways of the Qur’an (i.e. you recite with your mouth), therefore cleanse your mouth with the miswaak thoroughly.” Abu Asad Ibn Al-Gazry said: “It means that you have to avoid small talk, obscenity, lying, backbiting, gossip, eating haram and unclean food, and ordered to purify yourself from dirtiness[12].

Moreover, man should not even choose words which display pessimism to express his state when he is psychologically ill.

Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “None of you should say: ‘My soul has become evil,’ but he should say: ‘My soul has become remorseless’”[13].

Ibn Jamra said: “What is learnt from this prophetic saying is to stay away from speaking bad words and choose good ones instead. The word ‘remorseless’ here is more preferred instead of ‘evil’ because it has a wider meaning

People have to be always optimistic and ask for goodness and stay away from all that can bring  them to evil, even if only bad words”[14].

Islam encourages people with not only personal cleanliness but also general cleanliness. The Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:

“Verily, Allah is good and loves goodness, is clean and loves cleanliness, is generous and loves generosity, is hospitable and loves hospitality. So keep your rooms and courtyards clean, and do not be like the Jews”[15].

Al-Tyby said: “Based on this principle and guidance, clean whatever is easy for you to clean, even your courtyards. For your courtyard here is an implicit indication for generosity and hospitality, since your house will be more attractive to visitors[16].

Don’t you see what a complete system of cleanliness is in Islam? Cleanliness and purity of heart, body, soul, houses, clothes, districts, roads, furniture, daily and weekly cleanliness are all prescribed. Glorified is He who legislated for us this religion for betterment in our life and in the Hereafter.

[1] Tafseer Gam`a Albyan LLtbry 146-144 p-29.

[2] Fath Albari 28/1.

[3] Tuhfat Al-Ahwazy 172/9.

[4] Sahih Muslim 255/1,244.

[5] Jamie Al-Bayan 11/29.

[6] Sahih Al-Bukhari 88/1,215 Sahih Muslim 240/292, 1.

[7] Sahih Al-Bukhari 88/1,215 Sahih Muslim 240/292, 1.

[8] Sahih Al-Bukhari 672/2, 1802 Sahih Muslim 523/1, 760.

[9] Sahih Muslim 983/2, 1349 Sahih Al-Bukhari 629/2, 1683.

[10] Sahih Al-Bukhari 553/2, 1449.

[11] Sahih Al Bukhari 5550/ Sahih Muslim 221/1,257.

[12] Anhaya Fi Ghreeb Alathr 77-76/5.

[13] Sahih Al-Bukhari 2286/5,5826 Sahih Muslim 1765/4,2250.

[14] Fath Al-Bari.

[15] Sunan Al-Trmidhi Corrected by Al-Albany.

[16] Thft AL-Ahozy 67,68/8.



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