In its limited sense, Taqwa (piety) means sensitivity to the commandments of the Shari`ah and refraining from acts that deprive one of Divine reward and result in Allah’s punishment. The verse: “ And those who shun the worst of sins and indecencies and, when they are wroth, forgive.” (As-Shura: 37) expresses one aspect of this basic religious virtue; the verse: “Those who believe and do good deeds” (Yunus: 9) points to the other. Strict observance of obligatory religious duties and refraining from major sins are the two necessary and complementary foundations of Taqwa (piety). As for minor sins, termed by the Qur’an as Lamam (small offenses), there are many Prophetic declarations, such as: “A believer cannot be truly pious unless he refrains from certain permissible things lest he should commit risky things, that warn people to be careful.”
Perfect sincerity or purity of intention can be attained by avoiding all signs of associating partners with Allah, while perfect piety can be achieved by refraining from all doubtful and risky deeds. According to the Hadith: “The lawful is evident and the forbidden is also evident. Between these two are things which most of the people do not know whether they are lawful or forbidden.” A truly righteous, spiritual life depends on being sensitive to matters about which there is some doubt. The Hadith just mentioned points out that the Law-Giver has clearly explained in broad terms what is allowed and what is forbidden.
However, as many things are not clearly allowed or forbidden, only those who avoid such doubtful things can lead a truly religious life. Using a simile in the continuation of the Hadith, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “It is possible for one who does doubtful things to commit forbidden acts, just as it is possible for the flock of a shepherd pasturing near a field belonging to another or the public to enter that field. Know that each king has a private area under his protection; the private area of Allah is forbidden things. Also know that there is a part of flesh in the body. If it is healthy, the body will become healthy; if it is ailing, the body will be ailing. That part is the heart.” (Reported by An-Nawawi)
In light of this basic foundation for a healthy spiritual life, perfect piety can be obtained by avoiding doubtful things and minor sins. In order to do this, however, one must know what is lawful and what is forbidden, and have a certain knowledge of Allah. We can find the combination of piety and knowledge in these two verses: “The noblest, most honorable of you in the sight of Allah is the most advanced of you in Taqwa (piety)” (Al-Hujurat: 13), and: “Only the learned among His servants fear and revere Allah.” (Fatir: 28). Piety brings honor and nobility, and knowledge leads one to fear and revere Allah. Individuals who combine piety and knowledge in their hearts are mentioned in the Qur’an as those who succeed in the test of piety: “They are those whose hearts Allah has tested for piety.” (Al-Hujurat: 3).
In the context of worship and obedience, piety means purity of heart, spiritual profundity, and sincerity. In the context of refraining from what is unlawful, piety means being determined not to commit sins and to avoid doubtful things. The following may help in this regard:
1-Be alert to whatever may divert you from Allah.
2-Be alert to the carnal pleasures that may lead to the realm of the forbidden.
3-Ascribe all material and spiritual accomplishments to Allah.
4-Never consider yourself as higher and better than anyone else.
5-Long for Allah’s pleasure and satisfaction in all affairs.
6-Renew the fountains of your Iman by studying and reflecting on Allah’s creation.
7-Remember death, and live with the conscious knowledge that it may happen at any time.
In conclusion, Taqwa (piety) is the heavenly water of life, and a Muttaqi (pious) is the fortunate one who has found it. Only a few individuals have achieved the blessing of this attainment.”
All articles published not necessarily the official points of view held by islamonline