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NEWSPRESS: ESSENCE OF PURITY

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5:6 O you who have faith, when you stand for the prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to your elbows… If you find no water, have recourse to goodly dust.

Outward purity has three sections: First is purity after impurity. The second is purity after excretion and sexual activity. The third is purity from the sheddings of the body, such as nails, hair, dirt, and so on. Each of these three sections has an explanation and an explication, and these will be spoken of elsewhere, God willing.

Inward purity has three duties: First, purity of the limbs from disobedience, such as back-biting, lying, eating the forbidden, betrayal, and looking at women illicitly. When this purity is gained, the servant is adorned with obedience and reverence. This is the degree of the faith of the pious. Its mark is that the remembrance of the Real is always on their tongue, the fruit of the promise in their heart, the freshness of His favors in their spirit. They are always visiting the sick, going to cemeteries, hurrying to supplicate for good people, and reaching for paradise.

The second duty is a purity of the heart from unapproved character traits, such as self-admiration, envy, pride, hypocrisy, avarice, animosity, and frivolity. Self-admiration ruins the mirror of friendship, envy reduces the worth of people, pride darkens the mirror of the heart, hypocrisy dries up the wellspring of obedience, avarice puts aside respect for people, animosity blocks up the water of familiarity, and frivolity takes away the tent-pole of companionship. When the servant has become pure of these defilements, he is numbered among the Godward. His mark is that he flees from concessions, he does not cling to ambiguity, he is always fearful, trembling, and fleeing from hell; he is content with a morsel and a tattered cloak, he has put aside the world and the world’s folk, and he has melted himself in the crucible of sorrow. Faith is his basis, Godwariness his traveling supplies, the grave his way station, and the afterworld his goal. With all this, he constantly weeps with the tongue of pleading and says, “O God, everyone is upon something, but I don’t know what I’m upon. I fear only the moment when I appear. O God, I am always talking and speaking. So long as You do not show Yourself I will be searching and seeking. Because of unsettledness, I run in the field of incapacity. I’m in the midst of the work, but I smell no scent. O God, my mount has stood back, my feet are worn down, my fellow travelers have gone, and nothing has increased except bewilderment.”

The third duty is a purity of the secret core from everything except the Real. God says, “Say ‘God,’ then leave them” [6:91]. This purity is their adornment today, for tomorrow the cup of pure wine [76:21] will be in their hand. Today the light of hope shines in their hearts, but tomorrow the light of face-to-face vision will shine in their spirits. Today in their yearning the liver’s water flows from their eyes, but tomorrow contemplation’s water will flow in the stream of gentle favor. Today the dawn of happiness has come up from the rising place of freedom, but tomorrow the sun of solicitude will advance in the heaven of face-to-face seeing.

The mark of this purity is that one washes away love for this world, effaces the tracks of human nature, and burns the veils of dispersion, so the heart is joyful in the garden of closeness, and the spirit is occupied with the Real in the seclusion of face-to-face vision. How well was it said by that chevalier! Wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows. Just as the command of the Shariah makes it mandatory for outward purity to wash the face, so also the allusion of the Haqiqah makes it mandatory for inward purity to preserve one’s honor and not to disgrace oneself by seeking the trifling things of this world. Just as the former purity makes it mandatory to wash the hands, so also the latter purity makes it mandatory to wash one’s hands of the creatures and entrust one’s work to the Real. Just as it is mandatory to wipe the head, so also it is mandatory to turn the head away from serving created things and to avoid humbling oneself before just any piece of straw or a nobody. And just as it is mandatory to wash the feet, so also it is mandatory to step into good works and walk forth in obedience to God.

It has been said that these four bodily parts were specified for purity because man finds his eminence through these parts. First is the form of the face, for the other animals do not have this attribute. The Lord of the Worlds placed favor on them and said, “And He formed you, so He made your forms beautiful” [40:64]. Second is the two hands with which the Adamite eats, for all other animals eat with their mouths. The Lord of the Worlds placed favor on them and said, “And We honored the children Adam” [17:70], that is, with the two worthy hands that hold for eating and so forth. The third is the head, within which is the brain, for within the brain is intellect. In intellect is the eminence of knowing, which the others do not have. The Lord of the Worlds placed favor on them and said, “signs for those who possess the kernels” [3:190]. Fourth is the two legs which He pulled into an upright, beautiful stature for walking, whereas others do not have legs with this attribute. God says, “We created man in the most beautiful stature” [95:4]. Having completed these blessings on the children of Adam, He asked them to show gratitude for these bodily parts by keeping them pure.

It has also been said that purity is the cause of ease and comfort after sorrow and tribulation, as has come in the story of Mary at the time of the birth of Jesus. When that spring appeared, she made herself pure and was released from the sorrow of childbirth and the alienation of exile.

It is also the cause of repelling Satanic disquiet, as Muṣṭafā said: “When one of you is angry, let him make an ablution.” It is the cause of the removal of trial and tribulation, as has come in the story of Job the prophet in His words, “Stamp thy foot; here is a cool washing place and drink” [38:42].

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