Striving for Excellence in Taqwa & Character

Excellent is the Reward

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One of the many beauties of the Quran is that it keeps giving. Verse 2:138 in Surah Al-Baqarah tells us the wisdom behind prescribing fasting for Muslims and nations before them:

{O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al-muttaqun}. Al-Muttaqun are those who are God conscious.

And later on in Surah Aal-Imran we get introduced to the qualities of al-muttaqun:

{And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the muttaqeen. Who spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good; And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah ? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know. Those – their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens beneath which rivers flow [in Paradise], wherein they will abide eternally; and excellent is the reward of the [righteous] workers.} (Quran 3:133 – 136)

I absolutely love the prelude; ‘a garden as wide as the heavens and earth’. Wouldn’t that make you pay attention and listen? What did these people do to have such a reward prepared for them?

  1. They spend on good causes regardless of their own situation of ease and hardship. I read in one of the commentaries that spending was mentioned first because it is hardest to depart from their wealth. Human general tendency is to withhold out of fear of poverty. So in a way this quality does not only show that those who are God conscious are generous but that their generosity comes from a place of trust in God; trusting that he is the provider and sustainers.
  2. They restrain their anger. This sounds to me like they do get angry as any human being would but choose not to act upon that anger and bear it with patience. That is strength.
  3. They pardon others. It is an interesting choice of words, to pardon, rather than to forgive. Al-muttaqun don’t just forgive, they forgive and forget. They hold themselves to higher ideals because they are hoping in the pleasure of God, The Pardoner (Al-‘Afuww).
  4. They are not angels! They do mistakes and commit sins but are quick to return and seek forgiveness as soon as they are aware of their wrong doing. They are not so proud that they would persist and not admit their wrong doing. Quickly acknowledging ones mistake and seeking forgiveness for it was the manner of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Though most of these characteristics seem outward and visible, they require much internal work and struggle to be expressed: trust in God’s provisions, personal strength to control one’s emotions and disciplining the soul to be humble & forgiving. They require that one is truly conscious of God and what pleases and displeases Him. And the reward is no less than the one who is being sought: {… excellent is the reward of the righteous workers}.

 “O Allah, You are pardoning and You love to pardon, so pardon me

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