Fruits for the Week

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Islam permits, and in fact requires that the Muslim be careful about his appearance, dress decently, maintain his dignity, and enjoy what Allah has created for the purpose of clothing and adornment.

From the Islamic point of view, clothing has two purposes: to cover the body and to beautify the appearance. Allah (swt) counts His bestowed of clothing and adornment upon human beings as one of His favours to mankind: “O children of Adam! Verily, We have bestowed upon you clothing to cover your shame as well as to be an adornment to you.” (7: 26)

Whoever neglects either of these two aspects, covering or adornment has deviated from the way of Islam toward the path of Satan. Accordingly, Allah warns people concerning both nakedness and neglect of good appearance, as these are snares of Satan. Allah (swt) said:” O children of Adam! Do not let Satan seduce in the same manner as he expelled your parents (Adam and Eve) from the Garden, stripping them of their raiment in order to expose their shame.” (7: 27). Allah said:” O children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every place of worship, and eat and drink, but do not be wasteful.” (7: 31)

Islam has made it obligatory on Muslims to cover their private parts, which everyone naturally feels a sense of shame at exposing in order that they may be distinguished from the naked animals; in fact, its instructs them to avoid uncovering these parts of their bodies even when they are alone so that they may attain perfection in morals and religion.

Bahaz ibn Hakim, on the authority of his grandfather, reported the latter as saying:” I asked,’ O Messenger of Allah! What should we conceal and what can we show of our private parts?’ He replied,’ Let no one see them except your wife or your bondwoman.’ I then asked,’ What if some people live together (during travel or camping)?’ He replied,’ If you can manage it, try not to let anyone see them.’ I then said,’ And what if no one is present?’ He said,’ Allah is most deserving of your modesty.”’ (Ahmad, Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah)

Cleanliness and beautification are characteristics of Islam

Before directing its attention to the questions of adornment and good appearance, Islam addressed itself in considerable depth to the question of cleanliness, for cleanliness is the essence of good appearance and the beauty of every adornment. It is reported that the Prophet (saw) said:” Cleanse yourself, for Islam is cleanliness.” (Ibn Hayyan). He (saw) said further:” Cleanliness invites toward faith, and faith leads its possessor to the Garden.” (Tabrani)

The Prophet (saw) placed a great emphasis on keeping the body, clothing, houses, and street clean, and he laid special stress on cleaning the teeth, hands, and hair. This emphasis on cleanliness is not to be wondered at in a religion which makes cleanliness the key to its principle form of worship, salat, for the Muslim’s salat is not acceptable unless his body, clothing, and the place where he performs his salat are all clean. In addition to this requirement, there are the obligatory types of cleaning, either of the entire body in the form of ghusl (total washing), or of those parts of the body which are exposed to dirt, in the form of wudhu (ablution).

 

The desert environment of Saudi Arabia and the nomadic life of its people were not very conducive to cleanliness and refinement, and most of them neglected these aspects. The Prophet (saw), with his lively instruction and to-the-point admonition, gradually led them out of their uncouth habits and taught them refinement and civil manners. Once upon the time a man approached the Prophet (saw) with his hair and beard dishevelled. The Prophet (saw) made some gestures as if asking the man to comb his hair. He did so, and when he returned, the Prophet (saw) said to him:” is not this better than that one should come with dishevelled hair, looking like a devil?” (Malik).

On another occasion the Prophet (saw) saw a man with unkept hair and remarked: Does he have nothing with which to comb his hair?” (Abu Dawud). Upon seeing another man with dirty clothes he remarked: Cannot he find anything with which to wash his clothes?” (Abu Dawud). A man came to the Prophet (saw) cheap looking garments and the Prophet (saw) asked him:” Do you have property? “Yes,” the man replied. “What kind of property?” asked the Prophet (saw). “Allah has given me all kinds of wealths,” he said. The Prophet (saw) then said to him:” Since Allah has given you wealth, let Him see the effects of His favour and bounty upon you.” (Nasa’i).  

(To be continued)

by Prof. Dr. Yusuf Al-Qardhawi