Monday, November 22, 2004

Reflecting on the meaning of Taqwa

1. After having been granted the grace to observe Ramadan, it is time to ask the question: What treasures have we collected from the blessed month

2. The most obvious treasure offered to us is Taqwa. As a major Islamic concept, it is inadequate to define it only by single terms like piety, self-restraint, god-consciousness etc.

3. A comprehensive definition is purported to have been given by Ali ibn Abi talib (ra), the Prophet's son inlaw and beloved companion.

4. Four aspects of the definition: a. Awe of the One possessing Majesty and Grandeur b. to act in a manner that is consistent with the revelation c. to be content with little and d. to be prepared for the day of departure.

5. God's Majesty and Grandeur is manifested in everything around us: the order of the universe etc. Apart from the apparent manifestations, we are exposed to new forms of His signs on a daily basis - thanks to scientific and medical discoveries. To be in Awe of teh Majestic One is both to fear a separation from Him and to fear the consequences of disobedience and falling from His grace.

6. To act in amanner consistent with the revelation is to translate the Awe of the Majestic One into our daily practices.

7. The Revelation is not confined to the Qur'an - it includes the Prophet's Sunnah as it is through him that we know of the explanation of the revelation. One cannot separate the Message from the Messenger.

8. The current trend to discard hadith and sunnah by some "progressive" Muslims is a weak reaction to our own inability to understand the context of the Sunnah/hadith and its application in today's world; a lack of knowledge of hadith science and methodology; and a lack of understanding of the motives and flawed methodology of orientalists who have tried to deconstruct hadith.

9. To be content with little is a simple yet profound concept, revolutionary in today's consumer society where we amass and expend without thinking of the impact on our lives as individuals and society. The concept is not only confined to individuals; it has relevance to the earth's sustainability and our own survival. A relevant question posed by those who study the earth's sustainability is : what is our ecological footprint? How much of the earth's resources do we consume? We can begin to reduce our ecological footprint with ourselves and children by reversing the attitudes of extravagance and waste.

10. To be prepared for the day of departure brings us to a unique mindset and establishes for us a new paradigm: one in which we live as an integral part of this world, yet be cognizant that we are on a journey of return to Allah and being prpeared for such an eventuality. Consider the hadith: "be in this world as if you are a stranger or wayfarer".


Post a Comment

<< Home