In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
(Friday speech delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC on September 4, 1998)
Last Friday, we talked about taqwa, its definition, its importance in the life of people, and its fruits.
Today, we talk about the qualities and characteristics of people, who have taqwa. These qualities are mentioned in many verses of the Qur'an, so that we may know them and work to acquire them. And so that we will be among the people who have taqwa. The Characteristics are as follows:
- Believing in ghaib (the unseen), which includes all the pillars of iman, and all what Allah and His Messenger (S.A.W.) informed us concerning the knowledge of the matters of past, present, and future.
- Establishing the prayer perfectly, which means that one prays regularly five times a day at specified times as the Messenger (S.A.W.) used to offer them with all their rules and regulations.
- Spending for the sake of Allah, which includes Zakatul-Mal (annual obligatory charity) and other obligatory and voluntary spending.
- Believing in the divine Books that are revealed by Allah, which includes Zaboor, Tawrat, Scriptures of Abraham and Moses, Ingil, and finally the Qur’an.
- Believing certainly without any doubt in the Hereafter, which includes resurrection, recompense of good and bad deeds, Paradise and Hell, etc…
These qualities were mentioned in the first four verses of surat Al-Baqarah, (verse 1 to 4), what can be translated as, " Alif-Lam-Mim; This is the book (the Qur’an), whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun. Who believe in the ghaib and offer the prayers perfectly and spend out of what we have provided for them. And who believe in which has been sent down to you (O Muhammad) and in which were sent down before you and they believe with certainty in the Hereafter. They are on true guidance from their Lord, and they are the successful."
The verse 177 of the same surah adds even more characteristics of the people who have taqwa:
- Believing in Allah (S.W.T.).
- Believing in the Angels of Allah (S.W.T.).
- Believing in the messengers of Allah (S.W.T.).
- Giving money away in spite of your love for it, to the relatives, the orphans, the destitute, the wayfarer, those who need it, those who are on bond, and to free slaves.
- Keeping promises.
- Having patience in the times of extreme poverty, disease and at fighting during battles.
Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Baqarah, (verse 177), what can be translated as, "It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers); but Al-Birr is (the quality of) the one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the Angles, the Book, the Prophets. And gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, and to the poor who beg, and to the wayfarer, and to set slaves free and offer the prayers perfectly (Iqamat-as-Salat), and gives the Zakat and who fulfill their covenant when they make it, and who are patient 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 Al-Muttaqun."
The verses 133-135 from surat Al-Emran mention even more characteristics of the people who have taqwa:
- Spending when you have plenty of money and when you have very little of it.
- Controlling anger and forgiving people.
- Remembering Allah at times of sins and seeking His forgiveness and not persisting on committing the sins.
Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Emran, (verse 133 to 135), what can be translated as, "And be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for paradise as wide as are the heavens and the Earth prepared for Al-Muttaqun. Those who spend (in Allah’s cause deeds of charity, alms etc.) In prosperity and in adversity, who represses anger and who pardons men, verily, Allah loves the good-doers. And those who, when they have committed faheshah illegal sexual intercourse or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins; and do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know."
- Another characteristic is dealing with justice:
Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Ma’idah, (verse 8), what can be translated as, "Be just: that is nearer to attaqwa, and gain taqwa of Allah"
- Another characteristic is honoring the symbols of Allah which include all his commands and all of the acts of worship.
Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Hajj, (verse 32), what can be translated as, "Thus it is. And whosoever honors the symbols of Allah, then it is truly from the taqwa of the heart."
- Another characteristic is believing in what the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) came with.
Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Az-Zumar, (verse 33), what can be translated as, "And he (Muhammad) who has brought the truth (this Qur’an) and (those who) believed therein, those are Al-Muttaqun."
- Another characteristic is lowering the voice in front of the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.).
Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Hujurat, (verse 3), what can be translated as, "Verily! Those who lower their voices in the presence of messenger of Allah, they are the ones whose hearts are tested for taqwa. For them is forgiveness and a great reward." Imam Ibn Kathir says in his interpretation for this verse that Allah (S.W.T.) forbade from raising voices in the presence of the prophet (S.A.W.). The Muslim scholars say that it is forbidden to raise voices at the prophet's grave just like it was forbidden when he was alive, because he is highly respected whether he is alive or dead.
After hearing all of this, the question arises,
How can we have taqwa the way we should?
Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Emran, (verse 102), what can be translated as, "O you who believe! Have taqwa exactly as it should be and do not die except in the state of Islam." Imam Al-Hakim reported in an authentic chain that Abdualh Bin Mas’ood said, "Having taqwa like it should means that Allah (S.W.T.) is obeyed with no disobedience, remembered with no forgetfulness, and thanked with no ungratefulness." Ibn Abbas said in his interpretation for having taqwa like it should, that Allah (S.W.T.) should not be disobeyed even in a time that is as short as the eye takes to blink. Some interpreters of the Qur'an mentioned that when this verse was revealed, the companions said: Oh messenger of Allah, who is able among us to have the taqwa the way it should be? They said that because they felt they would fall short of attaining that level of taqwa. So Allah (S.W.T.) revealed in surat At-Taghabun, (verse 16), what can be translated as, "Having taqwa as much as you can." From the combination between these two verses, the meaning comes, have taqwa exactly as it should be, and as much as you can.