Taqwa is so important in Islaam because it is the source of all virtues and goodness. It is the catalyst that reforms a person from the inside. Once a person adopts the attitude of taqwa, he embarks upon a path of continuous self-improvement. He monitors his own thoughts, motives and actions in order to ensure that they remain pure and aligned with the guidance and objectives of Islaam. He becomes motivated, eager and enthusiastic to do good in his ethics, morals, dealings, human relations,and every aspect of his conduct in day-to-day life. He tries his best to avoid any bad behaviour in any of the affairs of life. Good actions please him. Mistakes give him anxiety, in which case he immediately repents, seeks Allaah forgiveness and makesup for them by doing more good. He loves Allaah creations and cares for them.
He becomes generous, gracious, forgiving and kind. He becomes a champion for the rights of the weak, neglected,disadvantaged and persecuted people of the society. He courageously stands up and struggles for the establishment of justice, fairness, equity and equality of all people. He dedicates himself selflessly, never expecting or accepting anything or anybenefit in return because his goal is attainment of Allaahs pleasure, mercy and forgiveness. Taqwa is Here! Because taqwa influences behavior so strongly,some people think of taqwa as if it is an action or a combination of actions. The fact that it is an attitude or mental disposition is indicated by the following verses: "They are those whose hearts Allaah has tested positively tor taqwa ... "(Q49[Hujuraat]:3). Allaah also says, "And whoever reveres symbols of Allaahs glory - indeed,it is from Taqwa of hearts." (Q22 [Hajj]:32)
The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "Taqwa is right here" and he pointed to the chest. (Muslim) When talking about Hajj, Allaah commanded: "And take provisions for the journey, and the best of the provisions is Taqwa." (Q2[Baqarah]:197) When educating about the role of modest dress, the Quraan reminds people that in addition to following the commands about dress, a persons being enveloped in the attitude of taqwa is the most important thing to ensure proper behaviour whether in matters of dress or purity of behaviour: "And the garment of Taqwa is the best." (Q7[Araaf]:26)
Taqwa is such an important aspect of Islamic personality that it is the sole determinant of evaluating people from Islamic perspective. Although we should not judge people in general, we do need to evaluate people for some important matters in life such as business partnerships, extending credit, marriage proposals, and electing someone for a position of leadership or trust. For such selections or elections, Muslims must be evaluated solely on the basis of taqwa. Absolutely no consideration should be given to such matters as friendship, ethnicity, mother tongue, geographical origin, clan,caste, physical features, religious sect or affiliation. etc. Allaah has said clearly: "The most honourable of you in the sight of Allaah is the person who has the strongest Taqwa." (Q49[Hujuraat]: 13)
But how do we know who has more taqwa if taqwa is a condition of heart, a state of mind and an attitude?
Al-Birr (Righteous Deeds) The pious behaviour that results from taqwa is called birr. To evaluate taqwa , we need to see if the persons life is characterized with birr or not. Unfortunately, many people look at the appearance of people to evaluate their level of taqwa. If a person wears a certain kind of dress or "looks like a Muslim", they think he has taqwa. The absurdity of this criterion is so obvious that it does not need any comment.
Some others judge people on the basis of their salaah (prayer), sawm (fasting) and other acts of worship. Although these are good acts, they are not complete as criteria of toqwa according to Allaah and His Messenger, (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) The reason is that the acts worship are only a part of our duties to Allaah, while taqwa impacts the whole life, not some actions only. Unless the characteristics of Islamic personalty are also present in all other aspects of life along with acts of worship, proper level of taqwa is absent. Allaah says, "It is not Al-Birr (piety, mrighteousness) that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers); but AI-Birr is (the, quality of) the one who believes in Allaah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, and to Al-masakin(the poor), and to the wayfarer, and to those who ask, and to set slaves free, performs As-Salat and gives the Zakat, and who fulfill their covenant when they make it,and who are As-Sabirin (the patient ones) in extreme poverty and ailment (disease) and at the time of fighting (during the battles), Such are the people of the truth and they are AI-Muttaqun (pious)," (Q2[Baqarah]: 177)
This verse categorically denies that fulfilling certain religious rites can be regarded as birr (piety or righteousness) in Islaam. It defines piety in terms of the attributes of Islamic personality and ends with a statement that those who have these qualities are truthful and have taqwa. Thus, only those who possess all the qualities mentioned in this verse are true intheir claim to be Muslim sand to have taqwa. It deals with faith, acts of worship, ethics and morals, money matters and financial affairs, social and political set up, Islamic mission and war all in one breath. It gives an unequivocal message that human life is one entity.
It cannot be compartmentalized into secular and religious sections. Piety does not belong only to formal acts of worship. It pervades life as a whole. In addition, this description of people with taqwa and piety (birr) clearly indicates that they are the people who not only have transformed their whole life according to Islamic ethics, but also have dedicated their resources and lives for the sake of Allaah to live like an organized Muslim community, to establish an ideal Islamicsociety and to strive for making Islam the dominant way of life in the world. In this way it is a fulltime, lifelong commitment to a collective mission rather than a matter of performing some individual good deeds. There are no short cuts to attaining birr and complying with the demands of taqwa.
Those who have assumed that requirements of taqwa and birr are fulfilled performing a few religious rites and donning a certain type of clothing or appearance are deluded. It is a tough arduos road of a continuous Jihaad that starts with faith, which is validated by good actions such as generosity for love of Allaah, personal relationship with Allaah through salaah,fulfilling all promises made including the promise to Allaah for the establishment of His Deen. OnIy those who consistently try to perform at this level of dedication are recognized in this verse by Allaah that they are truthful in their claims of being Muslims and that they are the people with taqwa.
When the prophets or messengers of Allaah were sent, their followers adopted that kind of piety. However, as a result of degeneration of religious performance and satanic influences over time, people lose this comprehensive concept of birr (pious behaviour). That is why Muslims have been reminded that pious, faithful behaviour is not jus performing some ritualistic exercises such as turning ones face to this qibla or that. It is much more than this. It is In fact a matter that must encompass the whole personality and lifestyle of a person.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited