Understanding The Prophet's Life
From Issue: 1050 [Read full issue]
Piety is a very high and invaluable quality, as well as the sum total of all the desirable qualities. In the Quran, Allah has given guarantee of success, both here in this world and in the Hereafter, to those who are pious. Piety is what shows the way out of every problem and difficulty. Piety opens up doors for bliss and blessings in ways that are not even imagined. Piety makes all the tasks, mundane and spiritual, easy. It is the pious who have been given the glad tidings of entering paradise; it is they who have been promised forgiveness that paves the way towards paradise.
Piety, in brief, is that power and capability of the heart and the mind, consciousness and awareness, determination and resolve, control and discipline, and behaviour and character that enable us to avoid what we deem wrong and harmful to us and to uphold what we deem right and good. The literal meaning of Taqwa (piety) is 'to avoid.'
This capability has been given to us. It is in our nature to avoid damage and harm, to aspire and try for good and benefit. If it were not there, the very existence of man would be impossible, not to mention his progress. We do not put our hand in the fire; rather, our hand automatically moves away from fire. When our child goes near the fire, we rush to bring the little innocent creature to safety. Why? Simply because we believe that fire burns, it may burn the child's hand or body - and may cause mortal injury. This is 'piety' regarding the fire of this world. We have experience of the harm this fire can cause, i.e. it is in front of our eyes, and so our capability to avoid it is also very strong.
There is another type of fire too. This fire flares up due to decay of belief and action, thought and behaviour. The holy Quran forewarns of taking up the paths that lead to falling and burning in the fire. It warns us not to go even near this path to avoid this fire. Denial of truth, disobedience, transgression, falsehood, unlawful earnings, usurpation others' rights and causing harm to them - all lead to fire.
Our eyes cannot see this fire; we have no experience of it. We do not immediately face the consequences of putting our hand in this fire. In contrast, we save ourselves from the fire of this world because we see it and immediately feel its burning. We believe in the harm it can cause us. If we have similar belief that by telling lies our tongue is burning in fire, by eating unlawful food our stomach is filling with embers of fire, and by walking on unlawful path fire is enveloping us, then it will certainly create strength and capability in our hearts, body and mind to avoid these ills.
Those who profess that Allah is their Lord, yet exert themselves - in terms of their strength and energy, time and resources - in ways that earn His displeasure, and do not avoid what invites His wrath, are devoid of piety. Piety is not about ostentatious adherence of rituals, rather it stands for the inner strength and conviction. That is why the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), pointing to his heart, once said: "piety lies here." [Muslim]
"Making The Most of Ramadan" - Khurram Murad, pp. 10-12