The Importance of Purity (Taharah)

From among the perfectness and completeness of the shari’ah is that it showed us the way to purify oneself: mind, body and soul; and even made it an act of worship in and of itself. And this is something many find surprising and in some ways incomprehensible. This was certainly the case for the polytheists who lived at the time of the Prophet ﷺ. For them it appeared insignificant and trivial; and as it so happened, in one instance, some even questioned the honourable companion Salman Al-Farsi (radi Allahu anhu) with regards to this and said “I see that your friend (i.e. the Prophet ﷺ) even teaches you how to go to the toilet!” He (radi Allah anhu) replied; Yes, he has in fact forbidden us that anyone amongst us should cleanse himself with his right hand, or face the Qibla. He has forbidden the use of dung or bone for it, and he has also instructed us not to use less than three pebbles (for this purpose).”[1]

In this proud and fearless response of Salman (May Allah be pleased with him) we find that this wasn’t a matter taken lightly by the muslims who were with the Prophet ﷺ, and their attitude to it was wholly contrary to the attitude of the polytheists. Thus, it is imperative that we too understand its importance and its profound implications just as the sahabah did. Thus here are a few verses from the Glorious Qur’an and the Ahadith of the Messenger ﷺ highlighting its importance:

  1. Allah said, in what was to be one the first commands to the Prophet ﷺ, “O you (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) enveloped in garments! Arise and warn! And magnify your Lord (Allah)! And purify your garments!”[2]

Ibn Zayd said, “The idolators would not clean themselves, so Allah commanded him to clean himself and his garments.” This view was preferred by Ibn Jarir.[3] And as it is well known this was the second surah to be revealed to the Prophet ﷺ.

  1. Allah ﷻ made it a cause to earn His pleasure; as He says, “Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves”[4]

 

  1. The Prophet ﷺ connected purity to imaan, when he said, Abu Malik Al-Ash’ari (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Purity is half of iman (faith).”[5]

 

  1. Perhaps the most important of all is that purity is a condition for the validity of prayer. As the Prophet said, It was narrated that Anas bin Malik said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah say: ‘Allah does not accept any prayer without purification…”[6]. Salaah (prayer) is the most important pillar after the shahadatayn (testimonies of faith) and this is why the Prophet ﷺ described it as that which distinguishes between islam and kufr. And this is why the fuqaha, from the classical times up until now have always started their books on fiqh with the book on taharah (purity).

Thus, Islam came to perfect and purify us completely: mind, body and soul. There is no deficiency in it nor is there any hardship in what it advocates. As Allah ﷻ says, “Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favour to you that you may be thankful.”[7] Such is our deen; it didn’t come to teach us a set of rituals, rather it came as a complete way of life for all mankind. It doesn’t consider any issue of importance to mankind as insignificant; even if it were toilet etiquettes. As Allah says, “Allah is not shy of (telling you) the truth”[8]

 

 

 

 

[1] Sahih Muslim

[2] Surah Al-Muddaththir (74: 1-4)

[3] Tafsir ibn kathir

[4] Surah Al-Baqarah (2:222)

[5] Sahih Muslim Book 16, Hadith 1413

[6] Sunan Ibn Majah (sahih)

[7] Surah Al-Maaidah (5:6)

[8] Surah Al-Ahzaab (33:53)

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