Sunday, 11 July 2010

Cleanliness and Productivity - Part 3: Spiritual Hygiene

For this third and final part of the Productivity & Cleanliness series, I had a last minute change of topic.

Initially, I was going to talk about being organized and having a clean workspace area and how that affects and improves productivity, however, I realised that such a topic needs a series of its own and there’s much we can discuss about workspace organisation in future posts inshaAllah.

Instead, I wanted to draw your attention to a far more important topic related to Cleanliness and Productivity from an Islamic perspective and that is: Spiritual Hygiene.

What do I mean by Spiritual Hygiene?

Have you ever felt ‘clean’ inwardly? Ever felt ‘spiritually clean’?
You know the feeling when you’ve been doing lots and lots of good deeds, when you have been avoiding sins, and basically feeling closer to Allah.. you feel ‘clean’ and ‘pure’ inside because your heart, mind and soul is clean and obedient to Allah (I’m not saying that you have a false sense of security as a result; one should never feel confident that his/her good deeds are enough for him/her but should always strive to do more). Compare this with the opposite feeling that comes when you have been disobedient, committing sins that you know you shouldn’t; you feel guilty, impure, and basically feel dirty inwardly even though you might be clean outwardly.

These 2 feelings, or rather accurately may be described as ‘spiritual states’ have an immense effect on your productivity. My contention here is that when you’re in a state of spiritual cleanliness you will be much more productive, why? Because you’ll be focused on what’s important, you’ll be in tune with your true fitrah (natural disposition) and purpose of life, and Allah will make things easy for you. When you are spiritually unclean however, you will be distracted with sins, guilt and consciousness would disturb you that you can’t focus on being productive, and you simply lose track.

It’s hard to maintain a state of spiritual cleanliness perpetually and Emaan (faith) goes up and down, however, we need to be conscious of our changing state and the reasons behind it. There are days when I feel lazy, unproductive, and just not myself, those days I question myself: What’s wrong? Why am I like this today? Is it an inward thing (a sin, a thought, an emotion) or an outward thing (body is fatigued, illness..etc). Only if you constantly analyse yourself will you be able to understand your inwards better and with Allah (SWT) mercy upon you, He’ll bless you to understand how to deal with it too inshaAllah.
One of the beautiful Duas that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) taught us connecting spirituality and cleanliess, is the dua:

اللهم باعد بيني وبين خطاياي كما باعدت بين المشرق والمغرب. اللهم نقني من ذنوبي وخطاياي كما ينقى الثوب الأبيض من الدنس. اللهم اغسلني من خطاياي بالماء والثلج والبرد.
‘O Allah, distance me from my sins just as You have distanced The East from The West. O Allah, purify me of my sins as a white robe is purified of filth. O Allah, cleanse me of my sins with snow, water, and ice.’
Notice the imagery connecting sins with dirt, and asking Allah to puritfy you from this dirt and wash it away from you.

Do you know what the worse punishment Allah can put you through in this life? Making you not feel the weight of your sins, nor enjoy the sweetness of His obedience. SubhanaAllah, can you imagine that?! In other words, He makes you completely heedless to your purpose in life, and you simply live an unproductive life tilll you die with no preparation for what’s to come. Islam becomes a shell in your life with no meaning, nothing matters to you except superficials, and you simply live with no purpose. May Allah protect us from such a state.

None of us want to be in that state, so let’s be spritiually clean by actively understanding our spiritual state and actively trying to clean ourselves with any of the followings tools: Tawbah, Istighfar, Avoidance of Sins, Remembering Allah, Reading Quran, Salah, Fasting, Charity and other good deeds.

This is a call to all my brothers and sisters to clean ourselves inwardly & outwardly so that we can fulfill our productive missions in life. May Allah (SWT) bless you with a clean and productive life, may you live pure and die in a state of purity. Ameen.