Author: Ms. Seen Noon
Allah, the Almighty says in the Holy Quran, in Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 177
‘Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.’
More clearly explained in the image below from Safar Publications
Let’s break this down for better understanding;
‘Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west…’
While trying to understand the deeper meaning of this ayah, so that the true picture of the definition of righteousness is developed in my mind, I let my imagination wander. Day in, day out, we are heard whining over the lack of time to give to our prayers and holy duties, while on the other hand, leaving no stone unturned in achieving the goals of our materialistic life. It is never going to assist you to reach a state of righteousness, simply by facing the prescribed direction (‘east or the west’) at prayer time, with our mind and heart pacing and looking after the routine, mundane duties, letting the soul of our prayer die due to emptiness of our dedication. Just think about it, can acting like a robot or a machine, behaving like someone who is simply carrying on an action because the boss said so, with no heart or soul into it, can that pave way towards achieving something great? Not at all, rather, very soon, there will come a time, when the reality will come and stand in front of you, staring right at you, demanding the lack of devotion, attention and sincerity on your part, chasing victory out of your life for good. We need to revive our lost connections at prayer time, to give C.P.R. to the almost dead soul of our iman (faith), so that we can gain some reward from Allah instead of unfortunately our prayers being merely a head or knee banging exercise.
‘…but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets..’
Surah Al-Baqarah is a very important surah in the Holy Quran, it beautifully explains the conditions of being righteous, that how one can reach that expected level of piety. Not only saying from our tongues, that we believe in the aforementioned things, we need to totally carve it in our hearts of how our kind-hearted Lord has created us and how much He loves us as we are its creations. Receiving love at one end has a small price to pay, that you reciprocate the love with the same or more sweetness and respect. Of course, we are in no position to return the amount of love our Allah has gifted us with, but we can for sure give it a weak shot to show some level of obedience and love. He knows us inside out, He is All Knowing of our hidden intentions, deep thoughts, and the focal point of our belief system. We are all promised that even a single grain of kindness will be accounted for at the time our good and bad deeds will be measured. So, my point being, stay strong, deeply trust in Allah’s way of planning things, for He is indeed the best of planners, trust in His decisions for us, rather than fretting over lost milestones or unmet targets. This material world comes to an end one day when we breathe our last, and leave all our accomplishments back, only taking with us our faith and good deeds to support us in the Hereafter.
What a beautiful verse, lays down plain and simple, that Allah Almighty tells us to believe in Him but also in the angels, the Day of Judgement, the Holy Book, also in all the Prophets. Having a strong belief in these things will eventually lead us towards gaining the love of our creator, aiding us to walk the path of righteousness with humility and piety. As loving His Prophets, His angels, His Books, His final day of judgement, believing in all of this will mean that we are indirectly loving Allah.
‘…and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves…’
Money, money and more money, it’s all that matters today, even the family bonds, the love for fellow mankind, the love for our parents or elders, everything seems ordinary when the term money is involved. These materialistic gains will never tend to lose their charm, a real trial for all of us, to not sit on the piles of money while the deserving candidates leave this world with their eyes locked onto our over-stocked refrigerators, and over-flowing bank accounts.
Letting go, parting away with a reasonable amount of your earnings is a state of righteousness and humility. It teaches us a lesson that no one can reap the fruits of their plantation if Allah doesn’t allow it, and no one can be facing a state of loss, if Allah hasn’t planned it for us. All of this has a spirit of sacrifice in it, that we need to part away with gifts for relatives, orphans, needy, the deserving souls, only then we can claim of being righteous.
… [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle…
Ramadan is about to arrive, most of us have a habit of rushing in this holy month for establishing prayers and zakat and sadaqah (charity), while forgetting about it all in the rest of the months. I agree that the blessings in this month increase manifolds, but the thought of being lenient in these matters in the remaining 11 months is disheartening. Being a muslim, we are bound to perform the five salah daily, along with helping out the poor and the needy with our hard-earned money. It is for sure, a deep way of paying gratitude to our Lord, for it could have been the other way round, with us residing in the slums and the poor living in our luxurious houses. It was Allah’s choice to bless us with wealth and to put us in a position to be a helping hand to the deserving souls.
It takes a lot of courage, indeed, to stay steadfast and fulfill your promises, for if you are unable to do so, intentionally, then there is a deep hole in our iman (faith). It means, that we don’t believe in the accountability of our actions, or in being answerable to Allah for breaking our promises. Firstly, if one knows beforehand, that something is not attainable, then shouldn’t make a promise in the first place. But if you made a promise, and now the circumstances have changed, putting you in a difficult spot then coming clean in front of others is very appreciative. Allah knows our intentions and the thoughts in the deep deep sections of our minds.
Everyone faces ups and downs in their lives, coming across hardship, misery, tough times, all being obstacles in this trial of life. Rising above these hinderances, staying humble and strong, not weakening our faith, not resorting to means termed as shortcuts for gaining short-term gains, will pave way to a life of blessing and harmony here and in the Hereafter. We all smile sitting in our favorite chairs, cozy homes, filled bellies, but the real chapter of our life starts being written at a time when the riches, luxuries, joys, part away. Only then a true gem can come to life. Staying positive, with our heads held high, and belief in Allah and His plans, being stronger than before, only then a person can achieve righteousness.
… Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.’
Reading the Holy Quran without translation is one thing, and understanding the verses with their true meaning is a totally different dimension altogether. The true essence of the Holy Book is infused in our routine activities, after we start grasping the central themes of the chapters in Quran. Allah, the most forgiving, has allowed us benefit of doubt, that we are people with limited intellectual capabilities. Reading the revelations, but not being able to make it all infused in our brains, neglecting some very important aspects of living in this world and it all being a test, is understandable. But getting up after every failure, connecting the dots repeatedly to deepen our understanding and comprehension of it all, is all that the creator demands.
Rising above our weaknesses, aiming to achieve humility, simplicity, piety, righteousness, and sense of non-attachment with the worldly affairs, can aid us in climbing the tallest of mountains. Pleasing our supreme King with our weak attempts can help us in making this earth a blessing for all. Let us strive to feel the pain of our near and dear ones, being of assistance to those in need, lending a helping hand even when we ourselves are falling short, only for gaining Allah’s pleasure. And when the creation is happy with us, praying for our well-being, thanking us for being their saviors, then I strongly believe that we have chosen a path of righteousness for us in this world and the next!