Mansur Ahmad

Our earnest declaration of Sahada is the first step to become a Muttaqi. This declaration made us Muslims, and brought us closer to Allah. Once a Muslim, we also strive to be better at our deen. We work hard to improve our spirituality. If we are doing that, then we are striving to become a Muttaqi.

Being a muttaqi is a step above being a Muslim. While all muttaqis are definitely Muslims, not all Muslims are muttaqi. This brings us to the discussion that who is a muttaqi and how can we become one. Before we can attempt to become a muttaqi, it is imperative that we know what does muttaqi mean. It is equally important to know the criteria that would lead to being a muttaqi.

The word 'muttaqi' comes from a root word of 'waqa', which means saving or guarding. Although there may not be a single English word that would truly reflect the meaning of Al-Muttaqin, probably the closest is the 'reverent', as translated by Dr. Zohurul Hoque. Others have translated it as "those who fear Allah", "those who keep their duty", "those who guard against evil", "those who ward off (evil)", "those who preserve themselves from evil and follow the straight path". We have to fear Allah, but this fear should be combined with a sincere love. The closest example could be the love of a child towards her parents, she loves her parents yet she is careful not to irritate or annoy them. She can appraoch her parents whenever she wants to, but she knows that she will be spanked if she crosses her boundaries.

Two verses of Surah Al-Baqarah (2:3-4) characterizes a muttaqi:

  • Muttaqi believes in the al-ghaib or the Unseen, which our ordinary senses can not perceive. This belief is not based on blind faith, but after seeing the clear proof in Al-Burhan (A manifest Proof) of the Unseen. Such a belief, based on knowledge, is much stronger and unshakable than a mere belief without seeing or without knowing. Al-ghaib does not suggest 'belief without seeing', rather belief in the Unseen.
  • Establishes Salat. It is important to note that Allah has specified a particular type of prayer, i.e. Salat. Salat arguably is the best form of prayer. It embodies both physical and spiritual aspects of praying to One Allah. While there are many other forms of prayer, such as du'a, fasting, charity, kindness, but none can match the impact of Salat. When a person establishes Salat, he is striving to be punctual and disciplined. He is also shedding any hint of racism or class formation. As an imam of the Salat, he is developing leadership qualities. As a muqtadi, he learns to follow the leader. These qualities, that can be enhanced by Salat, lead a person to be a muttaqi. A person, who has proclaimed Sahada, but is unmindful to Salat, cannot develop these qualities. By stating the Shahada, he has become a Muslim, but is far from being a muttaqi.
  • Spends in good causes from what Allah has provided. This is not limited to charity, rather spending in all good causes including providing for your own family. If we spend, instead of hoarding money, we allow economy to florish, the impact of which will be felt by all. Of course, if we spend in charity, we have directly helped the needy. Hoarding will not help any, probably not even the hoarder as the currency might devalue over time.
  • Believes in the revealation to Muhammad (pbuh) and the earlier prophets, and
  • Believes in the Herafter. Finest teaching came to us through Prophet Muhammad, and also the earlier prophets. We must follow their examples and teachings, and we should remember that we will be judged for our actions.

In a different section of Surah Al-Baqarah (2:183),

  • Fasting has been prescribed for us to become muttaqi.

The complete meaning of the word  al-Muttaqin can hardly be accomplished even with most elaborate explanations.  The selection of the word "reverent" possibly cannot do justice to the Arabic word Muttaqin. However, it is fairly close to express the meaning with a single word.



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