Cleanliness is Next to Godliness




"Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world." - (G.B.Shaw).

An old proverb says, "Cleanliness is next to godliness." This means that cleanliness comes next to godliness in importance. But in practice it has been interpreted in a different way, and made to mean that godliness can dispense with cleanliness. In the middle Ages in Europe, and in some places and classes in India, godliness was associated with dirt. The old ascetic monk, and the Indian fakir, was considered to be all the more holy for being filthy. They lived in "the odour of sanctity", and a pretty foul odour it must have been! But true godliness surely means cleanliness of soul and body; and the old proverb should read, "Cleanliness is a part of godliness” as the supreme code of conduct Islam proposes. This Divine religion indoctrinates the concept to its followers by characterizing it to be the half of the faith

Cleanliness is next to godliness—certainly this is duty, not a sin. It is absolute necessity for one’s self respect. A person who is clean and tidy in how he dresses up commands better respects from those around him than those who have a slovenly and unkempt appearance. No one can expect to mix with decent society if he is not clean and neat in dress and person. It is an insult to respectable people to meet them with dirty face and hands, and soiled and evil-smelling clothes. A gentleman would feel ashamed if he could not keep himself scrupulously clean.

Cleanliness of body is necessary for physical health. Dirt and disease go together. Disease germs breed and thrive in dirt; and the epidemic diseases which sweep over a country and carry off thousands, are generally the results of the dirty habits and surroundings of the people. This is why cholera, for instance, is such a scourge in beautiful Kashmir; for the river Jhelum is made an open sewer by the people of the hundreds of villages along its banks. No one can keep healthy who is afraid of soap and water. Not only the regular washing of hands and face, but the frequent and thorough bathing of the whole body, and the wearing of clean clothes, are conditions of good health.

To keep our house and neighborhood clean is our utmost obligation as it the only remedy available for national health and hygiene. Dirt and refuse are the causes of sickness and sufferings, which ultimately give rise to diseases and epidemics. Plagues and epidemics that set in are called by filthy and insanitary hygienic conditions. So it is a prime duty of every citizen to ensure that public places and our surroundings are not littered.

A great percentage of our population lives below the poverty line. Slums in metropolitan areas are inhabited by these poor people, most of who have migrated from villages. Unable to earn a decent mean of living, they live in huts having no proper sanitation or drinking water.

The uneducated people need to be instructed in civics and cleaning surroundings. Cleanliness of body leads to the cleanliness of mind, and thereby to the soul. Governments and administrative divisions should engage themselves more seriously and bring to book those who are responsible for littering up the public places.

Just as light is a symbol of truth and goodness, and darkness of ignorance and evil, so dirt is a symbol of moral evil and cleanliness of moral purity. Sin is dirt; and in all religions the sinner prays to God for cleaning.