Friday, April 16, 2010

Matters of preference

Matters of preference

Everyone of us dislikes certain things and likes others. Preferences in such matters are very much personal. They are often inexplicable. However, we may all share in a particular area but differ in our preferences of its details. All of us, for example, like good smells and feel irritated by bad ones. Yet some of us tolerate bad smells, or certain types of them, more than others. The Prophet (peace be upon him) disliked all bad smells. He, therefore, was keen that he would have a good smell at all times. He kept some perfumes at home and he often used them. Needless to say, the perfumes he used were mostly natural and simple ones. They were not expensive like the products of today’s industry. Indeed the Prophet is quoted to have said: “The three things I favor in this world are: perfumes and women; but what gives me most gratification is prayer.”
In this Hadith, the Prophet combines three totally different things.
The first is both natural and personal. We can all identify with such a preference.
The second, women, should be taken in a very broad way. We must not forget that the Prophet grew up in a society that despised women and ill-treated them. Islam changed all this and put women on an equal level with men, assigning to them the same duties of worship and promising the same rewards. The Prophet provided the best example in his kind treatment of women. Indeed, he was kind to all women. Whenever a woman complained to him of any difficulty she was facing, he did whatever he could to relieve her difficulty. Any maid would come to him and take him by the hand. He would go with her wherever she wanted in the market place of Madinah until he had sorted out any problem she had. His treatment of the women in his household was a splendid model of love and kindness.
Prayer had a special position in his life. It was the symbol of real and regular contact with God. In prayer the Prophet felt his true position as God’s most devoted servant, and realized that God was close to him, listening to his address and pleased with his devotion. As he felt such closeness to God, the Prophet was keen to offer voluntary prayers on every possible occasion, whether in conjunction with the five obligatory prayers we offer every day, or at other times. He offered short voluntary prayers in mid-morning and long ones at night. Indeed, he oftenspent between one and two thirds of the night in prayer.
His love of a good smell manifested itself in his personal hygiene. The Prophet often brushed his teeth, using a tooth stick known as miswak. It is a stick taken from a certain type of tree. When you peel off the skin at the top, its fibers serve like a toothbrush. When the Prophet woke up at night, the first thing he did was to brush his teeth. He used to say: “Brushing one’s teeth cleans one’s mouth and pleases the Lord.” He normally brushed his teeth every time he performed his ablutions for prayer.
Adil Salahi
Arab News
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