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A Demand of True Religiosity

A demand of true, genuine, and profound religiosity is that a person should embrace piety (taqwa) correspondingly to one’s level of faith (Iman)because not doing so can lead to hypocrisy (Nifaq), contradictions, and psychological issues that negatively affect an individual’s personal and collective life. But the question is, what does it mean to embrace ‘taqwa’ correspondingly to one’s level of faith?

The simple, straightforward meaning is that if faith is a pinch, then piety should also be more or less to that extent. It should not be that someone has ten grams of faith and they adopt five kilograms of piety. Taqwa (piety) is something about which Allah has said, “Embrace taqwa,” because it is closer to faith (iman). This shows the importance of piety, and also makes it evident that a person’s Reality Principle is his faith. Therefore, all his words and deeds should conform to this principle and be harmonious with it. This means that if a person’s words and actions are not in harmony with this Principle Reality on any level or in any concept, it will lead to hypocrisy, contradictions, and psychological issues. This is what is meant by adopting taqwa in proportion to faith. But the question is why do problems arise from not adopting piety according to one’s faith?

Faith is a symbol of sincerity and inner capacity, so whatever is in accordance with a person’s faith will be free of effort and free from one’s self-image and will not have any angle of self-interest in the psychological and social sense because It will be in accordance with the inner capacity and morality of the human being. But these things require clarification.

No work in this world happens without effort, but there are many kinds of effort. One kind of effort is the effort for love, which is devoid of desire for reward or praise. Where simply ‘wanting’ is everything. There is no question of getting tired or sitting down exhausted in this effort. There is not even a complaint, let alone grievance, in it. It is structurally spontaneous. In poetic terms, this effort is “aamaad” (coming/inspiration).

In contrast,  another kind of effort is rooted in the desire for reward and praise. Here, ‘wanting’ itself does not exist, and if it does, it is a veil over the desire. It has both grievances and complaints. It is fractured in its structure. In poetic terms, it is largely “aawaard” (with conscious efforts and without inspiration). When the talk is of reward and desire, attention goes towards the result and an obsession with results comes to the fore. The problem with obsession over results is that some people don’t understand its meaning. No one can deny that Allah himself has given the incentive of Paradise, which will be the result of good deeds, but this is an issue of human ranks. For some people, the concept of Paradise is the driving force, but for some, Allah’s pleasure is everything. The words of Rabi’a Basri in this context have been used by Ghalib in one of his verses:

دوزخ میں ڈال دے کوئی لے کر بہشت کو

What I was trying to say was that whatever action or conduct of a person is in accordance with his faith will be devoid of effort in the aforementioned sense. And because it will be devoid of effort, it will not burden the person. And because it will conform to the person’s inner capacity and sincerity, the person will not be concerned with reward or praise. But if the situation is the opposite, then the person will feel tired from his efforts, anxiety will persist, and he will feel resentful towards himself or others.

In these columns, we have pondered over the issue of self-image many times, because it is an extremely important and complex issue. But as important and complex as the issue of self-image is in the context of everyday life, it is even more important and complex in the context of religion and religious life. A person holds wealth and fame, and builds a self-image related to them. But the self-image built on wealth and fame also gets shattered. A person withdraws from it as well, and passes through amending it too. One reason for this is that wealth and fame suddenly prove unsuccessful. The second reason is that an aura of sanctity does not exist over wealth and fame after all. However, the self-image established related to religious actions, conduct and religious life rarely falls victim to defeat and devastation. A person rarely finds the need to rethink it. Its fundamental reason is that a shadow of sanctity exists over it from day one. That is why scholars have said that pride over knowledge and piety is the harshest and worst thing. Satan’s “denial” didn’t just involve his pride in being made of fire, but also included arrogance in his worship and devotion, constituting a significant part of his self-image. Can the conclusion be derived from this situation that Satan’s piety was not according to his faith? The answer to this question is difficult but one thing is certainly clear, if one’s words, actions, or piety are not according to his faith, then a self-image will be created in the person because of it and this self-image will become a problem for the person as well. Those who are affected by the problem of self-image may claim to work solely for Allah’s pleasure, however, it amounts to nothing but self-deception.

A Muslim’s Reality Principle is his faith, but the most dreadful consequence of not adopting piety according to one’s faith turns out to be that a person’s outward conduct and deeds become his Principle of Reality. And then these deeds and conduct themselves become the measure of faith. It seems as if realities are reversed, and it can be speculated what consequences may arise from the reversal of realities.

Although this issue is relevant to every era. However, it can be observed that in our time, there is a deep connection to this issue because the era we live in is an era of outward appearance-centrism, and this outward appearance is becoming effective even in the context of religion, which is an evidence to the fact that a large number of people’s deeds and thoughts are not according to their faith. A major reason for this is image-centrism.

When have humans never remained image-centric, but if image-centrism was once a psychological and social necessity for humans, today apart from being a psychological and social need it has also become a political, economic, national, linguistic, regional, and international need. One can estimate just how complex the issue of self-image has become and to what extent it has strengthened its grip over our lives. Among this clutter of images, there is also the image of religion and religiousness. The regrettable aspect of this image is that in most cases it seems to emanate from psychological, social, and political realities, even though it has many levels and spheres.

It is a common grievance that the number of pilgrims and worshippers keeps increasing, and the number of “Islamic Preachers” also keeps rising, but it seems to have no visible effect on our individual and collective lives. On the contrary, moral and societal corruption is increasing, hypocrisy is multiplying day by day, contradictions of all kinds are becoming common, and sectarianism has reached the extent of murder and pillage. Trends of excess and paucity have assumed an epidemic form. Every person stands pointing fingers at another over some issue or another, and this situation is ominous of the fact that many matters have transformed into profound psychological problems. Why is this happening? Is there no connection between this situation and the issues under discussion?

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