By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
22 September 2017
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of
Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009.)
caption follows up on the closing remarks of the preceding Reflection: whether
prayer (Salah), which is
unquestionably the bedrock of Islamic spirituality and a disciplined,
impassioned, decreed and the Prophet’s way to glorify God automatically invests
a devotee with Taqwa and makes him a Muttaqi and earns him a place in the
paradise (13:35, 47:15, 51:15, 52:17, 54:54, 77:41).
As Taqwa is a technical term that the
Qur’an defines as the
restraining impulse or instinct against evil (91:8, Reflection 7), it is first
necessary to translate it into popular language for the readers to grasp this
short but critical probe.
word Taqwa and its noun form, Muttaqi, and other root words appear in
hundreds of Qur’anic verses. Muslim Scholars have translated it varyingly as
heeding God, as well as His guidance, fearing God, being conscious of God, God
consciousness, preserving oneself from evil, guarding against evil, piety –
etc. according to the
context and personal vocabulary
In broad sense, Taqwa denotes
heedfulness of one’s universal social, moral and ethical responsibilities 
as God has entrusted man with – or, in one word Moral Uprightness as the
object is to probe the relation or connection between Salah and Taqwa. This is
of utmost significance for the Muslims as they place singular emphasis on Salah, but there is no express emphasis
on attaining or excelling in Taqwa or
doing good and righteous deeds that stem from Taqwa (Reflection 7, Concluding statement).
is no denying the fact that prayer instills the fear of God among great many
devotees and restrains them from evil and thus imbues them with Taqwa (29:45), but there are many others
who take Salah no more than a routine
duty to God without the awareness that just reciting Qur’anic verses and
assuming the postures of prayer without any conscious effort to exercise or cultivate
Taqwa falls grossly short of the
stated objective and solicitation of Salah
as summarily argued below:
on the declarations in Surah al-Fatiha,
Salah is not restricted to
glorification of God alone as can be readily seen from the following rendition
of this Surah, which is virtually the
crux of Islamic daily prayer (Salah).
“In the name of God, the Gracious and the
praises are for God, The Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds,
Gracious and the Merciful,
Master of the Day of Judgment.
alone we worship and from You alone we seek help.
us to the Straight / Upright (Mustaqim)
Path (or the true guidance),
The Path of those whom You have
favored, not of those who have incurred (Your) wrath.”
first three verses are dedicated to glorification of God.
4 and 5 acknowledge man’s ultimate accountability to God, his obligation to
serve or worship Him and to seek His Assistance.
crux of the prayer lies in the verses 6-7. Having glorified God (1:1-3) and
acknowledged His Supremacy and his own humility, the devotee pleads to Him to
show the Upright path (Sirat al Mustaqim)
or true guidance.
Qur’an responds to this supplication in its very next passage: the opening
passage of Surah, al-Baqara, which
declares: “This is the Divine Writ, in which nothing is doubtful: it has
guidance for the Muttaqin (2:2).” In
other words, it is the Muttaqin – or
those imbued with Taqwa that can find
guidance in the Qur’an and therefore “are
on true guidance from their Lord” (2:5) or on Sirat al Mustaqim.
Qur’an is thus introduced as the source of true guidance or the roadmap for Sirat
al Mustaqim and only those imbued with Taqwa can follow it.
a number of other verses illustrated below the Qur’an refers to its tenets of
guidance or revelation as its Sirat Al
“By the Qur’an, full of Wisdom
(36:2),You (O Muhammad) are indeed among the Messengers (36:3), on an Upright
Path (Sirat al Mustaqim) (36:4) (laid out in the Qur’an) which is sent down by
the All-Mighty and, the Merciful (36:5),that you may warn a people whose
ancestors were not warned, and who are therefore heedless (of divine guidance)”
“And those who have been granted knowledge
know that it (the Qur’an) is the truth from your Lord (O Muhammad), and they
believe in it and their hearts humbly (open) to it. Indeed God is the Guide of those
who believe, to an Upright Path (Sirat al Mustaqim)”(22:54).
the Islamic prayer (Salah) is not
merely a source of spirituality, but it is also a constant pledge to follow the
guidance of the Qur’an-the Sirat Al Mustaqim.
prayer thus binds the devotee to exercise or internalize Taqwa and heed the guidance of the Qur’an in all his daily
activities and interactions with others.
the Muslims who are so singularly devoted to Salah must understand that what they seek in the Salah– the Sirat al Mustaqim is nothing but the Qur’anic guidance and they
need to cultivate Taqwa to follow it.
Hence there is an urgent need
for the Muslims to realize that unless they complement their Salah with a conscious effort to
cultivate or exercise Taqwa and
pursue the guidance of the Qur’an, they remain oblivion to what they pray for.
They may feel spiritually elated and be overwhelmed with the feeling of
standing in the presence or adoration of God but heedless of the divine
guidance, they solicit in their prayers and God sent down to them in the
 Essential Message of
Islam, Chap. 8.2
Muhammad Yunus, a
Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a
retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an
since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred
exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in
2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated
by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications,
Maryland, USA, 2009.
Link to Part Eight: Reflections
on Qur'anic Message - Part-8: Universal Notion of Taqwa in the Qur’an – A Level
Playing Field Of Self (Nafs) - Dictated Moral Imperative for All Humanity
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