Allah (SWT) has created human beings the way that we are all associated with one another. We live in a society where none of us can live isolated lives and each one of us depends on the other for love, compassion, caring and even fulfilling our materialistic needs. Every day of our lives, we strive to each other’s needs and requirements. Apart from our intertwined social structure, at times, one of our family members, friends or colleagues needs money for their house rent or treatment of a disease, or requires a recommendation to attain someone’s assistance or just requires our emotional support to tide them through difficult times. These difficulties are not just a test for those suffering it, but also for those around them. We are tested with our response to fulfilling one’s needs. What were our efforts in alleviating a person’s need? Could we have helped him? How much did we help them? Sometimes, what a person needs is just a warm hug and a shoulder to cry on, did we become one for the needy person?
The recommendations and rewards related to fulfilling the needs of the people have been emphasized in such great measure that one is left amazed that despite this great path available to attaining success in the hereafter, how very few of us make the best of it.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) says: “Anyone who wants Allah to enter him into His mercy and make him dwell in His paradise, he must beautify his conduct, be fair with people in his relationships, be merciful to the orphans, help the weak, and humble himself before Allah, his Creator.” 
The Holy Quran says about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP): We did not send you but as a mercy to all the nations. (21:107)
The Holy Prophet (PBUH & HP) was not just sent as a mercy to Muslims but to all of humanity and similarly the goodness and benevolence that are recommended for Muslims are not just limited to themselves but for every human being. Imam Ali (AS), the first rightful successor to the Holy Prophet (PBUH & HP) - when became the Caliph of the Muslim Ummah- he wrote in his letter to Malik Al-Ashtar, when the latter was appointed as the governor of Egypt: “Habituate your heart to mercy for the subjects and affection and kindness for people. Do not govern them like they are just greedy beasts and just in need of devouring, since they are of two kinds, either your brother in religion or one like you in creation.”
In the same letter he further advised Malik Al-Ashtar with the following words: “(Fear) Allah and keep Allah in view; in respect of the lowest class consisting of those who have few means: the poor, the destitute, the penniless and the disabled; because in this class are both the self- contained needy? And those who beg. Take care for the sake of Allah of His obligations towards them for which He has made you responsible. Fix for them a share from the public funds and a share from the crops of lands taken over as booty for Islam in every region, because in it the remote ones have the same shares as the near ones do. All these people are those whose rights have been placed in your charge. Therefore, a luxurious life should not keep you away from them. You cannot be excused for ignoring small matters because you were making decision for bigger problems. Consequently, do not be unmindful of them, nor turn your face from them out of vanity.” 
As the Caliph of the Muslim Ummah, one day Imam Ali (AS) saw an old blind man who was extremely troubled by his condition, begging for alms. Imam (AS) enquired about the man’s family and on investigating, found that he was a Christian by faith, and had earned his living through hard labour until he had lost his eyesight because of age. He was on his own and had no one to care for him. He had also not saved any money because of meagre earnings. When confirmed that he had never begged while he could earn, Imam Ali AS) said, ‘It is wondrous how you people use a human being for as long as he can serve you and discard him after he cannot. You all testify that he served society as long as he could see. It is, therefore, the duty of society and government to ensure him a decent life, now that he cannot fend for himself. I hereby institute a regular allowance to be paid to him from the State Treasury for as long as he lives.’  Similarly, Imam Sadiq (AS), the sixth Shi’ite Imam was once travelling with his helper, Musadaff between Mecca and Medina. On the way, they saw a man lying under a tree. Imam (AS) said: “Let’s go and see if he requires any help, it’s possible he has fainted due to dehydration.” When they went near him, they realised he was thirsty, so they immediately gave him some water and helped him sit up. After they had helped the man and made him feel better, they left the place. On the way, Musaddaf asked Imam (AS), “O, dear Imam, from his appearance, it was clear that the man is a Christian. Could we help Christians and give them alms?’ Imam Sadiq (AS) replied: ‘Yes, especially when they are in need, just as it was right now. 
Islam is a universal religion which has been presented to guide and serve humanity. Thus, we see that Muslims almost all over the world strive to serve fellow human beings, irrespective of their faiths. The Corona pandemic was a tragedy that called for human cooperation, empathy and brotherhood and Muslims throughout the world played a significant role in treating the sick, helping their family members cope with the tragedy and also made financial arrangements for the needy. Throughout Europe, Muslims made noteworthy philanthropic contributions to their respective communities and countries amid public health crisis. From Germany to the United Kingdom, European Muslims have coordinated relief efforts for their compatriots as a whole and not just for their coreligionists. Despite constant propaganda against Muslims and Islam, in particular, being a violent and hate-filled religion, such acts of charity and brotherhood seek to spread the true teachings of Islam through their deeds.
It might have happened to you that when there is a ladder leaned against a wall and as you want to pass under it, someone calls you and says: “Do not pass under a ladder!” You might think it's crazy, or you might find it acceptable and even follow it. Which one is true? If you decide to follow Islam as your faith, should you follow those superstitious beliefs or ignore them all at once?
Collins Concise English Dictionary defines superstition as an irrational belief usually founded upon ignorance or fear and characterized by obsessive reverence for omens, charms, etc. . Superstitious beliefs are not limited to a particular faith or region; all nations and clans have their own beliefs, followed by their fears and ignorance. They are mostly routed in the past of a nation, transferred from generation to generation.
Islam defines superstition as all the words, manners and beliefs without a religious or logical base and backbone .
The Quran defines superstition as a burden put upon the human mind and soul by his/her own hands. It introduces Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) to us as the last messenger of Allah, responsible to make things clear for his followers to see what to do and believe in, and what not to do and ignore .
"Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him - it is those who will be successful.” (7:157)
Shackles are those beliefs human beings had or might have, which made them do things and stop doing some others with no definite reason or scientific study and research. It is the duty of Islam to guide people to accept everything they believe in with their hearts and minds sure of it, which requires research and reasoning.
Well, there was a time when superstitions were limited to passing under a ladder or seeing a black cat. But now, superstitions are more woven in the lives of people. Reports have shown that a quarter of adults in the United States consider themselves to be so. American Youths are more superstitious than the elders, and 70 percent of them rely on luck charms for better academic results. According to some scientific research, this occurs because people think superstitions can relieve their anxieties, improve their performances and help them pay the extra costs of an adverse outcome, be it financial, mental, or whatsoever .
As you might also conclude, superstitions have not only been less common, but also they are becoming more frequent among young Americans. There are ways to overcome those beliefs which we are going to discuss in our next article. Still, aside from that, these words uncover one fact: when you follow superstitions and believe in them, they will take the lead in your life and the life of your children, family, friends, etc. One day you might come up with the fact that many of your friends' fears passing under a ladder, too.
The other outcome of following superstitious beliefs is a weaker mental belief in a superpower. Put simply, when you believe in superstitions, you see other powers, be it of Satan, natural elements, or any other thing, stronger and more effective than that of Allah. You might not mean or think that way, but being superstitious makes you so.
One last important aftermath of this system of thinking is a feeble religious mind, one which is easily broken, misled, and gone far away from the straightway of truth. Superstitions weaken your faith, and then they weaken you. A weak person goes forward with a slow speed.
These are the least consequences of superstitious beliefs. You might think about the ways of overcoming these thoughts and getting rid of them which we will discuss later.
So, Are you still afraid of passing under a ladder?
- Collins Concise English Dictionary at Word Reference Online Language dictionaries
- Mokhtaripour, Marziyeh Islam, Superstitions and their Prevention Pasdar Islam, Vol. 385
- Makarim Shirazi, Nemuneh Interpretation of Quran, Vol 1, P 184
- Sandoiu, Ana How do Superstitions affect our Psychology and Wellbeing September 2019
Islam is a complete way of life, which deals extensively on both the spiritual, as well as the physical well-being of its adherents. Hygiene in Islam is one of the great privileges in Islam. This write-up is aimed at examining the Islamic perspective on physical cleanliness.
Cleanliness and purification is an essential part of Islamic life, and in fact, the philosophy behind it in Islam is much beyond the superficial concept of the conventional cleanliness.
In the Quran, Allah says:
"…Indeed Allah loves the penitent, and He loves those who keep clean." (2:222)
Similarly, one of the injunctions that were revealed unto the Prophet (PBUH&HP) following his call to rise and warn was the purification of his garments [i]. The Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) and the infallible leaders (AS) have instructed the Muslims to maintain cleanliness and have seriously frowned at dirtiness and untidiness [ii].
When a child is born, Islam enjoins the Muslims to maintain a high level of cleanliness and purity concerning him/her, as this has an impact on the mind and soul of that child. If the parents neglect this duty, they should answer before God for the consequences. Similarly, circumcision of the male child-preferably on the seventh day- is a mandatory Islamic custom. That is because it “prevents the child against the possible infection of the male genital organ" .
Also, at death, it is mandatory to perform full body washing ablution (Ghusl) for a dead body of a Muslim.
In addition, ablution (Wudu) and body purity are considered as very crucial conditions for the validity of prayer (Salat), which is the most significant act of worship in Islam. In fact, on a normal circumstance, a Muslim cannot offer his prayers with an unclean body, clothes or use dirty premises. They are enjoined to use clean, pure water and keep it safe from any form of impurities.
Various full body-washing ablutions (Ghusl) after the release of semen, expiration of monthly period or childbirth, touching of dead bodies, etc. are prescribed in Islam to observe some religious obligations.
Cleansing of their genitals with water or other cleansing materials after passing urine or excreta are parts of the Islamic customs. Similarly, Muslims on an interval are enjoined to clip their nails and to shave the hair in their armpit and pubic area. Likewise, they are also enjoined to trim their mustaches in order to avert oral intakes, keep oral hygiene, good physical appearance and to make use of fragrance. Similarly, Islam emphatically enjoins a Muslim to keep his clothes, houses, and environment clean. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “The Arch Gabriel continuously ordered me to clean my teeth until I thought it would be made compulsory” .
In the Quran and narrations (Hadiths) of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and the infallible Leaders (Ahl-al-Bayt) (AS), great emphasis has been placed on the cleanliness and purity of the foods and drinks. For the importance attached to the well-being of the body as well as that of the soul, Islam has enjoined the entire human beings and the believers in particular to consume hygienic, pure and lawful foods [iii]. Similarly, it forbids the consumption or usage of all unhygienic, impure and unlawful foods/drinks (such as blood, dead animal, dogs, pig, intoxicants, etc.) and they are considered great sins in Islam and punishable under the Islamic laws.
Cleanliness and personal hygiene in the Islamic custom are aimed at keeping both the body and mind healthy. In some cases such as ablution (Wudu) and body-washing ablution (Ghusl), body purity is considered a prerequisite for the observance of prayers. Moreover, body purity is one of the necessary conditions for attaining an inner or spiritual purity. It is based on this that Muslims are strictly enjoined to uphold high standards of physical hygiene and to be ritually cleaned whenever possible.
[ii] The Prophet (PBUHHP) said: "Verily, Islam is [the religion of] cleanliness, so cleanse yourselves. For surely, only the cleanly enter Paradise"  and "Observe cleanliness in every respect you are capable, for indeed God based Islam on cleanliness" .
[iii]. "O humankind! Eat of what is lawful and pure in the earth…" (2: 168). "O you who have faith! Eat of the good things We have provided you, and thank Allah if it is Him that you worship." (2: 172)
- Nahj al-Fasahah, Vol. 2, P. 998.
- Ibrahim Amini, Principles of upbringing children, chapter 25 P. 176 (published by Ansariyan publications, Qum)
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 76, P. 126.