What Are the Teachings on Hygiene in Islam?

Islam is a complete way of life, which deals extensively on both the spiritual, as well as the physical well-being of its adherents. Cleanliness is one of the great privileges in Islam. This write-up is aimed at examining the Islamic perspective on physical cleanliness.

 

The significance of Hygiene in Islam

 

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) following his call to rise and warn was the purification of his garments [i]. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the infallible leaders (AS) have instructed the Muslims to maintain cleanliness and have seriously frowned at dirtiness and untidiness [ii].

 

hygiene in Islam, Salam Islam

Hygiene in Islam at Birth and Death 

 

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" [3].

 

Also, at death, it is mandatory to perform full body washing ablution (Ghusl) for a dead body of a Muslim.

 

Ablutions (Wudu) & (Ghusl)

 

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.

 

Personal Hygiene in Islam

 

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) said: “The Arch Gabriel continuously ordered me to clean my teeth until I thought it would be made compulsory” [4].

 

hygiene in Islam, Salam Islam

Food Hygiene

 

In the Quran and narrations (Hadiths) of the Prophet (PBUH) 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.

 

Conclusion

 

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.

 

Notes:

 

[i] (74:4)

[ii] The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Verily, Islam is [the religion of] cleanliness, so cleanse yourselves. For surely, only the cleanly enter Paradise" [1] and "Observe cleanliness in every respect you are capable, for indeed God based Islam on cleanliness" [2].

[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)

 

References:

 

[1] Nahj al-Fasahah, Vol. 2, P. 998.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibrahim Amini, Principles of upbringing children, chapter 25 P. 176 (published by Ansariyan publications, Qum)

[4] Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 76, P. 126.