Divine Virtues in the Family and Society
But the raiment of the righteousness - That is the best. [Holy Quran: A'raf 7:26]
True Concept of Piety
The literal infinitive and root of the abstract Arabic noun TAQWA, which has the most beautiful and original meaning, is "WQY". WAQAYA means self-control, being fearful and protecting one's self from all divinely prohibited actions. Actually the word WAQAYA means the spirit, power and ability attained by the practice of giving up sinning, by practicing abstinence and by self-restraint against committing sins. keeping the soul's control over sin and forbidden pleasures.
Trying to be pious and acquire the spirit of self-control in the face of sin is the best step to be taken in life; and amongst all actions is the action most approved of. Trying to acquire piety is actually the practice of worshipping God: the worship which God has instructed humankind to perform. This kind of worship includes a program which will undoubtedly please God.
The philosophy behind physical, financial and moral worship is the cognition of piety by a true believer. Any type of worship, movement or action which does not result in piety is not to be considered worshipping at all.
A society is a combination of thousands of families and one family consists of one wife, one husband and a number of offspring. Actually the building blocks of the family and society are individuals. If each and every individual has developed the spirit of piety, we shall have healthy families and a superior society. The family will be an environment in which internal peace and safety from the external world govern. In this type of family there is room enough for the individuals to fully develop. As a result we shall have a society in which all individuals are sources of benefit for each other and everyone is safe from others’ mischief and harm.
The pious people are loved by God and are divinely favored by the Prophets and religious leaders (the Imams): they are practically generous and productive beings. The pious ones are people of fine character and heavenly morality having angel-like faces, and lack evil spirits.
The individual's, the family's and the society's reputations depend on the existence of saintly piety, and no individual, family or society is more worthy to God than the pious one. The harm caused by wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, children and society's individuals to each other is the direct result of irreligiousness. The terrible fear that people in families and societies have of each other is the bitter fruit of ungodliness. The ample damage done to the affairs of people's lives results from the lack of piety. Actually, it is a divine necessity for husbands and wives to be beautified with piety so as to have a healthy society. And it is also necessary that the parents pass on this beneficial, divine desire to their offspring. From the very beginning of training their children, parents must make sure to develop the basic environment for piety.
How praiseworthy it is to pay attention to the abundant benefits of the Quranic verses and religious traditions on piety; and then begin to evaluate their benefits! Look at the truth of the matter in this way: if all young women and men were God-fearing, and made arrangements of marriage with an angelic capital of piety, what wonderful families and societies would be established!
Piety and Its Praiseworthy Degrees
The enlightened ones and those who according to the Quran show insight and have made spiritual journeys mention three degrees of piety.
I - Outstanding Piety
II - Especial Piety
III - Ordinary Piety
In a very notable tradition Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) explained these three degrees in the following manner:
I - Outstanding Piety
The first degree of piety is being completely absorbed by Allah and consists of the individual abstaining from religiously lawful things and actions, much more the religiously doubtful things and actions.
II - Especial Piety (In Awe of Allah)
The second degree of piety is "In Awe of Allah" meaning the individual abstains from all religiously doubtful things and actions, much more the prohibited ones.
III - Ordinary Piety
The third degree of piety results from fear of Hell's punishment and God's painful Wrath. This degree consists of abstaining from all sins and forbidden things and actions. [Mava'ez al-’Addadiyi, p.180]
Of course, the meaning of abstaining from religiously lawful things and actions expressed in Imam Sadiq's statement has the following meaning: those having this type of piety do not pursue many of the religiously lawful affairs since they feel they do not require them. And concerning the lawful necessities they require for subsistence, they observe the utmost frugality.
The power to be contented is practicable for everyone, and if anyone denies it, the excuse will not be accepted. Being contented with what is religiously lawful and limiting the materialistic affairs of life are moral actions and approved of programs providing the environment for the realization of angelic piety in all affairs.
Hajji Sabzevary and Moderation
In order to preach Islam I traveled to the town of Sabzevar (Iran) in 1983 where I inquired about whereabouts of the family of the Great Sage and Noble mystic Hajji Mulla-Hady Sabzevary. I was told that one of his great grandchildren lives in this town. He was wise, knowledgeable, knew philosophy and had interpreted the Quran twice for the people of the mosque of which he is the Imam.
I rushed to visit him and his appearance, morality, style of living and his encounters with others displayed a perspective of Hajji 's pure life. I asked him about his noble great-grandfather. He described amazing issues about his plans and life conditions and said that Hajji was respected by all scholarly, political personages. He said people would rush to him from far away places to benefit from his knowledge, but he lived in real moderation concerning his food, clothing and housing. Sometimes, observing cleanliness, he would wear his clothes for nearly ten years patching them when necessary as this is the practice of the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) and that of God's Saints.
Luxury-Loving and Wastefulness
According to Allah, these two acts are satanic and due to one's selfish and carnal desires. What prohibits man from abiding by God's limits for life? More specifically, if man were more content he would have an easier life, less stress and insecurity. Once man's physical needs can be met with a reasonable house, a normal vehicle and sufficient food and clothing, we should avoid keeping up with the Joneses. We should get used to normal expenditures, and avoid extra expenditures and obtaining what is considered luxurious and fashionable. We should not use the West as a model for our life-style. They themselves are plagued with many errors. Industry and technology should not make us think that whatever they say and write is correct and that their lifestyle is in accordance with reality.
What is important in the Islamic religion is the well-being of the soul and body, the neighborhoods, towns, cities and regions. What is paid attention to in this culture considering material, spiritual and personal affairs, and social faith and ethics is for the good of man in this world and the Hereafter.
The pure Islamic culture and school for refining human beings scorns wastefulness, luxury-loving, making heavy expenditures, ornamenting the outward appearance of one's life without considering moderation and economizing on expenses. This even applies to the matter of building a mosque being the Muslims' place of worship. Mosques must be adorned with the utmost spirituality inwardly, and be ornamented outwardly in the simplest way so that hearts may not be tempted and souls not be separated from Allah.
Provide yourself with simple clothing, however, observe the etiquette for wearing it. Attain your essential foodstuffs but observe the good manners of eating. One may buy an appropriate vehicle of transportation according to his/her social status but the driving regulations should not be ignored. Purchase a house for yourself, but not one which will enslave your soul. All of the above are the results of piety, abstinence and paying attention to God. The Jewish and Christian lifestyles - considering housing and furnishings, transportation vehicles, clothing, foodstuffs and other luxuries - are entangled in wastefulness. The Christian churches and Jewish synagogues are adorned with gold, jewels and other ornaments as well as devices, instruments, statues, antiques, tableaux and couches costing millions of dollars. The lifestyles of the Jewish rabbis and Christian clergymen, even that of their leader the Pope, is entangled in wastefulness and extravagant expenditures causing one's eyes to pop out. If the personal hat and clothing of the Pope were sold, millions of starving people could be saved from hunger.
Amassing great amounts of wealth, usury, great robberies even in broad daylight and a thousand other notoriously disgraceful plans are the deeds of God's enemies. God's friends must accustom themselves to God's consent and protect themselves from extravagant expenditures and wastefulness. All these facts are generated and maintained by piety.
A home decorated with piety and a pious couple could actually possess a divine treasure and heavenly capital. Their life is richly blessed with happiness, peace and friendliness as well as comfort, security, health, righteousness, justice, nobility, benevolence and truth. One's home and place of worship must be such that one can feel at peace and be secure; and it should be a place to get closer to God. In short, we must establish our lives based on piety and moderation - considering God and the Hereafter - so as to please God and obtain the good of the Hereafter.
Even today one can live on a meager income if one is pious and content. Of course, in case a problem should arise and the believer could not handle it on his low income, it is the duty of the believers to assist their brother immediately and save him from suffering any hardships.
Let's Invite Each Other to Piety
Considering that not all men and women can attain the first two degrees of piety being (1) outstanding and (2) especial piety, we should not invite the general public to these two stages of piety as these degrees of piety belong only to the Prophets, the Imams and God's especial Saints. However, it is feasible for all men and women to attain ordinary or the general type of piety; that is to abstain from the religiously forbidden ethical, carnal and financial affairs.
Therefore, it is everyone's duty to politely invite others to piety and to encourage each other to abstain from various forbidden acts, so that divine virtues may encompass man's life including individuals and families and thus the society can benefit from it.
It is divinely obligatory for all people in all ranks to attain piety, especially a husband and wife who should teach piety to their children. The righteous say children are God-given responsibilities and their hearts, and souls are pure and void of any corruption like blank tableaux. This blank tableau can accept any design. If a child is taught good deeds, words and ethics at home and if he/she is guided to learn the truth, he/she will attain the prosperity of this world and the Hereafter. The parents who cause this to happen shall share in the reward as do the teachers who have participated in his/her training.
If, however, the parents be corrupted and ungodly drawing satanic designs on the child's heart, life and soul, then the child will become corrupted and be raised like an animal just following his lusts and carnal desires. The child will be spoiled and the responsibility will undoubtedly lie with his parents or teacher.
Save yourselves and your families from a Fire.[Holy Quran: Tahrim 66:6]
Why do parents usually protect their children from fire and prevent them from approaching danger? Should they not also protect their children from the flames of God's Wrath in the Hereafter resulting from lack of piety, evil acts, no morality, faith and good deeds. The practical approach to protect children from punishment in the Hereafter is for the parents to be pious and to teach them piety. To train their children parents must be benevolent teachers, persuasive preachers and sympathetic inviters to good deeds. They must first ornament themselves with piety, faith and good deeds. Then they must train their children, teach them principles of morality and protect them from bad friends and wicked teachers.
They must try to raise the child in such a way that he/she does not become deeply fond of wealth, luxury and wastefulness as well as excessive ornaments. Thus, he/she would not turn into a wasteful, greedy, looting, lustful and stubborn individual in the future. If the society consists of ungodly individuals, it will be like a building constructed from low grade materials. It will collapse and living in it will become difficult for everyone.
There would be no need for prisons, police, courts and the extensive judicial system, if all homes were based on piety and couples were virtuous and taught their children piety. If so, large amounts of money spent on preventing robbery, corruption and looting would be saved and could be spent for the public's well-being.
Signs of the Pious
Using the Quranic verses and religious traditions, religious authorities consider the following to be signs of the pious:
a)Learning enough of the religious sciences necessary for his actions, morality, business deals and relations with family members and the society
b)Protecting his body's health by using hygienic measures and observing good etiquette while eating and drinking
c)Resorting to one's intellect in daily affairs and being honest in all aspects of life
d)Having modesty, not lying as well as maintaining good temper and not being wicked
e)Not being a hypocrite and hating extra material goods
f)Not being deceitful, making excuses or committing treason
g)Honoring the virtuous and the wise
h)Carrying out one's religious duties, including the obligatory and supererogatory acts.
i)Following divine scholars since they teach man what is forbidden and what is allowed in God's religion, and only expect man's progress
Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) stated the following concerning the fact that one must follow the divine scholars:
A sign of a liar is that he informs you of issues in the Heavens and the Earth, but when asked about the religiously lawful and forbidden, he has no answer to give. [Usul al-Kafi, v.2. p.340; Muhjat ul-Biyza, v.5, p.140]
Some other signs of the pious ones are:
1)Patience in the face of terrible events
2)Observing the Islamic customs and principles of morality in all affairs
3)Diligence in making supplications
4)Perseverance in intellectual affairs
The pious should have sincere intentions and be pure in soul. They should progress to the stage of knowledge of certainty, then to the stage of reality of certainty, and then to the truth of certainty.
A Pious Man and Wife
A pious man never uses any means, except the lawful ones, and never accepts any unlawfully made money, in order to earn his living.
Thus, he respects the rights of all with whom he deals, and no one is harmed by his activities outside the home. He does not get involved in what is religiously unlawful due to his piety and does not lose the treasure of purity of his soul and contentment. When a pious man has finished working and returns home, he leaves all his tiredness at the door-step and enters the house in a cheerful, delightful state. He smiles kindly at his wife and tells her to relax after working all day at cleaning, cooking and caring for the children. He praises her and faces her with kindness, paying respect to each one according to his/her position in the family.
Once in a while, a pious man reminds his family members about the religiously lawful and forbidden, virtue and vice, good and evil deeds and does not let them forget religious issues.
A pious man does not spend all his time outside of home, and does not limit his happiness and laughter just to his circle of friends. Also he does not excessively attend the mosque and religious ceremonies.
A pious man notes that Islam has instructed us to be moderate and consider economy in all aspects of life, even in worship. Islam has even prohibited us from usurping the rights of our wife and children under the pretext of visiting our friends or attending ceremonies. At this point, I must remind my respectable colleagues who are in charge of mosques and religious ceremonies to shorten the duration of religious programs. A congregation prayer and an hour of preaching should suffice, as this was the practice of the Prophet (Pbuh) and the Noble Imams. They raised great men and women in a short time and with brief sermons.
Worshipping in excess, especially in regards to the supererogatory acts, and drawing on and on the meetings, will bore the listeners. Gradually this will cause a psychological complex in the listener concerning religious programs. The only result of this is the harm done to the mosque and religious clubs as well as to the people, especially those with a low tolerance. Anyway, a pious man will observe the proper etiquette in all aspects of life. In this way, he will help to establish a fine family and attract his family's kindness to himself.
The pious wife protects her chastity, innocence and purity and eagerly does the housework. She prepares the means for her husband's comfort and helps him to relax as he is tired from work outside the home. She cares for her children in the most honorable way and behaves with her husband and children within the limits of Islamic morality. She does not forget to worship God daily and makes the home the center of love, kindness, eagerness and delight.
The pious woman, by relying on the divine Islamic principles, follows her husband's orders. She avoids getting angry and encounters her husband's kinsmen with kindness and Islamic morality. When her husband comes from his work, she is at the door to welcome him. When he leaves for work, she sees him off and requests him to bring home only the lawful goods. She says that she will be content with the lawful goods, even if they are meager, and will not accept the responsibility of unlawful goods. Do not exceed the limits set by God to obtain unlawful wealth under the pretext of being married or having children and a lot of expenses.
The pious woman does not try to keep up with the Joneses causing her husband to be embarrassed because she wants the same things his kin have or hers does. Such a pious couple are approved of by God, are a source of goodness and a good example of divine human beings. In the shade of this couple, the kind of family which God likes, is created. In any case, the husband and wife take care of each other in all of life affairs based on the Islamic wisdom and laws, just as God's Saints did.
My maternal grandfather told me that once he and his friends traveled from the Khansar region near Isfahan to visit the holy shrine of Imam Reza (Pbuh). This happened in the old days when people used to travel on quadrupeds.
He was in charge of shopping in Damghan city. Early in the morning, he entered a shop to buy some goods. Since he was a pilgrim, the shopkeeper invited him in and started serving him. At the same time someone entered the shop to purchase goods and intended to buy a lot.
The shopkeeper asked him to cross the street and purchase from the store opposite his shop, so the man left the store. My grandfather said he got surprised and asked the shopkeeper the reason. He replied that earlier that morning he had seen the other shopkeeper in a sad mood. When questioned why he was so sad, he stated that he had a debt to be repaid on that day, but business was bad. The shopkeeper said he could not remain indifferent, so he sent his customer to shop from that poor man's store. Possibly in this way he could pay back his debt.
Believers should support each other. Everyone should support his/her friends. Especially, a husband should support his wife and a wife should support her husband so that their life is established on the basis of divine and humane principles yielding noble children.
Dear brothers, please spray scent in your house at the time of morning prayer by reading the Quran. Your heavenly recital of the Holy Quran will affect your wife and children, and they will become better acquainted with worship services and God willing the true message of the Quran and will become benevolent and pious.
source : Allamah Husayn Ansariyan