True Piety


True piety does not consist in turning your faces towards the east or the west1 - but truly pious is he who believes in God, and the Last Day; and the angels, and revelation,2 and the prophets; and spends his substance - however much he himself may cherish - it - upon his near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer,3 and the beggars, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage;4 and is constant in prayer, and renders the purifying dues; and [truly pious are] they who keep their promises whenever they promise, and are patient in misfortune and hardship and in time of peril: it is they that have proved themselves true, and it is they, they who are conscious of God. (Quran 2:177)

1: Thus, the Qur'an stresses the principle that mere compliance with outward forms does not fulfill the requirements of piety. The reference to the turning of one's face in prayer in this or that direction flows from the passages which dealt, a short while ago, with the question of the qiblah.

2: In this context, the term "revelation" (al-kitab) carries, according to most of the commentators, a generic significance: it refers to the fact of divine revelation as such. As regards belief in angels, it is postulated here because it is through these spiritual beings or force's (belonging to the realm of al-ghayb, i.e., the reality which is beyond the reach of human perception) that God reveals His will to the prophets and, thus, to mankind at large.

3: The expression ibn as-sabil (lit., "son of the road") denotes any person who is far from his home, and especially one who, because of this circumstance, does not have sufficient means of livelihood at his disposal. In its wider sense it describes a person who, for any reason whatsoever, is unable to return home either temporarily or permanently: for instance, a political exile or refugee.

4: Ar-raqabah (of which ar-riqab is the plural) denotes, literally, "the neck", and signifies also the whole of a human person. Metonymically, the expression fi 'r-riqab denotes "in the cause of freeing human beings from bondage", and applies to both the ransoming of captives and the freeing of slaves. By including this kind of expenditure within the essential acts of piety, the Qur'an implies that the freeing of people from bondage - and, thus, the abolition of slavery - is one of the social objectives of Islam. At the time of the revelation of the Qur'an, slavery was an established institution throughout the world, and its sudden abolition would have been economically impossible. In order to obviate this difficulty, and at the same time to bring about an eventual abolition of all slavery, the Qur'an ordains in verse 8:67 that henceforth only captives taken in a just war (jihad) may be kept as slaves. But even with regard to persons enslaved in this or-before the revelation of 8:67 - in any other way, the Qur'an stresses the great merit inherent in the freeing of slaves, and stipulates it as a means of atonement for various transgressions (see verses, e.g., 4:92, 5:89, 58:3). In addition, the Prophet emphatically stated on many occasions that, in the sight of God, the unconditional freeing of a human being from bondage is among the most praiseworthy acts which a Muslim could perform.

 

Translation and commentary by Muhammad Asad


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  12 Comments   Comment

  1. Barbara Pelham from UK

    Neither is "Piety" posing as a Muslim and pretending to condone violence as did the Mossad agent Adam Pearlman who pretends to be a fanatic Muslim convert when the fact is that the Mossad is making a patheticly childish attempt to demonise Islam and Muslims. Please read this from Prison Planet:

    http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/may2007/300507phonytape.htm

  2. Tasneem from USA

    Mr.Ahmed Asghar, I agree with yr view 100 percent.

    I just wish the above 2 brothers would stop fighting and see if they can make positive contribution towards this article.

  3. Safia from chino hills

    What a beautiful article that simply reminds us of one ayah in the QUran. It hit me like a ton of bricks...i feel like posting this ayah in my room to read everytime i wake up in the morning. jazakhullar khair for the reminder, we need it all the time

  4. Hudd from Canada

    Dr Edriss, I appreciated your comments by now, but when you parade your ignorance with arrogance you have my disdain. Who needs here to consult dictionaries including English, let alone Arabic, is you Dr Edriss. I do not post things I assume they are right because I believe so. The internet is a great tool and certain programs that you can buy can translate you anything in any language in a split second. If you came from a cave and learnt a little bit of this and of that, it doesn't mean that you were a scholar. Your comments in English are horrible, practically you make no sense, and your 'knowledge' of Arabic is non-existent. I tolerated your uneducated and uncivilized attitute because I believed that you intended good but because of an obvious language barrier you comments sounded stupid. Out of grace toward a Muslim brother, I turned those comments of yours upside down and inside out untill they made some sense, at least in English. In the moment you showed me arrogance, when you have the least language skills on this website and now you proved to have also very little Arabic knowledge, I wonder what kind of a freaking Dr are you?

    Ask the Holy Ghost to help you, maybe if it didn't help the pope, he still could help you.

    Get real, Edriss, by starting to educate yourself for life in America.

    Ma'asalamah!

  5. Dr Edriss from US

    to brother Hudd.

    Alberro is AlEhssan. and the closest word in English to describe Ehssan or Alberr is generousity. "wa Ahssen kama Ahssana Allah elaike"

    just take your time and pick dictionary and read the old arab language?

    Ehssan comes from Ahssana(you should read the "a" like in Ameen) which is different than Hassan.

    righteousness is the closest word to describe Alwara'a which is people who do their best to stay away from any sin and anything who may lead to sin.

    you can call yourself not scholar and everybody will agree with you but you have no right to speak about people that you do not know yet.

    I feel sorry for the people who learn the language from just hearing... the language spoken always used without deep understanding.

  6. Hudd from Canada

    Dr Edriss, I don't think so. Al-Birra means 'righteousness', piety is 'taqwaa' and generosity is 'karamah'. Ihsan is derived from hasan and has no connection to the above in meaning.

    None of us are scholars, but putting our heads together we might serve the truth.

    As-Salam alaykum!

  7. Noor from USA

    Hey Salamzzz everyone. I am Noor and I am 22 years old. Just letting you guys know a little fact. Muhammad Asad was contemporary of Allama Muhammed Iqbal of Pakistan or India whatever you want to call it. It was at the ingratiation of Iqbal, Asad continued his works in India and in the Middle East (I know for a fact some "smart bratha" will correct me on this, please don't). Asad was convert from Judaism. His translation of the Quran is said to be the best that exist in the english language. From my perspective these two guys understood Islam as it is suppose to be understood. Their works are available on the net.

    Asad translation of the quran in PDF is available here at http://hambra.blogspot.com/2006/03/muhammad-asad-message-of-quran-aka.html

    and also at http://geocities.com/masad02. It contains at commentary of Muhammad Asad as well as a incorporated commentary of the "scholars" from previous genearations.

    He is also author of some great books, such as Road to Mecca.

    Muhammad Iqbal's works are available at http://tolueislam.com/Parwez/BA_Parwez.htm

    I highly recommend reading their works.

    Wsalamzz

    P.S. any mullahs or traditionalist want to debate, email me, but I recommend you know the content of the Quran before doing so.

  8. ahmed asgher from bahrain

    if quran is for all times, and that was the slavery of the time, then what is the slavery and bondage of today? absolute freedom means freedom from inner bondage which has afflicted this consumer society worldwide. in this alone is the seeds of destruction of all humanity as we know it. god bless.

  9. Dr Edriss from US

    Assalam Alaikom

    the arabic word Alberro means AlEhssaan and the closest word in English is the generousity and not piety.

    may Allah bless you for the translation. I only tried to help as much as I can. wa Assalam Alaikom

  10. Syed Talawat Bokhari from Pakistan

    I don't agree with the translation. It is ritual oriented serving the interes of the Mullah. The very start of the verse " It is not roghteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West;...et seq" decries ritualism. Again 'Aqamasalat' does not mean to be constant in prayer so as to make it a mechanical and directional ritual like what they call 'Namaz' which negates the very basic import of the verse. Keeping in view the general import of the verse and even otherwise the word 'Aqam' here means 'proper or correct way' and not 'constant' as has also been explained in Surah Maoon (107)here-under:

    "SMALL KINDNESSES ( Soora-e-Maoon, 107)

    Have you seen that who belies deen (as it enjoins human welfare)?

    That is he who repels the orphan (i.e. indigent).

    And urges not the feeding of the needy.

    Ah, woe unto worshipers (That is, 'Musalleen' who call themselves 'Namaazi')

    Who are heedless of the real objective of the Salaat (which is the culture of human wefare)

    Whose purpose is to make a show of their worship (To impress people with their religiosity)

    Yet refuse (avoid) small kindness (selfless human welfare which does not inflate their ego)".

    The objective of the verse under discussion is to liberate the human beings from an oppressive ritualism 'Isro ghalaal' as was prevalent in the pre-Islimic Arab society, but the Taghuti Mullah's vested interest does not like this.

  11. sister in islam from united kingdom

    it is so important that we follow the teachings from quran and

    the sunnah in how we behave towards others and how we

    conduct ourselves. i have come across so many born muslims

    who have recently started practising islam but are very

    judgemental towards those brothers and sisters who are still lost

    in their ways. we need to pray for these brothers and sisters

    rather than being critical towards them and realise that Allah is

    the guider and the judge.

    salaam alaikum

  12. Hadiza from United Kingdom

    Salam,This very short but contains alot of details,Mashallah.