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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Cleanliness is half of faith…..so be in a state of wudu’ always

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With Aicha

What does it mean? Which parts of life does it affect? Can we pick and choose?
Is it enough to make ourselves clean as a preparation for prayer and in between we don’t need to bother? Can all dirt be seen? Is all dirt bad for us or can we just say that: ”What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”?
This article began a bit differently than my other articles but I felt I had to ask all these questions first before I could continue.

I have had a dirty mind for some time. Oops! I can see that you jumped a little, but relax, I don’t mean that I have had indecent thoughts, I have been thinking about dirt.
What an unusual topic, you might think, but I will explain for you why my thoughts have been occupied with dirt.

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Cleanliness is a huge and important part of our Muslim faith and if I compare with the religion I am familiar with from before, Christianity, it differs us from them.
What I am speaking about is what our Holy books are telling us, not if we take a shower or not in these modern times.
To come with clean clothes and a clean body for prayer is both to show our respect to God but also to our fellow human beings.

Imagine kneeling for prayer among dirty people with unwashed feet – where is the focus?
Will we focus on the prayer or will our thoughts sooner or later wander away to the awkward mood you get into by someone’s smelly feet?
When I began to study the Holy Qur’an I was amazed by the wisdom it shared with us. It really covers all parts of life, even our hygiene. At the time when the prophet Muhammed (pbuh) got his revelations people lived in close communities without any modern amenities. Desert dust covered the clothes on windy days and a lack of water made people use it wisely.

So why waste this valuable water on cleaning your body every day? I know that people here in Sweden would ask that question anyway.
Well, we would never approach anyone important without checking how we look, if we are clean and in the right mood so why approach God without showing the same respect? Human leaders will be changed or even die but God remains so shouldn’t we show him so much higher respect than anyone else?
God has created everything on earth so he is definitely worth the effort to fetch some extra water for our wudu’.

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We must also consider the heat in the prophet’s homeland, if people were not told that being clean is an indisputable rule it would be horrible to live close to each other. Rules created by humans can be discussed but not a rule made by God.
The heat is also the reason why a deceased person must be buried so quickly. For you, dear reader, this might be nothing to consider as it is so natural for you but I know that there are people who ask for the reason.

Here in the northern part of Europe we might have some hot days in the middle of the summer so we don’t need to bother so much. A special house built on a shady place can keep a cool temperature even in summertime so a dead body can be kept there for some days. In the middle of the winter it will even be frozen in there.
I will leave this macabre topic now and go to my next point among my questions.
I joked a little before and told you that I have a dirty mind, just to wake you up a little if you were getting sleepy.

How can a mind be clean and why should we control it? I truly believe we can control our minds if we try. The thoughts are not buzzing around in the head like bees without a direction; we can decide where they should be heading and not allow them to get astray. If we decide to have as our life goal to purify our minds it can be hard sometimes but it is still possible.

When you are praying or meditating you try to focus on one thing only and you don’t allow yourself to let go of that focus. If that is possible in prayer or meditation, why shouldn’t it be possible in other situations?
What is wrong with resting the mind a little and stop being serious for a moment? There is nothing wrong with it, we are humans after all, but don’t let go of your focus. Even a resting mind can stay focused on positive things, things that are developing for you instead of the opposite.

Gossip, comments about others, complaints without a reason, being suspicious or jealous – all of that is so easy to fall in to but it doesn’t do anything good for anyone. You can be sure that if you gossip a lot about others they will gossip about you in return.
If you instead mind your own business and keep your mind on a higher level there are not many negative things to say about you. Those who try to dig a mental hole for you to fall in will instead fall in there themselves.

When I was very young I got to know an old lady called Ester. Ester was the sweetest lady I have ever met and I learned a lot from her. She was a friend of the family but we always called her Grandma Ester. One of the things Ester taught me was to avoid gossip, she taught me that if I don’t have anything nice to say about a person it is better to be silent. Grandma Ester told me about her life and that some of the women she participated with stopped meeting her because she wasn’t any fun to talk to. Ester had no new gossip to use to speed up the conversation with as petrol on a dying fire. Ester was kind, fun, caring, hard working and loyal to her family – a rolemodel for other women, but some of them didn’t see her that way. They thought she was boring and too serious.

I didn’t realize until many years later that what Grandma Ester told me about herself coloured me as a person. As I matured I began to realize more and more that Grandma Ester had been so right – it was better to be silent if I didn’t have anything nice to say. I’m not a saint, I struggle all the time, but at least I am aware of my flaws and I try to do better.

Being in a group of people, chatting and laughing, it is very easy to follow the others and join the topic of the conversation even if you feel that the topic is not good for anyone.
So what to do? It can be tough or considered impolite to tell the others to change the topic because you don’t like it. Remain silent, discretely changing the subject to a nicer one, stand up and walk away, pretend that you suddenly got busy with something ? You must choose the strategy that feels best for you but what actually would be the best option is to choose the company instead.

If you feel that the company you are in is trying to pull you down on a lower level than the one you prefer then it is time for you to change the company. In cases where you feel that people suck energy from you, instead of filling you up with energy, you have one choice and that is to leave the company. You need to realize that the only thing you can change is yourself, you can’t change anyone else if they are not aware of them having a problem of some kind. Hopefully you can get a positive reaction from someone who has missed you and wondered where you went. That is the perfect opportunity to tell your opinion and then it is up to the other part to either accept what you have said or leave you.

Stand up for yourself and don’t let anyone else pull you down to a level where you don’t belong. Keep your mind clean from mental pollution and focus on your life goals instead.
I’m going back to where I began this article:
Be in a state of wudu’ always.
Is that even possible or necessary? Only you can answer for yourself but we all know that the farther we go astray the longer the way back is again.
The deeper we allow our mind to sink the harder it will be to reach a higher level again – but it is not impossible.

That is what is so great when we really set our mind on our goals – we can reach them little by little.
That is the trick, you see; take small steps ahead and with determination you can reach your goal. Even a turtle reaches its goal sooner or later, even if it can’t compete with a faster animal. Life is a journey, life is not static and we change with it. If we allow us to look upon our lives as a lifelong learning process we don’t need to blame ourselves for our shortcomings. The state of wudu’ is surrounding us like a life vest, keeping us up when we feel that the sea is stormy.

The state of wudu’ is the love from our God that is keeping us safe, we are loved by him and he wants to protect us no matter what. Compare this with how a parent loves his/her child. There are rules to follow for the child but sometimes it gets astray, is disobedient, but it comes back again. The love is protecting the child so even if the child is trying its boundaries it is still safe and loved.
So, if we trust that love, feel secure by its protection but are not taking it for granted we are able to stay in a state of wudu’ always.

One final question: is there dirt we can’t see? In the old times people didn’t believe that this kind of dirt existed because they couldn’t see it with their eyes. We now know better but still some people don’t realize the problem. This is why people get sick and even die because the lack of hygiene and that is unnecessary in these times. Things don’t get easier as the access of water hasn’t been reliable in the Gambia. The possibilities of keeping ourselves clean are so important and especially as the Gambia is mainly a Muslim country. How can it still be a fact that so many households don’t have running water, proper toilets and electricity? How is it possible that so many schools don’t have the same? It is 2018 and still people live like in the medieval times. The lack of running, clean water and electricity 24/7 is making life hard for so many and when life is nothing but a struggle it is not easy to keep the mind up on a higher level. This is causing huge problems in so many areas and because we know that it is even more necessary to do something about it.
”What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a saying that can be true sometimes and other times not. That can be a topic on its own in another article so I think I will come back to that later.

Being a living dead; that is when you have no dreams, no goals, no hopes left and you only exist. Your mind has the state of a vegetable instead of being an active and vibrant part of you. There can be many reasons for this state of mind, some of them deeper and more tragic than others. There is another saying:
“Life is 10% what happens to you and
90 % how you react to it.”
The mind is very strong and you can decide where it is heading. Find your goal in life and remember that it doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop walking.

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