It has been said that the secret of the purity of these four members, even if they are not defiled, is in two respects. First, tomorrow at the resurrection Muṣṭafā will discern his community and intercede for their sake. Their mark will be that they have faces bright and shining because of washing; and so also their hands, feet, and head will be white, bright, and fresh because of purity’s water. Concerning the Prophet said, “Surely my community will be mustered on the Day of Resurrection white-faced and white-footed from the traces of the ablution.”
The second respect is that when a slave is sold, the custom is that he is taken to a slave-trader, and his hands, feet, face, and head are shown to the customer. Even if it is a slave-girl, Shariah instructs that they should look at the face, see her hair, and look at her hands and feet. Tomorrow, Muṣṭafā will be the slave-trader of the resurrection and the Real will be the customer. Hence the servant was commanded to do a good job of washing these bodily parts today. As much as he can, he should not take away the water from them and he should try to renew the purity. Then, tomorrow, the light of his bodily parts will increase, and when he is shown in the house of the slave-trader at the resurrection, his hands, feet, face, and head will be bright and pleasing.
If you find no water, have recourse to goodly dust. God connected purity to water or, at the time of constraint, to dust, and not to anything else. The wisdom here is that the Lord of the Worlds created Adam from water and dust, and the Adamites should always be aware of this. They should know that their own eminence lies therein and that they should give gratitude for this blessing. Adam found eminence over Iblis because Iblis was from fire and Adam from dust, and dust is better than fire. Fire shows defects, and dust conceals them. Whenever you put something in the fire, it shows its defects. It distinguishes genuine from false silver and adulterated from pure gold. Dust, however, conceals defects. It conceals whatever you give to it, so the defects do not show.
Fire is the cause of cutting off, and dust is the cause of joining. With fire there is cutting and burning, with dust there is joining and keeping. Iblis was from fire, so he broke off. Adam was from dust, so he joined. Fire’s nature is arrogance, so it seeks to be higher. Dust’s nature is humility, so it seeks to be lower. Iblis brought higherness with his words, “I am better” [38:76]. Adam brought lowerness with his words, “Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves” [7:23]. Iblis said, “I and my substance.” Adam said, “Not I, rather my God.”
They have also spoken about another wisdom in specifying water and dust for purity. They say that whenever something catches fire, the force of that fire is put out by water and dust. There are two fires in front of the person of faith: One is the fire of appetite in this world, and the other is the fire of punishment in the afterworld. The Lord of the Worlds made water the cause of his purity so that today it will put out the fire of appetite for him and tomorrow the fire of punishment.
Know also that purity began in an era that was made known by a report from God’s Messenger by way of the Commander of the Faithful, ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib. He said, “When the angels heard talk of Adam and his description, they said, ‘What, wilt Thou set therein one who will work corruption there and shed blood?’ [2:30].
Afterward, they regretted saying that and they feared God’s punishment. They wept and wailed and asked God for His approval. The command came from God, ‘You want Me to pass over you, lift away the heaviness of those words from you, and have mercy on you. I have created an ocean under the Splendorous Throne and named it “the Ocean of Life.” Go to that ocean and, with its water, wash your faces and hands, wipe your heads, and wash your feet.’ The angels obeyed the command.
The command came, ‘Each of you now says, “Glory be to Thee, O God, and Thine is the praise. I bear witness that there is no god but Thou. I ask forgiveness from Thee and I repent to Thee.”’ They said that and the command came, ‘I have accepted your repentance and will pass over you.’
They said, ‘O Lord, is this generosity specific to us, or do we share in it with others?’ He said, ‘It is for you, for the vicegerent whom I will create, and for his children until the coming of the Hour. Whenever someone conveys water to these four members as I have commanded you, even if he has filled heaven and earth with sins, I will pass over him and bestow upon him my approval and mercy.’”
In keeping with this meaning is the sound report from ʿAlī Murtaḍā. He said, “Whenever I heard something from God’s Messenger, God gave me to benefit from it. From him, I came to know the certainty of knowledge and the worthiness of deeds. If I myself had not heard his report, but someone narrated it to me, I would make that person swear an oath. When he swore it, I would rely on him. Abū Bakr Ṣiddīq narrated to me, but I did not make him swear an oath to the truthfulness of his words, because he always spoke the truth. He said, ‘I heard God’s Messenger saying, “Whenever a servant with faith does a sin and, after that sin, makes an ablution and washes fully, then, after finishing, he performs two cycles of prayer, God will pass over that sin from him and will pardon him.”’” The explication of this report is in the Splendorous Qur’an: “Whoever does something ugly or wrongs himself and then asks forgiveness of God, he will find God forgiving, ever-merciful” [4:110].