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May 6th, 2010

Connection between physical cleansing and moral purity

Here is some interesting research on the effect of washing of hands on one’s moral and mental attitudes:

“Cleanliness is Next to Self-Righteousness”

3 Responses to “Connection between physical cleansing and moral purity”

  1. As the article says in the very beginning:

    “Hand washing may help us emotionally disconnect from past decisions. But it may also increase feelings of moral superiority. “
     
    Before offering Salat (namaz/prayer) Muslims do Wadu (ablution). Beside physical cleanliness, it helps person to disconnect and change his/her interaction from worldly business to spiritual business. Basically a Muslim makes a physical change before a spiritual change.


  2. The above linked article primarily highlights the objective connection of Cleanliness to Self-Righteousness, but mostly points one-way i.e. effects of body on soul, whereas Quran emphasizes the reciprocal effects of body and soul. State of hygiene of one affects the other:
     
    5:6. O you who believe! when you get up for Prayer (perform the ablution, so as to) wash your faces and your hands upto the elbows, and pass your (wet) hands over your heads (for mashah), and (wash) your feet upto the ankles. And if you are under an obligation to perform a bath, then wash yourselves thoroughly clean by a bath. But if you have been taken ill or on a journey (while under obligation to take a bath) or one of you comes from the privy, or you have had (sexual) contact with women and you do not find water, then have recourse to clean pure dust and wipe your faces and your hands with it (as Tayammum). Allâh does not intend to impose any impediments on you, but He intends to purify you (internally and externally) and complete His blessings upon you so that you may give (Him) thanks.
     
    The referenced article elucidates the value of cleansing attempt whether it is by means of  “antiseptic wipe” or “liquid soap” but Quran takes the act of cleansing even further in the extreme case of one being ill or on a journey or in a place like harsh desert environment where you do not find water, then have recourse to clean pure dust and wipe your faces and your hands with it (as Tayammum). Please note, nowhere it states to smear oneself with dirt like a sadhu.
     
    Irrespective of how one attempts to “cleanse,” the main purpose is that Allâh does not intend to impose any impediments on you, but He intends to purify you (internally and externally) and complete His blessings upon you so that you may give (Him) thanks for such a state of purity.

    But how much to wash before it can be termed as an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Quran emphasizes the common sense of moderation e.g.
     
    35:32. … Some of them are (hard upon themselves and so) unjust to their souls (for suppressing their egos sternly). There are others among them who are moderate and are following the middle course. There are yet others among them who, by the leave of Allâh, are foremost in acts of goodness. That indeed is the great distinction.
     
    The concept of moderation is an important one, which is implied by Zhong – “Those who held a self-image of cleanliness and purity rendered harsher moral judgments than those in the other two groups.” This corresponds to the everyday experience of harsh moral judgments of Mullahs who focus more on rituals than spirit of the ritual and are known to have given fatwas to ablute despite one being freshly showered. Ask anyone who as a child has tried to learn Arabic recitation of Quran in a neighborhood mosque in the old country. Every such mosque has stories of beatings of children at hands of Mullah just for mispronouncing a word of a foreign language. Zhong further concludes – moral judgments are “not based on rational reasoning,” but rather are the results of unconscious “metaphorical thinking that confuses physical purity with moral purity.”
     
    A distinction is to be made about OCD in which it is the internal anxiety which forces an outward undoing behavior that can include hand washing but not vice versa.

    [The Holy Quran – Allamah Nooruddin]


  3. how come people who commit the most horrendous crimes have in impecable gromming and where a n clean expensicve suit


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