What does spiritual cleaning mean? Will you explain it through examples?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

"…In it (the mosque) are men who love to be purified; and Allah loveth those who make themselves pure." (at-Tawba, 9/108)

The interpretation of the verse: Never perform prayers in that mosque, that is, in Masjid ad-Dirar. A mosque whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety (Masjid Quba) is more worthy of the standing forth for prayer therein: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) himself laid its foundations by leading prayers there on the first days of the Migration: He led five daily prayers to the congregation on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, when he stayed there.

However, it is also stated that "the mosque whose foundation was laid on piety" is Masjid an-Nabawi in Madinah. The following is stated from Abu Said al-Khudri: I asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) about the mosque whose foundation was laid on piety. He picked a few pebbles and threw them on the ground and said, "This mosque; Madinah Mosque." It is the place that deserves your performing prayers the most. There are men who love to be purified in it. They like to be purified from bad traits, material and spiritual impurities; they love to be pure and clean for Allah and try to be so. Allah loves those who are pure and clean.  

After the verse above was sent down, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) walked with a group of Muhajirs toward Masjid Kuba. When he arrived at the mosque, he stopped a bit and waited. Some people from Ansar were sitting in the mosque. He asked them,

"Are you believers?" The congregation kept silent. He asked again. Hz. Umar said,

"O Messenger of Allah! They are definitely believers. I am together with them." The Prophet (pbuh) said,

"Do you show consent to what is predestined for you?" They said,

"Yes, we do." He asked,

"Do you show patience when you are hit by a misfortune? They said,

"Yes, we do." He asked,

"Do you thank Allah when you have plenty to eat and drink? They said,

"Yes, we do." Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, 

"By the Lord of the Kaaba, they are believers." He sat down. Then, he said,

"O people of Ansar! Allah praised you. What do you do when you make wudu?" They said,

"We use three stones to clean the feces. Then, we clean with water." The Messenger of Allah recited the following verse:

"...In it are men who love to be purified..."

It is also stated that they washed the residues of urine with water; they never walked around when they were junub and they did not sleep when they were junub.  

To sum up, tatahhur means to exaggerate in cleaning and to act meticulously about cleanliness. As a religious term, taharah means being purified and cleaned from material impurities as well as the state of janabah (by making ghusl) and spiritual impurities.

What is really meant by tatahhur here is the cleanliness of the heart, not the material one, since it is mentioned as opposite of bad traits like "dirar (harm), kufr (unbelief), tafriqa (mischief) and irsad (preparation)".

That is, it is clear that it means to be purified from bad traits like sin, disobedience, stinginess and laziness, and their spiritual stains.

Besides, the questions the Prophet (pbuh) asked about "belief, patience and thanking" shed light on the issue. In that case, those different narrations do not aim to specify the interpretation; it should be considered that it is not peculiar to spirituality only and that it includes material cleanliness too, indicating that the scope of the verse should be regarded wide. (KUR'AN'I KERİM TEFSİRİ, ELMALILI MUHAMMED HAMDİ YAZIR)

Islam gives great importance to cleanliness and makes it a prerequisite, introduction and key to some deeds of worshipping. The Prophet (pbuh) states the following in a hadith:

"The key to prayer is cleanliness; its beginning is takbir and its completion is salam (salutation)."

Cleanliness is a prerequisite for some deeds of worshipping and it is an indispensable element of health. In addition, it causes one’s sustenance to increase. The following is stated in a hadith:

"Keep cleaning so that your sustenance will be increased..."

It will be wrong to consider cleanliness as bodily cleanliness only. Cleanliness of the heart, having good intentions and high ethics are necessary as much as and even more than the cleanliness of the body.

As a matter of fact, if the intention of a person is not pure, his worshipping will not be sincere and hence will not be accepted by Allah. Therefore, the cleanliness of the heart and the body need to exist together in a Muslim; it should be known that a man can be a perfect Muslim if he keeps both his heart and body clean.  

The cleanliness of the heart is the foundation and an important principle of Islam. As a matter of fact, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) pointed out those two issues with the following hadith: "Islam was built on the foundation of cleanliness." The reminder "Allah is clean; He likes clean things" is another hadith that reminds us of Islam’s principle of cleanliness. Some of the hadiths and verses showing how much importance Islam gives to cleanliness are as follows: 

"Islam is clean; you need to get clean too because only the clean ones will enter Paradise."

"Cleanliness is half of belief."

"Cleanliness is of (the perfection and light of) belief."

"…For Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean." (al-Baqara, 2/222)"

"…(With the order of wudu and tayammum) Allah doth not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete his favor to you, that ye may be grateful." (al-Maida, 5/6)

"…And he (Allah) caused rain to descend on you from heaven, to clean you therewith..." (al-Anfal, 8/11) (Mehmet Dikmen)

The name al-Quddus (the Pure One) teaches us that Allah is free from all deficiencies and is blessed, inviting us to become clean slaves; it also reminds us that it is necessary to enter into the presence of Allah with a sound heart and clean body.

“We must not forget that bad qualities, false beliefs, sins and innovations are all instances of moral and spiritual dirt.” (Lem’alar)

A believer benefits from this blessed name to the extent that he tries to have a clean creed purified from doubts, hesitations, wrong beliefs and superstitions, and to perform worshipping that is free from show-off, hypocrisy and material interests and a spirit that is away from low ethics. When he commits a sin, he tries to delete that stain from his spirit by repenting at once.

One way of attaining the manifestation of the name al-Quddus is to give importance to material cleanliness. 

Accordingly, as a person pays attention to material cleanliness, he will act in accordance with the purity and cleanliness in the universe and will approach to angels to the extent that he pays attention to spiritual cleanliness.

I want to end this issue with a wonderful determination from Risale-i Nur Collection:

“Among its other functions, that terrible factory of Hell cleanses the universe of existence of the filth of the world of non-existence.” (Şualar)

Accordingly, a great manifestation of the name Quddus will be manifest in Hell. The believers whose sins overweigh in Mizan (Scales) will go to Hell to be purified from those sins; they will come to Paradise as clean after being punished. 

As for those who die as unbelievers, the name Quddus will be manifest in another way on them; it will clean them from the impurities of unbelief. They will all believe in Hell and angels, and ask help from Allah in order to be saved from that terrible punishment. However, this late approval will not be enough to save them from Hell. (Alaaddin Başar)

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