On the Inseparability of Social and Personal Hygiene
I woke up at 5:45 this morning, right around the time for the azan, the call to prayer, and prayer time. I was a little sleepy and had till 6:30 before dawn to make my morning prayers. But I wanted to make my prayers first thing, as that is what the Prophet, Lady Fatimah, and the 12 Purified Imams did, and that is what the great religious leaders of our time and all the times before them, back to the days of the Presence of the Imams did and recommended. When making my aab-dast (or wuzu, which is the Arabic; the ritual ablutions), I wanted to make sure that I had the correct presence of heart and mind, the correct intention and focus, and that all my movements, how my hands caused the cleansing water to run along my arms and feet were correct, in accord with the teachings and tradition of my community. I wanted every motion to be as close as possible to that which is most pleasing to God. Similarly, of course, when I called the azan, and during the prayer itself, my intention was the same. And of course this mindset, this Way, this Mazhab, this Life Transaction, did not stop after the prayer. To the contrary, one reason why I made my morning prayer as soon as possible was that the closer I conduct my life in accordance with the teachings and examples of the Fourteen Infallibles (the Prophet, Lady Fatimah, and the 12 Imams), with whom be the peace and blessings of God, as handed down by my Sacred Community, which is the Project of those Fourteen blessed souls, and the project of all the Prophets and Imams before them… the closer I train my heart, mind and body to the morphogenetic field of their Way, their Example, their Sunna, the better chance I have of warding off the tempting of evil between prayer times (which are sacrosanct). As I sit here writing this, I am conscious of my desire to remain in a state of ritual purity. If an impurity befalls me, I hasten to cleans myself as soon as possible, the more to remain in a ritually purified state (motahhar). If an impure thought crosses my mind, I hasten to chase it away. If an impure desire or urge enters my heart, God forbid, I turn away from it (tawbah), repent of that sin, seek God’s forgiveness, and pray that He keep these desires and urges from welling up in me. In conducting my part of the bargain of that entreaty, I do my level best to make myself a worthy vessel for His Grace: as best I can, I lower my gaze from phenomena which might induce undesirable thoughts, desires, urges, be they actual women or virtual ones as in those on billboards, mannequins or images on the television, movie theater or computer screen. Images of violence… Movies which, tacitly or overtly, encourage the viewer to profane ways of thinking about and acting in the world; which take me away from the ideals and values of my Sacred Community. As well as my mental and emotional diet and regimen, and as importantly, I try my best to ingest physical food that is ritually pure, and which is good for me; wholesome food, food provided for us by God, and not those laden with poisonous chemicals brought to us by our wayward cousins, the profit-jockeys.
So tell me how I can separate this Temple, my body-mind, from the State in which I find myself, the Community which is my cognitive-moral-emotional-physical field and environment, and I will accede to your petulant demand to separate Church and State. In the meanwhile, I am grateful to God that I live in a community whose elders understand that the phenomena which might or might not be present in our environment, what obtains and what does not, is, to a large extent, in our own hands. And I give thanks to God every day that the elders of our community, imperfect and ‘fallen’ as they are, are in their turn, doing their best to ensure that our community is kept as ritually, cognitively, emotionally and spiritually pure as possible, so that it is a nurturing and wholesome environment for us, for our children, and for our posterity. Ameen.
Until then, lakom dinokom wa li ad-din, ya kafirun (to you be your sacred community and to me, mine, oh ye coverers-up [of God’s Truth].
Posted by Arash Darya-Bandari