Part One: On Obedience 1

Know that the commandments of Allah Most High pertain to the obligatory and voluntary.

The obligatory acts constitute the capital, by which salvation is attained. The voluntary acts are the profit, by which are reached the high levels of success. The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم said, “Allah Most High says, ‘Those who draw near to Me do not draw near to Me with anything better than the acts I have made obligatory upon them. And a servant continues to draw nearer to Me by voluntary acts of worship until I love him. And when I love him, I become the hearing with which he hears, the sight with which he sees, the tongue with which he speaks, the hand with which he strikes, and the foot with which he walks'” (Bukhãri).

And you, dear seeker, will not be able to rise to carry out the commands of Allah Most High until you monitor your heart and limbs in your every moment and every breath, from the time you wake up until the time you sleep.

Know that Allah Most High is closely observing your innermost heart; He beholds your inner and outer being. No thought, moment, or step of yours escapes His regard, nor any of your moments of stillness or movement. Both in the company of others and in the solitude of yourself, you are ever in His Presence. In both the hidden and manifest dominions, nothing that is still, is still, and nothing that moves, moves, but the Compeller of the Heavens and Earth is aware of it. “He knows the treachery of the eyes and what is concealed in the breasts” (Qur’ãn 40 : 20). “He knows the secret and what is still more hidden” (20 : 6).

Therefore, O destitute one, cultivate a deep courtesy with the Divine in your outer self as well as in your inner self, the courtesy and bearing of a humble, erring slave in the presence of his Supreme, All-Powerful Master. Make your greatest effort that He not find you present where He has forbidden you to be, nor find you absent from where He has commanded you to be.

You will never be capable of this unless you manage your time and organize your routine of worship from morning to night. So pay attention to what is presented to you here concerning the commands that Allah Most High has laid upon you from the time you awake from your sleep until the time you return to your bed.

 


THE ETIQUETTE OF WAKING FROM SLEEP

When you awake from sleep, try to be awake before dawn, and let the first words in your heart and on your tongue be the remembrance of Allah Most High. Say at this time:

Praise be to Allah, who has brought us back to life after causing us to die, and to Whom shall be the resurrection. We have entered the morning, as has the dominion, belonging to Allah. Grandeur and might belong to Allah. Magnificence and power belong to Allah. We have entered the morning upon the natural faith of submission, upon the Word of Sincerity, in the religion of our Prophet, Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم, and the nation of our Father Abraham, a pure monotheist and one who submitted to God, who was not of the idolaters.

O Allah, by You we enter the morning, and by You we enter the evening. By You we live and by You we die, and the resurrection is to You. O Allah, we ask You to send us to every good thing on this day, and we seek Your protection from doing evil this day, from bringing it upon a Muslim, or from anyone bringing it upon us. We ask You for the good of this day, and the best of what it holds, and we seek refuge with You from the evil of this day, and the evil of what it holds.

Thereafter, when you get dressed, make your intention obedience to Allah’s command by covering yourself appropriately. Beware lest your intention in wearing your clothes be to display before people and you suffer loss.

 


 

THE ETIQUETTE OF USING THE LAVATORY

When you go to the lavatory, enter with your left foot and leave with your right foot. Do not take inside anything that has on it the names of Allah Most High or His Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم, and do not enter with a bare head or bare feet*.

Before entering the lavatory, say: “In the name of Allah, I seek refuge in Allah from filth and impurity, and from the defiled one who defiles, Satan the accursed.” And upon leaving the lavatory, say: “Your forgiveness. All praise to the One who takes from me what harms me and leaves me what benefits me.”

You should make ready the cleaning material [such as toilet paper and water] before you actually begin to relieve yourself. Do not wash yourself with water in the same place where you relieved yourself**. You should endeavor to rid yourself of all the urine by clearing the throat and squeezing [the male organ] three times, and by passing the [left] hand under it***.

If you are in the desert, go out of view of people, and if you can find something to screen yourself, keep behind it. Do not uncover your nakedness until you reach the place where you will squat. Do not face the sun or the moon, nor have them directly to your back. Likewise, do not face the direction of prayer, nor have it directly to your back. Do not use a place where people are accustomed to taking shade. Do not relieve yourself in standing water, nor beneath a fruit-bearing tree, nor in an animal’s burrow****. Do not relieve yourself on hard earth or into the wind, so as to avoid splashing and spraying, for he صلى الله عليه و سلم said, “The punishment of the grave is from it” (Tirmidhi). Use your left foot to lean on and do not stand to urinate unless it is really necessary. Use stones [or, nowadays, toilet paper] as well as water; if you intend to use only one then water is preferable.

[In the case of defecation,] if you want to use only stones, you must use three clean dry stones, wiping with them the unclean area so as the prevent the spread of the filth beyond the original area. [In the case of urination,] wipe yourself using three sides of a [large] stone [or three small stones]. If three stones are not sufficient to clean yourself with completely, use five or seven or more to complete your cleansing with an odd number. To use an odd number is preferable, but to complete the cleaning is obligatory.

Use only your left hand to clean yourself.

Upon finishing the process of cleaning, say: “O my Lord, purify my heart from hypocrisy, and keep my private parts from wrong action.” Scrub your hands [with the dirt] off the ground or wall [or with soap]. Then rinse your hands with water.


THE ETIQUETTE OF ABLUTION

Having cleaned yourself after relieving yourself, do not neglect to use a toothstick, for it purifies the mouth, and pleases the Lord, and displeases Satan. “A prayer before which one has used a toothstick is better than seventy prayers without having used the toothstick” (Bayhaqi). It is related from Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم said, “Were I not afraid that I would cause hardship on my community, I would have ordered them to use the toothstick before every prayer” (Bukhãri, Muslim). It is also related that he صلى الله عليه و سلم said, “I was commanded to use the toothstick until I feared it would be obligated on me” (Ahmad).

Then sit for the ablution facing the direction of the prayer, in a raised place so that the water does not splash on you. Say:

In the name of Allah, The Merciful, The Compassionate. O my Lord, I take refuge in You from the incitements of devils, and I seek Your protection, O my Lord, from their being present with me (Qur’ãn 23 : 97-98)

Then wash your hands three times, before dipping them in the wash basin. As you do so, say: O my Lord, truly I beg of You good portents and blessing, and I seek refuge in You from bad portents and loss.

Then make the intention of lifting the state of impurity or of fulfilling the requirements to be able to pray. You must make the intention before washing your face; without this intention, the ablution is not valid*****.

Then take a handful of water and rinse your mouth three times, making sure the water reaches the back of your mouth, except if you are fasting [in which case exercise caution]. Then say: O my Lord, help me with the reading of Your Book, and much remembrance of You, and establish me “in strength with the word that stands firm, in the life of this world and in the Hereafter” (Qur’ãn 14 : 27).

Then take a handful of water for your nose, draw it in, and blow out the mucus from your nose. Do this three times. As you draw the water in, say: O Lord, let me smell the fragrance of Paradise, and may You be pleased with Me! As you blow the water out, say: O my Lord, I seek refuge in You from the foul odors of the Fire and from the evil of that abode!

Then take a handful of water for your face, and with it wash, lengthwise, from the beginning of the uppermost part of the forehead to the end of the point of the chin, and, across, from ear to ear. Make the water reach the temples, the point from which women are accustomed to moving their hair, the part between the top of the ear and the corner of the temple –that is the portion that constitutes part of the face.

Make the water reach the four places where hair grows: the eyebrows, the mustache, the eyelashes, and the cheeks –that is, what lies in front of the ears from the beginning of the beard. The water must also reach the roots of the hair of a thin beard, though not a thick beard [by passing your fingers through it]. As you wash your face, say: O my Lord! Make radiant my face with Your light on the Day You make radiant the faces of Your friends. And do not shroud my face with darkness on the Day you shroud the faces of Your enemies with darkness.

Wash your right hand and forearm up to and including the elbow and half of the upper arm three times, then do the same for the left; for the adornment in Paradise encompasses the places touched in ablution. As you wash the right arm, say: O Allah, give me my book of deeds in my right hand and judge me with leniency! As you wash the left arm, say: O Allah, verily I seek refuge with You from Your giving me my book of deeds in my left hand or from behind my back!

Then, wetting your hands, wipe your head, touching the fingertips of the right and left hands together, placing them on the forelock and moving them back to the nape of the neck and then forward again. Do this three times and do similarly with other parts of the body. Say:

O Allah, shower over me Your mercy, and rain down on me Your blessing, and shade me in the shade of Your Throne on the Day when there will be no shade but Your shade. O Allah, make my hair and the skin of my face forbidden to the Fire.

Then wipe your ears outside and inside with fresh water; place your forefingers inside your ears and wipe the outside of your ears with the middle parts of your thumbs******. Say: O Allah! Make me of those who listen to the Word (of Allah) and take it in the best way. O Allah! Let me, with the obedient ones, hear the Caller to the Heaven.

Then wipe your neck, and say: O my Lord, free my neck from the Fire, and save me from the chains and shackles [of punishment].

Wash your right foot, then your left, including your ankles. With the little finger of your left hand wash between your toes, beginning with the little toe of your right foot and finishing with the little toe of your left, approaching the toes from below. As you wash the toes [of the right foot], pray: O my Lord, I seek refuge in You from my foot slipping on the causeway on the Day that slip the feet of the hypocrites. Bring the water halfway up your shins, and be sure to repeat all your actions three times.

When you have completed the ablution, say:

I bear witness that there is no god save Allah alone, Who has no partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger. Glory and praise be to You, O Allah; I bear witness that there is no god save You. I have done evil and I have wronged my soul; I seek Your forgiveness and I turn to you in repentance; forgive me and accept my repentance, for You are the one who accepts repentance, the Merciful. O Allah, make me of those who frequently repent, and make me of those who purify themselves. Make me one of yOur pious servants; make me always patient and grateful; make me remember You frequently, and praise You at each day’s beginning and at its end.

Whoever makes these supplications in his ablution will have all his sins depart from his limbs *******. His ablution will be stamped with a seal of approval, and will ascend to beneath the Throne, where it will stay, glorifying Allah Most High and exalting Him. The reward of this will continue to be written for him until the Day of Judgment.

There are seven things you must avoid in your ablution: (1) Do not shake your hands in a way that will make the water splash. (2) Do not strike the water against your head and face. (3) Do not indulge in [worldly] talk during the ablution. (4) Do not wash [any limb] more than three times. (5) Do not pour more water over yourself than necessary, simply out of mere doubt, for there is a devil called Walhãn who mocks and plays with those who are given to [obsessive] doubt. (6) Do not perform your ablution with water that has been sitting in the sun (7) or with water from copper vessels********. These seven things are disliked in the ablution.

A narration states that if a person remembers Allah Most High in his ablution, Allah purifies his whole body, and if a person does not remember Allah, only the parts of him that the water reaches are purified.


THE ETIQUETTE OF THE RITUAL BATH FOR THE REMOVAL OF MAJOR RITUAL IMPURITY

If you have entered a state of ritual impurity by having a wet dream or sexual intercourse, carry the basin [of water] to the wash place. [Before washing anything], wash your hands three times. Then remove any impurities from your body. Perform the regular ablution for the prayer as described above with all the supplications and prayers, postponing only the washing of the feet so as not to waste water*********. Now Pour water Over the right side of your body three times, making the intention of lifting the state of impurity. Then pour the water over the left side of your body three times. Then pour it over your head three times. Rub the front and back of your body. Use your fingers to make the water penetrate the hair of your head. Make sure the water gets into folds of the body, as well as to the roots of the hair, both thin and thick. Avoid touching your male organ after the ablution; if your hand comes in contact with it, repeat the ablution**********.

In all of this, the things that are obligatory are the intention***********, removing impurity, and encompassing the whole body while washing.

The obligatory parts of the ablution are washing the face, washing the arms including the elbows, wiping part of the head, and washing the feet including the ankles –each of these actions to be carried out one time, with intention, and in the proper order.

The rest of the actions in [the ablution and ritual bath] are confirmed sunnas, their benefits many and their reward great. Whoever dismisses them loses out; in fact, he puts his obligatory acts as risk, for the voluntary acts make up for deficiencies in the obligatory.


THE ETIQUETTE OF THE DRY ABLUTION

If you are unable to find any water after looking for it; or some obstacle prevents you from reaching it, like imprisonment or a wild animal; or the water you have is only enough for your or your companion’s drinking needs; or the water available is the property of someone who wants to sell it for more than the market rate; or you have an illness or wound that, [if it comes into contact with water,] could be life-threatening, you must wait until the time the obligatory prayer arrives. Then find clean earth on which there is soft, pure dust. Strike your palms on it, keeping your fingers together, with the intention of making the prayer lawful for you, and wipe your entire face with your hands once; you need not make the dust reach the roots of your facial hair, thick or thin.

Then take off your ring and strike the earth a second time with your fingers spread out. Now wipe your arms, including the elbows, with your hands; if you do not go over the whole area the first time, strike the earth one more time and wipe the arms until you have gone over the entire area. Next, wipe each of your palms with the other, and wipe the spaces between your fingers.

Now perform one obligatory prayer with this tayammum, along with any voluntary prayers you wish to perform after it. If you want to perform another obligatory prayer, you must make a new tayammum************


NOTES

*According to some sources keeping the head uncovered in the lavatory leads to the following: fright of jinn, forgetfulness, and a bad smell in the hair. Covering of the head when answering the call of nature is from among the practices of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم. ‘Ã’isha رضي الله عنه narrates that when the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم entered the toilet he would cover his head (Bayhaqi, Al-Sunan al-Kubrã, Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya (455); Hilyat al-Awliyã’ 7 : 158). Similarly, Habib ibn Salih reports that when the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم entered the toilet, he would wear shoes and cover his head (Bayhaqi (456), Al-Majmu’ 2 : 113). This is also related from Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه (see Bayhaqi as above). There are similar narrations from Anas ibn Mãlik رضي الله عنه (‘Abd al-Razzãq 1 : 190) and Abu Musã al-Ash’ari (Ibn Abi Shayba 1 : 34). See also Bukhãri (577). ‘Allãma Munãwi, in his famous hadith commentary Fayd al-Qadir under hadith 6667, explains the reason the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم covered his head when entering the toilet: “It was done out of respect for Allah, and because covering the head when answering the call of nature causes the pores of the body to contract thereby allowing quicker emergence of feces. It also prevents the odors of the toilet from getting onto the hair. The scholars of the Path maintain that it is necessary for a person to be bashful and covered [even] when answering the call of nature.” See also ‘Uthmãni, I’lã’ al-Sunan 1 : 323; ‘Awwãma, Ãthãr al-Hadith al-Sharif fi Ikhtilãf A’immat al-Fuqahã’ 188.

**This was to avoid being splashed by the urine or impurity.

***These guidelines are to ensure cleanliness and to expel the last of the drops of urine from the body. One should not exaggerate in these matters, however, thereby reaching a point of obsession.

****The guidelines above focused on the logic of cleanliness, while these guidelines focus on the logic of respect toward Allah’s signs (the sun and moon), the direction of prayer, human beings, Allah’s provisions and blessings used by people and animals alike, such as water in the desert and fruit, and animals and jinn (who live sometimes in holes in the ground). The great blessing of this natural religion can be witnessed in the logicality and wholeness of each act that it guides one to.

*****In the Hanafi school, intention is a sunna of ablution and not necessary for the validity of the ablution, though it is for attaining reward (Maydãni, Al-Lubãb fi Sharh al-Kitãb, Beirut: Dãr al-Kitãb al-‘Arabi (1418/1997) 1 : 36).

******In the Hanafi school, it is done with the water left from wiping the head and not with fresh water. Moreover, the head is only wiped once (Al-Lubãb 1 : 34-35).

*******Imam Nawawi states, “As for the supplications to be read when washing different parts of the body in ablution, none has been transmitted of them from the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. The jurists, however, have considered it preferable to read the supplications that have been transmitted from the pious predecessors” (Kitãb al-Adhkãr, Beirut: Dãr al-Sharq al-‘Arabi, 35).

********This dislike is for health reasons, as such water is considered damaging to the health (see Ibn ‘Ãbidin, Radd al-Muhtãr, Beirut: Dãr Ihyã al-Turãth al-‘Arabi, 1 : 121).

*********This is if one is taking a bath in a place where the water collects and does not immediately drain away; otherwise the washing of the feet should not be delayed (Al-Lubãb 1 : 39) .

**********In the Hanafi school, ablution is not broken by touching the male organ (Haskafi, Al-Durr al-Mukhtãr 1 : 99).

***********In the Hanafi school, intention is a sunna of the ritual bath and not necessary for its validity, just as in ablution (Radd al-Muhtãr 1 : 105).

************In the Hanafi school, a new tayammum is not required to perform additional obligatory prayers, just as waiting for the time to arrive is also not a condition; it is permitted to do tayammum before the entry of the prayer time and to perform more than one prayer with it (Al-Lubãb 1 : 54).

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