The Muslim and His Own Self

Previous Next

His body and clothes are clean

The Muslim whom Islam wants to stand out among people is very clean. He has high standards of personal hygiene, bathing frequently in accordance with the guidance of the Prophet (s) who encouraged people to wash themselves completely and wear perfume,4 especially on Fridays:

Note: 4. Wearing perfume in public is for men only; women are not permitted to do so. [Translator]

´Have a bath on Fridays and wash your heads, even if you are not in a state of janabah (impurity, e.g. following sexual relations), and wear perfume. (Bukhari).

The Prophet (s) placed such a great emphasis on cleanliness and bathing that some of the four Imams considered performing ghusl before Friday prayer to be obligatory (wajib).

Abu Hurayrah (r) said:

´The Prophet (s) said: 'It is the duty of every Muslim to take a bath (at least) once every seven days, and to wash his head and body.' (Bukhari and Muslim)

The true Muslim keeps his clothes and socks clean, checking them from time to time, to be sure that they have no unpleasant smell. He also wears perfume to help keep himself clean. It is reported that 'Umar (r) used to say: "Whoever spends a third of his wealth on perfume is not being extravagant."

The smart Muslim takes care of his mouth, for no one should ever have to smell an unpleasant odour coming from it. He does this by cleaning his teeth every day with a siwak, toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwashes. He also visits the dentist regularly, to check his mouth, at least once a year, and visits other specialists (such as otolaryngologists or "ear, nose and throat" doctors) as necessary, so that his mouth will stay clean and his breath fresh.

'A'ishah narrated that the Prophet (s) ´never woke from sleeping at any time of day or night without cleaning his teeth with a siwak before performing Wudu.'5

Note: 5. A hasan hadith narrated by Ahmad and Abu Dawud.

The Prophet's concern for oral hygiene was so great that he said: ´If it were not for the fact that I did not want to overburden my Ummah, I would have ordered them to use the siwak before every prayer. (Bukhari and Muslim)

´'A'ishah was asked what the Prophet (s) used to do first when he came home. She said: "Use siwak." (Muslim)

Regrettably, some Muslims neglect these teachings that are at the heart of Islam, and do not pay heed to the cleanliness of their mouths, bodies and clothes. So you may see them going to the mosque or to other religious meetings and study circles, annoying their brothers with their unpleasant smell and offending the angels who surround these blessed gatherings. What is really strange is the fact that they themselves listen to and repeat the saying of the Prophet (s) that whoever eats onions, garlic or leeks should not go to the mosque because his breath may disturb the angels and the people:

´Whoever eats onions, garlic or leeks should not approach our mosque, because whatever offends the sons of Adam may offend the angels.' (Muslim)

The Prophet (s) banned those who had eaten these pungent vegetables from coming anywhere near the mosque, lest the people and the angels be offended by their bad breath, but these smells pale into insignificance beside the stench of dirty clothes, filthy socks, unwashed bodies and unclean mouths that emanate from some careless and unkempt individuals who offend others in any gathering.

Imam Ahmad and Imam al-Nisa'i narrate that Jabir (r) said:

´The Messenger of Allah (s) came to visit us, and saw a man who was wearing dirty clothes. He said, 'Could this person not find anything with which to wash his clothes?'"

The Prophet (s) did not like a Muslim to appear before people wearing dirty clothes, if he had the means to clean them. He encouraged Muslims always to dress in clean clothes and to present a neat and attractive appearance. He used to say:

´There is nothing wrong with keeping two garments for Friday, apart from one's work clothes.' 6

Note: 6. Reported by Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah. Its isnad is sahih.

Islam frequently encourages its followers to be clean always, to perfume their clothes and to ensure that their bodies always smell fresh and clean. This is what the Prophet (s) used to do, according to the report that Imam Muslim quotes from Anas ibn Malik, who said: "I have never smelt any ambergris or musk that had a better scent than the scent of the Messenger of Allah (s)."

Many reports describe the cleanliness of the Prophet's clothes and body, and describe the sweet smell of his sweat. For example, if he shook hands with a man, his beautiful scent would remain on that man's hand for the rest of the day, and if he laid his hand on the head of a child, that child would stand out from others by virtue of his sweet smell.

Imam Bukhari mentions, in al-Tarekh al-kabir, reporting from Jabir, that the Prophet (s) never passed through a place but a person who followed him would know that he had been there, from his lingering scent.

Once, the Prophet (s) slept in the house of Anas. He sweated, and Umm Anas came to collect the sweat in a bottle. The Prophet (s) asked her about what she was doing, and she told him: ´This is your sweat; we add it to our perfume and it is the best of perfumes.' (Muslim)

How urgent is the Muslims, need to follow the guidance of this great Messenger in his command to take care of one's hair and keep it neat in accordance with the teachings of Islam. This is reported in the hadith that Abu Dawud quotes from Abu Hurayrah (r), who said: ´The Prophet (s) said:

´Whoever has hair, let him look after it properly.''

Looking after one's hair, according to Islamic teaching, involves keeping it clean, combing it, perfuming it and styling it nicely.

The Prophet (s) did not like people to leave their hair uncombed and unkempt, so that they looked like wild monsters. He described such an ugly appearance as being like the Shaytan. In al-Muwatta, Imam Malik reports a hadith with a mursal isnad from 'Ata' ibn Yassir, who said:

´The Messenger of Allah (s) was in the mosque, when a man with unkempt hair and an untidy beard came in. The Prophet (s) pointed to him, as if indicating that to him that he should tidy up his hair and beard. The man went and did so, then returned. The Prophet (s) said, 'Is this not better than that any one of you should come with unkempt hair, looking like the Shaytan?'

The Prophet's likening a man with untidy hair to the Shaytan clearly shows how concerned Islam is with a neat and pleasant appearance, and how opposed it is to scruffiness and ugliness.

The Prophet (s) always took note of people's appearance, and he never saw a scruffily-dressed man with untidy hair but he criticized him for his self-neglect. Imam Ahmad and al-Nisa'i report that Jabir (r) said: "The Messenger of Allah (s) came to visit us, and he saw an unkempt man whose hair was going in all directions, so he said, 'Could he not find anything with which to calm his head?'"

Good appearance

The true Muslim takes good care of his clothes, so you will see him presenting a pleasant appearance, without being extravagant. He is pleasant to look at and to meet, and does not annoy people with his careless, dishevelled appearance. He always checks himself before he goes out to meet people, and he makes himself look good, in moderation, for the Prophet (s) used to make himself look good in front of his Companions, as well as in front of his family.

In his commentary on the Ayah:

( Say: Who has forbidden the beautiful [gifts] of Allah, which He has produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, [which He has provided] for sustenance? . . .) (Qur'an 7:32)

Al-Qurtubi said: "Makhul reported from 'A'ishah: 'A group of the Companions of the Prophet (s) was waiting at the door for him, so he prepared to go out to meet them. There was a vessel of water in the house, and he peered into it, smoothing his beard and his hair. ('A'ishah said:) I asked him, "O Messenger of Allah, even you do this?" He said: ´Yes, when a man goes out to meet his brothers, let him prepare himself properly, for Allah is beautiful and loves beauty.''

The Muslim does all of this in accordance with the Islamic ideal of moderation, avoiding the extremes of either exaggeration or negligence:

( Those who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly, but hold a Must {balance} between those {extremes}.) (Qur'an 25:67)

Islam wants its followers, and especially its advocates (d '¯s) to stand out in gatherings in an attractive fashion, not to appear unsightly or unbearable. Neglecting one's appearance to the extent of being offensive to one's companions in the name of asceticism and humility is not part of Islam. The Prophet (s), who was the epitome of asceticism and humility, used to dress in decent clothes and present a pleasant appearance to his family and his companions. He regarded dressing well and looking good as a demonstration of the blessings of Allah:

´Allah loves to see the signs of His gifts on His slave.' 7

Note: 7. A hasan hadith narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Hakim.

Ibn Sa'd reports in al-Tabaqat that Jundab ibn Mak¯th (r) said:

´Whenever a delegation came to meet the Messenger of Allah (s), he would wear his best clothes and order his leading Companions to do likewise. I saw the Prophet (s) on the day that the delegation of Kindah came to meet him; he was wearing a Yemeni garment, and Abu Bakr and 'Umar were dressed similarly.'

Ibn al-Mubarak, al-Tabarani, al-Hakim, al-Bayhaqi and others report that 'Umar (r) said:

´I saw the Messenger of Allah (s) ask for a new garment. He put it on, and when it reached his knees he said, 'Praise be to Allah, Who has given me clothes with which to cover myself and make myself look beautiful in this life.''

'Abdul-Rahman ibn 'Awf (r) used to dress in a cloak or garment that was worth four or five hundred dirhams (Tabaqat Ibn Sa'd, 3/131), and Ibn 'Abbas bought a garment worth one thousand dirhams and wore it (Tabaqat Ibn Sa'd, 3/131).

So long as this taking care of one's outward appearance does not go to extremes, then it is part of the beauty that Allah has allowed for His slaves and encouraged them to adopt:

( 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 the wasters. Say, who has forbidden the beautiful [gifts] of Allah, which He has produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, [which He has provided] for sustenance? Say: They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, {and} purely for them on the Day of Judgement. Thus do We explain the Signs in detail for those who understand.) (Qur'an 7:31-32)

Muslim reports from Ibn Masud (r) that the Prophet (s) said:

´No one who has even an atom's weight of pride in his heart will enter Paradise.' A man asked him, ´What if he likes his clothes and shoes to look good?' (Meaning, is this counted as pride") The Prophet (s) said: ´Allah is beautiful and loves beauty. Pride means denying the truth and looking down on other people.'

This is the understanding adopted by the Sahabah and those who followed them sincerely. Therefore Imam Abu Hanifah (r) always took care to dress well and to ensure that he smelled clean and fresh, and urged others to do likewise. One day he met a man who used to attend his circle, who was dressed in scruffy clothes. He took him to one side and offered him one thousand dirhams with which to smarten himself up. The man told him, "I have money, I do not need this." Abu Hanifah admonished him: "Have you not heard the hadith, 'Allah loves to see the signs of His gifts on His servant,? So you have to change yourself, and not appear offensive to your friend."

Naturally, those who call people to Allah should be better and smarter in appearance than others, so that they will be better able to attract people and make their message reach their hearts. Indeed they, unlike others, are required to be like this even if they do not go out and meet people, because those who proclaim the word of Allah should take care of their appearance and pay attention to the cleanliness of their bodies, clothes, nails and hair. They should do this even if they are in a state of isolation or retreat, in response to the call of the natural unaffected inclination of man (fitrah) which the Prophet (s) told us about and outlined its requirements:

´Five things are part of the fitrah: circumcision, removing the pubic hair, plucking hair from the armpits, cutting the nails, and trimming the moustache. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Taking care of oneself in accordance with this fitrah is something encouraged by Islam and supported by every person of common sense and good taste.

Nevertheless, paying attention to one's appearance should not make a Muslim fall into the trap of over-exaggerating his grooming to the extent that he loses sight of the sense of balance prescribed by Islamic teaching. The Muslim always aims at moderation in all things, and is on the alert to prevent any one aspect of his life from taking over at the expense of another.

The Muslim never forgets that Islam, which encourages him to take care of his appearance and to wear his beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer, is also the religion that warns him against going to extremes in that, and tells him to avoid becoming enslaved by his appearance, as the hadith says:

´Wretched is the slave of the dinar, dirham, and fancy clothes of velvet and silk If he is given, he is pleased, and if he is not given, he is displeased. (Bukhari)

No doubt those who call people to Allah are saved from this error, because they surround themselves with the protection of Islam and adopt the principles of moderation that it has brought.

Previous Next
Privacy  |  About Wister

Copyright © 2024 Wister All rights reserved