Page 22 - Islam In Focus

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The Concept of Righteousness (Birr).
Islam always warns against superficial concepts and rituals, against lifeless
formalities and non-effective beliefs. In one representative verse God explains the full
meaning of righteousness as follows:
It is not righteousness that you turn your faces (in prayer) towards East or West; but it
is righteousness to believe in God and the Last day, and the Angels and the Book, and
the Messengers; to spend of your wealth – in spite of your love for it – for your kin,
for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of
slaves; to be steadfast in prayer and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts
which you have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain and adversity and
throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God – minded
(Qur’ an, 2:177).
In this verse there is a beautiful and clear description of the righteous man. He should
obey all the salutary regulations, and should make his sincere motive the love of God
and the love of his fellow man for the sake of God. Here we have four elements: (I)
our Faith should be true and sincere, (II) we must be prepared to show it in deeds of
charity and kindness to our fellow man, (III) we must be good citizens by supporting
charitable institutions and social organizations, and (IV) we must be steadfast and
unshakable in all circumstances.
It is clear, that therefore, that righteousness is not merely a matter of void utterances.
It must be founded on strong faith and constant practice. It must cover the person’ s
thinking and action and extend to his inside and outside life, to his individual and
common affairs. When the Islamic principle of righteousness is established, it
provides the individual with peace in all circumstances, the society with security on
all levels, the nation with solidarity, and the international community with hope and
harmony. How peaceful and enjoyable life can be when people implement the Islamic
Concept of Righteousness! What can be more reassuring than faith in the Beneficent
Creator and investing in such good worthy causes? What can be more humane than
relieving the deep anxieties of the subjugated, alleviating the sufferings of the
exploited, and responding to the needs of the helpless? What is more methodical and
honest than the fulfillment of commitments, the preservation of clear conscience, and
the maintenance of integrity? And what is more spiritually joyful than doing all this
regularly, as a matter of course, and for the love of God?
The Concept of Piety (Taqwa)
What has been said about faith and righteousness is generally true of piety. Again, it
is not a matter of convenient claims and oral confessions. It is much more serious. As
always, the Qur’ an is our best source, and when it speaks of the pious it describes
them as those who believe in the Unseen (which is taught by God), are steadfast in
prayer, and spend of what We have provided for them; and who believe in the
Revelation sent to you (Muhammad), and sent before your time, and (in their hearts)
have the assurance of the Hereafter. They are on true guidance from their Lord, and it
is these who will prosper (Qur’ an, 2:3-5). The pious are those who spend (freely in
the way God) whether in prosperity or in adversity; who restrain anger and pardon (all
men; - for God loves those who do good; and those who – having done something to