Fiqh Lesson by Amirah / Umm Ahmad (22th of January)

In the name of Allah
Assalamu aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

Matters of Physical and Moral Cleanness

Question 68: When is a person considered to be pure from the Islamic point of view?

Answer 68: Purity in Islam has two meanings: moral and physical. Moral purity is embodied in the belief in almighty God only and not believing in another deity besides Him. It also involves belief in God’s messengers/prophets, in His books, in the hereafter and the prerequisites of faith. What is also involved here is the cleanliness of the heart from grudge, from vanity, from hypocrisy, from pride and jealousy; and the acquisition of all virtues so that one may aspire above any immoral act or sinful custom.
As to the physical purity (hygiene and cleanliness), this can be of two kinds for man:
1. Purity or purification from major hadath (for men and women after a sexual intercourse; for women, after the menstruation period) by bathing. And purity from a minor hadath (after sleep and in case something comes out from the human body, whether material or immaterial) by ablution. All of that has a great deal of details, but they have no place here to discuss.
2. Cleanliness from impurities: one should keep away from all forms of impurities in terms of body, and clothes, and should remove any likely traces of such things as blood, urine, excrescence, wine, etc. If man’s heart is clear from polytheism, and endowed with moral virtues; and if man abstains from bad manners and cleans his body from impurities and dirt, he/she will be completely pure in the view of Islam.

Question 69: What is the relationship between the purity of the soul and that of the body?

Answer 69: Islam insists on purity (which of course include cleanliness and hygiene), as it accounts for half of the religion. Almighty God said: “Truly, God loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves (by taking a bath and cleaning and washing thoroughly their private parts, bodies, for their prayers)” (Holy Qur’an 1: 222). Prophet Muhammad: “Cleanliness constitutes half man’s faith.”
[1] He also said: “God is gracious and loves graciousness, He is Pure and loves purity and.”[2]
Purity, as such is values and beauty. But cleanliness of the soul and the heart from moral abominations is more important than the cleanliness of the body from material dirt and impurities. Islam insists on purity in general and the purity of the soul and the heart in particular. Anyone whose heart is pure and clean, his/her appearance is bound to be so, and vice-versa. This is the basis and the principle upon which the Islamic values are based. If this principle is missing in people’s lives, they will never know cleanliness, neither spiritually nor physically. The manifestations of physical cleanliness, which non-Muslims seem to enjoy, are not more than a deceptive appearance from afar. If one approaches any of them, he/she would mostly likely sense a disgusting smell coming out of them. This is not to mention purity of their soul and heart, which has no place in those who do not really believe in God. The least contemplation of the situation of the non-Islamic societies would give us so much evidence and proof.

Question 70: When a person embraces Islam, is it obligatory upon him/her to have a bath or shower?

Answer 70: Bathing or taking a shower for those who embrace Islam is a divine requirement. It is required and strongly recommended both physically and morally. What a beautiful beginning for one who embraces this religion, after saying the testimony, with the intention of starting a new period in his life based on physical and moral cleanliness. Also, it could be possible that the one who has embraced Islam has had a sexual intercourse with his wife. This, as such, confirms bathing and it becomes obligatory, as it is seen by the majority of scholars. The purpose of this bathing is the emphasis of the cleanliness.

Question 71: When a person embraces Islam, will ablution suffice for a bath, or is a bath obligatory?

Answer 71: Ablution does not exempt one who has embraced Islam from having a bath.

Question 72: If a person wants to embrace Islam and does not find water, what can he do?

Answer 72: Absence of water does not prevent one from embracing Islam. He embraces Islam and says the testimony: “There is no deity by God, and Muhammad is His Messenger”, then he/she can bathe when water becomes available.

Question 73: Is removing hair for one wanting to embrace Islam obligatory? And is that a part of purity and/or cleanliness?

Answer 73: The Question about hair here is a vague one, for it does not specify which hair should be removed. However, if it refers to the hair of the head, it is not required to be removed, as it is not considered part of cleanliness to remove it. However, prophet Muhammad (pbuh) related: “Any man who has long hair, should honor it”, i.e. keep it clean and tidy. As to the moustaches and the beard, Islam shows their rule in the saying of the prophet: “Trim the moustaches and leave the beards.” So Muslims are required by this hadith to cut the hair of the moustache so that the edge of the upper lip could be seen; and to leave without shaving it, because it is an emblem of Islam and a sign of manhood.
As to the hair of the armpit and pubic hair (round the private parts) it is recommended to be removed whenever it gets long, but it should not be left for more than forty days. This as well as other things, like trimming the fingernails, is the natural signs according to which God created people.

Question 74: Can a convert wear garments he/she used to put on before his/her conversion while these clothes still have some of his/her sweat on the same clothes?

Answer 74: Sweat is not considered to be an impurity. If these clothes were known to have some impurity on them, like urine, it would suffice to wash them before wearing them again.

Question 75: Is not it self-contradictory in Islam when it urges its followers to be clean and to use water before prayer for cleanliness, and then requires them to use earth when water is not available?

Answer 75: There is no contradiction whatsoever between Islam’s legislative system and any of its rules. As mentioned above, Purity and/or cleanliness is a fundamental requirement in Islam. Using clean earth (or sand) in Islam does not contradict hygiene. The whole process can be summarized as follows: a Muslim can tap the earth with one’s hands without carrying anything, then rubbing the face with his hands. It is a symbolic meaning of the moral cleanliness, which should precede prayer when water is not available to be used in ablution, or when one is unable to use water for some reason, like illness. Observing almighty God’s commands and obeying Him in every matter is the deeper aim of washing one’s face with earth, though it is not regarded as a real cleaning material as much as a symbol of worship and compliance with God’s commands in the establishment of prayer and getting ready for it.

Question 76: In matters related to bathing, why do Muslims waste large amounts of water for bathing, while it might be possible to wash the private parts only, like an apple falling from a bag, it is enough to wash it in isolation of the other apples in the bag.

Answer 76: This sound to be a naive Question and far removed from truth. It is not rational to compare the refined human being (with all his/her qualities, feelings, emotions, texture, cells, nerves, etc.) to a bag of apples! I do not think that it is feasible to compare the sexual intercourse, in which the whole human being interacts and from which the extraction of man’s blood and genes comes, to an apple falling from a bag. This operation may cause a psychological change and form a new creature that has both its development and intricate living world. Islam requires bathing, because it is a rule of the all-knowing God, blessed by the Lord, the Best of Creators.

Question 77: What is Islam’s position regarding women’s circumcision? Isn’t it a savage act and a loss of dignity and abuse of their sexual rights?

Answer 77: Circumcision of women is legal if not desirable in Islam, depending on the state of the woman and her environment. In some countries with hot climate, woman circumcision might become a necessity for a perfect conjugal life with her husband. What harm or bestiality happens to the woman if she is circumcised? There is no difference between the circumcision of a male and that of a female. It is an extra piece of flesh in the body of a little child, which can carefully be removed and for the sake of purity, beauty; which verify the aspects of manhood in the circumcised little boy and the qualities of womanhood in the little girl. We see no wrong with it, and there is no loss whatsoever in dignity.

Question 78: Are Muslims allowed to eat from the food and/or slaughtered animals of the People of the Scripture (Christians and Jews)?

Answer 78: Muslims can at any time eat from the food and/or the slaughtered animals of the people of the book. Almighty God says: “The food (slaughtered cattle, eatable animals) of the People of the Scripture is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them” (Holy Qur’an: 5:5). This testifies the ease of Islam and its tolerance in dealing with non-Muslims, so that they come closer to Muslim and cohabit with them peacefully. This is the beginning of the way to understand Islam closely through action and behavior, not through speech and pretension only.
[1] Cited in Muslim, hadith No. 328.[2] Cited in Al-Tirmidhi, hadith No. 2723.


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