Quarterly: Issue No 51
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TAQWA — CRITERION OF HONOUR & EXCELLENCE
Sayyiduna Abu Dharr (Radhiyallahu Anhu) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) once said to him: ‘You, as a person, enjoy no superiority over a white-skinned or a black-skinned man. You can, of course, be excellent through piety and fear of Allah.’ (Musnad of Imam Ahmad)
This Hadith shows that honour and superiority does not rest with wealth, nationality, birth, language or face and figure. It is determined by piety (the state of being constantly conscious of Allah) and leading a way of life stemming from it. Thus, the one who is greater in honour in the sight of Allah is the one who is more pious. As Allah says in the Noble Qur’an: Verily, the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous. (Surah al-Hujuraat : 13)
It is related by Imam-ul-Fuqaha Sayyiduna Mu‘aadh Ibn Jabal (Radhiyallahu Anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) sent him to Yemen (as the Governor or Judge). When he was leaving for that place, the Prophet went with him (for some distance by way of a send-off), giving him the (necessary) instructions and advice. At that time, Sayyiduna Mu‘aadh was riding on his mount while the Prophet was walking on foot beside him. The last thing the Prophet said to him, after he had given other necessary instructions, was: ‘We may not meet again after this year (i.e. it is the last year of my life and I will soon depart from this world). It is possible that (when you return from Yemen) you may visit my mosque and grave.’ On hearing this, Mu‘aadh began to cry. Turning his face away from Mu’aadh and in the direction of Madinah, the Prophet remarked: ‘Much closer and dearer to me are the servants who fear Allah (and are constantly conscious of Him), whoever they are and wherever they may be.’ (Musnad of Imam Ahmad)
The concluding part of the above Hadith denotes that spiritual nearness and attachment to our beloved Prophet is the main thing. Hence, however distant a man may be from the Prophet, physically he may be in Yemen or in any other part of the world, if he possesses the trait of piety and fears Allah constantly, he is close to him, or, rather, with him. On the other hand, if a person is near him, in the physical sense, but his heart is devoid of piety, he is removed from the Prophet and the Prophet is removed from him, notwithstanding all the seeming nearness.
The Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) has, in this way, consoled Mu‘aadh (Radhiyallahu Anhu). He has advised him not to grieve over the apparent separation for with piety and the fear of Allah in his heart he will not be far from him even if he lived in Yemen. Moreover, the present existence is transitory, and the permanent dwelling place is the future world where all the righteous servants of Allah will live with the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) forever and there will be no question of separation.
The Prophet had turned his face away while speaking these words, probably, because he, too, had been moved to tears at the weeping of Mu‘aadh and wanted to conceal it from him. It could, also, be that the sight of a true friend weeping was unbearable for the Prophet and, therefore, he turned away. The Prophet ordered Mu‘aadh to ride on his mount while, for himself, he preferred to walk on foot by his side. What a great lesson and example this event contains for those who are regarded to be the religious and spiritual heirs and deputies of the Messenger of Allah.
May Allah entitle all of us the spiritual nearness of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and his physical company in the Hereafter by adopting the life of taqwa (the state of being constantly conscious of Allah) and refraining from all sins to the best of our ability. Ameen!
THE LIFE OF TAQWA
In every Friday Khutbah, we are constantly reminded to have taqwa or fear Allah. TAQWA is one of the pillars of a Jumu’ah Khutbah. If any Khatib that does not remind the congregation to have taqwa, that Jumu’ah Khutbah is deemed to be invalid.
Why is this so? Why are we reminded every week to have Taqwa (be in the state of constant consciousness of Allah and fear Him)? It is simply because it is the underlying theme of the Noble Qur’an. Nay, if one had to summarise the whole Qur’an in one word, then it is TAQWA. This is the very reason why in every Friday Khutbah, we are constantly reminded of Taqwa.
How can we increase our Taqwa? What are the characteristics of a person who has Taqwa? Allah brings forth these qualities in the verse 18 of Surah Al-Hashr: “O you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do.”
These, therefore are the characteristics of those who have piety and taqwa. They are not only preparing themselves for the challenges of this life. In fact, more importantly, they are preparing for themselves to face the eternal life of the hereafter (akhirah). Those that have Taqwa realize at every moment that life in this world is only temporary and that the life in the Hereafter is everlasting. They know very well that the promise of Allah is the truth and that death is certain. Therefore they are not the least bit attracted to the luxuries of life in this world, that simply deceives and distracts. Let us reflect and ponder upon the words of Allah in Surah Luqman, verse 33:
“O mankind! Be afraid of your Lord (by keeping your duty to Him and avoiding all evil), and fear a Day when no father can avail aught for his son, nor a son avail aught for his father. Verily, the Promise of Allah is true, let not then this (worldly) present life deceive you, nor let the chief deceiver (Satan) deceive you about Allah.”
Allah commands us to have Taqwa for Him. Then this command is followed by another command of fearing the coming Day of Judgement. The Day whereby, all of mankind will be gathered in front of Almighty Allah. Every action will be made answerable. Our book of deeds will be given to us and during that time, everyone of us will see all of our actions, from the smallest deed to the biggest. We will feel disappointed when we find out that all our good deeds, when put together, could not outweigh our bad deeds. We will definitely feel ashamed when our bad deeds are made known to all mankind from Adam (alayhis salaam) to the very last person who had lived.
Going to extremes in the way one cares for oneself, in food, drink, clothing, housing and means of transportation. Showing excessive interest in luxuries, trying to be sophisticated, buying only the finest clothes, spending large amounts on their choice of houses and cars and spending too much time and wasting money on such unnecessary things, while their Muslim brothers are in the greatest need of that money. This carries on until they sink into the soft life of luxury which is forbidden. It is reported in the Hadith of Mu’aadh ibn Jabal (Radhiyallahu Anhu) when the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) sent him to Yemen, he advised him: “Beware of luxury, for the servants of Allah do not live a life of luxury.” (Musnad of Imam Ahmad).
In Surah Al-Kahf, verse 49, Allah further says: “And the Book (one's Record) will be placed (in the right hand for a believer in the Oneness of Allah, and in the left hand for a disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah), and you will see the Mujrimoon (criminals, polytheists, sinners, etc.), fearful of that which is (recorded) therein. They will say: "Woe to us! What sort of Book is this that leaves neither a small thing nor a big thing, but has recorded it with numbers!" And they will find all that they did, placed before them, and your Lord treats no one with injustice."
A Day whereby every sinner and oppressor in this world will regret. They will say,
“Alas, my grief that I was undutiful to Allah (i.e. I have not done what Allah has ordered me to do), and I was indeed among those who mocked (at the truth)!” (Az-Zumar : 56). Then they will say, “If only Allah had guided me, I should indeed have been among the Muttaqoon” (az-Zumar : 57)
Verily, Allah had sent down His Book, and had sent His Messenger. Furthermore, we are all reminded every Friday in the Jumu’ah Khutbah to increase our Taqwa. Is it then justified for us to say that Allah did not or never reminded us? “Or (lest) he should say when he sees the torment: "If only I had another chance (to return to the world) then I should indeed be among the Muhsinoon (good-doers)” (az-Zumar : 58).
Sad indeed will be the regret of this group of mankind on the Day of Judgement. How then can we stay away from being associated with this group. Allah gives His answer in verse 33 of Surah Luqman:
“O mankind! Be afraid of your Lord (by keeping your duty to Him and avoiding all evil), and fear a Day when no father can avail aught for his son, nor a son avail aught for his father. Verily, the Promise of Allah is true, let not then this (worldly) present life deceive you, nor let the chief deceiver (Satan) deceive you about Allah..”
Therefore, let us live the life of Taqwa and always be aware of the pitfalls. Let us not be deceived with the life of this world so that we forget the deeds that can prepare us for the Hereafter. Let us not be constantly busy with our worldly duties, that we hardly give time to worship Allah. Be careful of the attractions that Shaitaan has installed to bait careless people. Verily death is certain. It is something that no one can run away from. Therefore, let us always be prepared to face Death. Truly, the most intelligent people are those who prepare themselves for the time when they will meet their Creator.
SOME BENEFITS OF TAQWA
1. Taqwa is a means by which a believer performs righteous deeds and Taqwa causes these righteous deeds to be accepted by Allah.
Allah says: “O you who believe! Fear Allah (have Taqwa) and always speak 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.” (Surah al-Ahzaab : 70-71) and: “Verily Allah accepts only from those who are the muttaqoon (those who posses Taqwa).” (Surah al-Maa’idah : 27)
2. Taqwa makes one deserving of Allah’s Pleasure and Love. Allah says: “Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who is the most pious.” (Surah al-Hujuraat : 13) and: “Yes, whoever fulfils his pledge and fears Allah much; verily, then Allah loves those who are Al-Muttaqoon” (Surah Aal-Imraan : 76)
3. Taqwa causes sins to be forgiven and increases the rewards. Allah says: “And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will remit his sins from him, and will increase his reward.” (Surah at-Talaaq : 5)
4. Taqwa keeps one steadfast on the Straight Path and protects him from deviation. Allah says: “O you who believe! If you obey and fear Allah, He will grant you Furqaan (a criterion to judge between right and wrong) and will expiate for you your sins, and forgive you, and Allah is the Owner of the Great Bounty.” (Surah al-Anfaal : 29)
Allamah Ibn al-Kathir (rahimahullah) said in his Tafsir that Ibn Abbas, as-Suddi, Ikrimah, adh-Dahhak, Qataadah and Muqaatil, all of them, said that 'Furqaan' means a way out (from difficulty). Mujahid added: ‘A way out from difficulty both in this world and in the Hereafter.’ In a narration from Abdullah Ibn Abbas, he said: “It means, ‘Salvation’ and in another narration from him, it means ‘being helped’. Taqwa will be the cause for his salvation, his being helped; and the cause for his worldly affairs being made easier and his happiness on the Day of Judgment. It will be the cause for his sins to be expiated by Allah, and his being granted forgiveness of his sins.
Likewise, taqwa will be the cause of him being the recipient of a great reward from Allah, as He the Most High says: “O you who believe! Fear Allah, and believe too in His Messenger (Muhammad ), He will give you a double portion of His Mercy, and He will give you a light by which you shall walk (straight),” (Surah al-Hadeed : 28)
May Allah, the Most Merciful, give us all the love to tread the Path of Taqwah to the best of our ability.
May Allah guide us all in understanding Islam in its pristine purity! Ameen!
Requesting your humble duas!
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir,
Umhlanga Rocks, KZN,