Taharah means cleanliness and purity, and in the Shari’ah it is of two types:
- Intangible (taharah maʿnawiyyah)
- Tangible (taharah ḥissiyyah)
As for the intangible form of taharah, it is the purification (taharah) of the hearts from shirk and bidaʿ (innovations) in the worship of Allah, and from holding any malice, grudge, envy, hatred and so forth in one’s dealings with the servants of Allah, who don’t deserve to be treated in such a way.
In terms of the tangible form of taharah, it is the purification of the body, and this too is of two types:
- Lifting or removing a state which prevents one from Salah and other acts of worship which necessitate taharah.
- Removing actual filth (khabath).
The intangible purification (taharah maʿnawiyyah) is the greatest form of taharah. All acts of worship are built on it. Hence, no act of worship is valid from a person whose heart is polluted by shirk; and no action that a person does to gain closeness to Allah عز وجل is valid if it is a deed that has not been legislated by Allah عز وجل.
Allah تعالى says:
وَمَا مَنَعَهُمْ أَن تُقْبَلَ مِنْهُمْ نَفَقَـٰتُهُمْ إِلَّآ أَنَّهُمْ كَفَرُوا۟ بِٱللَّهِ وَبِرَسُولِهِ
And nothing prevents their contributions from being accepted from them except that they disbelieved in Allah and in His Messenger ﷺ… (At-Tawbah, 9:54)
And the Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever performs a deed that is not in accordance with our matter, it will be rejected.” (Reported by Muslim, no. 1718)
It is for this reason that the worship of a Mushrik who commits major shirk will not be accepted, even if he prays, fasts, gives zakat and performs the pilgrimage. Whoever invokes someone other Allah عز وجل, or worships other than Allah, verily his worship (ʿibadah) of Allah is not accepted. This is the case even if he performs an act of worship purely for the sake of Allah, while he is committing major shirk from another aspect.
Read also; Lessons of Ramadan Fasting
Hence, Allah عز وجل has described the Mushrikeen as being najas (impure). Allah تعالى says:
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ إِنَّمَا ٱلْمُشْرِكُونَ نَجَسٌ فَلَا يَقْرَبُوا۟ ٱلْمَسْجِدَ ٱلْحَرَامَ بَعْدَ عَامِهِمْ هَـٰذَا
O you who believe! Verily, the Mushrikoon (polytheists) are najas (impure). So let them not come near al-Masjid al-Haram (at Makkah) after this year… (At-Tawbah, 9:28)
And the Prophet ﷺ precluded najāsah (impurity) from the believer, when he ﷺ said: “Certainly, a believer does not become impure (najas).” (Reported by al-Bukhari, no. 283)
It is concerning this issue (spiritual impurity) that a believer must take great and tremendous care, in order to purify his heart from it.
Likewise, he must purify his heart from any malice (ghill), grudge (ḥiqd), envy (ḥasad), hatred (baghḍā’ and karāhah) towards the believers. Because all of these things are blameworthy characteristics, which are not from the character of a believer. For a believer is the brother to another believer; he does not despise him, nor transgress him, nor envy him. Rather, he only wishes good for his brother, just as he wishes good for himself. Verily, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ precluded Iman from the one who does not love for his brother what he loves for himself.
We see many people from the people of good, worship, piety and asceticism who frequently attend the masājid, to fill them with recitation, the remembrance of Allah and prayers, yet they hold a grudge against some of their Muslim brothers, or they envy one who has been granted a blessing from Allah. This greatly tarnishes their worship of Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
So it is upon each and every one of us to purify one’s heart from these foul attributes with respect to one’s Muslim brothers.
📚 Notes on “Fiqh al-ʿIbadat” by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen