O Muslims! Islam is a religion, which complies with unadulterated human nature (Fitrah). It is a religion that is suitable for all times and all places. It is a religion of belief and legislation. It deals with all worldly affairs through deeply rooted vision that revives itself in every time in order to face and meet the requirements of every newly born issue.
Islam represents cheerfulness in modesty and good manners. Islam admits the natural feelings and psychological inclinations of man. It also acknowledges and establishes the requirements of man’s innate character (Fitrah), such as happiness, joy, adornment and beautification. However, these aspects should be ruled by the Islamic guidelines so that obscenity, prohibitions, oppression, aggression, hostility and hatred will be avoided.
In Islam, there is a direct link and firm relationship between what is required by one’s natural disposition (Fitrah) and the purity of one’s faith: Allah, the Powerful and Glorious, says, which translates as: “O thou wrapped up (in a mantle)! Arise and deliver thy warning! And thy Lord do thou magnify! And thy garments keep free from stain! And all abomination shun!” (Al-Muddaththir: 1- 5).
Accordingly, purity of one’s faith from polytheism, religious innovations, and sins should accompany purity of one’s outer appearance, body and dress. The Muslim, then, is characterized by both aspects of purity: purity of the inner faith and purity of outer appearance. Once Islam beautifies the Muslims’ inner souls by guidance to the straight path, it beautifies their appearance in the best fashion.
If this is the ruling (of Islam), then adornment, beautification, good appearance, cleanliness, and purity are the pillars of reformation in the religious and civilian spheres by which our religion comes and its adherents are distinguished.
Longing for adornment and beautification, of course, is one of the most powerful instincts of men that lead them to comply with Allah’s decrees for His creations.
In the Glorious Qur’an, Allah, The Powerful and The Glorious reminds the sons of Adam of His grace when He bestows upon them clothing and ornament, saying, which translates as: “O ye children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as feathers but the raiment of righteousness is the best ” (Al-A’raf: 26).
Commenting on this Qur’anic verse, the Muslim scholars say, “Allah, the Powerful and Glorious, has specified the feathers in the above Qur’anic verse due to their diverse and wonderful features, colors, and types. Feathers, in other words, contain all forms of ornaments and benefits.”
Ibn Al Qayyim, (may Allah bestow mercy upon him) said, “Due to His love of beauty, Allah, the Powerful and Glorious, has bestowed clothing and ornaments upon men so as to adorn their outer appearances and Taqwa (piety) adorns their inner souls. Allah, the Powerful and The Glorious, tells us about the people of Paradise, saying, which translates as: “But Allah will deliver them from the evil of that Day, and will shed over them brightness and a (blissful) joy. And because they were patient and constant, He will reward them with a Garden and (garments of) silk ” (Al-Insan: 11-12).
Accordingly, Allah, the Powerful and The Glorious, has beautified their faces with brightness, their inner souls with joy, and their bodies with silk.
Likewise, our Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: “There are five acts which are quite akin to fitrah (the natural disposition of human nature): circumcision, shaving the pubic hair, cutting the nails, plucking the hair under the armpits and clipping the mustache”.
These acts of cleanliness are in keeping with the innate character of humans and the conduct of the Messengers of Allah (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). All Divine laws have agreed upon these acts and all religions have called for adherence to them. Negligence of cleanliness is a harm to the body and not only an imitation of the wild beasts and animals, but also an imitation of the unbelievers who stray from sound nature and guidance of the Messengers of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them).
Muslims were the first callers to cleanliness and purification all over the world wherever they travel or dwell. For the previous nations, these values were unknown.
As a matter of fact, whoever traces the history of the nations and religions will become well aware of the fact that most men lived like wild beasts, on islands in the middle of seas, in caves in mountains, and in huts in jungles. Most of them, if not all, male and female were naked or partly naked. But whenever Islam appears in a place or home it teaches people good dress and covering, cleanliness of physique, and sound behavior. In Islam, this is achieved through obligation in some cases and recommendations in others. Thus Islam has transformed people from extreme wildness to the highest civilization.
This characteristic is not restricted to very ancient times only. Rather, you will not find a place or an era in which a prophet’s trace has disappeared, but will have these aspects of ignorance, oppression, denial of the Creator, polytheism, obscenity, corrupt beliefs, and crookedness in behavior. By the same token, in any home where the Prophet’s (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) guidance is missing, you will find its inhabitants behave like animals, scratch their bodies in public, treat each other like dumb beasts, refrain from enjoining good and forbidding evil, never abstain from wrongdoing, and stray from the straight path. In our time, examples of these phenomenons are numerous.
Muslims set wonderful examples of purification and beautification when they apply the Islamic teachings regarding their bodies, homes, roads, and cities, etc. Wretched are some professed Muslims who adopt and uphold foreign customs and systems while their religion, by Allah, teaches them that which is better, higher and more appropriate. The Glorious Qur’an confirms this fact, saying which translates as: “(Our religion) takes its hue from Allah and who can give a better hue than Allah ” (Al-Baqarah: 138).
Now, we will discuss the aspects of purification, cleanliness, beautification and adornment in the light of the instructions of Islam and the conduct of the true Muslims.
In Islam, purification is regarded as half of one’s faith. Prayer, the most important pillar of Islam after the Testimony of Faith (testifying that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) is the Messenger of Allah), necessitates the state of purification from dirtiness and impurity. Performing ablution, even if one is in state of purification adds to one’s purity and gives him light upon light. Moreover, ablution is also recommended before sleeping, prostration when reciting a Qur’anic verse that requires prostration, and required for performing occasional acts of worship such as the funeral prayer, the prayer for eclipse, the Eid prayers (Eid Al Fitr, the feast at the end of the fast of Ramadan and Eid Al Adha, the feast of Sacrifice),
The five daily prayers purify one’s inner soul and lead one, away from indecency and wrongdoing. Additionally, ablution for Salaah cleans one’s outer appearance. Confirming this fact, the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said:
¬ “Behold, if there is a river in front of a man’s door, in which he bathes five times daily, could dirtiness remain (on his body)” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
Likewise, he (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said:
¬ “Taking a bath on Friday is compulsory for every male (Muslim) who has attained the age of puberty” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
Also, the Messenger of Allah (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) declared:
¬ “Whoever takes a bath on Friday, purifies himself as much as he can, then uses his (hair) oil or perfumes himself with the scent of his house, then proceeds (for the Jum’ah Prayer) and does not separate two persons sitting next to each other (in the mosque), then prays as much as (Allah has) written for him and then remains silent while the Imam is delivering the Khutbah, his sins in-between the present and the last Friday would be forgiven” (Al-Bukhari).
However, we should draw attention to the fact that required cleanliness is not restricted to assemblies and gatherings. Rather, it is required under all circumstances, even when one is in his home or is going to bed. It is reported that, the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said:
¬ “Purify your bodies, may Allah purify you! Verily, no man passes the night in a state of purification but an angel remains with him the whole night invoking (Allah) every hour, saying, “Oh Allah! Forgive your servant for he slept in a state of purification” (At-Tabarani).
However, another narration reads,
¬ “No Muslim retires to his bed in a state of purification, then rises during the night to ask Allah for the good in this world and in the world to come, but Allah will give him what he asks” (Abu Dawud).
¬ On the Day of Judgment, members of the nation of Muhammad (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) will be distinguished by the light in their faces and legs owing to the performance of ablution.
Siwak (toothbrush) cleans the mouth and pleases the Almighty, Allah. Clipping and shaving the mustache is a form of purification. Whoever has hair is instructed by the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) to take care of it, clean it by washing, combing, and putting perfume on it. Once, the Messenger of Allah (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) saw a man with disheveled hair so he remarked,
¬ “Can he not find anything with which to groom his hair?” (Abu Dawud).
Furthermore, among the features of cleanliness is cutting the nails, washing the knuckles, plucking the hair under the armpit, shaving the pubic hair, and steering clear of food-stuffs which cause bad odor such as onions, garlic, and leeks. The reason behind this is not to offend people with a bad smell coming from one’s mouths or perspiration. However, these rules are more emphasized in mosques where Muslims gather to worship Allah, the Powerful and The Glorious, and remember Him. Naturally, the worshipers cannot be conscious and attentive with the existence of what harms their souls, i.e., offensive odors. In Islam, opening one’s mouth when yawning is abhorred since it offends people, pleases Satan, and contradicts the good manners that should be observed in meetings.
Therefore, using perfume is recommended in Islam. The Messenger of Allah (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) liked putting on perfume and used to constantly perfume himself.
Islam also recommends Muslims to cleanse their hands and mouths from the remaining parts of food after eating. It is narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) drank milk and then rinsed his mouth commenting:
¬ “It has fat.” (Al-Bukhari)
Cleanliness, moreover, should be observed also in homes, roads, mosques and place of people’s assemblies. Allah, the Powerful and Glorious, says which translates as: “And purify My House for those who compass it round, or stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in Prayer).” (Al-Hajj: 26). “In houses, which Allah hath permitted to be raised to honor; for the celebration, in them, of His name: in them is He glorified in mornings and in the evening, (again and again) by men ” (An-Nur: 36).
In the Sunnah, we read the following Hadith,
¬ “Removing the harmful objects from the path or road (of people) is regarded as charity” (Al-Bukhari).
The Islamic teachings are so exact that they also include preventive measures for answering the call of nature so as not to pollute water nor to lay impurity on roads or in areas of shades.
¬ In this context, we find in the Sunnah an abhorrence of urinating in the stagnant water. (Al-Bukhari)
Also, the Messenger of Allah (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) warned:
¬ “Steer clear of the three actions that cause people to curse man: Defecating in watering-places, in roads, and in the shade” (Ahmad).
¬ Good clothing and beautification are required according to one’s available means. Al-Ahwas Al-Jashmi said that the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) saw me wearing a worn out garment and thereupon asked me, “Do you have wealth?” “Yes”, I replied. “What kind of wealth?” asked the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). “Allah has given me all kinds of wealth”, I replied. “Since Allah has given you wealth, let Him see the effects of His favor and bounty upon you, for He loves to see the effects of His favor and bounty on His slave”, the Messenger of Allah (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) commented (An-Nisa’i).
Once, the Messenger of Allah (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said:
¬ “Anyone who has an atom of pride in his heart will not enter Paradise.” A man then asked, “What about one who likes to wear a handsome garment and good shoes?” The Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) replied, “Surely, Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Pride is to reject the truth and to view other people with contempt” (Muslim).
Unfortunately, some ignorant people erroneously think that adornment is an act of pride. Refuting this point of view, Ibnul Jawzi said, “This view is groundless since Allah, the Powerful and The Glorious, has adorned us when He created us. Eyes yearn to look at beautiful things. Amongst people, the Messenger of Allah (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) was the most clean and fragrant. He habitually used the Siwak (toothbrush). He disliked producing a smell that was not good. He (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) mastered a prefect character in knowledge and in action. He is, therefore, the perfect example for people.”
Ironically, some misinformed people think that wearing dirty and cheap-looking clothes is a form of worship. Although they are financially able to wear good and handsome clothes, they prefer to wear patched and untidy clothes thinking that this is an aspect of their asceticism and a sign of their love for the Hereafter. This behavior is, of course, ignorant and a departure from excellence. No one could be able to endure offensive odors and filth except those who are deficient in their natural disposition (Fitrah) and lacking proper manners.
However, we should draw the attention to the fact that our righteous predecessors used to wear patched garments in order to wear them for as long as possible. Clarifying this fact, Abu Bakr Ibn Al-‘Arabi (may Allah bestow mercy upon him) said, With regard to what was related that ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) used to patch his garment; it was his custom in order to prolong the time of its use. That was the custom of the righteous men until the ascetics (sufis) made this custom their slogan even with regard to new clothes. In doing so, they produce an innovation in religion and contradicted the path of the righteous men since patching the garments was meant mainly to prolong the period of its use.
Those who contemplate the characteristics of souls and the conduct of people will find a firm connection between the purity of the soul and the purity of the body, the purity of dress and the purity of the heart.
Therefore, there is a firm connection between clothing, which is ordained by Allah, because clothing has two purposes: to cover the body and to beautify the appearance and raise the level of awareness of Allah that exists in the hearts. Since each of them is regarded as covering and adornment: consciousness of Allah covers the defects of the heart and adorns it, while clothing, on the other hand, covers the private parts of the body and adorns it.
Consciousness of Allah results in modesty that, in turn, produces abhorrence to uncovering one’s private parts. In contrast, the one who does not fear Allah will pay no attention to uncovering his private parts or calling others to follow suit. Therefore covering the body, dear brothers, is not a mere custom or tradition, as some destructive materialists who fight against morality and decency claim. Instead, this is a characteristic of uncorrupted nature (Fitrah), which Allah has created in people as well as bestowed upon mankind His legislation, thus, honoring the offspring of Adam.
Moreover, Islam’s care about cleanliness, beautification, hygiene and purification is a part of its care about the strength of the Muslim. Building a healthy and powerful physique is an objective in Islam. Undoubtedly, weak bodies cannot bear heavy tasks and dirty hands, which do not perform ablution, cannot do good. The mission of Islam has such comprehensive objectives that it cannot survive in an incapable and diseased nation.
Confirming this principle, Allah, the Powerful and Glorious, says which translates as: “O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not those who waste ” (Al-A‘raf: 31).
Adornment and beautification without extravagance are among the teachings and instructions of Islam. Islam aims to beautify and raise the status of its adherents so as to be amongst people as recognizable as the ‘white mole’.
On the other hand, Islam does not approve excessive and unlimited forms of adornment. Whoever spends money on excessive adornment and luxury and surpasses his equals in doing so, will not spend abundantly in charitable ways. The simple reason for this is that the soul that excessively inclines to adornment and lusts does not stop at a certain limit. That is to say, when it reaches a certain point, it continues to look beyond to a higher one and so on. The Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) confirmed this meaning in an authentic Hadith that reads:
¬ “This worldly wealth is (like) a sweet (fruit), and if a person earns it (the wealth) in a legal way and spends it properly, then it is an excellent helper, yet whoever earns it in an illegal way, he will be like the one who eats but is never satisfied” (Al-Bukhari).
¬ Once, a man asked Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with both of them), “What kind of clothes shall I wear?” Ibn `Umar replied, “Such as would neither invite the scorn of the weak-minded (because of the fact that it is cheap and ugly) nor the blame of the wise (because of it is being immoderately expensive).”
Then, dear brothers, it is not among the proper beautification of men – rather it is forbidden – to shave the beard, to wear silk, or gold rings, or to trail one’s garment since what is under one’s ankle of clothes will be decreed to the fire. Likewise, it is not proper – rather it is forbidden – for women to wear clothes that fail to cover the body or clothes that are transparent, revealing what is underneath. Those who wear such clothes are described by the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) as women who although clothed are yet naked, seducing and being seduced and are of the fire.
In general our righteous predecessors abhorred wearing clothes of fame whether expensive or cheap. What is meant by clothes of fame is, expensive clothes that people wear, being ostentatious, proud, boastful and seeking a reputation. Similarly, what is meant by the abhorred cheap-looking clothes is that by which people intend to show asceticism although they are financially capable to wear what is better and which is lawful at the same time. Islam, admittedly, is the religion of moderation. Handsome and good-looking clothing is recommended as long as it is a form of beautification and showing Allah’s bounty upon man.
Suffice it to say, the dirty filthy habit of smoking is forbidden. Smokers, of course, abuse and harm others with smoke and offensive odors that pollute the atmosphere and corrupt common places of gathering. It is a odious phenomenon occurring in offices, marketplaces, and public transport.
However, this is what is witnessed when the individual and the nation distance themselves from Prophet’s (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) guidance, they misplace or forego refined manners, good taste, sensitivity and good behavior.
Therefore, fear Allah! May He forgive you! And stick firmly to the guidance of your religion and follow the way of justice and moderation.