Friday, June 21, 2013

Spring Cleaning

“Cleanliness is half the faith.” – Prophet Mohammed (s)
Next to a clean conscience, there is almost nothing that makes a person feel more relaxed than a clean house. When our home is tidy, we feel more eager to invite somebody inside, and we feel more able to think clearly.
According to Tirmidhi, the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said: “Allah is pure and likes purity, He is clean and likes cleanliness, He is generous and likes generosity, He is hospitable and loves hospitality, so clean your courtyards.”
When our home is a mess, cleaning up that mess usually takes up space in our brains as something that must be dealt with before we can truly focus on our true life goals and desires. Living in a cluttered or dirty home drains one’s energy and mood so much that the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) taught that living in filth erodes the faith. He taught that a Muslim is not even supposed to look at filth. Obviously we cannot clean something properly without looking at it. But what we should never do is look at filth and leave it there, forcing others as well as ourselves to look at it again and again, while telling ourselves we will get around to cleaning it up later. Looking at a messy house is often more mentally draining than the actual work of cleaning it.
“People who constantly live in a state of chaos are prone to procrastination and an inability to commit to work or relationships. They get anxious and overwhelmed with change and usually give up before they even start the project. Their finances and time are wasted; they feel stuck and bad about themselves,” writes Ranka Burzan, author of The SOS Guide to Organize and Clean Your Home.
How many marriages have stalled, because one or both partners have felt overwhelmed by organizational tasks, so that year after year they promised their spouse, “I’ll have time to pay attention to you after I do x,y and z”? Let’s pretend x,y, and z are fixing the garage door, filing taxes, and finding gainful employment. These things could be seriously delayed by lack of organization, in other words they are dependent on u,v and w – finding one’s lost tools, locating one’s lost receipts, and overcoming a lost sense of self. Meanwhile, the hair becomes grey and youth fades away. The house is still messy but years of potential joy and togetherness have been wasted without being fully lived.
Regina Leeds, author of One Year to an Organized Life, writes that to remove the chaos, we must examine the psychological inner workings that influence our behaviors in order to create lasting change. Leeds states that clutter creates a “brain dance,” an agitation and inability to think clearly amidst the stuff. She believes that “our clutter makes noise” keeping us “upset and churned.” When confronted with the piles and junk drawers we are also haunted with the “tyranny of shoulds,” stemming from our feelings of guilt about our disorganization. Leeds goes on further to describe disorganization as a “waste of time, waste of money, and waste of energy.”
Imam al Baqir said: “Cleaning of the house banishes misery”.Islamic ahadith suggest that satans and djinn live in dusty and neglected places. Some of the unseen beings that could result in evil might also include germs, mold and bacteria. The good news is that the actual act of cleaning your house not only improves your state of mind but cures spiritual lethargy.
Cleaning up significantly improves your quality of life without spending a penny. It’s something a poor person can do to make his or her home more beautiful and valuable. Islam teaches that the act of cleaning up actually increases your blessings.
Remove cobwebs from your house, for they cause poverty,” the Prophet reportedly said.
Sherrie Bourg Carter discusses in Psychology Today that not only is clutter a symptom of mental clutter and a side effect of stress, but in a vicious cycle, clutter in itself causes us stress: “Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed… Why does mess lead to so much stress?”
“Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.
Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.
Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.
Clutter makes us anxious because we’re never sure what it’s going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.
Clutter creates feelings of guilt (“I should be more organized”) and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or work spaces.
Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brain storm, and problem solve.
Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g. files and paperwork lost in the “pile” or keys swallowed up by the clutter).”
One of the best things we can do as parents is to teach our children how to clean, by giving them the responsibility and showing them how to do it. Many children will respond best to cleaning up with help, as a group. In time, this will give children the confidence and organizational skills that come with experience. It’s best if we can find a way to make it fun, like “Let’s pretend we are playing basketball with the toys into the toy box!” rather than screaming and demanding. But even if you have to force them to clean, every boy and girl will need to know how to clean a toilet, how to mop a floor, how to scrub a stovetop or it will hurt their future chances for marriage!
Most of us often find it hard to muster up the excitement to throw ourselves into organizational tasks. In order to conquer this feeling, we can make a fun plan for what we are going to do after we finish cleaning. For example, “After cleaning the kitchen, I will set up candles and flowers to romance my spouse,” or “After I fix the leak under the sink, I will go out and play tennis with my neighbor.”
Viewing home upkeep as a step towards goal, not the goal, will make the task seem less daunting or at least more worthwhile.


Emad said...

Hi Karin,

I enjoy your blog and writing skills. There is a lot of truth on this blog which is rarely found on the internet. However, I do not know much about you. You are jewish, correct? Jewish in the sense of your ethnic background, not religion. I have a question about that, if I may ask. I've always considered Judaism to be a religion, not a race. I have internal conflicts over this all the time because of what I've been taught by jewish public education.

Real 'Jews' are Semites like Arabs, except that they are not 'Jews', but merely Semites. Judaism is their religion, like Islam is for most(but not all) Arabs. Some have lived there for generations, but most others came from Spain and other parts of europe and interbred with the local population, thus making newer generations a european/semitic mix. The Jews decried Hitler's portrayal of them as a race, yet today they are proud to call themselves a 'superior race' and 'the chosen race'. They call themselves a race, not a religion. They call hostility toward Judaism "anti-semitism". They do not label it as "anti-judaism" or "anti-zionism", thus furthering this notion of race. Which is also ironic since Arabs are also semitic.

What is your take? Are Jews a race or religion? Why? Sorry for my long post and poor writing skills.

Karin Friedemann said...

Emad, you might be interested in the following

The ethnic term for European Jews is "Ashkenazi" and they come from what is now Russia near the Black Sea, they used to have a Jewish Kingdom called Khazaria. They converted from paganism to Judaism in order to get protection from the Ottoman Empire in the middle ages. They are a Turkic-Slavic race - not Semites. There are a few Palestinian Jews, but very few.