Islam places great emphasis on cleanliness, in both its physical and spiritual aspects. On the physical side, Islam requires the Muslim to clean his body, his clothes, his house, and the whole community, and he is rewarded by God for doing so. Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said, for example:
“Removing any harm from the road is charity (that will be rewarded by Allah).” [Bukhari]
While people generally consider cleanliness a desirable attribute, Islam insists on it , making it an indispensable fundamental of the faith. A Muslim is required to be pure morally and spiritually as well as physically. Through the Qur’an and Sunnah Islam requires the sincere believer to sanitize and purify his entire way of life.
In the Qur’an Allah commends those who are accustomed to cleanliness:
“Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean.” [2: 22]
In Islam the Arabic term for purity is Taharah. Books of Islamic jurisprudence often contain an entire chapter with Taharah as a heading.
Allah orders the believer to be tidy in appearance:
“Keep your clothes clean.” [74:4]
The Qur’an insists that the believer maintain a constant state of purity:
“Believers! When you prepare for prayer wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; rub your heads (with water) and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. If you are ritually impure bathe your whole body.” [5: 6]
Ritual impurity refers to that resulting from sexual release, menstruation and the first forty days after childbirth. Muslims also use water after eliminating body wastes.
Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) advised the Muslims to appear neat and tidy in private and in public. Once when returning home from battle he advised his army:
“You are soon going to meet your brothers, so tidy your saddles and clothes. Be distinguished in the eyes of the people.” [Abu Dawud]
On another occasion he said:
“Don’t ever come with your hair and beard disheveled like a devil.” [Al-Tirmidhi]
And on another:
“Had I not been afraid of overburdening my community, I would have ordered them to brush their teeth for every prayer.” [Bukhari]
Moral hygiene was not ignored, either, for the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) encouraged the Muslims to make a special prayer upon seeing themselves in the mirror:
“Allah, You have endowed me with a good form; likewise bless me with an immaculate character and forbid my face from touching the Hellfire.” [Ahmad]
And modesty in dress, for men as well as for women, assists one in maintaining purity of thought.
Being charitable is a way of purifying one’s wealth. A Muslim who does not give charity (Sadaqah) and pay the required annual Zakah, the 2.5% alms-tax, has in effect contaminated his wealth by hoarding that which rightfully belongs to others:
“Of their wealth take alms so that you may purify and sanctify them.” [9: 103]
All the laws and injunctions given by Allah and His Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) are pure; on the other hand, man-made laws suffer from the impurities of human bias and other imperfections. Thus any formal law can only be truly just when it is purified by divine guidance – as elucidated by the Qur’an and the Sunnah – or if it is divinely ordained to begin with – the Shari’ah.
There is nothing wrong with being self-critical. In fact, it is desirable to self-criticize.
Let us make sure that our house, street, neighborhood, surrounding… etc are clean and hygienic.