How can man achieve success and how can man achieve salvation in this world and the hereafter?

Is it through our deeds that we’ll achieve success? This can never be. The Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam has told us that none can be relieved from the fire of Hell through his deeds. When the Sahaba Radhi Allahu Anhum heard this they were astonished at such news and questioned the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam that not even you O beloved Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam except for the fact that Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala has enveloped me in His mercy.

This incident and Hadeeth clearly tells us that our actions are not the source of our salvation, but it is the mercy of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala that will save us from the Hell-fire and enter us into His paradise. The reason being for this is also mentioned in another Hadeeth on the authority of Ummul Mu’mineen, Hadhrat A’isha Radhi Allahu Anha that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said:

He who is questioned (on the day of resurrection) will be destroyed.

This is simple to understand knowing the fact that we a prone to sinning, every step of our life we commit a sin which makes us forget the creator of all.

The point being made here is that although one has asked forgiveness from Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala from his sins, although one has made intention not to commit sin again, despite having a firm intention to do good deeds, the intention of one should not be that I will commit good deeds through which I will enter Jannah. It is simple to understand that paradise cannot be bought by ones deeds yet it can be achieved through the mercy of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.

For this very reason, to attain the gardens of bliss we have to ensure the happiness of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, we have to yearn for His friendship so that His mercy is showered upon us, not only in the hereafter but also throughout each day of our life.

Allah States in the Holy Qur’an:

His (Allah’s) friends are only those who attain piety (Taqwa).

From this one small verse, Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala has clearly told us that the crown of His friendship is given to only those who acquire the great quality of Piety.

Now we may ask ourselves, what is the meaning of Taqwa? The word Taqwa has a very broad meaning. There have been many explanations of the meaning of Taqwa from the Sahaba Radhi Allahu Anhum to the Awliya (pious friends of Allah).

Abu Huraira Rahimahullah was once asked in regards to the meaning of Taqwa, in reply Abu Huraira Rahimahullah asked him as to whether he had trodden a thorn-infested path and the manner in which he walked upon it. The man said he had and replied, ‘when I saw a thorn I took evasive action, lest I be pricked by it.’ Abu Huraira Rahimahullah answered him by saying, ‘this is exactly what Taqwa means (to take evasive action on seeing sin)’.

Hamman ibn Shuraih Rahimahullah, a companion of Hadhrat Ali Radhi Allahu Anhu, once asked him to narrate the qualities of the people of Taqwa so that he would be able to recognise them. Hadhrat Ali Radhi Allahu Anhu said:

“When Allah created His creation, He did so while He was completely independent of their obedience towards Him and of their disobedience towards Him. No disobedience can hurt Him and no obedience can benefit Him. Then He distributed amongst them (the creation) their means of sustenance and placed them on earth. The people of Taqwa on earth are those of virtue: their speech is correct (true); their garments are of moderate nature and their walk is one of humility.

They lower their gazes when they see something that Allah has forbidden them to see and they give an ear to beneficial knowledge. They maintain their integrity in both adversity and prosperity.

Had it not been for the appointed time that Allah has written for them (death), their souls would not remain an extra second in their bodies out of yearning for reward and fear of punishment. The Creator ranks Supreme in their eyes, so everything else becomes immaterial to them. They are with Paradise as if they had already witnessed it and enjoyed its presence. They are with Hell as if they have already seen it and tasted its torment. Their hearts grieve and their evil (if any) is non-contagious. Their bodies are lean, their needs are few and their souls are chaste.

They observe patience for a few days and experience everlasting comfort. This is a profitable exchange that their Lord has made pleasant for them. The world tempts them, but they do not succumb. It imprisons them, but they ransomed themselves in exchange.

During the nights they stand in rows and read portions of the Qur’an. They recite with proper recitation which grieves their hearts and drink it (the Qur’an) like medicine. If a verse of yearning comes along, they reach for it and believe it is their destination. If an intimidating verse comes along, they pour their hearts towards it and believe that Hell and its screams are in their ears. They sleep on their foreheads and elbows (i.e. they engage in prayers so much that it is as if they sleep in those postures) and implore Allah to deliver them.

In the day, they are tolerant and learned, kind and God-fearing. Fear has chipped away at their bodies as if they were arrows. Anyone looking at them would think that they were sick. But they are not sick. Some will say that they are confused. A great fear has made them look like that. They are never content to do only a few actions (during the day), nor do they ask for a great deal. They condemn themselves and are apprehensive about their deeds. If one of them is called “pious”, he fears what will be said of him and says:

‘I know myself better than you do. My Lord knows me better than I do. O Allah! Do not take me to task for what they are saying about me and (O Lord) make me better than they think. Forgive my sins which they do not know about.’

Their signs are that they are strong in Islam, resolute in their softness; firm in their belief. They crave for knowledge and are knowledgeable with tolerance; moderate in richness; pleasant in hunger; forbearing in distress; seeking Halal; active in (pursuing) guidance and they abhor greed.

They perform good deeds in fear (of rejection). They spend the evening in gratitude and the morning in remembrance. They sleep in alarm and they awake in joy. If their carnal selves make it difficult for them to fulfill that which they dislike they deprive them (their selves) of that which they like. The apple of their eyes is in what does not perish and their abstemiousness is in what disappears. They combine knowledge with tolerance and speech with action.

You will find their hopes are realistic their mistakes few; their hearts humble their selves content; their diet meagre, their matters simple; their Deen safe-guarded, their desires killed and their anger subdued. Goodness is expected from them and evil is shielded against them. If they are among those who are oblivious, they are counted amongst those who remember (Allah). If they are among those who remember, they are not written among the oblivious. They pardon those who wrong them; they provide for those who deprive them and meet those who severe ties with them. They are never profane and always lenient. Their wrong doings are almost non-existent and their good deeds are always present. They are resolute when the earth quakes, steadfast in calamities and grateful in prosperity.

They are not prejudiced against those they dislike nor do they favour those they love. They acknowledge the truth before it appears and do not lose anything they are entrusted with. They do not call anyone names nor do they hurt their neighbours. They do not curse at the time of difficulties nor do they venture into falsehood.

Silence does not bother them and if they laugh they do not raise their voices. If they are treated with injustice they remain patient until Allah vindicates them.

Their own selves live in toil while others are comfortable around them.

Their abstinence from those who stay away from them is their exoneration (from malice). Their proximity to those who are close to them is a means of mercy (for those who are close to them). Their remaining aloof is not out of pride and arrogance and their being close is neither a ploy nor a scheme.”

The description of Hadrat Ali Radhi Allahu Anhu may be lengthy and seem to be impossible to accomplish. However, it is vital to understand, that whatever we achieve is not through our own cleverness or hard work, yet through the Will of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala. Therefore, we should ask Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala to make us reach the rank of Taqwa and to make us from amongst His Awliya (friends).

May Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala give us all the ability to implement the steps that take us to the status of the Muttaqeen (God-fearing) and may He also forgive all of our shortcomings and rank us amongst those that are classed as His friends. Ameen.

Insha-Allah next week a few steps will be mentioned in attaining Taqwa.