What is Al-Birr [Piety/Righteousness]? (Part 3)

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December 7, 2015 by Verse By Verse Quran Study Circle

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Tafseer Al-Baqarah 177 (Part 3)

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Moral Qualities

After talking about the articles of faith, rights of people and rights of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, we are informed about some moral qualities that we should have.

“…and who fulfill their covenant when they make it…” Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds us of our ahd [covenant/promises]. We make many promises in our daily life. One promise was the one that we made with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in the realm of the souls (known as Ahd Alasth). We promised Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that we will only worship Him. Other promises include the contracts that we make with other people such as a business contract, an employment contract, marriage contract and so on. Countries too make contracts with other countries and these are known as treaties. The word mufoon [مُوفُون] is from the root wau-fa-ya (wafa). This is used for fulfilling covenants. Mufoon is a noun and a plural word, and it means those who fulfill their contracts. We are obligated to fulfill our promises no matter how big or small they are. We see in our rich history when the Muslims made any contract with the pagans living in Makkah, they honored it. The one who does not fulfill his contracts is a munafiq [hypocrite].

We learn in a hadeeth,

آيَةُ الْمُنَافِقِ ثَلَاثٌ: إِذَا حَدَّثَ كَذَبَ، وَإذَا وَعَدَ أَخْلَفَ، وَإذَا ائْتُمِنَ خَان

“The signs of a hypocrite are three: if he speaks, he lies; if he promises, he breaks his promise; and if he is entrusted, he breaches the trust.”

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us from hypocrisy and allow us to honor our contracts, aameen.

Note: One can break contracts if there be a need, but it should be done with mutual agreement. Both parties must agree and none of the party should mistreat the other.

For example, people get engaged, but later it does not work out and the engagement is called off. The aggrieved party should be informed about the decision before committing with someone else. It has been seen that after engagement either the couple’s parents or the couple themselves fall for someone else. They commit to the new person and break up with the first person. This is incorrect. Same applies to marital relations. Marriage is a contract, but it is permissible to break the contract if two people do not get along. In breaking contracts, the other party should not be hurt but compensated for their loss. Similarly, treaties are broken. Sometimes the countries go on war and sometimes pay the compensation for not fulfilling their part of the contract.

 “…and who are patient in extreme poverty and ailment (disease) and at the time of fighting (during the battles),” Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds us of sabr [patience]. It is interesting that this is mentioned after stating all the tasks that we must do. Why? It is because in order to fulfill the rights of people and rights of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala patience will be required. It will be testing on the nafs [self] to part with our money and give it to someone else. It will be a test of our character to treat others with kindness when they are hostile and cold.

[The Secrets of Patience]

The word al-basai [الْبَأْسَآءِ] is from the root ba-hamza-seen and it is used for constriction, dependence and poverty. It is also used for physical ailment. The word dharrai [ضَّرَّاءِ] is from the root dhuad-ra-ra and it means harm especially mental torture.  The word heena [حِينَ] has the plural ahyan. It is used for time or period. It is from the root Ha-ya-noon.

Fighting in a battlefield brings both physical and mental harm. But we are being commanded to remain patient. It is because he who patiently endures his sufferings and difficulties is praiseworthy in the Sight of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Many people unload their bag of complaints and then say, “But, what can I do? I am being patient!” This is not patience. Patience is not complaining to anyone. It is not grumbling and whining all the time and then saying, I am being patient. We should do what the prophets ‘alayhim salaam taught us. When Prophet Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam was being thrown in fire he said: HasbunAllahu wa nimal Wakeel. Allah knows best, it is He Whom help is sought from, and upon Him we rely.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ends the ayah by saying,

أُولَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَأُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ

“Such are the people of the truth and they are Al-Muttaqun (the pious),” meaning the one who displays the traits cited above is truly the successful one. Don’t we all desire success in the Hereafter? Then we should follow this ayah with firm commitment. “Such are the people of the truth,” means whoever acquires these qualities shows that he is truthful in his declaration of faith. We have been taught that verbal declaration of faith is not enough. We must display through our actions how true we are in our emaan [faith]. A truthful person is he whose actions match with his words. There is no contradiction between what he says and does. Being truthful is a praiseworthy quality and the truthful ones are one of the four guaranteed Jannah [Paradise]. May He make us of the siddiqeen [the truthful], aameen.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “…and they are Al-Muttaqoon (the pious).” Who are the righteous? They are those who avoid the prohibitions and act on the commands. And they are the successful ones, as mentioned in Al-Baqarah ayah 5.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 177

*For detailed understanding of the topic of Al-Birr, please watch the program Peyam e Subh at Dunya News channel dated April 7th 2014 till April 16th 2014.

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]

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