Piety and Its Subtle Deformations

AlHambra, City Centre – In conjunction with our beloved Prophet’s birthday a few days ago, the whole country was on a public holiday. Those who consider this day as a meaningful occasion would have different ways of “celebrating” the event, be it in public or just within the spheres of their hearts. As for me, I opt to reflect on the one of the many realities of our Muslims today, who are evident followers and ummah of Prophet Muhammad PBUH.

Assessing A Muslim’s Piety

During his last sermon in Hujjatul Wida’, the Prophet gave a clear message that no one is superior over another being by their physique or any external representation because Allah Judges man by the heart. Muslims today commit their hearts to the belief of having Allah as their sole God and the existence of His Angels, Scriptures, Messengers, Judgement Day and Divine Destiny. The muslims’ state of taqwa (piety) distinguishes them from one another. So how can we really identify a Muslim’s level of taqwa?

My answer is – none. I disagree with the idea that us being mere servants of Allah to judge a person’s internal affairs with His God. It is worse when a syaikh utilitises the stories from hadeeths to structure a framework of judging another Muslim. In a religious ceramah (found on YouTube), a famous eloquent Ustaaz stated that a couple who has a child that cries frequently or full of tantrums could probably have been sinners before they had matrimonial ties. Later, a few ladies (who were apparently watching the video with me) started gossiping about some of our acquintances facing similar problems with their child. I tried hard to deliberate the illogical purpose of such ceramah. Many Islamic lecturers nowadays convey subtle misleading messages. Some of the messages may even instigate fitnah and su’uzzhann amongst the Muslims.

In any Muslim society (at least in the Malay community), the norm is that the more pious (‘aalim) are those who wear “Islamic clothing” such as the turban, jubah, songkok, tudung labuh, abaya, socks, purdah, hand socks and other aurah covering attires. Knowledgewise, they are well-versed with the Quran and Sunnah as well as other kitaabs by religious scholars in the fields of Tawheed, Shariah and etc. In terms of ‘amal, they perform ‘ibadah more than Allah has made compulsory for man. Mosques and halaqahs are their “cup of tea”. These are associations constructed by the limited human mind which are not necessarily true. The formation of piety actually transcends the seeking of knowledge and the practice of those knowledge.

Components of Piety

A simple definition of Taqwa is to fear Allah. Those who seek to achieve piety have a strong sense of fear of displeasing Allah. There are many types of fearing Allah. The act of piety includes ‘amr bil ma’roof wa nahi ‘anil munkar or to do good and to forbid evil. Piety is composed of three components; knowledge, action and conscience. Muslims would equip themselves with the knowledge of acquiring Allah’s pleasure from the physical aspect but sometimes overlook the spiritual side of their being. They have the knowledge on the means to attain piety and practice it but conscience escapes them. Diligent prayers would be incomplete without humility residing deep in their hearts and so is vice versa. It is this kind of minutiae that could subtly deform the Muslims’ struggle for perfecting their religion.

It is common to see Muslims who take religion lightly and lead their lives in astray. It is logical because they chose to be that way. However, it is an excruciating sight when a person of religion openly criticizes another so-called bad Muslim. Disgracing another person itself is a sinful act. When we see our Muslim kindred does injustice to himself, it is our responsibility to guide him with the utmost diplomatic way as Allah has Ordained us. Dakwah is not carried out by being judgmental nor condemnation. We should identify what had made him do what he does and find ways of pulling him out of the quicksand of ignorance.

Humility as The Foundation of Piety

A Muslim must have humility as the foundation of cultivating taqwa. One should have the notion of his position in relation to Allah and also His Servants. He must have the conscience of his position, not only in relation to Allah but also other human beings (Hablumminallah wa hablumminannaas). Whatever good or bad he has done on this earth, it is Allah’s prerogative to Judge him. He is not necessarily entitled a special place in the eyes of God if he prays or recites the Quran more frequent than any other being. Nor is he deemed as spiritually more superior than those who live in sin. Even if he feels that he is better than others, he does not have the right of downgrading others.

It is disheartening to find that Muslims who portray themselves as true muslims are the ones who give Islam a bad name. Apart from being infected with the diseases of the heart, they anoint themselves as better Muslims without a speck of mercy towards another Muslim. Little do they realise that Allah has the power to turn the table someday. It is never impossible for a bad Muslim to turn into a syaikh by the will of Allah. Wallahu a’lam bissawaab.


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