Prescriptions for piety
by Shaykh Ahmed Abdul Mujeeb Qasmi Nadvi
(translated by Muhammad Owais Jafrey)
Allah (SWT) says in Aayah 119 of Surah Taubah: “O Believers fear Allah and be with those who are truthful.” To fear Allah means to avoid sins at all cost and to make sincere repentance and seek forgiveness from Allah in case a sin is committed.
Along with fearing Allah, this Aayah also commands to be with the people who are truthful, i.e., who always speak the truth, who at heart are truthful and whose actions reflect their belief in truth. This is Allah (SWT)’s mercy that when he commands to do something, which may apparently seem hard, He sends a command soon after, which makes the first command easy and doable. In other words the second or the following command paves the way for the fulfillment of the first command.
A person, who is living in an amoral, immoral or unethical environment, may ask a question: “How to build a barrier against sins and be safe from their influence.” Listen to what Prophet (SAW) once said before I answer this question.
He (SAW) said that a time will come when holding on to Faith will be as difficult as holding a burning coal in hand. Most probably we are living in such a time period. It requires moral courage and strength of character to adhere to our faith in the current environment. Look around and you will find that vices are creeping in corroding the moral fabric of our society. Falsehood has become an art form. Immodesty is called fashion and indecency is in vogue. Corruption is rampant. The epidemic is global.
Those who fear Allah (SWT) and continue to struggle to uphold their faith and character under such adverse circumstances, Prophet (SAW) had given them good tidings. He (SAW) said that there will be a period close to the Last Day, when a person holding fast to his Deen, will get a reward for one of his acts from Allah (SWT) equal to the reward of fifty companions of Prophet (SAW). [Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah]
In the Aayah of Surah Taubah, I referred earlier, Allah (SWT) has also commanded us to be with the honest and truthful people, i.e. the people who are true to what they believe in and translate their belief into action and thus save themselves from sins. Such people will always be there as per Holy Qur’an, which addresses the mankind of all times. When a person lives with, and adopts the company of the people who fear and love Allah, he is then naturally effected by the purity which permeates in the environment created by the pious people.
The Scholar Abdul Ha’yee (RehmA) used to say that if there is pitch darkness and you see a tiny light far away, it will kindle a hope in you and you will try to get closer to it. The closer you get, the more it will show the path for you to tread, and when you will get still closer you will even feel its warmth, and after you cover even that minimal distance, the light will absorb you and you will become a part of it. This is the truth, the more you get closer to the 'Allah-loving' people, the more you are driven away from sins and lead towards light, towards purity and towards piety. For the last 1400 years, this light is spreading far and wide through the channels of the pure and the pious.
The early scholars and the lovers of Allah have prescribed methods to enable us to achieve piety. The Scholar Maulana Abrar-ul-Haque (RehmA) recommends:
- Be in the company of lovers of Allah and be with them for the sake of Allah.
- Read biographies of those who love Allah, and learn from their life stories.
- Remember death, be fearful and make preparations for death and the Hereafter.
- Think about the punishments of sins and think about the Hell.
These recommendations ensure piety.
Things to avoid:
Two precautions, however, are necessary as in the case of physical sickness; a physician does not only prescribe medication, but also recommends precautions. A combination of medicine and precautions ensures recovery and health.
- Avoid backbiting, a sin which destroys all good deeds. Allah (SWT) says in Aayah 12 of Surah Al-Hujurat: “Believers, avoid making too many assumptions – some assumptions are sinful – and do not spy on one another or speak ill of the people behind their backs: would any of you like to eat the flesh of your dead brother? No, you would hate it. So be mindful of Allah: Allah is ever relenting, most merciful.”
- Avoid looking at Non-Mahram: In today’s immodest environment of mixed gatherings, this sickness is very common. In Aayah 30 of Surah Noor, Allah (SWT) says: “[O Prophet], tell believing men to lower their glances…”
One person sent a letter to Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (RehmA) and wrote: “I loose self control when I cast a sinful glance on some one but its avoidance is also painful.”
The Maulana wrote back in response: “You cannot tolerate the little pain in the avoidance of a sin, how would you bear the greater pain of Hell fire to which you will be subjected as a result of casting a sinful glance.”
Please do not indulge in speaking evil of others, and always lower your glances wherever you are, visiting a market place, a relative, a friend, or in a social gathering. It is Allah (SWT)’s clear command and injunction. Insha Allah you will achieve piety by taking these precautions.
Dr. Abdul Ha’yee (RehmA) has given some directions for the achievement of piety, which if taken into practice will open up possibilities of establishing a special relationship with Allah (SWT).
Establishing a special relationship with Allah:
- First thing is to express thanks and gratitude to Allah (SWT). The essence of thanks is not to make unfair use of His blessings. Say AlhamduliLah, (All praise be Allah alone) or, Allahumma Lakal Hamdu wa Lakasshukr” (All praise and thanks be to Allah alone) to each blessing and everything favorable that happens to you day and night. It may be striking a good deal in business, any achievement in class or at work, hearing good news, or solving a problem etc.
This is simple and easy. Aayah 147 of Surah An-Nisa says: “Why should Allah make you suffer torment if you are thankful and believe in Him. Allah always rewards gratitude and He knows everything.” It means that expressing thanks to Allah saves from punishment. Aayah 7 of Surah Ibrahim says: “…If you are thankful, I will give you more, if you are thankless, My punishment is terrible indeed.”
The greatest Book of all times, the Holy Qur’an’s Surah Al-Fatiha starts with Al-HamduliLah, and this Surah is required to be recited in every Rak’aa of each prayer signifying it to be the first step on the path of thankfulness.
Another positive effect of thanking Allah is that the man does not take Allah’s gifts and blessings for granted and as his right, but considers them only as favors from Allah. The person who does not consider his wealth, property, skill, knowledge, or personality as his own accomplishment, but as a gift from Allah, he is always safe from Takabbur (pride or vanity), which is a great sin. Prophet (SAW) said that who ever has an iota of Takabbur in him, would not enter Paradise. [Muslim]. Takabbur is worst than adultery and drinking alcohol. Thanking Allah saves man from such serious sins.
The habit of thanking Allah automatically becomes a barrier between man and sins. Whenever a man is tempted by a sin, his conscience jolts him and he is reminded of Allah’s favors. As a recipient of blessings and gifts, a thankful man does not get upset if something does not happen according to his expectations. He considers it as a will of Allah. A thankful man, by saying Al-Hamdulillah, succeeds in establishing a relationship with Allah (SWT), and that is great achievement in itself. It is the very soul of piety, a safeguard and protection from internal and external sins.
- Second is Sabr (Patience and fortitude)
- Third is Istaghfaar (Repentance and seeking forgiveness)
- Fourth is Ista’aazah (Saying Aa’oozubillah)
I urge you to concentrate, think about them and practice to achieve Taqwa (piety). May Allah (SWT) enable us all to obey His commands. Aameen!