The word Muttaqeen (2:2) is without doubt the most important word used by Allah to label the people who are the true believers. The most common translation of Muttaqeen as “God fearing” does not give the proper understanding of the term. Similarly other interpretation by other translators i.e. “one who guards himself against evil” or “ one who is careful of his duty” or “one who is God-conscious” does not give more than one particular aspect of the comprehensive meaning of the word. The reason why this word is so important stems from the fact that Allah classifies three kinds of people right from the beginning of Sura Al-Baqara i.e. 1. the Muttaqeen (2:2-5) 2. the Kafireen, the non-believer (2: 6,7) and 3. the Munafiqeen, the hypocrite (2:8-19). Although a short definition of Muttaqeen is given in 2:2-5, the detail definition is given in verse 2:177, the usual translation of which is as follows:
(2:177) It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day and the Angels and the Revelation (Al-Kitab) and the Prophets; and gives his wealth – however much he may cherish it — for the love of Allah, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the poor and the wayfarer and the beggars and for the freeing of human beings from bondage; and is constant in prayer, and pays the poor due (aqamas salata wa’ataz zakata). And those who keep their promises when they make one, and are patient in times of misfortune and hardship and in time of stress. It is they who have proved themselves to be true, and it is they who are the Muttaqeen.
The above verse gives the most comprehensive meaning of the word Muttaqeen. However, for the Arabic phrase “aqamas salata wa’ataz zakata” please see the following explanation:
In the Qur’an the word Salat has a much wider meaning than just congregational prayers. In fact the Qur’an uses the words “aqamas salata wa’ataz zakata” extensively and repeatedly. This use is far more comprehensive as it means the establishment of a social order in which every person has the chance and opportunity to develop his/her ‘self’, according to the Divine Laws. It is important to note that the Qur’an uses the plural tense in “aqamas salata wa’ataz zakata” and talks about the responsibility of those in power to establish this order (22:41). It also says that they will do so by mutual consultation (42:38). The Qur’anic system covers all aspects of life, particularly the economic system. Verse 11:87 is very significant, where the people are asking: “O-Shu’aib, — does your Salat not permit us to even to spend our wealth as we desire?”. They did not understand as to what Salat it is, that gives direction even in economic matters; they thought Salat is just a prayer or some sort of ritual.
Regarding Zakat the Qur’an has neither fixed any percentage, nor specified the items on which Zakat is levied. In order to establish a social order based on Qur’anic guidance it is necessary that the sources of wealth should be at the direction of the State, and all the citizens should keep the surplus of their earnings available to the State, so that the State may use it, as much as it requires, to provide sustenance and nourishment to the needy (2:219). The people in authority will decide the requirements by mutual consultation, as mentioned before (42:38).
Conclusion: In our daily prayers we recite Sura Al-Fatiha repeatedly and at the end we say (1:6) Guide us on the straight path (1:7) The path of those Thou has favoured; not (the path) of those who earn Thy anger, nor of those who go astray.
The straight path is given in the Qur’an and Allah says quite clearly that this Book is our ‘Guidance’ (Hidayat), ‘Mercy’ (Rahmat), ‘Light’ (Noor) and a ‘Criteria’ (Furqaan) to distinguish between right and wrong. Whether we follow it or not is our choice but Allah is indicating at the beginning of Sura 2, by clear definition of the words “The Muttaqeen”, “The Kafireen” and “The Munafiqeen”,– as to which direction we are leading to. Yet we ignore all these guidance and believe, too frequently, that ‘the five pillars’ are enough to follow Islam.
M. A. Malek and Mrs. J.A. S. Malek.
- Exposition of the Holy Qur’an, by Late Ghulam Ahmed Parwez. Published by Tolu-E-Islam Trust, 25 Gulberg, Lahore-11, Pakistan
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