Rubbing of Garments / Earth as a Healer in the Quran
Alas! The Lovers of the Progeny of Muhammad (pbuh) are grieved that their crying does not result in the loss of their sight! And by Allah! If we cry so much that the light of the eyes disappears, then Allah would restore sight to those eyes, for He promises thus in the Quran;
Take this, my shirt, and cast it over the face of my father; he will be able to see. And bring me your family, all together. (Surah 12, Yusuf verse 93).
It is noteworthy that the association of a shirt, indeed any fabric, with the body, is temporary – a month, two months, a year, two years – after that it deteriorates and eventually loses all association with the person. The temporary garment of a prophet, and the shirt that had a short-lived association with the body of a prophet, was of such importance that blind eyes had sight restored to them when rubbed by the shirt.
Indeed the sole cause of blindness in the first instance was crying in the separation of a (still) living son. Restoration of sight was only because of the garment that had albeit a temporary association with the body of a prophet.
Now it is important to ponder very calmly and rationally, that when the touching of a temporal garment of a prophet to the eyes of a blind man can restore sight, then what wonders can those things bestow which bear an eternal association with chosen people? Just ponder over the blessed burial places, the dust and earth of the Prophet and the Infallible Imams and martyrs in Allah’s path (pbut): by their eternal association with those places, does the earth from there not become a healing dust, antimony for the eyes, or medicine for the ill? Indeed it does!
The rubbing of Yusuf (pbuh)’s past, temporary garment – a shirt –on the prophet Yaqub (pbuh)’s face is not considered an innovation, harmful or wrong in any way, therefore it is considered a sunnah (recommended practice) of the prophet. Then how can taking the earth from the Prophet (pbuh) and his progeny’s (pbut) graves and rubbing it on the face and head be considered an innovation and unlawful?
Can anyone answer this question of ours effectively? Or shall we answer it, that when the prophet Yusuf (pbuh) said, ‘take this shirt of mine and put it on my father’s face so that he may see’, and indeed this did happen, then this was the act of two prophets. Could it be possible that both Yusuf (pbuh) and Yaqub (pbuh) were not aware of what an ‘innovation’ would be? May I ask today’s so called strict Muslims, that Allah forbid, was there a weakness in the faith of these two prophets?
If there were no weakness – and indeed there was not –then will those who scream ‘innovation’ review their own faith? Perhaps, as a poet stated, they question people’s faith as they themselves lack faith. Perhaps it is for this reason that they are in fact going against the actions of previous prophets and the words of the Quran.
Again, let us ponder further on the temporary association of a garment with the body of a prophet: by virtue of having touched him, it becomes so special and distinctive that it even restores the sight of one who has become blind! In fact the garment even emanates a special fragrance. This fragrance was apparent thousands of miles away to Yusuf (pbuh)’s father but not to his brothers. Why was that? Rather than arguing personal points of view, it is incumbent that we take proof from the Quran in order to answer this question.
Let us examine the following verses;
And when the caravan departed [from Egypt], their father said, "Indeed, I find the smell of Yusuf [and would say that he was alive] if you did not think me deluded / weakened in mind." They said, "By Allah, indeed you are in your [same] old error." And when the bearer of good tidings arrived, he cast it over his face, and he returned [once again] seeing. He said, "Did I not tell you that I know from Allah that which you do not know?" (Surah 12, Yusuf verses 94 - 96)
Is it not a clear and evident meaning of these verses that the only one who will smell such a fragrance is the one whose love is true and sincere? Otherwise how else would it be possible that despite the fragrance being a reality, others could not smell it?
These proofs that we have presented from the Quran can only be negated if we consider the prophet Yaqub (pbuh), Allah forbid, to have been deluded. And yet even the brothers of Yusuf (pbuh) did not consider him deluded or weak of mind, but instead stated that, ‘because you love Yusuf (pbuh) to the furthest limit as you did before, therefore you can smell him’.
It is a shame on today’s Muslims that instead of repeating these lines of the brothers of the prophet Yusuf (pbuh) on the lovers of the progeny of Muhammad (pbut), they rather accuse them of disbelief and idolatry. How aptly Iqbal stated about such ‘custodians of knowledge’;
They change not themselves, rather alter the Quran. How senseless the Custodians of Knowledge have become!
We must also mention here that it becomes compulsory on us to respect things that are associated with revered personalities: the prophet Yusuf’s shirt became important because of its association with his body, otherwise on its own merit, what was the significance of this mere shirt? If the same shirt were on the body of another, neither would it be respected nor would it be of any importance.