Islam: A Religion of Cleanliness

By Harun Yahya
Muslim Thinker — Turkey


Almighty Allah tells the believers to clean themselves, for such a condition suits their spiritual state and nature. Cleanliness, considered a form of worship by believers, is therefore a source of great relief and pleasure to them. In many verses of the Qur'an, Almighty Allah draws attention to the believers' spiritual and physical purity. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also stressed the importance of being clean. He is reported to have said, "Cleanliness is half of faith" (Muslim). Below are some of the various aspects of cleanliness:

Spiritual Purity

The Qur'anic understanding of cleanliness differs considerably from how it is understood in the society of ignorance. According to the Qur'an, being clean is a state experienced in one's soul. People having such cleanliness are entirely purified of their society's moral values, form of reasoning, and lifestyle that are in conflict with the Noble Qur'an. In this way, the Qur'an provides spiritual relief to the believers.

The first aspect of being clean manifests itself in the clarity of mind. No doubt, this is a very important quality. The spiritual purity people experience in their souls manifests in all aspects of their lives; thus, it makes such people's moral excellence obvious to everyone.

Spiritually, pure people distance their minds from all forms of evil. They never experience malice, jealousy, cruelty, or selfishness — all of which are evil feelings harbored and displayed by those who are far from the Qur'an's concept of morality. Believers possess noble spirits, as they yearn for moral excellence. This is why, in addition to their care of their physical appearance, believers also pay attention to the purity of their souls. They keep away from their souls all the evil coming from ignorance, and they encourage others to do likewise.

Physical Purity

In this world, the believers seek to establish an environment similar to that of Paradise. They seek to experience in this world anything that Almighty Allah promises to grant them in Paradise. As we understand from the Qur'an, physical cleanliness is one of the qualities possessed by the people of Paradise. The verse (Young male servants like hidden pearls) (At-Tur 52:24) is self-explanatory. In many other verses, Almighty Allah also informs us that there will be in Paradise (Spouses of perfect purity) (Al-Baqarah 2:25).

Another verse in which Almighty Allah draws attention to physical cleanliness is the one that refers to Prophet John (peace be upon him), which reads (We granted him wisdom while yet a child, and tenderness from Us and purity) (Maryam 19:13).

Clean Clothes

The Noble Qur'an also refers to the importance of wearing clean clothes. A relevant verse reads:

(Purify your garments. Shun uncleanness.) (Al-Muddaththir 74:4-5)

Furthermore, physical cleanliness is important because it shows one's respect for other people. Indeed, respecting other people requires taking care of one's physical appearance. Believers do not only abstain from filth, but they also display subtleties that emphasize their profound respect for others. One way to show such respect is to wear clean clothes. Almighty Allah commands us in the Qur'an, saying:

(O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of Prayer.) (Al-A`raf 7:31)

Thus, being physically clean and well groomed are qualities that please Almighty Allah. Such qualities, however, are unimportant to the people of ignorance. Allah's approval of such qualities is expressed in a hadith in which Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) reportedly said,

"He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise." Someone asked, "How about a person who likes to wear beautiful clothes and shoes?" The Messenger of Allah replied, "All of Allah's affairs are beautiful, and He likes beauty. Pride is disdain of the truth and contempt for the people." (Muslim)

We should be aware of the following point: People generally tend to be at their best when meeting people they consider important, trying to impress them. However, due to the Qur'an's morality, believers find such careful grooming essential because it fully accords with their desire to please the Almighty Lord.

Promised Paradise in the hereafter, believers also engage in a constant effort in this world to keep their bodies and surroundings clean, so that they may attain purity and beauty similar to those in Paradise while still in this world.

True believers seek to keep their surroundings clean and to turn them into places that remind them of Paradise.

Clean Environment

Muslims are meticulous when it comes to keeping their immediate surroundings clean. One example of this occurs in a verse of Surat Al-Hajj, in which Almighty Allah commands Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) to keep the Ka`bah clean for the believers who worship in its vicinity. The verse reads:

(And [remember] when We assigned to Ibrahim the place of the House, saying: Do not associate with Me aught, and purify My House for those who make the circuit and stand to pray and bow and prostrate themselves.) (Al-Hajj 22:26)

As the verse makes clear, such environmental cleanliness is maintained primarily for other believers who will perform their acts of worship to earn Allah's good pleasure. Thus, all believers who follow in the footsteps of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) should keep their dwellings clean and tidy, for doing so gladdens a believer's heart.

The Qur'anic concept of cleanliness differs markedly from the one held by the societies of ignorance. Almighty Allah commands believers to be clean and purified in both the physical and the spiritual sense. In other words, this is not cleanliness in the mere classical sense; rather, it is an elaborate effort.

The Qur'an's depictions of life in Paradise are also instructive in this regard. Paradise's environment is purified of all forms of the dirt that we see around us. It is a blissful and perfectly clean place where each detail exists in perfect harmony with every other detail. In light of these illustrations, believers seek to keep their surroundings clean and to turn them into places that remind them of Paradise. Such endeavor is solely a manifestation of their aspiration for Paradise.

Clean Food

Consuming clean food is a divine command to all believers. In the Qur'an, Almighty Allah says:

(Eat of the good things We have provided for you) (Al-Baqarah 2:57)

(O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and wholesome in the earth, and follow not the footsteps of the devil. Lo! he is an open enemy for you.) (Al-Baqarah 2:168)

In addition, relating the account of the People of the Cave, Almighty Allah points out that believers tend toward clean food. He says:

([At length] they [all] said, "Your Lord knows best how long you have tarried. Now send one of you with this silver [coin] of yours to the city, then let him see which of them has purest food, so let him bring you provision from it.) (Al-Kahf 18:19)

Exercising, Bathing, and Drinking Water

Another behavior mentioned in the Noble Qur'an is conveyed in the verses speaking about Prophet Job (peace be upon him). Almighty Allah says:

(And remember Our servant Job when he called upon his Lord: "The devil has afflicted me with distress and torment." [And it was said to him], "Strike the ground with your foot. This [spring] is a cool bath and a refreshing drink.") (Saad 38:41–42)

In response to his distress and suffering, Almighty Allah advised Prophet Job (peace be upon him) to strike the ground with his foot. This advice may well be a sign indicating the benefits of physical activity and exercise.

Exercise improves the blood flow and thereby increases the amount of oxygen reaching the cells. Eliminating toxic materials from the body removes exhaustion and provides a feeling of relief and refreshment. Regular exercise enables the body to enhance its resistance to microbes. It also helps keep the arteries clean and wide, which prevents clotting in the veins and thereby lowers the risk of coronary artery disease. Regular exercise also lowers the risk of diabetes by maintaining the blood sugar at a certain level and increasing the amount of "good" cholesterol in the liver.

Besides, stamping one's bare foot on the ground is a very effective way to discharge the static electricity that has accumulated in the body, for it grounds the body.

In addition, bathing is known to be the most effective method of discharging the body's static electricity. It also alleviates tension and distress, and it provides physical cleanness. Therefore, it is an effective treatment for stress and many physical and psychological disorders.

The above verse also draws our attention to the innumerable benefits of drinking water. Almost every bodily function is monitored and pegged to the efficient flow of water through our system. The functions of many bodily organs (i.e., the brain, sweat glands, stomach, intestines, kidneys, and skin) rely heavily upon an ample water supply. Making sure that the body has enough water not only makes it function more efficiently, but it might even help one avoid many health problems. An increased level of water consumption has been shown to help relieve migraine headaches, high blood cholesterol, rheumatoid arthritis pain, allergies, and high blood pressure. In addition to these benefits, it removes fatigue and sleepiness, since regular water intake helps discharge toxic materials from the body.

Complying with all of these recommendations, which are of vital importance for our physical and mental health, will surely deliver the best results.  

Taken from the author’s book Beauties for Life in the Qur’an.

Harun Yahya was born in Ankara in 1956. He studied fine arts at Istanbul's Mimar Sinan University and philosophy at Istanbul University. Since the 1980s, he has published many books on political, faith-related, and scientific issues.

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