Peace, one and all…
‘Purification is cleansing oneself. There are two kinds of cleanliness. One, exterior, is ordained by the precepts of the religion and is carried out by washing one’s body with pure water. The other, inner purification, is obtained through the realisation of the dirt in one’s being, being aware of one’s sins and sincerely repenting for them. This inner purification necessitates taking a spiritual path and is taught by a spiritual teacher.
According to the religious rules and precepts, one becomes impure and one’s ablution is broken when certain bodily matter such as faeces, urine, vomit, pus, blood, semen, etc, is expelled. This necessitates the renewal of the ablution. In the case of semen and menstrual bleeding a total washing of the body is necessary. In other cases, the exposed extremities of the body – the hands and forearms, the face and feet – must be washed. Concerning renewing one’s ablution our Master the Prophet (alaihi al-salatui wa al-salam) said: ‘At each renewal of ablution Allah renews the belief of His servant whose light of faith is repolished and shines brighter,’ and ‘Repeated purification by ablution is light upon light’.
Inner purity can also be lost, perhaps more often than outer purity, by bad character, arrogance, lying, gossiping, slandering, envy and anger. Conscious and unconscious acts by one’s sense soil the spirit: the mouth which eats unlawful food, the lips which lie and curse, the ear which listens to gossip and slander, the hand which strikes, the feet which follow the tyrant. Adultery, which is also a sin, is not performed only in bed; as the Prophet (alaihi al-salatui wa al-salam) says, ‘The eyes also commit adultery’.
When inner purity is thus soiled and spiritual ablution is broken, the renewal of ablution is by sincere repentance, which is performed by realising one’s fault, by painful regret accompanied by tears (which are the water washing away the dirt from the spirit), by intending never to repeat this fault, by wishing to leave all faults, by asking the forgiveness of Allah, and by praying that He prevent one from committing such a sin again.
To pray is to present oneself in front of one’s Lord. To have ablution, to be in a purified state, is a prerequisite for prayer. The wise know that the cleanliness of one’s exterior being is not sufficient, for Allah sees deep into one’s heart, which has to be given the ablution of repentance. Only then is prayer accepted. Allah says:
‘This is what was promised for you - for every one who turned (to Allah) in sincere repentance, who kept (His law)’ (Sura Qaf: 32)
The purification of the body and exterior ablution in accordance with religioous precepts is bound by time, for sleep cancels ablution as well. This cleanliness is tied to the day and the night of the life of this world. The cleanliness of the inner world, the ablution of the invisible self, is not limited by time. It is for the whole of life – not only the temporal life of this world, but also for the eternal life of the hereafter’
(Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, The Secret of Secrets, 71-72)