With the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Compassionate
"Before making ablution we must mentally confirm our intention so that our minds and hearts will not be influenced by the false values of society. Make your ablution with the Name of Allah, knowing that when we become attentive with both heart and mind, we can better answer the call to obey Allah and His Messenger."
"We state our intention to give reverence, respect, humility, and obedience to Allah, The Most High, so that the physical action of ablution becomes a conscious one, and not just a routine exercise."
"We begin our ablution by washing the right hand three times to remind us of our duty to uphold that which is right. We are not to act physically, mentally, or spiritually in a corrupt way. The hands are used to symbolize action, and the right hand is symbolic of our conscious acts. In order to correct our unconscious actions we must first discipline our conscious actions. We depend upon our hands to help us be productive in business, defense, literature, and many other areas.
Next we wash the left hand three times. The left hand is symbolic of our impulsive or unconscious acts. These acts are subject to negative influences when our conscious acts are not rightly oriented. Washing the left hand reminds us of our responsibility to give help to those who are oppressed and culturally blind. Prophet Muhammad [(Peace be upon him)] said to his followers, "Help your brother whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one." When the people asked Prophet Muhammad how they could help their brother if he were an oppressor, he answered, "By preventing him from oppressing others." [Through appealing to his conscience.] We should be positively influenced by people who have more strength or understanding than ourselves. Those with less moral and spiritual knowledge should voluntarily support those with greater knowledge; those who have good moral characters, stronger faith, and who courageously resist injustices and corrupt influences.
After cleaning our hands we wash out our mouths three times. The mouth symbolizes moral discernment. Even if you do no harm to others with your hands, you may still hurt them with your tongue. With our mouths we can injure others mentally, morally, and spiritually. A person cannot do shameful, filthy acts and not be affected by them. The corrupt influences we allow to come into our lives affect us psychologically. When a man restrains himself from doing harmful things, his words will begin to reflect restraint and thoughtfulness.
Prophet Muhammad [(Peace be upon him)] taught that the thing which gets a person into hell or paradise quickest is his tongue. The Muslim who protects the honor and safety of his brothers and sisters with his hand and his tongue can receive salvation."
"After cleaning the mouth, we clean the nostrils three times. The nose is also symbolically represents desires and aspirations. If we work on our actions and our speech to discipline them, we will force our desires to come under control. If we force ourselves to speak the truth we deny our negative desires a medium of expression.
The nose is also symbolic of the intuitive spirit of the human being. You have heard the common expressions, "I can smell it in the air," and "I can smell something cooking." These expressions do not refer to the physical sense of smell. They relate to a kind of intuitive awareness. This intuitive awareness is not something on which we can fully rely. Intuition means that which comes to us through feeling or instinct. Intuitive awareness comes automatically, without our minds perceiving the process. it will not, however, guarantee intellectual enlightenment unless it is rationally assisted by the signs of Allah.
Throughout the ages of millions of misinformed people have looked for magical ways to solve their problems, and they have been victimized by occultists and soothsayers. Over-dependence on intuition can lead to superstition. Superstition comes into our lives when we do not get a proper understanding of reality. When we get enough true answers to our questions about life we will not be interested in fantasy."
"Thus far we have checked our actions by washing of the hands. We then gave our intention to our mouths in speaking the truth and in keeping our words and thoughts clean. Next, we washed the nose to symbolize the removal of superstitions and unclean desires. When we clean up our actions and desires, and also develop our spiritual awareness, we become conscious that we are not perfect and that we are ever in need of Allah's Help.
After washing the nose, we wash our face three times. The face symbolizes a person's character. Just as an evil can be created by our mouths or our hands, a facial expression can also start an evil to work. When we say, "Do not pay any attention to him, there is another face that he is not showing you," we mean that his real character is hidden. A two-faced person can never make himself presentable to Allah.
After washing the face, we wash the arms three times up to the elbows, starting with the right arm. The arm is symbolic of power. We are not to use our power to force others to our way of thinking. Some people are unable to discipline themselves, yet they are ready to use their power to force others to submit to their wills. By the same token, nations and communities are sometimes guilty of using their power in the form of wealth, or knowledge or warfare, science, psychology, religion, etc., to dominate and exploit others.
In washing the arms three times we are reminded that power is given in three ways: physically, mentally, and spiritually. Power can interrupt, corrupt, and disrupt our physical, mental, and spiritual lives. After washing the right arm, we wash our left to reinforce the principle so that it will become habit for us.
After washing the arms, we wipe the hair once. The hair is a symbolic of sub-skin intelligence, and wiping it is symbolic of keeping our emotional senses clean. Emotions are subject to the influence of instinctive intelligence. Once a society develops to a civilized level, the most important things for its leaders to do are to preserve its knowledge and to safeguard it from distortions and impurities. Once its knowledge is corrupted, a society on the path of growth and development.
After wiping the hair, we wipe the ears simultaneously, cleaning them only once. The ear is an open door to our minds and hearts. It is symbolic of another form of desire, the desire, if the intellect and the heart to know. When cleaning the ears we should be conscious that we are to protect ourselves against suggestions and influences which could corrupt our minds. If something is not in agreement with the Holy Qur'an and Hadith, we want to stop it right at the door.
Our ears are not interpreters; they only receive information under the influences of sentiment and logic. When we listen, it is because we desire to know something in order to satisfy our minds and hearts. Sometimes people may plant things in the ear which can disrupt and unseat the mind and heart. Once something comes into our ears, it is up to us to use our intelligence to see if it is good or evil, logical, or illogical. Once we recognize evil, we must fight its influence in all forms.
According to the Holy Qur'an and the Bible, Adam and Eve lost their place in the Garden of Eden because they were tempted to listen to the deceiving whispers of Satan. In ignorance, they let their hearts and intellects take diverging paths, and the attention of their ears became imbalanced between the requirements of logic and sentiment. Most people are impulse-directed-burden-bearers without skill. That which comes into our ears must be consciously examined. This is something to which we have to devote our entire being.
We clean the feet after cleaning the hair and ears. Symbolically speaking, the body represents the structure of society, and the feet represent the innate spiritual intelligence of the people or masses. Society stands upon the emotional stability of the people. You cannot tell the masses to be clean and upright, and to fight evil influences in all forms before involving both heart and intellect in the cause of truth and justice.
For the individual the feet represent habit-formed convictions and morals. Think of the expressions, "I stand on my faith and convictions," Walk of life," and "What road do you follow?" Your walk of life, or the road you follow, forms your habits. You do not have to think consciously about your habits in order to form them. You speak a certain way, walk a certain way and perform certain social functions because they have become your way of life. Society has passed these habits on to you. They are both emotionally and rationally based.
It is essential that we understand and live in accordance with the symbolic meaning associated with the ritual of ablution. The constant repetition of its steps should reinforce our awareness of the way Allah directs us toward the life He intends for us, and it should remind us of our need to constantly reorient ourselves in accordance with the principles it illustrates. The symbolism of ablution shows us that no matter what the situation is, we are required to maintain a clean, rational attitude.
In order for our unconscious actions to be properly oriented, our thoughts and conscious actions must first be disciplined to uphold that which is right. Once we have disciplined ourselves physically we become able to practice moral discernment and clean, creditable speech. When we reach this point in our development we hope that our character is acceptable to Allah. Through these steps we learn to understand our own potential and how to use it properly, so that we can protect the purity of our knowledge and wisdom. Next we learn to protect our minds and hearts from evil influences and suggestions, and to correct our personal habits so that they will conform to Al-Islam. Once we have progressed in this endeavor, we can better live the lives of upright Muslims in a continuous state of mental and spiritual ablution."
Excerpts from the Book - "Prayer and Al-Islam" By Imam W. Deen Mohammed Â© 1982
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