The Blessing of a Pure Heart: Ikhlâs and Taqwâ -IV

TAQWÂ IN SINCERITY (IKHLÂS):

Ikhlâs is a necessary prerequisite for good deeds and actions to be accepted by Allah. Ikhlâs is that these actions are performed solely for Divine acceptance with all egotistical intent eliminated. Ikhlâs means protecting the heart from every kind of worldly gain in order to be closer to Allah. Ikhlâs is such a great blessing for actions that without it salvation is not possible. Actions without ikhlâs are empty, deprived of all goodness. In essence, ikhlâs is a secret of Allah and obtaining this secret through taqwâ should be the aim of every believer, because this is the basis of piety.

If a believer is sincere in their taqwâ, that is, if their taqwâ has ikhlâs, then this means that they are pious in every matter. But, what is taqwâ in ikhlâs? Among the explanations, one is that the spiritual and physical nature of a person corresponds with one another, and that person is sincere and acts in an honest manner, making great efforts to prevent selfishness, hypocrisy, insincerity, and pride, all of which can destroy his ikhlâs.

Hadrat Alî, (r.a) speaking to the same governor mentioned above, gave great words of advice: “Do not praise yourself! Do not respect anyone who praises you to your face! Do not remind others of what you have done for them! Do not exaggerate those things at which you are successful! Do not break promises! Reproaches destroy goodness, exaggeration kills the truth, and not keeping a promise will instigate the abhorrence of Allah and the community.”

We should remember that the Prophet forbade boasting, because he was aware that everything was a blessing from Allah. At Khandaq (the battle of Ditch), the moment when the Companions had begun to give up hope, during their greatest times of hardship, when they were wondered if the help of Allah was on its way, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) told them, “True life is life in Paradise.” Then again, this time in Mecca, at their time of victory, the Prophet Muhammad said, “True life is life in Paradise,” showing that he completely trusted in and submitted to Allah.

The Prophet Muhammad knew that victory and accomplishments, wealth, life and children—in short, everything—comes from Allah. Taqwâ is foundational because in both this world and the next, the essence of peace is

TAQWÂ IN WEALTH, LIFE AND CHILDREN

These are the most important things to man, the things that most depend on us and those which greatly affect our souls. It is important to use and steer these in the way of Allah, spending life and wealth generously, raising children with faith to be beneficial for Islam, country and community, leaving behind a spiritual heritage for future generations. Allah states the measure of our affection in one of the verses of the Qur’ân: “By no means shall ye attain righteousness unless ye give (freely) of that which ye love.”

So the best of wealth is that which reaches the Hereafter before its owner does and the best form of life is that which is put to use in pursuit of Allah’s pleasure and acceptance. Those who know how to make use of their wealth and life are as shining lights; their goodness and good deeds illuminate even the darkest places and the light of their prosperity and generosity is spread to the needy, to the deprived and to the weariest of souls. A child’s obligation is to make every effort to attain the assent of their parents, while the parents are obliged to gain the approval of Allah.

The truth of the matter is that even if it seems that our wealth and blessings in this life come from our mothers, our fathers or ourselves, they are in fact an entrustment from Allah. Thus, our duty is to have

TAQWÂ IN LOOKING AFTER TRUSTS

All that which is between the Heavens and the earth has been entrusted to humans by Allah the Merciful; that is, the whole of creation has been entrusted to us. Everything in the universe was created for mankind and so all are a trust. Thus, we must show all of them affection, for is this not why the Prophet (pbuh) said, ‘If you must kill a snake which is attacking you then kill it with one strike so that it will not suffer”?

The most important of trusts are the Qur’ân and the Sunnah, so let us remember the declaration made by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) during his last sermon: “O believers, I am leaving behind two precious things, the Qur’ân and my Sunnah. If you adhere to them both you will never go astray.” This means that the most important thing entrusted to us is our duty of representing Islam by adhering to the Qur’ân and the Sunnah, in our faith, deeds, states and behavior. In every situation we confront, Allah the Almighty and His Prophet expect us to display the kind, dignified and mature heart of a Muslim so that others will comment, “What a good person this Muslim is!”

The Qur’ân was not given as a trust to Muslims so that it could be left on a shelf or recited now and again at funerals and other occasions. Allah the Merciful has ordered us to read (iqra’) the Qur’ân. To have secrets disclosed and the wisdom of the Qur’ân, we have been ordered to study the Sunnah of the Prophet. Also in the Qur’ân is the statement: “Fear Allah and Allah will teach you.” (Baqarah, 2: 282)

If we live within the bounds of taqwâ, with every passing day more secrets of the Quran will be unveiled. It is our responsibility to understand this and the trusts bestowed upon us because those who await guidance at every place in the world have been entrusted to us; the poor are a trust, the lonely are a trust, the desolate and the orphans are a trust. The riches of the world have been entrusted to us, our children have been entrusted to us; in short, everything has been entrusted to us. It is revealed in the Qur’ân: “He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are Signs indeed for those who reflect.” (Jâthiya, 45: 13)

It is a form of compassion to return these trusts to their rightful owner. Therefore, those who attain high statuses—whether spiritually, financially, intellectually or in the service of society—must realise that this position is a temporary assignment of entrustment. They should not become attached to their positions for they will not remain there eternally. On the other hand, in the same way that wasting material things has been prohibited in Islam, the waste of spiritual provisions like faith, worship, knowledge, time and intelligence is also proscribed; in fact, these are seen as the greatest danger. The whole point is to protect our trusts with taqwâ, and this requires a sense of responsibility. Thus, another aspect of taqwâ is

TAQWÂ IN RESPONSIBILITY

All deeds, actions and duties flourish with an awareness of responsibility. Without a doubt, Allah has blessed human beings with capabilities and every individual is only responsible for the ability that they have been given. We are all aware that we have to give 1/40th in charity, but it is never possible to know the measure of the ability that we have been granted by Allah. This is why Allah does not want us to waste our strength unnecessarily. He tells us: “Strive together (as in a race) towards all that is good” (Baqarah, 2: 148) and “Fear Allah as He should be feared and die not expect in a state of Islam.” (Âl ’Imrân, 3: 102)

A believer must be aware of how he should live and in what conditions he should die. He should know how to educate himself so as to obtain the benevolence of faith. Every breath we take follows the previous one and is a preparation for our lives in the Hereafter; therefore, these breaths must be used to improve our actions. To ensure a life of bliss that is adorned with good deeds, it is necessary to live in prosperity and peace on the path of Allah in this world; living a life that is unacceptable to Allah is like a mirage in the desert. There are appointed times for religious duties, whereas faith and servitude are a duty at all times throughout our lives. Our life in this world is just a specified period given to prepare for the Hereafter, where we can gain Divine acceptance.

The path to Divine union is a narrow crossing which is full of trials and hazards; the responsibilities are so great that they turned the hair of the Prophet white:

THE WAY OUT IS TAQWÂ

According to a report from Abû Dharr, (r.a) one day the Prophet said, “I know a verse of the Qur’ân that, if the people were to adhere to it, it would be sufficient for the whole of mankind.” The Companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah, which verse is it?” The Prophet (pbuh) of Allah recited, “…And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out” (Talâq, 65: 2; hadîth in İbn Mâjah, Zuhd, 24).

The ‘way out’ might be explained as the way from hardship to contentment, from the earth to heaven, from futility to worth or to superiority; hence the basis of worthiness in Islam is

SUPERIORITY OF TAQWÂ

The Prophet of Allah addressed Abû Dharr, explaining that the only standard of value and acceptance in the sight of Allah is taqwâ. “A white man has no superiority over a black man except in taqwâ” (Ahmad, V, 158).

On another occasion, the Prophet (pbuh) said, “I have the most taqwâ amongst you.”(Bukhârî, Îmân, 13; Muslim, Siyâm, 74) He acted within the bounds of taqwâ in every aspect of his life. Thus, it is essential that we be pious believers who conform to the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad. (pbuh) Compliance with this and similar conditions is

THE INDICATION OF TAQWÂ

Prophet Isâ described taqwâ beautifully. One day, someone came up to him and asked, “O master of goodness, how can a human have taqwâ before God?” Jesus answered, “This is easy. Love God with your heart and do good deeds according to your ability. Show compassion and kindness to all the sons of Adam as if you were sorry for yourself!” Then, later he said, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you! You will then be truly pious in the eyes of Allah!” (Ahmad, Zuhd, p.59).

The essence of our actions and worship should generate the observation among the angels that;

THIS IS TAQWÂ!

One day, ‘Umar (r.a) asked Ubayy bin Ka‘b (r.a) what taqwâ was. Ubayy said, “O, ‘Umar, have you ever walked down a path of thorns?” ‘Umar answered, “Yes I have.” Ubayy asked, “And what did you do?” ‘Umar said, “I pulled my clothes tightly and walked carefully to avoid the thorns.” Ubayy bin Ka‘b then said, “This is what taqwâ is” (Ibn Kathîr, Tafsîr al-Qur’ân al-karîm, I: 42).

The sun that will rise above us if we live with this degree of taqwâ will be,

THE SUN OF TAQWÂ

‘Abdulqâdir Gaylânî gave the following advice regarding taqwâ: “O son, taqwâ is essential; make every effort to obtain taqwâ so that your soul will be freed of its inner hostility and evil ways and thus turn to goodness. O son! When you gather worldly assets, do not be like the one who gathers wood at night, unaware of what he is gathering. Take great care to understand if these worldly belongings are lawful or prohibited, legitimate or illegal, and abide by tawhîd and taqwâ at every moment.” The essence of this advice was the prayer of the Prophet for taqwâ

“MAY ALLAH GRANT YOU TAQW”

A man came to the Prophet and said, “O Prophet of Allah, I am going on a journey. Will you pray for me?” The Prophet replied, “May Allah grant you taqwâ.” The man then said, “O Prophet of Allah, pray a little more for me!” The Prophet responded, “May Allah forgive your sins.” The Companion said, “O Messenger of Allah, pray a little more, may my mother and father be your ransom,” The most noble of creation then said, “May Allah grant you ease wherever you do good” (Tirmidhî, Da‘awât, 44: 3444).

The intent of these prayers was to convey the importance of taqwâ; first he asked Allah to give taqwâ to those who asked for a prayer, then he asked for forgiveness for their sins and ease in their good deeds. The reason he prayed in this way was that these things can only happen if a person has taqwâ of the soul; without taqwâ sins will not be forgiven nor can righteous deeds be carried out. This is why Allah wants us to be pious and puts us through trials of taqwâ in all of our actions and deeds. The trial of our devotion, affection and respect of the Prophet is named as the

TRIAL OF TAQWÂ

The following is a verse of the Qur’ân: “Those that lower their voice in the presence of Allah’s Messenger,- their hearts has Allah tested for taqwâ. For them is forgiveness and a great reward. Those who shout out to thee from without the inner apartments, most of them lack understanding.” (Hujurât, 49: 3-4)

This means that the courtesy we show towards the Prophet Muhammad, (pbuh) the fact that we follow his actions and way of life, and that we are aware of him, are all trials of taqwâ for our souls; it is a chance to appreciate our love for him while being closer to Allah at the same time. So taqwâ in our every day actions, from faith to good deeds, must be the garment of our souls.

THE GARMENT OF TAQWÂ

“O children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you, but the raiment of righteousness- that is the best” (A‘râf, 7: 26). The raiment, or garment, of taqwâ is the only true garment that adorned the souls of the Prophets  and friends of Allah. The following is a well-known report: One day Imâm Abû Hanîfah was busy cleaning a tiny spot of dirt from his clothing. A few of his companions, not seeing the need for this, said, “O Imâm, according to your interpretation of Islamic law, this stain does not prevent you from praying, so why are you going to so much trouble?” The Imâm answered, “That may be Islamic law but this is taqwâ.

Living life devoted to Allah is living according to the following verse of the Qur’an in every aspect of life: “Therefore stand firm (in the straight path) as thou art commanded” (Hûd, 11: 112).

 Allah the Almighty not only expects us to perform actions that are good, He also takes into consideration and observes our degree of taqwâ. Therefore, it is possible to say that religiousness is a lifetime of taqwâ and the compassion and protection of Allah is for believers who work to obtain the acceptance of Allah with true piety. All the Divine goodness of this world and the Hereafter belong to the pious ones. Therefore, purifying the heart of sin and evil through taqwâ is true bliss and the way of salvation for mankind. Our only spiritual provision is

THE PROVISION OF TAQWÂ

The more a person’s love and knowledge of Allah increases, the more his taqwâ increases; and this is what is expected of us, because it is the taqwâ of the heart that reaches Allah from all righteous actions.. It is revealed in the Qur’ân that, “It is not meat or the blood [of the sacrificial animals] that reaches Allah: it is your taqwâ that reaches Him” (Hajj, 22: 37)

Rûmî warned us of this reality, saying: “Do not attempt to sacrifice the shadow of the goat!” Taqwâ of this kind is not that which is recognized by the intellect but; it is that which is felt and practiced from the heart. With regard to this, Allah revealed: “Is one who worships devoutly during the hours of the night prostrating himself or standing (in adoration), who takes heed of the Hereafter, and who places his hope in the Mercy of his Lord (like one who does not)? Say: ‘Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know?’ It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition.” (Zumar, 39: 9)

Alongside this knowledge, we must:

1. Prostrate before Allah at night.

2. Stand in worship.

3. Protect ourselves from the punishment in the Hereafter, (not neglecting mortality).

4. Ask for the compassion of Allah.

Only the knowledgeable ones who have these qualities should be respected. The virtue of this reality is related in the following hadîth: “Those who increase their knowledge but not their taqwâ distance themselves from Allah.” This is why Allah does not expect us to prepare for the Hereafter with material provisions or physical objects; the one provision that He requires of us is the provision of taqwâ. Much like purchasing a new car and neglecting to put petrol in it, only the possession of dry knowledge will be of use on the journey to Eternity. As you can see, taqwâ is of prime importance for the eternal journey. In the Qur’ân we read, “Take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best of provisions is right conduct. So fear Me, O ye that are wise” (Baqarah, 2: 197).

How contented are those who take the journey to eternity with the provision of taqwâ!

O Allah! Grant us the provision of taqwâthe taqwâ of the Prophets—with our every breath; endow us with it as a garment for our souls eternally! End our lives in bliss and include us in Your Divine acceptance and goodness! Give us health and make our taqwâ a provision on the true path to eternity!

Âmîn!

(From the book of;  IKHLÂS AND TAQWÂ SINCERITY AND PIETY)