Sunday, 11 July 2010

Cleanliness and Productivity: Part 1 - Wudhu

How does been squeaky clean keep us Productive?!
That’s a question that came across my mind when I noticed a heightened productivity right after making wudhu, having a shower, or generally being tidy/clean.
In this series, we'll explore the physical cause-effect relationship and spiritual cause-effect relationship between cleanliness and productivity, let's start of with wudhu today inshaAllah:

Allah says in the Quran “Truly, Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean." (Al Baqarah 2:222) He also says: “In it (mosque) are men who love to clean and to purify themselves. And Allah loves those who make themselves clean and pure.” (9:108)
Just those 2 verses alone are enough incentive for us to being constantly clean and in a state of purity and it explains why Islam has taken great care of this topic to the extent that even a dead person is honoured with a bath before he/she is buried!
Without us diverging into the deep intricacies of Purity and Cleanliness in Islam (which interestingly is ALWAYS the first chapter in any Fiqh book) I want us to focus on Wudhu (ablution) and its effect on Productivity.

Wudu is one of the most beautiful rituals we Muslims have been blessed with. It keeps us pure and clean, both physically and spiritually and connects us to our Khaliq (Creator). It keeps our mind consciously aware of Him and prepares us to meet Him, that’s why we’re encouraged to be in a state of Wudu at all times, as Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said: “… and no one preservers their wudu except a Believer.” [Ibn Maajah, Saheeh]

In my quest to understand the effect of wudu on productivity, I was trying to understand why Wudhu was a prerequisite to Salah; one interesting explanation I came across (and there are many other explanations) is that wudu helps you “focus” on Salah and “puts you in the mood” for Salah. I tried to dig deeper and guess why this is so, and it occurred to me that wudhu is the physical action of an intention, i.e. you physically get up and pour water on yourself to proclaim the intention that you’re going to pray.

Think what this means in terms of productivity: you plan to do some work you have been intending to do for a long time, so you get up and make wudhu first, this puts you in the mood and “focus” zone for your work because you’ve taken physical action to affirm that intention, makes sense? Also, the beauty of taking wudu before any task is that it ensures that your intention for this task is pure and clean. (It’s hard to find somebody who’ll be taking wudu before a doubtful transaction?!)
Islam teaches us that wudu doesn’t just affect your outward, but it was an inward effect too. This is confirmed with the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), which he said:

“When a Muslim or a believer washes his face (in course of ablution), every sin he contemplated with his eyes, will be washed away from his face along with water, or with the last drop of water; when he washes his hands, every sin they wrought will be effaced from his hands with the water, or with the last drop of water; and when he washes his feet, every sin towards which his feet have walked will be washed away with the water or with the last drop of water with the result that he comes out pure from all sins”. [Sahih Muslim : Book 2, Number 0475].

And isn’t sin the reason for our lack of productivity?
An interesting quote I came across recently said “Ablution protects the believer from four enemies of the soul: the lower self or ego (nafs), worldly desires (hubbul dunya), lust (hawa), and Satan.” (Voices of islam - Vincent, J. Cornell). These four enemies are not only the enemies of the soul, they are the enemies of productivity! The lower-self makes you want to be lazy and sleep all the time, worldly desires are the biggest distraction from your true purpose in life, following hawa (lust) can turn any productive person to super unproductive (and fall into Haram), and Satan needs no introductions! So imagine, with one beautiful purifying action, you can protect yourself from these unproductive forces!

Do me a favour? Next time you sit to work on your computer, make wudu first and tell me how it feels. Try it. SubhanaAllah, I use this at work when I can’t get myself to focus on my work, it’s amazing how you change and become much more focussed and productive.

I hope this gave you just one insight into how wudu makes you productive. May Allah (SWT) help us live the life of purity and die pure and clean. Ameen.