The Editor, The Asian Tribune
This is the last week of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. Through fasting from dawn to dusk a Muslim experiences hunger and thirst, which allows him or her to empathize with those in the world who have little to eat or drink every day, thus, teaching and encouraging him/her to be charitable. Through increased charity, Muslims develop feelings of generosity and good-will toward fellow human beings.
Fasting is an obligation for most Muslims, as dictated by the Qur’an– the Muslim Holy Scripture, in which they are commanded by Allah:
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you may attain Taqwa.” (2:183)
The above Qur’anic verse confirms two points. Firstly, that s for everyone and secondly, that the development and attaining of Taqwa is dependent on fasting. That is, without fasting, one may not be able to attain Taqwa. It is also clear that Taqwa is for the rich and the poor, the knowledgeable and the uneducated, the leader and the follower, the ruler and the ruled, the old and the young, the man and the woman. And that it was also prescribed to the people of other faiths that came before the time of Muhammad (S), the prophet of Islam.
So, what’s Taqwa that appears 151 times in the Qur’an? In his book - Al-Mufradat fi Gharib al-Qur’an, Imam Raghib al-Isfahani says that Taqwa simply means to protect oneself.
Protection against what? Just like garments that protect our body from the cold and the hot weather, Taqwa is a protection from the Anger of Allah and His Punishment.
O Children of Adam! We have certainly sent down to you garments to cover your nakedness and for adornment. Yet the garment of Taqwa —that is the best. Such are among the signs of Allah so that they may take admonition. (7:26)
The word Taqwa is used 251 times in the Holy Qur’an as either a noun or a verb indicating its importance in the life of Muslims. These numerous verses elaborate the different dynamics and dimensions of the inner meanings of Taqwa that enables Muslims to be an ideal and a living example as a vicegerent of Allah.
This is the Book whereof there is no doubt a guidance to those who are al-Muttaquin; Who believe in the Ghaib (the Unseen), and establish prayer, and spend out of what We (Allah) have provided for them; And who believe in the Revelation sent to you (Muhammad), and sent before your time, and (in their hearts) are certain of the Hereafter. They are on (true) guidance from their Lord (Allah), and it is these who will prosper.
The Muttaqun are those that believe, fear Allah and look to what He has ordained in carrying out His actions to avoid His displeasure. These people are involved and active in the affairs of the humanity, whilst at the same time praying, fasting, spending in Allah’s cause, having good morals; they are forgiving and just. All these descriptions can be attributed to a person who has Taqwa who will be successful in the Hereafter.
It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards east or west; but it is righteousness - to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend wealth, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for setting the slaves free; to establish prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which you have made; and to be firm and patient in tribulation and adversity, and in times of panic (or stress). Such are the people of truth and they are al-Muttaqoon. (2:177)
The most honoured in the sight of Allah is the believer with the most Taqwa, .e., the most conscious and aware of Him. The Glorious Qur’an illustrates this in Surah Al Hujurat (49:13):
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is the one who has Taqwa. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”
Ali (RA) said, “Certainly, Taqwa is the medicine for your hearts; it is the sight for the blindness of your spirits, the cure for the ailments of your bodies, the rectifier of the evils of your breasts, the purifier of the pollution of your minds, the light of the darkness of your eyes, the consolation for the fear of your heart, and the brightness for the gloom of your ignorance.” [NahjulBalagha]
The son of ‘Ali (ra), Al-Hasan (ra) once said, “The people who have Taqwa (al-muttaqoon) are the people who avoided whatever Allah has prohibited and have done whatever Allah has ordained.”
Both the Qur’anic verses and the hadith command Muslims to have Taqwa as a barrier between himself and the Anger and Displeasure of Allah. Through Taqwa, the Muslim strives to obey Allah and abstains from His prohibitions.
A true Muttaqi is a person who strives to possess a solid understanding and knowledge of the rulings of Allah through the Qur’an and Sunnah. Without proper knowledge of the Islamic rulings, a person would not know what is asked of him/her. Therefore, it is a must to understand Islam properly as well as to have the proper intention of pleasing Allah in carrying out these actions.
Taqwa in a broader sense is a requirement for everyone who wants to be a true human being, live under control of reason, and follow certain principles. In religious context, Taqwa is the quality of those who protect themselves from all that is considered by religion as wrong and sinful.
Imam Ahmad mentions a hadith, narrated by a Sahabi, whereby a person once asked, “Oh Messenger of Allah, give me some advice.” The Prophet (S) responded, “I advise you to fear Allah because it is the head of everything.” In another occasion the Prophet (saw) replied, “Fear Allah because it is the collection of all goodness.” Allah also promises to be with those who have Taqwa. Allah says,
“Truly, Allah is with those who have Taqwa, and those who are Muhsinun (doers of good for Allah’s sake only).” [An-Nahl 16:128
As we witness the deaths of more than three hundred thousand people as a result of the deadly virus Covid-19 with millions of others being infected by it, it is high time to realize that life is too short to waste. There is no better time than now, today, this very moment to introspect and prepare for Taqwa. May Allah help us all to be of service to mankind.
Original Headline: Attaining Piety during Ramadan
Source: The Asian Tribune