Cleanliness is next to Godliness!

As a Baha’i child in my Baha’i children’s classes I had memorized the Baha’i verse in Persian that said;


نضافت ظاهره هرچند امریست جسمانی ولکن تاثیر شدید در روحانیات دارد

which meant, although bodily cleanliness is a physical thing, it hath, nevertheless, a powerful influence on the life of the spirit.”


In my childish mind, it meant that my cleanliness had something to do with me being a God-like human being! Or, as later I learned in English; “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

As a grown-up I have always wondered how was it that Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha spent most of their lives in the filthy prison city of Akka in Palestine with very little clean water and no means of hygiene and yet Baha’u’llah died in 1892 at the age of 75 and Abdu’l-Baha passed away in 1921 at the old age of almost 80 years old which means they both lived relatively healthy and long lives! From the stories of the central figures of the Baha’i Faith, I had read that they both practiced the principle of harmony of science and religion which meant they had great regard for the cleanliness of both body and mind.

“My meaning is this, that in every aspect of life, purity and holiness, cleanliness and refinement, exalt the human condition and further the development of man’s inner reality. Even in the physical realm, cleanliness will conduce to spirituality, as the Holy Writings clearly state. And although bodily cleanliness is a physical thing, it hath, nevertheless, a powerful influence on the life of the spirit. It is even as a voice wondrously sweet, or a melody played: although sounds are but vibrations in the air which affect the ear’s auditory nerve, and these vibrations are but chance phenomena carried along through the air, even so, see how they move the heart. A wondrous melody is wings for the spirit, and maketh the soul to tremble for joy. The purport is that physical cleanliness doth also exert its effect upon the human soul.”


First in a human being’s way of life must be purity, then freshness, cleanliness, and independence of spirit. First must the stream bed be cleansed, then may the sweet river waters be led into it.

Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 146.

In light of my religious upbringing in regards to cleanliness, it is not surprising that I was immediately drawn to this short and sweet, and most useful article.


It’s a question as old as time: How long do you actually need to wash your hands after going to the bathroom? For some people (i.e., a lot), the answer is they simply don’t do it. (Yuck!) For others, it’s a quick splash with soap and water. For others still, it’s as long as it takes to mentally go through the day’s to-do list. But to kick germs to the curb, you just need to sing a little song.


A short scrub to wash up just doesn’t cut it. A 2013 study from Michigan State University found that only 5 percent of people wash their hands long enough to kill germs after using the restroom, and that’s risky behavior. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says proper hand washing is key to fending off illnesses and infections caused by salmonella, E. coli, and norovirus. It also ensures you don’t spread germs to others.

It takes just a little bit longer (seconds, really!) to wash your hands properly.  If you’ve just used the bathroom or taken out the garbage, or if you’re about to eat, the rule is the same: You need to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.  Don’t forget to wash the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Using warm water isn’t necessary, but most people wash for longer if the temperature is pleasant. To time it out, sing the Alphabet song, which lasts bout 20 seconds. (You could sing “Happy Birthday” twice instead.) After you’re finished singing, rinse your hands and dry them off.


I hope you find the article as much as I did and are moved to share it.

A licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for over 20 years, specializes in using the Bahá’í Teachings to identify theories, techniques, and approaches that produce the best results for her clients. She is the founder and executive director of the Center for Global Integrated Education, a non-profit Bahá’í-inspired educational organization.


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