Not that long ago, when Europe was in its Golden Age, civilization, it seemed was at its peak and perfection. It was also during this time of pomp and pageantry, that it was not uncommon for men and women of the aristocracy to wear lice and mouse traps on their bodies, because to immerse oneself bodily into water, (i.e., to take a bath), was deemed unhealthy. Powdered wigs covered shaved heads due to lice infestations, and heavy perfumes barely covered the pungent smells of unwashed bodies.
Cleanliness had very little to do with that civilization, but it has everything to do with ours. Unfortunately, the Muslims are backtracking to a darker period, when to be clean, in our bodies, our homes, and our communities, was looked upon as a small thing. But as the old saying goes, cleanliness is godliness, and as we profess to be the true worshippers of the One, true God, Allah, then our nation should be the cleanest. Cleanliness, however, does not stop at the physical level; we must also strive to keep our minds, our hearts and our intentions free from the filth of sin.
It was narrated by Abu Malik al-Ash'ari that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alayhi wasallam, said, "Cleanliness is half of faith and Alhamdulillah fills the scale, and SubhanaAllah and Alhamdulillah fill up what is between the heavens and the earth. Salah is a light, and charity is proof (of one's faith) and endurance is a brightness and the Qur'an is a proof on your behalf or against you. All men go out early in the morning and sell themselves, thereby setting themselves free or destroying themselves." (Muslim).
Here the Prophet of Allah, sallallaahu alayhi wasallam, is telling us that cleanliness is half of faith, therefore it should not be taken lightly. Yet, how many Muslim brothers go to the masjids to offer their salahs, and annoy their brothers, their Lord, and His Angels, by not making the proper wudu or ghusl? It is narrated by Abu Hurairah that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wasallam, said, "If I had not found it hard for my followers or the people, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with siwak for every salah." (Bukhari and Muslim).
Keeping our persons clean is very important in this deen, but our level of cleanliness should not be skin deep. Our level of cleanliness needs to go beyond the outer self to touch our minds, our hearts and our souls.
Because there is a lot of filth in societies we line, it is easy to get dirty. Before we know it, all sorts of crazy things are running through our minds and our hearts are occupied with concerns and desires of this worldly life. But Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala, "Lo! We purified them with a pure thought, remembrance of the Home (of the Hereafter)." [38:46] The way to keep our minds and our hearts clean is through the constant remembrance of Allah and the Home of the Hereafter. When our minds are full of thikr, there is no room for unclean thoughts. When our hearts are full of dhikr, there is no room for lust, envy and jealousy.
Once we begin to re-emphasize this Sunnah in our lives, we will also see it manifesting itself in our homes and in our communities. So many so-called Muslim communities and homes are kept in such a way that not even the disbelievers would want to live there. The masjids are filthy, and the areas outside the masajid are littered with paper and garbage, yet this is where we stand and pray. How can we pray in filth? This is not the way of the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wasallam. It was narrated by Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin, that the Apostle of Allah, sallallaahu alayhi wasallam, commanded us to build mosques in different localities (i.e. in the locality of each tribe separately) and that they should be kept clean and be perfumed. (Abu Dawoud).
Sisters, our homes serve as our Masjids, they should be clean. Brothers, if you see paper, pick it up, and know that your reward is with Allah. For Abu Hurairah narrated that a black person, a male or a female used to clean the Mosque and then died. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wasallam, did not know about it. One day the Prophet remembered him and asked, "What happened to that person?" The people replied, "O Allah's Apostle, he died." He said, "Why did you not inform me?" They said, "His story was so and so (i.e., regarded him as insignificant)." He said, "Show me his grave." He then went to his grave and offered the funeral salah. (Bukhari).
Cleanliness is godliness, for Allah says, "O you who believe! When you rise up for salah, wash you faces, and your hands up to the elbows, and lightly rub your heads and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. And if you are unclean, purify yourselves ... Allah would not place a burden on you, but He would purify you and would perfect His grace upon you, that you may give thanks." [5:6]