Ethics In Islam

Piety (Abstinence)


            In the previous article, entitled "Sincerity of Intention", we have discussed the sincerity of intention in connection with good conduct and made it clear that, inter-alia, the acceptance of deeds, spiritual happiness, recompense or reward in the Hereafter, depended on sincerity of intention and generation of the true spirit in the heart for seeking the Pleasure of Allaah. Thus, it is not in good conduct only, but in all good deeds, firstly the sincerity of intention and secondly, piety are the basic principles and fundamentals.

            The right place for piety and abstinence is the heart. If one has piety and fear of Allaah in his heart, then he is sincere and he performs perfectly his duties in obedience to Allaah. If he lacks sincerity and fear of Allaah in his heart and the right spirit of doing his duties satisfactorily in spite of the fact that the work, whether of this world or of the Hereafter, is of significant value and importance.

            The Kind Prophet stated:

"There is a piece of flesh in man's body; if it is good the whole body is good, if it is bad the whole body is contaminated. Understand it! That piece of flesh is the heart."

            From this tradition we know that of all the organs of the body, the most reformable organ is the heart of man. All human deeds whether they are of worship, family affairs, industry, business and trade, generosity, trust, justice and fairplay; modesty and decency, compassion and mercy, courtesy and kindness, pardon and forgiveness, toleration and patience, service and humility, sacrifice and fidelity, chastity and purity, so on and so forth, can be performed perfectly only when man's heart is imbibed with the beauty of the light of piety and abstinence.


            The literal meaning of piety is to abstain from commission of those acts which annoy or displease Almighty, (the Master of the Worlds), because of fear of Allaah and His Pleasure. In other words, piety is that topmost attribute of good deed and high place of abstinence where when one reaches, becomes so pious and straight-forward that because of fear of Allaah and His Wrath, he does not go near vice or sin in any condition, whether openly or secretly, in loneliness or public, invisible from people's sight or even visibly. He is so much subdued and convinced of the fear of the Hereafter that he gives up the pleasures of the ephemeral world and the advantages that can be secured only by committing a sin, appreciating that those are transitory and cause the destruction of his permanent peace and prosperity by inflicting a fatal blow on the real and perpetual life of the Hereafter.

            The Qur'aan has praised piety and abstinence at many places and has called those the best investments for the Hereafter. Allaah says:

"And take a provision (with you) for the journey but the best of the provision is right conduct. So fear me, Oh ye that are wise." (S. 2: 197).

            Allaah has made piety as the goal of worship - prayers, fast and zakaat. Also in the obligatory worship of Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, Allaah has commanded for the maintenance of piety and abstinence, as we see it from the Qur'aanic verse quoted above. Thus piety is the best means for seeking the Pleasure of Allaah in order to live an acceptable life in this world, and for peace and success in the Hereafter. The Kind Prophet said:

"When you will adopt piety and fear of Allaah, Allaah will make everything of the world fear you (by inspiring them with awe and establishing your dignity on them) and when you will drive out the fear of Allaah and piety from your heart, Allaah will inspire you with fear (making you a coward)".

            Piety is that bounty of Allaah which, when bestowed on His servant, makes him discharge his duties and obligations correctly according to the demand of Divine Law. The worldly affairs, temptations, pleasures etc., do not possess any attraction for him, and fail to persuade him to do any wrong deed and keeps him secure from fraud and deception of Satan. Allaah while addressing Satan says:

"As for My servants, no authority shall you have over them." (S. 7: 65).

            When this servant of Allaah performs any good deed, he considers it the Grace of Allaah and His Kindness; and in acceptance of his failings in the performance of worship, he implores:

'O Allaah! We could not fulfill properly your right of worship,'

and beseeches for His Forgiveness; and supplicates Him for His Grace to enable him to perform good deeds. If he doubts even a little about any action not permissible he abstains from it, irrespective of the range of profit involved in that, simply because of the fear that Allaah may be displeased with it.

            Briefly speaking, one who is favoured with the real wealth of piety and abstinence would not be tempted even by a mound of gold and riches, however much he may be poverty-stricken, only because of the fear of Allaah. The Qur'aan says:

"Among the People of the Book are some who if entrusted with a hoard of gold, will (readily) pay it back." (S. 3: 75)

            The followers of the law of the Divine Book are so trustworthy that even if you entrust them with a hoard of wealth, they would give it back, in fact, on demand. A young person fully imbibed with the quality of piety and fear of Allaah would hardly be lured away by a beautiful woman even if she surrounds him with all lust and adornments, and offering herself - heart and soul - to him. Such an invitation to sin would never betray and waylay him from the Right Path for fear of Allaah and this pious servant, seeking the protection of Allaah, would run away from the surroundings of sin and save himself from commission of questionable acts. As for those who lack piety, they do not care for sin. They absorb all good and bad wealth upon which they can lay their hands on, without any consideration of the right or the wrong means of obtaining it and whether it belongs to them or not.

            May Allaah bestow on us, both externally and internally, true piety, save us and our 'self' from the treachery and entanglements of Satan and favour us with His consent and pleasure - Ameen.

The End (Courtesy: Yaqeen International)




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