By Dr A Q Khan
May 04, 2015
In my last column I stressed the importance and utility of ablution and prayer in Islam. My aim here is to pass on the important basics of Islam to ordinary people. I had mentioned the famous Hadith which states that cleanliness is half of faith and this goes to show how important cleanliness is considered in Islam.
Alas! Just as we have ignored so many other golden rules of Islam, so too cleanliness is receiving the lowest priority amongst Muslims. Just look around you. How many people can you see who don’t bathe regularly, smell of bad body odour and who don’t clean their teeth properly? They urinate by the side of the road, spit wherever they please, throw rubbish on streets, in parks, in cinemas, etc. and discard garbage anywhere and everywhere.
If these people were saying their prayers regularly, they would be washing their hands, rinsing their mouths, washing their faces, wetting their hair, cleaning behind and inside their ears and washing their feet regularly – a thorough exercise in bodily cleanliness. If they didn’t brush their teeth but used misvak, their teeth would not be rotting and their breath would not be bad.
All these basic, fundamental, simple rituals of Islam have fallen by the wayside for many Muslims. Go to any market and you will find heaps of rotting garbage; go to any not-so-well-to-do locality and you will find stinking garbage and sewerage water everywhere with schoolchildren and other pedestrians having to pick their way through the dirt. Discarded plastic bags are everywhere and sometimes one can even see dead animals.
Even well-to-do families are least bothered about their servants throwing garbage over their boundary walls onto empty plots next door or onto footpaths. No empty, open space can be found that is not polluted. It pains one to think that these are Muslims belonging to the very religion that puts so much stress on cleanliness; that they are least bothered about basic religious, hygienic requirements.
Unfortunately, many nowadays regard Muslims as the dirtiest (and laziest) people in the world. Go to any Islamic country and the story is the same. Don’t judge Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia or Turkey from what you see in the big cities, skyscrapers and shopping malls. Go to the inner areas and see the contrast. Wherever there are large communities of foreigners in a Muslim country (for instance the Chinese in Malaysia), one immediately sees an improvement, even though that community may be poor too.
I have visited many Islamic countries in Africa, Central Asia, Far East and Xinjiang and there is not much difference to what I have mentioned above – it is the same story everywhere.
What has happened to us? Look at the grandeur of the buildings in India (built by the Moghuls), Persia, Central Asia, Turkey, North Africa and southern Spain. Look at the excellent baths, drainage systems, etc. We were the best in almost every field of life at that time.
A French tourist who visited Samarkand during Taimur’s reign stated that, never before had he seen a more beautiful, clean city than that. He spoke of broad, neat and clean boulevards, huge parks, grand buildings and excellent sewerage system.
Now look at Pakistan. Heaps of garbage everywhere with street urchins picking their way through it trying to find something to eat or sell. They pick up all kinds of diseases, pass these on to their siblings and families, who in turn pass it on to the people in the places they work. God has His own way of making everyone suffer to some extent.
Our teachers and religious scholars have totally ignored stressing this most important aspect of our life as a Muslim. They don’t teach ethics, manners or moral values but only harp back on the past – in short Huququl Ebad and Huququllah have been totally sidelined and ignored. Regarding Huququl Ebad; have you ever heard an Imam discussing this matter in a Friday khutba? All he has to talk about is the stories of Hazrat Yousuf (pbuh), Hazrat Musa (pbuh), Pharaoh, Qarun, etc. and perhaps some politics for good measure. Why do they never talk about good character, kindness to others, respect for all forms of life, honesty, politeness and cleanliness?
I have serious complaints against our teachers, our parents and, above all, our religious parties. Parents and teachers hardly teach the basics of Huququl Ebad, manners, morals, ethics and cleanliness to the children. Our religious leaders have totally ignored the edicts of the Almighty and have directed all their efforts and energies to ruling the country and spreading communal hatred.
We see the Jamaat-e-Islami spending millions of man hours and millions of rupees in Karachi just to win a single seat. Is it worth all that time and money? Had all that time and money been spent on the betterment of the common man, they would have reaped rich rewards from Allah. The Jamaat-e-Islami is a well-organised party and was doing excellent work for the benefit of the public before it became a political party. One wishes that they had concentrated only on Huququl Ebad teaching. That would have been of great national and religious service.
The Islami Jamiat-e-Tulaba has become infamous as a notorious militant body. In my college days in Karachi in the early fifties they used to take care of students, providing them with books and coaching. Nowadays, behind every trouble or bloodshed at any university, the IJT’s name is in the forefront. We never see any volunteers of any of the religious parties going to the poor, dirty areas of the cities to help the people clean their narrow lanes, provide proper sewerage facilities and draining dirty gutter water.
Now go to any western country. Their washrooms and toilets will be clean and their roads unlittered. The best principles of our religion have been adopted by the west and this, together with their hard work, enabled them to rise to glory and grandeur, while we have fallen to disgrace.
To be continued