The article in brief: The author describes a feeling of remorse he felt which was ignited due to some situations that were witnessed during his recent visit to a Muslim state. He further sheds light on 3 dimensions of purity in Islam which he believes could solve some of these witnessed issues.
Sizzling street food, hustling store-keepers, snake-charmers playing their flute-like instruments, little chimpanzees on leashes, and story-tellers yelling their tales of the vast desert-travels in a dramatic manner. Surrounded by all of this, I found myself in the main Jame’ Al Fnaa Square in Marrakesh. This recent trip to Morocco, as fascinating and magical as it was, arose in me a sense of remorse. A feeling of regret that I believe was sparked by a few incidents that brought to my attention the reality we live in today in the Muslim world. Some of these incidents include bribery practice in the airports, general cleanliness/hygiene levels of people, forgery and fraud in sales transactions and money matters, and extreme examples such as the abundance of prohibited drugs. I think what mainly struck my attention was that these practices had begun becoming the norm for a significant amount of people whilst these people still adhered to Islamic elements of prayers, fasting, and hijab.
After thinking about this a lot, I think the main reasons for these newly developed norms include the lack of a proactive thinking process, the herd mentality approach to matters and not one based on Islamic values, and finally economic realities that force individuals to behave in certain ways. Therefore, I believe the true essence of Islam in the lives of many Muslims in Morocco has faded away whilst making way for more superficial matters.
The above mentioned outcomes that ignited the feeling of regret in me are, in my opinion, by no means exclusive to Morocco. They have the ability to trickle down to all Muslim societies, including ours. One possible way to guard ourselves from this and to solve this issue in societies that follow these absurd practices is to understand the concept of purity in Islam (Tahara). Although a very vast subject, the three most relevant realms of purity that I’d like to delve into are the purity of creed or belief, the purity of cleanliness and hygiene, and finally the purity of money matters.
First, the purity of creed. Creed, in my opinion, is the set of beliefs and values that drive an individual. The concept of a pure creed in Islam is defined by purifying the belief in the oneness of Allah from all other beliefs. This means that the actions of an individual be reflective of and revolve around divine guidance which seek the pleasure of Allah alone. The actions that come as a result of this pure creed are not for social acceptance, rank, or any superstitious belief. I believe this creates a form of conscience in society and reduces hypocrisy.
(…certainly a masjid founded on piety from the very first day is more deserving that you should stand in it; in it are men who love that they should be purified; and Allah loves those who purify themselves.) – The Holy Quran [9:108]
Second, the purity of personal hygiene and the cleanliness of the general environment. The religion of Islam teaches its followers and urges them to always be wary of their personal hygiene. The act of ablution (washing certain or all body parts) is mandatory for prayer and wearing colognes and perfumes is encouraged and rewarded. The act of grooming and tidiness, removing dirt from the streets and public areas, washing clothes, and dental hygiene are all examples supporting this claim, even though early Muslims lived in water-scarce areas. The awareness of this form of purity is something that needs to propagate at a wider level in society.
“The rights upon a Muslim are three: taking a bath on Friday, using the toothbrush, and using a good scent.” (Sahih Al Jami 3028) – The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
“Had I not been afraid of overburdening my community, I would have ordered them to brush their teeth for every prayer” (Sahih Bukhari) – The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
Third, the purity of money matters and transactions. The religion of Islam addresses with great emphasis and cautions its followers about the source of their wealth and the manner in which it was obtained. It rewards those that seek wealth from good sources and warns those who cheat others or aim to spread widespread corruption of accountability. It protects fair trading and the rights of consumers as well as encourages healthy competition and quality work.
“May Allah show mercy to a man who is kind when he sells, when he buys, and when he makes a claim.” (Sahih Bukhari) – The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
In summary, the Muslim world has in the past century or more seen a rapid decline in terms of social and economic practices. In my opinion, the average Muslim individual has lost all value and has had to succumb to certain norms that are not reflective of Islam or its true followers. This has led to certain outcomes that I witnessed which can potentially destroy Muslim nations in all aspects. That being said, I believe by understanding the concept of purity in Islam in the dimensions of belief/creed, cleanliness/hygiene, and transactions/money-matters, we can limit this decline and succeed as a whole. We have to begin somewhere, let’s learn to be pure.