all the rituals prescribed by almost all the religions of the
world, the act of spiritual purification gets more importance
than physical cleanliness, even though Islamic scholars insist
that the latter is the part and parcel of their faith. The induction
of a newborn or of a grown up into Christianity is known to the
Christians as "Baptism," while Muslims carry out the
same ritual in a little different way. The baptizing process in
Christianity became a ritual for its followers after Jesus Christ's
immersion in the water of Jordan River (Mathew 3:13), while Moses,
the actual founder of Judaism, never went through this process,
hence the absence of Christian-like baptism in the Jewish religion.
carry out the purification process of a grown up convert to Islam
by having him or her invoke kalima Taiyyaba. Soon after
the invocation of the kalima, the convert not only attains
the status of a Muslim, or Muslima, he or she also becomes
a purified person with his or her past sins forgiven by God then
and there. Children born to Muslim parents are inducted into Islam,
firstly, by reciting the words of Adhan, by grown up men
into their ears, and, secondly, through giving them the so-called
Muslim names at or during a ritual called "Aqiqa."
responsibility for shouting the words of Adhan rests only on the
Muslim men. Their women cannot perform this duty, even if they
are elderly, respectable or highly erudite in the realm of the
Quran, hadiths and other branches of the Islamic literature and
doctrines. The reason for imposing this embargo on the Muslim
women is neither known to most of us; nor is it discussed by the
Muslims in their private or public forums for reasons unknown
even to them.
is not that in Islam, cleanliness of human body does not play
a role. In fact, it does in specific cases. Let us examine this
firmly believe, and it is true, that one of the foremost duties
that man and woman owe to humanity is for them to mate and procreate
children. As they take this duty of theirs very seriously, they
not only formalize but also purify the mating process of the Muslim
men and women by invoking God, Muhammad and the Holy Quran.
keeping with their beliefs, Muslims prefer to have their marriages
solemnized by the high ranking Maulanas, where possible. Muslim
couples become Islamically married only after the Maulanas have
completed their recitations from the Quran, and blessed them with
prayers. Each word of the Quran is holy; therefore, its recitation
on the occasions of marriage not only turns the married couples
into purified beings, their copulation thereafter also becomes
a purified act. But does this belief hold any truth?
requires that all Muslims must say "Bismillah -"
before doing anything and everything in their lives. The utterance
of Bismillah purifies their actions.
a consequence of its significance, Bismillah has become as essential
for many Muslims as their breathing. I have seen some Muslim doctors
in Bangladesh saying Bismillah every time they touched their patients.
I have seen a few Bangladesh government officials uttering Bismillah
at the time of taking bribes. I have heard Muslim pimps saying
Bismillah, while pocketing commissions from their customers.
role of Bismillah in the Muslim life notwithstanding, Muslim couples
are required to take baths, and say Bismillah before each of their
copulations. The same requirements apply, when they prepare themselves
to say their ritual prayers (Salat), with the difference
that in many cases, they substitute the requirement of bath with
water by dry ablutions. Adherence to the Islamically prescribed
processes of physical cleaning and spiritual purification are
necessary for the reason that Islam equates sexual intercourse
not only with the Muslim prayers, it also ensures that the children,
who the couples are expected to produce through their mating,
came out to the world with all the pure qualities embedded in
strangely enough, the concepts and processes, mentioned above,
lose their sanctity as soon as the Muslim couples are done with
their copulations, for they are required by the high standard
of Islamic hygiene to take a bath immediately after their sexual
intercourse, as the seminal discharge into vaginas is a cause
for defilement of human bodies.
is it possible? Muslims should ask. If the seminal discharge makes
humans dirty or unclean, then what is the necessity for them to
take baths, perform ablutions and say Bismillah before engaging
in their sexual acts? If the completion of an act, even after
saying Bismillah -, defiles the performers' bodies, then
how about the Muslims, who begin their prayers (Salat) after saying
the same words as are in Bismillah -? Why don't they become
unclean after completion of their prayers, since, in Islamic perception,
Muslim prayers are no different than their sexual acts?
must also ask themselves: how can humans be clean and pure, when
they are the products of impure semen? Is not a product, made
out of impure or unclean materials, also supposed to be impure
and unclean? If it is so, then how humans are called the best
creation of God?
behind the above questions for Muslim scholars to respond, I should
now take up the discussion of the matter of this article, it being
Cleanliness vs. Purification.
I have said at the beginning of this article, spiritual purification
in Islam takes precedence over physical cleanliness. Take, for
example, the following stipulations of the Quran:
It requires all Muslims to remove their "ceremonial impurity"
by washing their whole body with water. But where they are unable
to find water, they have been advised to take clean sand or earth,
and to rub their faces and hands therewith.
The Quran requires Muslims to undertake the same process after
they "cometh from offices of nature," or they "have
been in contact with women." (Quran; 4:43).
Abdullah Yusuf Ali's commentary on the above referenced verse,
it appears that the requirement of cleaning one's body with
water or purifying the "spiritual dirt" by rubbing sand
and earth on one's face after urination, defecation or sexual
intercourse applies only to Muslim men, for he stated: "-
For a man, when he is ill, cannot walk out far to get
water, and a man on a journey has no full control over his supplies.
In all, four cases, where water cannot be got, cleaning with dry
sand or dry earth is recommended. This is called Tayammum
(The Holy Quran, Vol. 1, p. 194).
the truth as one may deduce from the above quotation, the fact
remains that the rubbing of sand or dry earth on one's face
cannot remove the feces one finds on his or her body after its
discharge; these supposedly cleaning materials must be rubbed
on the affected area itself, if one wanted to meet the minimum
standard of a hygienic life. Even the direct application of sand
(if it is at all possible to do without causing damage to the
applicant's sensitive part of the body) and earth to the affected
area is not good enough to make it clean, for it is only water
that can wash away the feces from a person's body. Left unclean,
the accumulation of the feces creates, over a short period of
time, an obnoxious odor that nobody can suppress easily even after
wearing expensive cloth or perfume.
realization of the above truth opens up, for us, another field
of inquiry: how the people of the time of Muhammad, the Prophet
of Islam, must have cleaned themselves after responding to the
calls of nature, especially when water was not so easily available
they always purify themselves with sand and dry earth, instead
of cleaning their bodies with water? If so, how badly they must
have smelt most of the times?
if they cleaned themselves by rubbing sand or earth on their faces,
how was it possible for the founder of Islam to decree that "cleanliness"
was a part and parcel of the Muslim faith?
of a Quranic stipulation that requires all Muslims to eat "halal"
or "kosher" foods, attempts to live within the
bounds of the stipulation have become almost an obsession with
most Muslims. It is not that halal foods help them live longer,
or that it improves their character; rather, it is their longing
to enter heaven on the Day of Resurrection that motivates them
to do all the weird things for procuring halal food and materials
in their lives.
living in non-Muslim countries, many Muslims can be seen running
about for finding halal eggs and milk in the market. How precisely
the non-Muslim dealers or sellers of halal eggs and milk procure
them, respectively, from their chickens and cows, has never been
debated, but it seems possible that they make both the animals
to become Muslims before producing their products. Or, may be
they feed them Islamic foods that help them produce nothing but
pure and halal products. Is there any other means through which
chickens and cows can be forced to produce halal eggs and milk?
Perhaps, readers can throw some light on this matter.
purification also requires Muslims to use only those modern gadgets,
invented mostly by the infidels, which have Islamic applications.
In accordance with this spirit, Cellular Phones are now being
converted to Islam so that they could be used for reminding their
owners with the timings of their daily prayers (see New Age, Dhaka
dated June 27, 2004).
invention of the kafirs would be the next target of Islamization
would be known to us only when, and after, it has happened. In
the meantime, let not the infidels prevent the Muslims from the
use of what they have already stolen (remember the saga of Pakistan's
Islamic Atomic Bomb?) from them; rather, the infidels from all
over the world should hand over to them (the Muslims) everything
they have, even if their philanthropical act may prove, down the
road, to be one of the causes of their own downfall and destruction.