Dr. Sadaf Sheikh
Islam considers health to be one of the most important blessings given to human beings by Allah. Good health is something for which we are accountable to Allah. The Prophet (sa) said, “The first thing every servant of Allah will have to account for on the Day of Judgment is that he will be asked by Allah, Have I not given you a healthy constitution and have I not quenched your thirst with cold water?” (At-Tirmidhi)
The Prophet (sa) also said, “No one will be allowed to move from his position on the Day of Judgment until he has been asked how he spent his life; how he used his knowledge; how he earned and spent his money; and in what pursuits he used his health.” (At-Tirmidhi)
The preservation of this blessing can only be achieved through taking good care of one’s health and taking every measure to maintain and enhance it. Moreover, the Quran and the Sunnah contain teachings, which show every Muslim how to protect his health generally and how to take care of each of his organs. Numerous examples can be given. Prominent among these is Wudhu (ablution), which Islam regards as compulsory whenever it is invalidated.
Another act of worship, which also helps to maintain good health, is taking a shower, or Ghusl. This is compulsory when one is in the state of ritual impurity. We read in the Quran, “If you are defiled (following sexual intercourse or a wet dream) then purify yourselves.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:6) The Prophet (sa) also recommended his followers to have a shower on many occasions, such as on Fridays. He said, “He who comes to Friday prayer should first have a shower.” (Agreed upon)
Bathing is also recommended on the two feasts. Taking a shower is also recommended for entering into the state of consecration (Ihram); whether for Hajj (pilgrimage) or Umra (lesser-pilgrimage); after washing the body of a deceased person in preparation for burial; for praying for rain or eclipse of the sun; before secluding oneself for prayer; when body odour becomes too strong; and before attending any social gathering.
Hands, Feet, Nails, etc
Islamic teachings are not confined to general cleanliness, but also take care of local cleanliness, such as washing one’s hands. The Prophet (sa) used to wash his hands before eating. We are also recommended to clip our nails. Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said, “Five practices are part of natural cleanliness: circumcision, shaving the pubic hair, plucking out the armpit hair, cutting the nails and trimming the moustache.” (Agreed upon).
A Muslim is also supposed to keep the feet clean, for the Prophet (sa) used to rub in between his toes with his little finger when he performed his ablutions.” (Abu Dawood) He also said, “Woe to heels (from the punishment of Hell if they are not washed). Perform the ritual of ablution properly.”(Abu Dawood)
Mouth and Teeth
Islamic teachings also take care of the cleanliness of one’s mouth. We are required to rinse our mouths, as the Prophet (sa) said, “When you perform ablutions, rinse your mouth.”(Abu Dawood). The Prophet (sa) also said, “Rinse your mouth after drinking milk, because it contains fat.”(Abu Dawood). We are also commanded to keep our gums clean. The Prophet described the process of cleaning one’s teeth as “purification of one’s mouth, and an act that is pleasing to the Lord.” (Al-Nasa’i). The Prophet (sa) also said, “If I were not afraid that it would be too hard for the community, I would have asked Muslims to brush their teeth whenever they prayed.” (Agreed upon)
Eyes, Ears, Nose
Another aspect of health protection is to keep clean one’s ears, eyes, nose, hair and genitals. It has been authentically reported that the Prophet wiped his ears, using his forefingers to clean them from inside and his thumbs on the outside, thus wiping them both inside and out. It is also authentically reported concerning cleanliness of the eyes that the Prophet used to wipe the inner corner of the eye. We are also recommended to clean our noses, for the Prophet said, “When any of you perform the ablutions, introduce water into the nose and then blow it out.” (Ibn-Majah). Science has proven that the act of inhaling water slightly in order to moist the inner top of the nose is beneficial for Sinus patients since it clears away germs.
Hair and Private Parts
With regard to keeping the hair clean, the Prophet said, “He who has hair should take good care of it.” (Abu Dawood). Local cleanliness particularly includes the genitals and private parts. Anas (rta), the Prophet’s servant, said, “When the Prophet defecated, I brought him water to wash with.” (Agreed upon). Aisha (rta), the Prophet’s wife, told Muslim women, “Tell your husbands to wash their private parts with water, for I am too shy to tell them so. The Prophet (sa) used to do that.” (At-Tirmidhi)
It is part of the duty of every Muslim, therefore, to safeguard this blessing and not to allow any change to overcome it through ill usage. Islam put stress on human body’s cleanliness. In summary, our healthy body is a gift from Allah and we are the trustees. We should not misuse it, nor provide wrong raw product for the factory and should keep superb maintenance of this delicate and sensitive machine, in order to enjoy Allah’s blessings. It is after all, the container of our soul.