Mufti Afzal Hoosen Elias (damat baraktuhum) writes, “Although commonly translated as ‘fear for Allah’ or ‘piety’, the word Taqwa refers to such consciousness of Allah or such a piety that drives a person to carry out all Allah’s commands and to stay away from everything that Allah has prohibited”.
Below you find an excerpt from a great discourse of Hadhrat Shah Hakeem Muhammad Akhtar Sahab (damat baraktuhum) known as Hiyat-e-Taqwah – compiled by Muhammad Ishrat Jamil Mir and translated by Moulana Ebrahim Muhammad. May Allah reward them all three.
“I take an oath by the nafs and the One that corrected it.”
“He inspired the nafs with evil and piety.”
The Secret of Mentioning Sin First
The fact that Allah took an oath of the nafs is proof that He wants to explain something very important. I was travelling from Lahore to Karachi by train with a very great scholar. On the way, he recited this verse in Fajr Salâh. During salâh the thought occurred to me why Allah mentioned sin first. I asked the scholar who smiled and told me to explain.
Taqwa’s Dependence on the Ability to Sin
I replied that Allah has inspired me with the answer. Just as salâh cannot be performed without wudhu, similarly one cannot study Sahih Bukhâri without doing the pre-final year. In the same way, taqwâ is dependent on the substance of sin. Had this substance not been existent, how could one prevent it? Every prohibition requires the existence of the prohibited act. For example, I tell you not to look at the tasbih in my hand. The existence of the tasbih is essential. If I do not have a tasbih in my hand and tell you not to look at it, everyone will say the statement is wrong. There is no tasbih in the hand.
The Urge to Sin
Allâh has exhorted man to curb the urge to sin. Man has to obey Allâh and become His slave because Allâh has created man and not the nafs. This indicates that the urge to sin is essential. That is why He is commanding us to prevent the nafs. Had there been no urge to sin, taqwâ would not have existed because taqwâ means to subdue the urge of the nafs to sin and to endure the grief that follows.
The Greatness of the Grief of Allah’s Path
Allâh is reached by this grief. But how regretful it is that man is prepared to endure the grief of the entire world, but he hesitates and fears undergoing the grief of Allah’s path. The grief of Allah’s path is so honoured that if all the crowns and thrones of the kings of the world are placed in one pan of the scale together with the beauty and love of all the lovers of the world, the entire wealth of the world and all the deliciousness of the shâmi kababs and biryâni of the world cannot equal one atom of the grief of Allah’s path. How aptly Allâmah Sayyid Sulaimân Nadwi (Rahimahullâh) has said,
“When I obtain the wealth of Your grief I become independent of the grief of both the worlds.”
The grief of Allah’s love and the grief of abstaining from sin is better than the whole world. You can attain heaven by this grief. This is the grief that brings one into close proximity to Allah, makes one a waliullâh, keeps one at ease in this world and makes one reach jannah. Who can pay the price of this grief? If all the joys of this world present a guard of honour to the grief of Allah’s path, they cannot fulfil the rights of this grief. I implore you with a painful heart that this grief is extremely valuable. This grief leads one to Allah.
My crown is hidden in the lap of poverty. One atom of Your grief is not less than both the worlds.
Allâh is not so oppressive so as to neglect the one who undergoes so much pain and worry by not committing sin. Allâh is most merciful. He knows that first His servant did not have a beard. Now he is sporting a beard in spite of the fact that people are mocking him. Today the people can mock and jest but on the day of Qiyâmah, Allâh will not mock at me.
The Rule of the Moustache
Initially he had a long moustache. After hearing the rule, he trimmed it. It is mentioned in a hadith that Rasûlullâh will not intercede on behalf of the one who keeps a long moustache. A long moustache is one that conceals the upper lip. It is not permissible to sport such a moustache. If the hair is short and does not conceal the upper lip, it is permissible. However, Sheikhul Hadith Moulânâ Zakariyyâ (Rahimahullâh) has written that it is best to trim the moustache with a scissors so that no hair remains. According to some scholars, it is an innovation to shave off the hair with a blade. Therefore, a scissors or machine without a blade is best. Similarly, Allah’s slave had a habit of listening to music. Now he has abandoned it and undergone the grief of abstention. But who can fulfil the right of the honour of this grief?
A True Incident
One of my friends who is also my khalîfah in the island of Reunion initially had a habit of listening to music. He was such an expert that he used to put all the European tourists to sleep with his flute at the foot of the mountain. But when Allâh chose him and granted him guidance, he broke all the instruments and buried them. Now he is pious from head to toe. He has the attire of a pious man and all praise is due to Allâh that his heart is also attached to Allah. If you listen to him, you will think that he is a very great saint. But did he not endure the grief? He still undergoes grief. If he hears the voice of anyone singing, his heart undergoes pain. His heart wants to listen but he suppresses his urge to do so.
Whoever does not have the habit of this grief is useless. His foot is worth chopping off. Moulânâ Rûmî (Rahimahullâh) states that it is better for the feet that do not walk in the path of Allâh or towards the mosque to be cut off. It is better to amputate the hands that do not worship Allah, do not touch Hajre Aswad or shake hands with the saints. The ears that do not listen to Allah’s talk should be torn off. The eyes that do not appreciate Allah’s manifestation and disobey Him should be thrown away.
The one who disobeys Allâh should not remain alive. However, this does not mean that you should go and kill someone or tear off his eye or cut off his ear. What is meant here is that a disobedient person has no value in the eyes of Allah. Allah, through His forbearance and grace grants him the opportunity to repent. But our insistence in sinning has no limit. Had Allâh not been forbearant, we would not have existed.
What is Taqwa?
Allâh did not mention taqwâ first. He first mentioned the fact that He created the ability to sin within man. Now it is your duty not to fulfil the urge to sin. This will create taqwâ (piety) in you. If you want to obtain piety, then all you have to do is abstain from sin. Achieve Reward without Doing any Work
The owners of factories first make their employees work and then reward them. But in this case, Allâh is granting reward for not doing any work. Do not steal, speak lies and do not look at women. By not doing these things, you will be rewarded with piety and Allah’s friendship. What is taqwâ? Taqwâ is when you have the urge to sin but you abstain due to the fear of Allah. Then you must endure the pain and not regret adopting piety. Do not say, “I wish I should have looked at least once.” Remember that it is shaytân’s ploy to make you regret. One who regrets has an undeveloped heart and his Imân is weak. Imân will be complete when he abstains from sin, endures grief, thanks Allâh and becomes ecstatic with joy.
Who is a Muttaqi?
A muttaqi is one who protects himself from sin, protects his gaze from women, protects himself from speaking lies, from bribery, from disobeying his parents, from oppressing his wife and neighbours. He keeps away from all impermissible acts and does not regret. He does not regard Islam as oppressive. Islam has protected him from troubles otherwise if he had to eat from every farm like a cow, people would beat him so much that it would be impossible for him to stay alive. Go to the villages and have a look at the cow that grazes from everyone’s farm. It is beaten by everyone. Not an inch of its back is safe. When it falls ill, there is no one to cure it. When it dies, there is no one to bury it. Vultures and crows feed on its corpse.