Saturday, July 14, 2012

Body Hygiene: Prophetic Traditions


ISLAM places much emphasize upon cleanliness. Purity of the body, mind and the soul are inextricably intertwined in Islam, for physical cleanliness is central to spiritual purity. In his Friday Sermon of 13 July 2012, Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius explained the Prophetic traditions on body hygiene and respect for the natural environment in the wider context of leading a healthy and long life in the Islamic way.

Drawing upon his own close study and analysis of the subject, the Khalifatullah observes: “[t]he absence of tobacco and alcohol consumption, consumption of five fruits and vegetables daily, physical exercise half an hour a day can contribute to the prolongation of life. Certainly it is the cleansing of the body, whether of our internal systems and our soul which each contributes to make us human beings capable of living a long life, according to the will of God in good physical, moral and spiritual health...”

Read the Extracts from the Friday Sermon:

“The human being who lives temporarily on earth will be compensated after his death according to his beliefs, his actions as well as his intentions. In Islam, acts of goodness not only reveal the spiritual and cultural, but they (also) concern different aspects of man’s life.

Islam has taught rules under the name which is now commonly called hygiene. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Ten things are part of (what the human being does by) natural predisposition: trimming his moustache, keeping the beard, brushing the teeth, rinsing his nostrils, trimming his nails, washing his finger joints, removing the hair of the armpits, shaving the pubic hair, using water after relieving him (after going to the toilet), and (one link in the chain of transmission says he remembers the tenth thing vaguely, that is) rinsing his mouth.” (Reported by Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, An-Nasaa’i)

According to other links in the chain of transmission, the tenth thing is circumcision. In another famous Hadith reported by Muslim, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) considers purification as being half of faith. So we see that Islam has put much emphasis on how Muslims must cultivate a healthy (clean) lifestyle.


Staying clean means getting rid of germs and dirt; which means protection against various skin and mouth disease. Therefore, the Muslim constantly washes his face and hands during the ablution which is performed several times daily to reduce the amount of germs that invade our body through the mouth and nose. Consequently this helps to protect oneself against digestive and respiratory diseases. It is also illegal to urinate in stagnant water so as to prevent the spread of germs from one person to another and the risk of spreading infectious diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever and paralysis.

Just as we are required to wash the hands properly and keep the premises where we have relieved ourselves (that is, the toilets) clean, the health specialists strongly recommend keeping those places clean so as also to prevent other several inflammations and suppurations. The believer must wash his body at least once a week (during the Ghusl of Jumu’ah) to clean his skin of dirt, bacteria, microbes and other impurities, which guarantees us the prevention against skin infections, and helps keep the skin healthy. It is to be noted that this same bath should be taken at different times of the existence of a Muslim, for example: after having sex, and for the woman specifically at the end of the excessive bleeding after childbirth but also after menstruation, and other circumstances specified by the Shariah.

Without this bath, the daily prayers, the reading the Quran and other sacred rites will be void. The small ablution or Wu’zu must be done before every prayer if needed.

The prophetic tradition tells us that one must wash his hands as soon as he wakes up so as to get rid of all uncleanness due to nocturnal secretions of the body such as sweating and other. That is why the following Hadith has all its importance whereby the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “When one of you wakes up, let him refrain from putting his hand in a utensil before having well washed it (that is, his hand) three times.” (Bukhari and Muslim). Therefore, we come to understand that the purity of the body is a necessary element for those who want to get closer to Allah the Almighty, which leads us to consider corporal hygiene as essential.

The Quran is clear about this: “Purify your clothes!” (74: 5) or “Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.” (2: 223).

But the lifestyle does not stop only to personal hygiene because in Islam the hygienic principles of the body through fasting can detoxify the body. Similarly with regard to food, we know how much food taboos are justified both by the actual harmful effects on the body than the mind. Therefore, Allah the Almighty has forbidden consumption of alcohol and pork for the constant or perpetual wellbeing of humanity. Nowadays, more and more science progresses along and proves the correctness of Islam in this regard. Scientific studies show that among all kinds of meat known to humanity, pork contains more germs, and most of these meats are most infectious and other life-threatening.

Moreover, according to an analysis and reflection that I have made on tobacco and alcohol, I note that the absence of tobacco and alcohol consumption, consumption of five fruits and vegetables daily, physical exercise half an hour a day can contribute to the prolongation of life. Certainly it is the cleansing of the body, whether of our internal systems and our soul which each contributes to make us human beings capable of living a long life, according to the will of God in good physical, moral and spiritual health.

Respect the Environment and Keep it Clean

Cleanliness concerns also our environment. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) exhorts us in this way: “Keep the place in front of your house clean so as not to offend the passersby.”

Then we understand how essential it is to keep our interior in good state but also to respect the environment in which we live, in this case (it is) our neighbourhood, our city and above all nature. In another Hadith the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Beware of committing the three great sins which the author shall be cursed, namely, to relieve oneself from the water points, on the roads and dark places.”

This explains how much the Muslim should respect the areas frequented by people as well as animals. It is our duty to not only preserve nature but also to prevent others from dirtying or destroying it. But unfortunately, we see that despite everything, it’s the other people (nation from other faiths) who invest in this field which is Islamic.

Finally, we return to our key point, the practice of Islam is based primarily on healthy living. Being Muslim is not limited only to our acts of worship but also to the integral part of several other aspects. So we should be a thousand times pickier than other communities that have not received any orders from their “Lords”.

May Allah increase our knowledge and may we Muslims keep ourselves clean, both at the physical and spiritual level. Insha-Allah, Ameen".