“It is because of its emptiness that the cup is useful.” — ancient saying
1. Potential (Emptying)
When the vessel is empty, it then has the potential to be useful. If the intention is to apply the cup to deliver some nutritional benefit, for example, we must ensure it is clean.
We want all manner of things in life but when our lives become so muddled and cluttered, it becomes hard for us to reach our potential.
يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنوا لا تُلهِكُم أَموالُكُم وَلا أَولادُكُم عَن ذِكرِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَمَن يَفعَل ذٰلِكَ فَأُولٰئِكَ هُمُ الخاسِرونَ
2. Being Clean
In order to be clean, the vessel must be cleaned. But in order to be cleaned, one must use those things that remove filth, such as soap and water. One cannot use filth to remove filth.
A. The Qur’an as a means of being cleansed:
كَلّا إِنَّها تَذكِرَةٌ
فَمَن شاءَ ذَكَرَهُ
في صُحُفٍ مُكَرَّمَةٍ
“No!, it is rather a reminder, but only for those that will remember and mention it, inscribed on Honored Pages, exalted, purifiying.” Qur’an, 80: 11-14
B. The Sunnah as a means of being cleansed:
عَنِ الْمُهَاجِرِ بْنِ قُنْفُذٍ، أَنَّهُ أَتَى النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَهُوَ يَبُولُ فَسَلَّمَ عَلَيْهِ فَلَمْ يَرُدَّ عَلَيْهِ حَتَّى تَوَضَّأَ ثُمَّ اعْتَذَرَ إِلَيْهِ فَقَالَ إِنِّي كَرِهْتُ أَنْ أَذْكُرَ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ إِلاَّ عَلَى طُهْرٍ . أَوْ قَالَ عَلَى طَهَارَةٍ
Muhajir came to the Prophet ﷺ while he was urinating. He saluted him. The Prophet ﷺ did not return the salutation to him until he performed wudu’ (ablution). He then apologized to him, saying, “I disliked remembering Allah (God) except in a state of purification”. Sunan Abi Dawud, #17
هُوَ الَّذي بَعَثَ فِي الأُمِّيّينَ رَسولًا مِنهُم يَتلو عَلَيهِم آياتِهِ وَيُزَكّيهِم وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الكِتابَ وَالحِكمَةَ وَإِن كانوا مِن قَبلُ لَفي ضَلالٍ مُبينٍ
“It is He who raised up among the unlettered people a Messenger from them to recite His Signs to them and purify them and teach them the Book and Wisdom, even though before that they were clearly misguided”. Qur’an, 62: 2
Once clean, the cup may be filled. Once filled, the vessel now has a purpose.
وَما خَلَقنَا السَّماءَ وَالأَرضَ وَما بَينَهُما لاعِبينَ
لَو أَرَدنا أَن نَتَّخِذَ لَهوًا لَاتَّخَذناهُ مِن لَدُنّا إِن كُنّا فاعِلينَ
بَل نَقذِفُ بِالحَقِّ عَلَى الباطِلِ فَيَدمَغُهُ فَإِذا هُوَ زاهِقٌ ۚ وَلَكُمُ الوَيلُ مِمّا تَصِفونَ
“We did not create heaven and earth and everything in between them as a game. If We had desired to have some amusement, We would have derived it from Our Presence, but We did not do that. Rather We hurl the truth against falsehood and it cuts right through it and it vanishes clean away! Woe without end for you for what you portray!” Qur’an, 21: 16-18
Take yourself seriously: our culture encourages people to be silly, careless, heedless, make “bucket lists”, etc., because they think this is all it. Shaytan has deceived humanity today into believing only in the material, even those who claim to believe in God.
But repeated use will inevitably dirty the cup thus requiring purification again and again.