“Sayangi Malaysiaku: Malaysia Bersih” Begins with a Purified Soul
In a few days, Malaysia will be celebrating its 62nd National Day. The theme selected for this year’s celebration is “Sayangi Malaysiaku: Malaysia Bersih (Love My Malaysia: A Clean Malaysia).” As announced by the Communications and Multimedia Minister, by having this theme, we hope to “instil and ignite the value of integrity and build up a strong and noble character among Malaysians.” It is a long effort, but we need to start now.
The word “bersih” or clean, used in the theme, is simple but could be understood more deeply. In simple terms, clean means “free form dirt or pollution” and could also mean, “ceremonially and spiritually pure.” Based on this, cleanliness should exist in both physical and spiritual levels.
This is exactly what Islam has taught us. In Islam, cleanliness is essential and fundamental in the Muslim life. It is also considered a part of faith. Islam is concerned with both physical and spiritual cleanliness.
Physical cleanliness is obtained by cleansing one’s body by bathing, brushing teeth, using perfume, making ablution before praying etc. In fact, among the early revelations of Islam is an injunction to cleanse the physical part of human life. The Quran (al-Muddaththir, 4) encourages us thus, “And your garment, cleanse them.” Human physical cleanliness will be completed by having a cleaner living environment. The physical cleanliness is easy to achieve as long as we are willing to invest the time and effort to organise ourselves.
The second type of cleanliness involves the human’s inner being. It could be achieved in various ways but the basic one would be through upholding the five pillars of Islam that are the declaration of faith (Shahadah), obligatory prayers (Solat), compulsory tithe (Zakat), fasting in the month of Ramadan (Sawm) and pilgrimage to Mekah (Hajj). If these demands are executed in diligence, patience and sincerity, they could help to purify one’s soul.
A purified soul is one that would strive to avoid sins and making an abundance of goodness. This will shape a personality of one who despises corruption, willing to help others beyond religion and differences in political understanding and having a positive mind as well as a compassionate heart which is free of anger and hatred towards others. Malaysia needs such kinds of “souls” to create loving and respectful citizens.
Another way to cleanse one’s soul is clearly stated in the Quran. Verse 23 of surah al-Zumar states that by listening and reciting the Quran, one’s hearts will experience serenity and be susceptible to accept the teachings of Allah and be blessed by Him. Indeed, Allah will guide us through our lives. Thus, we must read and learn the Quran as it contains various guidelines which can be used in our daily endeavours.
In this sense, the physical cleanliness could not be realised unless the inner part of a human is purified. Dr. Aisha Utz in her book, Psychology from Islamic Perspective explains that the soul “drives the physical body’s feeling, movements and volition. When the soul is removed, life ends for the human.” The phrase “life end for humans” could be seen around us today. Humans are involved in countless destructive acts such as fighting against one another as well as destroying the environment which we rely upon.
In the Quran, Allah says, “By the Soul, and Him Who well-proportioned it (with faculties well-suited for its creation); And inspired him with (knowledge of) what is wrong for it and (what is) right for it; Indeed blessed shall be the man who has kept it pure (with faith and good deeds), And ruined shall be he who has corrupted it (with sins).” The verse stresses those who purify their souls are fortunate while those who neglect it will be heading to self-destruction (al-Shams, verses 7–10).
Hence, it is vital to take care of our spiritual health as much as the physical one. Abandoning effort to cleanse the soul will be reflected in many ways. One will show a number of difficult attitudes such as arrogance in speech and behaviour, enjoying evil acts, belittling others and feeling pleasure upon the hardship of others. These immoral attitudes are bad for individuals and harmful to society and would create disharmony in the public.
In conclusion, purifying one’s soul is indispensable. Once a person improves his or her soul, it will be reflected in his or her words and actions. Good souls nurture virtuous human beings and are thus necessary in forming a harmonious and successful societies and nations.