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The Concept of Piety

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  • The Concept of Piety

    By Shaikh Subaiyyil

    Slaves of Allah! Maintain piety and be watchful of Allah in secret and in open, because Allah has commanded you to be pious and watchful of Him in your deeds and sayings. In return, He promised to guide you to perform righteous deeds, forgive your sins in this life, and to win the greatest success and bliss in the Hereafter.

    Allah says which means, "O you who have believed! Be pious and say the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed achieved a great achievement" (Al-Ahzaab: 70-71)

    In these great verses, Allah commands His salves to maintain piety in all their affairs, to be pious in their words and actions by adhering to His commandments, and performing them the way He has ordered them to be performed, and to refrain from all which He prohibited from words and deeds.

    All good related to the believer's religion and that of this life, happens as an outcome of fulfilling piety. In addition to this is the protection from evil in the affairs of this life and the Hereafter.

    Therefore, the one who maintains piety and truthfulness in what he says, Allah will enable him to say that which is good and truthful, and will guide him to the straight path. He who is pious and uses his tongue to say that which is kind and good, like reciting the Qur'an, remembering Allah, uttering repentance and forgiveness and enjoining good, and also refrains from that which Allah has prohibited by abstaining from talking about people and using foul language.

    The one who does this, Allah will facilitate for him the path of ease, and will keep him away from the path of evil, and will grant him Paradise, and keep him safe in this life and the Hereafter. Allah says which means, "... and he who (is pious and) fears Allah, He will make his matter easy for him" (At-Talaaq: 4)

    Piety is mandatory upon the slave in all his affairs, in secret and in open, in matters related to religion and matters related to his worldly affairs; in his dealing with his Lord, his family, relatives and neighbours; in his dealings of trade, his appointments, promises, his job and things which he is entrusted with. He fulfils the rights of Allah and the rights of the slaves of Allah. He is sincere with people, truthful with them and honest in his dealings; he should refrain from cheating, deception, trickery, evilness and lying; he should abstain from false oaths and false testimony.

    If this is not the way a believer behaves, then where is piety and where is true belief? Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam said, "A believer is one whom people trust with their wealth and souls; a Muslim is one who does not harm people by his tongue or his hands." (Ahmad &Tirmithi)

    How can one be pious while he neglects the commandments of Allah, transgresses His prohibitions and sets his tongue free to attack Muslims? How can one be pious while he is known as a liar, commits all types of sins, eats up people's wealth unjustly, deals with Ribaa, cheats and deceives people and give less in measure? How can one be pious while he breaches the trust, whether it is in the form of a job or wealth he is entrusted with or a position of authority he holds?

    Many people today are dishonest. If a right is due to others, they do not fulfil it, delay it, try to avoid it, and, in some cases, he does not give people their rights unless he deducts a portion from it, forcefully taking some of that right or some money, before returning the right to the actual owner. If he is assigned a job to perform, he does not perform it in the proper manner. Isn't this deception? Isn't this ill-gotten money? Isn't this oppressing the slaves of Allah? Isn't this an action far from piety? Isn't this oppression, which will cause him darkness on the Day of Resurrection?

    Oppression results in ruining the lives of oppressors and changes their circumstances from prosperity to adversity and from ease to hardship, or it results in punishment which they never expected. Allah says which means, "For the wrong-doing of the Jews, We made unlawful to them certain good foods which has been lawful to them, and for their hindering many from Allah's Way. And their taking of Ribaa (usury) though they were forbidden from taking it, and their consuming of men's substance wrongfully. And We prepared for the disbelievers among them painful torment." (An-Nisaa': 160)

    Eating up people's wealth unjustly and oppressing them is the nature of ill-hearted and evil people who have weak faith. How will the one, who unjustly takes over other people's rights, answer when he would be asked on the Day of Resurrection to return people's rights to them? Let such people keep this serious situation in mind when they stand before the Lord of all creations.

    Let them remember the saying of the Prophet (SAWS) when said to his companions as narrated by Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, "Do you know who is the broke person among my nation?" The companions, may Allah be pleased with them, said, 'He is the one who has no money'. He (SAWS) said, "Indeed, it is he who will come on the Day of Resurrection having performed prayers, fasting and Zakaah, but had cursed this person and slandered that one, unjustly eaten up another one's wealth, killed another and hit another. Then each of them will be given from the reward of his good deeds, until his rewards are finished, then portions of their sins will taken from them and added to his and accumulate, until he is thrown in Hellfire". (Muslim)

    O Muslims! Be pious and fear Allah and beware of His wrath and punishment, Allah says which means, "Such is the Seizure of your Lord when He seizes the towns while they are doing wrong. Indeed, His Seizure is painful and severe. Indeed, in that is a sure lesson for those who fear the torment of the Hereafter. That is a day wherein mankind will be gathered together, and that is a day when all will be present." (Hood: 102-103)

    Fear Allah and be watchful of Him in secret and open, and beware of sins and disobedience. Refrain from oppressing the slaves of Allah, do not be arrogant, and abstain from retribution, evil and corruption. Do not harm others. Treat others justly and kindly, as you would like them to treat you, because the outcome coincides with the type of deed, Allah says which means, "Truly, Allah is with those who are pious (and fear Him) and those who are good doers." (An-Nahl: 128)

    Hasten to repentance and ask forgiveness from Allah before (as Allah says which means), "Lest a person should say: Alas, my grief that I was undutiful to Allah, and I was (Islam and its followers)." (Az-Zumar: 56)

    Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet (SAWS) said, "Whosoever has done injustice to anyone regarding their wealth or honor, let him settle it with them today, before the day comes when there will be no benefit from silver or gold; if he has good deeds, then a portion equal to his oppression will be taken from his record of good deeds and given to them (the oppressed) and if he had no good deeds, a portion equal to his oppression will be taken from their record of sins and be placed in their records." (Bukhari)

    Wednesday : 02/10/2002
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  • #2
    Significance of Taqwa (Piety) in the Qur'an

    Taqwa is said to be that spiritual condition wherein a person, believing firmly in the Omnipotence of Almighty Allah and His Omnipresence, has an acute urge to distinguish between virtue and vice, and a burning desire to adopt the good and to eschew the evil in order to protect himself from the displeasure of Almighty Allah.

    Taqwa, Arabic for God-fearing, means saving, guarding or preserving a thing from that which harms on injures it. In the religious sense it means guarding against evil or being saved from sin, and in the terminology of Shariah, connotes keeping aloof from all that is injurious to the human souls. The root meaning of Taqwa is to save oneself from anything that causes apprehension of being harmful or injurious. It, therefore, includes the fear or apprehension of the consequences that follow from a certain act or behaviour. By extension, it means the awareness of one's responsibilities to others.

    It would not be a mis-statement of facts if it were said that Taqwa epitomises the entire teachings of the Prophet of Islam. A study of the Holy Qur'an will show that every aspect of its teachings is directed towards the creation of this spiritual condition of God-fearing in the actions of the believers. According to the Holy Qur'an, Taqwa should be the ultimate result of all forms of worship. The Holy Qur'an says: "People! Worship your Rab (Creator and Sustainer) Who created you and those before you, so that you may guard against evil ..." (2:21)

    Again, the same virtue is emphasised as the objective of fasting: "O believers! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed for those who were before you, so that you may avoid evil." (2:183). Haj is also enjoined with the same objective: "Thus it is, and who so honour the symbols of Allah, then that indeed is from the piety of heart." (22:32)

    Animal sacrifices is also offered with this very aim: "Neither their meat nor their blood reaches Allah but your piety reaches Him ... " (22:37)

    According to the Holy Qur'an, the practice of basic moralities lead to the same goal: "... and to forego (for men) is nearer to piety ..." (2:237)

    In Surah Al Imran, Taqwa is bracketed with steadfastness and patience, and in Surah Baqarah with making peace among mankind. Even in conducting wars, when mere values are generally overlooked, Muslims have to abide by the dictates of Taqwa. This condition of heart transforms both the thinking and the action of man. The Holy Qur'an repeatedly asks us to observe Taqwa, to abide by the decisions of the Prophet, to act up to the injunctions of the Shariah, and to refrain from prohibited acts, and to attain glory.

    A Muslim surrenders before Almighty Allah and does what he is ordered to do and refrains from what he is told to keep away from. Taqwa, the fear of Almighty Allah, is the only force that can restrain man from evil and wickedness. It is this fear of Almighty God that keeps the heart of a believer awake and enables him to distinguish right from wrong.

    Besides, Taqwa is the only virtue that brings honour to a believer, man or woman, in the Islamic society. The Holy Qur'an says: "O men, We have created you from a male and a female, and have made you into races and tribes that you may (thereby) know one another. Indeed, the most honourable of you in the sight of Almighty Allah is (one who is) the most righteous of you. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware." (49:13)

    Justice and Taqwa are two principles that emerge as necessary corollaries from the doctrines of Oneness of Allah, which according to the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah, is the basic article of faith, whereas the discipline and the dos and the don'ts of the canon law are merely its outward expression, or means to the attainment of divinely ordained ends of man in its collective as well as individual existence.

    In Islam, being just is considered to be a necessary condition or being pious and God-fearing, the basic characteristics of a Muslim. The Holy Qur'an says: "... Deal justly; that is nearer to pity, and observe your duty to Almighty Allah. Surely Allah is well aware of what you do." (5:8)

    The Holy Qur'an aims to create an ideal society based on Taqwa for the good of the entire humanity. Allah says: "You are the best community created for the good of mankind." (3:110) The fear of Almighty Allah, the root of all wisdom, find expression in the individual's awareness of the impact that his actions or failure to act will at the various stages or levels of his social connections and relationship have on others. It is admitted that the primary concern of Islam is to develop the personality of the individual as a God fearing man, and equip him with the talent to live in peace with himself and peace with others.

    Monday : 22/07/2002
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