Purification and Prayer.

Purification (tahara) is the required preparation for prayer and other acts of worship.  There are four levels of purification:

  1. The physical purification by the removal of all unclean traces from body and clothing.
  2. The purification of the body parts from all sin and transgression.
  3. The purification of the heart from all bad character, lowly and blameworthy character traits and any ill-will, hatred, envy, etc. disliked by Allah Most High.
  4. Filling the heart with remembrance of Allah to the exclusion of all else

Completing the purification in this way is the ultimate objective.  If one has true vision and consciousness in the deen, they will rise to this level in purification.  One whose vision is blinded or short does not understand anything but the first level.  Thus, you will see him wasting most of his precious time in exaggerated efforts at washing in the toilet and cleansing of garments thinking, because of waswasa and limited knowledge that the required purification is only this.  At the same time, he is ignorant of the ways of the early (best) generations who utilized their time in purification of the heart and were relatively easygoing regarding the physical aspect of it.  It is reported the Umar ibn Al-Khattab made wudhu from a vessel belonging to a Christian woman.  They barely cleansed their hands from fats, prayed on bare gound, walked barefoot and would cleanse themselves after defecation with only stones.

Affairs have reached the state that now foolishness is called purification.  People spend all of their energy in the beautification of the exterior, even if their interior is a wasteland filled with the filth if arrogance, conceipt, ignorance, ostentation and hypocrisy.  Then, if they see one who cleans himself in the toilet with only stones, walks barefoot, prays directly on the earth or makes ablution from an old woman’s vessal, they would criticize these actions in the harshest of terms, call such a person “dirty” and wish not to sit down and share food with him.

Just look how they have taken humility in dress and appearance – which is of faith – and made it “dirty”.  They have called frivolity “cleanliness”.  They have made munkar into maroof and maroof into munkar.  Nonetheless, one who does these things intending only cleanliness and purification – as long as he did not use excessive water or think that using much water has a foundation in Islam – such a act is NOT munkar.  Rather, it is among the good deeds.  One should refer to the books of fiqh for the details of the requirements and the types of impurities.  What is intended here is the etiquettes and understanding.

As for the removal of the unclean, it is of two types:

FIRST:  Contaminants which can be cleansed away.

Among these is the dirt which accumulates on the head and hair.  It should be removed with washing, combing and using oils and the like to remove tangles, as in the following narration from Al-Muwatta of Malik:

From Yahya ibn Said that Abu Qatada Al-Ansaariy said to Allah’s Messenger (sas):  I have a lot of hair, so should I comb it.  The Prophet (sas) said: Yes, and enoble it.  And so Abu Qatada would oil his hair twice in the day because of the Prophet’s statement.     

From this narration, it is clear that the “fashion” known as “dred locks” is not allowed for Muslims based on the Prophet’s explicit order to comb and enoble one’s hair.  Another trial of our times is those Muslims who follow the fashion of the disbelievers in haircuts which shave parts of the head till the scalp is seen and leave hair on other parts.  This, too, has been explicitly forbidden by Allah’s messenger.  From Sahih Muslim:

From Ibn Umar that Allah’s Messenger (sas) forbid Al-Qaza’.  I said to Nafi’: What is Al-Qaza’?  He said: That part of a young man’s head is shaved while other parts are not.

Similarly, the dirt which accumulates in the ears and the nose.  It is preferred that these be removed.  Also called-for is brushing the teeth and rinsing the mouth in order to remove what accumulates on the teeth and the tongue.  There is also dirt which accumulates on the entire body because of perspiration and dust.  This is removed by bathing.

It is permissible to enter the public (hot spring) bath for this does an excellent job of cleansing.  Some of the Companions entered them.  However, a condition of this is that one who does so is able to protect his privates from being seen or touched.  Also, one who does this should use the heat of the place to remember the heat of hell-fire.  The thoughts of the believer as they roam to any issue of this life use all of this to remember the hereafter.  Because the predominate thoughts of a believer are of the hereafter and every vessel can only dispense what it contains.  This is the “modesty” of the believer before Allah to which the Prophet (sas) referred  in the hadith from At-Tirmidhi:

From Abdullah ibn Masood who said that Allah’s Messenger (sas) said:  “Be modest before Allah as is  befitting to Him.”  They said: O Allah’s Messenger we are modest, praise to Allah.  He (sas) said: “That is not what I mean.  Rather, modesty before Allah as is befitting to Him means that you protect your head and what it contains and your belly and what it takes in and that you should remember death and disintegration.  And whoever desires the hereafter abandons the ornaments of this life.  Whoever does al this has indeed achieved modesty before Allah as is befitting of Him.”  (Sh. Al-Albaaniy rated it “hassan”).

Do you not see that everyone views the world according to what is in their heart?  For example, if a merchant, a carpenter, a bricklayer and a weaver entered someone’s house, they would all see different things.  You would see the merchant looking at the furnishings and other belongings contemplating their values.  The weaver would look at the fabrics and how they were woven.  The carpenter would look at the structure of the roof, cabinets and other  items.  The bricklayer would look at the walls and pillars.  Likewise for the believer.  If he sees shadows he thinks of the darkness of the grave.  If he hears a frightening sound he thinks of the sounding of the Horn.  If he sees good things and pleasures he thinks of the good things of Paradise.  And if he sees turture or pain he remembers hell-fire.


SECOND: Parts which are to be removed.

In this category is the cutting of the moustache, plucking the underarms, shaving the pubic region and cutting of fingernails.  It is disliked to remove gray hairs but allowed to color them with other than black.   

Allah’s Messenger described these and other things as being from Al-Fitra, i.e., “natural” sunan.  They are issues taught by all of Allah’s messengers. From Sahih Muslim:

From Aisha (ra) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sas) said: Ten things are from sound nature (fitra): cutting the moustache, leaving the beard to grow, brushing the teeth, washing the nose with water, cutting the fingernails, cleaning one’s ears, plucking the underarms, shaving the pubic area and washing with water after relieving oneself.  Zakariya said: I have forgotten the tenth one but I think it was rinsing the mouth.

Of these sunan of “nature”, you will notice that several of them are part of making wudhu.  Of the others, four of them are definitely obligatory, not to be taken lightly and neglecting them becomes haraam if forty days have passed.  Also, from Sahih Muslim:

From Anas ibn Malik who said that Anas said: The Prophet (sas) set the time limit for us regarding cutting the moustache, cutting the fingernails, plucking the underarms and shaving the pubic area that these must not be neglected for more than forty days.”

The remaing levels of purification mentioned above will be addressed in the section on those which destroy and those which save with Allah’s permission. Imanway.com

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