A Growth Note:
The revolution brought about by the Holy Quran was not just a revolution which affected the physical environment. The pagan Arab tribes during the time preceding the revelation of the Quran had no regard for cleanliness.
The Quran came with pure words of Divine Source (Divine Revelation) and awakened a love for hygiene and cleanliness in the Arabs. It developed in them a knowledge for Community health and, as a result, they became the cleanest people of their day and time. The religion of Islam cleaned the people by cleaning the man.
The Honorable Master Elijah Muhammad (peace be on him), in his book entitled The Supreme Wisdom and in other writings advised the Bilalian Community (Black community) to practice worship as it is practiced in the Muslim world. He said that there is no better prayer service than the prayer service of Islam:
"The five prayers of the day are spiritual refreshment and he who cleanses himself in and out leaves no filthiness. It would be an insult to invite His Lord's holy spirit into a house the outside of which was filthy.
"Let us give praises to our God and submit ourselves to the Lord of the worlds and learn how to pray the right prayers in the right manner. Let us serve the One True God, whose proper name is Allah, in the right state.
"While the private part (of the prayer service) is meant simply for the development of the inner self of man, the public part has other ends as well in view: ends, that indeed, make the Islamic prayer a mighty force in the unification of the human race.
"We must study the words and the different positions taken by the Muslim in his daily prayer.
"This position (of prayer) also has another meaning; it refers to the lost and found people of Islam. Before their return they must turn in this direction (towards the Ka'aba) with clean hands and hearts, bow in submission to the will of Allah alone with the righteousness that they may be welcomed to take their place again among their own people. This shall soon be made clear to my people..."
The prayer service of Islam first asks you to clean yourself before you face or address your Maker, the Creator of heaven and earth. The Honorable Master Elijah Muhammad (peace be on him) realized how far we had been set back in the consciousness of our physical cleanliness and presentability. He recognized how we, as a people in America, had been denied an opportunity to grow as a people appreciating cleanliness along with other people for generations back.
We were denied in the plantation life of slavery the soaps and the perfumes that made the house-master and his wife very presentable and decent to smell. We were called "smelly blacks," even though we were not responsible for our smell. Those who were responsible for us being "smelly blacks" were those who denied us soap and water.
Realizing this, the Honorable Master Elijah Muhammad advised his people to learn the prayer service of Islam because the prayer service of Islam is best suited to the needs of the Bilalian (American Black) Communities.
I have not said this to say that the Bilalian (American Black) Community today is a smelly community. We have soap and water and we are as clean and as decent a people as any other people on earth. Islam has taught us to wash ourselves, physically, morally, mentally, and spiritually.
Even so, we have inherited a burden of slave tradition that has affected us in more ways than one: we do not value ourselves enough. The truth of Divine Mind is growing us into the knowledge of self-value, but we are not yet a people who value ourselves enough as physical, moral, and mental beings who are capable of great intellectual growth. This growth is a long process, but we must take it step by step and try to accomplish as much as we can see.