Getting rid of all that dirt (yuk!)
Sikander Ziad Hashmi, sunniforum.com
Born and raised in Canada, I’ve only spent a few months of my 22 years of life outside this country. Some of it was in the Pakistani metropolis of Karachi.
One thing that really amazed me every time I visited was how fast my clothes would get dirty. Let’s say it was a Friday and I’d dress up with my nice, clean, white kurta and head out for Jumu`ah prayers. By the time I’d get back, it would already be dirty! And no, I wouldn’t roll my way to the masjid.
Of course, the dirt on my clothes was a result of the pollution and the dust in the air.
My dear brothers and sisters, today we find ourselves in a polluted and dirty society and environment. As such, our souls and hearts find themselves covered in dirt just as quickly as my clothes in Karachi. While the dirt in the air affects our clothes, the dirt in society affects our souls and hearts.
We may think of ourselves as strong and invincible and that nothing can affect our faith. Yet, we should all remember that rocks are also hard and strong, yet repeated clashing of waves causes them to become rounded. Metal may be as strong as it is, but it corrodes and rusts, leaving it with holes. Concrete and asphalt may hurt us if we fall on them, yet they too are susceptible to cracks.
Therefore, to think that our hearts and souls are so strong that the environment around us cannot affect them is a fallacy. No matter how fortified we feel, there is bound to be an effect – however small – on our souls and hearts. At least some dirt is bound to stick to our inner selves.
Now what makes this worse is the fact that our nafs (inner self that normally commands evil) is actually attracted to this dirt and enjoys having its company. It has a natural inclination towards that which we are ordered to stay away from. As if that wasn’t bad enough, shaitaan is always ready to do his part in giving a boost whenever needed.
As Yusuf (AS) is quoted as saying in Surah Yusuf:
“…The (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord do bestow His Mercy...” (Quran; 12:53)
We know very well that the environment and society we find ourselves in today is polluted with dirt. We also know that it is bound to affect us in one way or another. And we know that our nafs is attracted to it.
So what do we do then? Should we just leave the status quo and let the dirt add up? Or should we try to clean it off?
Allah (SW) has mentioned the purity of one’s self as a measure of achieving (eternal) success.
“Indeed, whosoever purifies himself shall achieve success. And glorifies the name of his Lord and prays.” (Quran, 87:14-15)
“Indeed, he succeeds who purifies his own-self.” (Quran, 91:9)
What if one does the opposite?
“And he fails that corrupts it.” (Quran; 91:10)
As we know, nothing will save us on the Day of Judgement except a clean heart.
“The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, but only he (will prosper) that brings to Allah a sound heart.” (Quran; 26:88-89)
The Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said:
“Truly, Allah does not look at your outward appearance or your wealth, but He looks at your hearts and your deeds.” (Muslim)
So now, how do we get rid of the dirt build-up?
The first step is a preventative measure. We know that our nafs is attracted to the dirt, yet the level of attractiveness can be lessened. The key to doing that is cutting off its nutrition supply.
A wild horse is made submissive by reducing its food. In the same way, our nafs needs to be tamed by limiting (or ideally cutting off) its supply of what it wants, since it leads it to want more. That means staying away from the dirt as much as possible and trying to protect ourselves by avoiding areas of higher dirt concentration to deprive our nafs from getting that what it wishes and essentially going against its wishes.
Secondly, the worship of Allah (SW) subdues the nafs and makes it weak. When that starts to happen, it automatically starts losing its attractiveness for the dirt, and in fact, worship can become a shield of sorts that now deflects the bulk of the dirt and doesn’t allow it to gather on one’s heart and soul.
Lastly, nothing can happen without the permission of Allah (SW). Therefore, we must ask Allah to help us become clean and to protect us from the dirt that wants to affect us and ask His help in taming our nafs.
The second solution (i.e. the worship of Allah) is the greatest cleanser in this battle with the dirt. However, most of the types of worships we are accustomed to are limited to a place or time, or have other restrictions, such as salat, fasting, charity, etc. All require strength (physical or financial) and can’t be done continuously. However, there is one form of worship that can be done by anyone, anytime, anywhere, verbally or in the heart. It has no formal order, no extensive details, and no restrictions on time and place – something everyone can truly take part in very easily.
“O you who believe! Celebrate the praises of Allah, and do this often.” (Quran; 33:41)
As we strive in our quest to cleanse ourselves and shield our hearts and souls from the dirt, the zikr of Allah (SW) is our best companion – one who’s company we can enjoy on the bus, at work, in class, while surfing the Net, while we shop, or anywhere else.
Create a routine of zikr and try to stick to it everyday. Insha-Allah, it won’t be long before you experience its fruits and feel cleaner.
The more dirt in the air, the dirtier the clothes and the quicker they must be washed. In the same way, let’s recognize the dirt in society and get on with ridding our hearts and souls of it – on a regular basis.
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