The Prophet Muhammad's hygiene practices were recorded by historians in great detail, which experts say are effective in keeping disease and impurity at bay.
As the deadly coronavirus challenges humans from diverse religions, classes and ethnic backgrounds, some medical suggestions such as regular and thorough handwashing and maintenance of both personal and public hygiene have attained universal acceptance.
For many scholars of Islam, today's guidelines are completely in sync with what the Prophet Muhammad practised in his lifetime and insisted on his followers doing in order to enhance both personal and public health.
“Cleanliness comes first in our religion [Islam] among other important issues. Without cleanliness, we cannot even worship,” Huseyin Ari, an expert in the High Council of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, told TRT World.
Before every prayer, it is mandatory for all Muslims to do wudu or ablution, which includes washing hands, face, nose, mouth, ears, ankles and feet. According to Islam, Muslims have to pray five times a day, which means they practice the ritual of wudu five times a day, adhering to the Prophet Muhammad's instruction on cleanliness.
A devout Muslim's cleanliness goes beyond daily wudu rituals.
The Holy Quran, the book of Islam, which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed between 610 and 632 AD, touches upon the importance of cleanliness in several verses, commanding the faithful to stay clean.
“God loves those who keep themselves clean,” says one of the Quranic verses.
In another verse, which is one of the earliest revelations: “Clean your garments,” God orders the Prophet Muhammed.
“In the current process of the pandemic, how much importance [personal and public] hygiene carries for our health has been revealed. As a result, it’s very important to pay attention to personal cleanliness in the time of the pandemic,” Ari said.
Muslim scholars underline the fact that many hadith (what Muslims believe to be the record of words, and actions of the Prophet Muhammad) books begin with a section called “The Book on Purification”, referring to the rules of personal cleanliness.
“Cleanliness is half of faith,” the Prophet said in one of his well-known hadiths.
Adil Bebek, an emeritus professor of divinity at the Marmara University, thinks that Islam’s emphasis on cleanliness and its anti-pandemic rules could make a serious difference for Muslims to protect themselves from the deadly pandemic.
Islam does not endorse acts of ignorance concerning cleanliness, which is particularly valid during the time of pandemics, the professor says.
“In public places, our religion advises not to practice certain activities like coughing, sneezing, speaking in a loud way and snuggling into someone else in a very close range, [where your germs could be passed from one to another],” Bebek told TRT World.
In one of the hadiths, the companions of the Prophet Muhammed narrated: “When the Prophet would sneeze, he would cover his face with his hand or with his garment, and muffle the sound with it.”
In times of epidemics or pandemics, Muslims and other believers of different faiths may need to pay more attention to Islamic rules and the Prophet Muhammed’s subtle guidance concerning cleanliness, Bebek and other experts say.
“A good number of the verses of Holy Quran and traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) provide the best guideline for human beings in order to enjoy the highest standard of personal hygiene than other people of the world,” wrote Ali Muhammad Bhat and Aijaz Ahmad Qureshi, who are academics at Islamic University of Science and Technology, Awantipora, India-administered Kashmir.