Bint Salaam – Opinion
Today I heard two people chatting about listening to a radio drama. One of
them would be listening to it via DSTV. The other doesn’t have DSTV.
“No DSTV! You’re too pious for my liking,” was the response. Imagine what
he’d say if his friend had mentioned not having a TV at all.
A while ago I observed colleagues of a company socialising just before
their meeting began. Simple bantering took place between a few, which made
some of the others laugh and then add to the wit. Eventually someone noted
one of the quieter colleagues and the topic of their conversation caused
him to refer to that person as pious. This then elicited a chorus of “yes
‘so and so’ is pious”.
Alas, the quiet person’s attempts at disagreeing fell short. The meeting
This got me thinking, is piety visible to others.
It made me remember a young Muslim sister say to another in a supermarket
queue once, “Tasneem’s super religious, that’s why she…”, which made me
wonder what it means to be super religious. I translated it as a “super”
Muslim. And then I watched an excerpt of a George Bush video with him
ranting about American extremism in their intolerance of so called
extremism. This in turn led me to an article penned by Tony Blair about
Muslims being accepted in British society only if they were Muslim to a
Eventually I read up about piety, listened to a few lectures and asked the
right people questions about it. I realised that piety has been
misrepresented as extremism by our Western oppressors. But it has become
confused as “extremism” by our fellow brothers and sisters in Islam also.
Taqwa is roughly translated as piety, Allah-Consciousness and fear of Allah
SWT. Being fearful of The Most Magnificent and Most Merciful Allah SWT is
not in the negative sense as would be the case when fearing something.
Fearing Allah SWT is fearing the punishment of Allah SWT. For a disbeliever
this concept would be difficult to grasp.
Taqwa is a beautiful sounding word, and it’s meaning even more so, even
though English cannot fully grasp what Taqwa means . The linguistic
definition of taqwa is to leave off something. That is to place a barrier
between you and that which is likely to harm you. This is understood to
mean protecting oneself from sin or that which would earn the displeasure
or wrath of Allah SWT.
One practices taqwa by leaving off not only the prohibited acts but
doubtful ones too and sometimes acts which are permissible also. Acts which
some readers would define as “not outright Haraam”. This would be similar
to saying something which is not fully contaminated is not, well,
Rasulullah SAW is reported to have said that Halaal is clear and Haraam is
clear and the grey matters between them are the doubtful matters. Whoever
protects themselves from the doubtful, it is better for their Imaan.
But the interesting thing about Taqwa is that it includes much more than
being pious, and being conscious and fearful of Allah SWT. Taqwa is the
combination of emotion, attitude, and action. Someone who has Taqwa will
try their utmost to do all the things Allah SWT has asked of him and he
would avoid all those things that Allah SWT has commanded him not to do.
And love is the foundation of this.
A Muttaqin or Muttaqun (a pious person) is driven by strong feelings of
love and gratitude towards Allah SWT, in both times of ease and difficulty.
It is this deep sense of love for Allah SWT, the love of the Sunnah of
Rasulullah SAW, it is this fear, reverence and consciousness of Allah SWT
and the desire to meet Almighty Allah SWT as a friend to Him, that keeps a
Muttaqin firm on his goal as a Muslim.
From another hadith, someone asked Abu Hurairah RA about Taqwa and Abu
Hurairah RA asked the questioner, “Have you ever trod on a thorny path?”
And the person replied yes. Abu Hurairah RA then asked him what he did
while walking the path, and the person said that whenever he saw thorns he
moved away from them so that he wouldn’t come into contact with them as
they were likely to hurt him. Abu Hurairah RA said, “That’s taqwa.”
Keeping away from those things that will harm your Imaan, that will harm
your Islamic identity as a Muslim. Sometimes those things may be roses, but
roses have thorns.
The storehouse of taqwa is your heart. Rasulullah SAW mentioned in one
hadith – among many things – three times pointing to his chest, Taqwa is
here. The fear of Allah Azza Wajal, the revering of Allah is here, in your
heart. And only Allah SWT knows what lies in a person’s heart.
People of taqwa are in constant remembrance of Allah. They are quick in
repentance and seeking the forgiveness of Allah SWT. Anyone hoping for
Allah’s mercy must change their attitude towards their obedience to Allah
and the example of Rasulullah SAW.
Allah SWT tells us to run towards His Forgiveness. You rush towards
something you need. A Muttaqin acknowledges that they are in need of
Allah’s forgiveness and realises immediately when they have transgressed.
They don’t lose hope in Allah’s infinite Mercy.
Other attributes of a Muttaqin are, they spend of their youth, energy,
priorities, wealth, time for the sake of Allah. They let go of the things
they love for the sake of Allah, to acquire taqwa. They have self restraint
and fight to swallow their anger, that is not just remaining quiet in
moments of anger but physically not showing it. They forgive people out of
love for the sake of Allah SWT and to become closer to Him.
The rewards for Taqwa are plenty in the aakhira but Allah also rewards the
Muttaqeen in this world. Allah SWT gives support and victory to those who
have taqwa and makes things easier for them. Taqwa gives way to increased
wealth from Allah SWT. It saves a person from hellfire and leads one to
Jannah. It helps one to achieve their goals. Allah SWT helps one to work
out between the good and the bad.
And, Taqwa gains you the love of Allah Azza Wajal. Imagine having the love
of Almighty Allah SWT.
In the Quraan Kareem there is invaluable guidance, there are many
reminders, and much inspiration to endeavour to be the best Muslims we can
be. We have the greatest man, the Messenger of Allah, Rasulullah SAW as the
perfect example of living the Quraan, as our leader.
Taqwa is not an endeavour for just a few. There is no such a thing as being
too religious or too pious in Islam. Islam is not an extreme way of life.
How can the Deen and Truth of Allah the Most Merciful be?
There is no balance between Haraam and Halaal. That would be like dabbling
in the grey matter which we are warned about, like sitting on a see-saw
always tipping to the Haraam. Being of the Muttaqeen is something all
believers can strive for.
Allah SWT says, “I am as my servant expects me to be, and I am with him
when he remembers me. If he thinks of me, I think of him. If he mentions me
in company, I mention him in an even better company. When he comes closer
to me by a handspan, I come closer to him an arm’s length. If he draws
closer to me by an arm’s length, I draw clser by a distance of
outstretched arms nearer to him. If my servant comes to me walking, I go
to him running. (Bukhari)
If we run to Allah SWT with love, His response is inconceivable. If
imagining having Allah SWT return our sincere love and devotion fills the
heart with comfort, the reality can only be nothing short of bliss.
May Allah makes us all among those who strive to be among the muttaqeen.