Libas of Taqwah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وعلى آله وصحبه

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Allaah سبحانه و تعالى Said in Al-Qur’an:

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ قَدْ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَارِي سَوْآتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا ۖ وَلِبَاسُ التَّقْوَىٰ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ

“O Children of Adam! We have bestowed garment upon you to cover yourselves and as an adornment; and the garment of Taqwah is better…” [Al-A’raaf, 26]

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1. In this Ayah, Allaah is reminding mankind of the blessings He has bestowed upon them through the provision of clothing. Clothing has two main purposes: i) To cover oneself with and; ii) As an adornment – and Allaah has made the garment of Taqwah to be better in purpose than them. This is because one can use anything to cloth himself with and fashion himself (for adornment), while it is Taqwah alone that not only reflect one’s piety and righteousness inwardly, but it is also made apparent on the outside; this inc. following the dress-code as defined by the Sunnah.

2. Al-Baghawi said about this Ayah:

قرأ أهل المدينة وابن عامر والكسائي ” ولباس ” بنصب السين عطفا على قوله ( لباسا ) وقرأ الآخرون بالرفع على الابتداء وخبره ( خير ) وجعلوا ( ذلك ) صلة في الكلام ، ولذلك قرأ ابن مسعود وأبي بن كعب ( ولباس التقوى خير )

He then mentioned the different opinion as to what “garment of taqwah” meant and brought forth the statements of some of the leading mufasiroon from the Salaf:

– Qatadah and Suddi (and ibn Jurayj) said that it meant (having) Imaan.
– Hasan al-Basri said that it meant hayya (modesty) as it was a matter (related to) taqwah.
– Atiyyah narrated from Ibn Abbas who said that it meant righteous deeds.
– Urwah ibn az-Zubayr said that it meant having khashiyyah (fear and consciousness) of Allaah
– Al-Kalbi said that it meant al-Afaf (chastity); and the wearing of a garment that does not reveal the shape of one’s body.
– Abd Al-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said that it meant having fear of Allaah and awareness of his own faults.

It is also said that it is the coarse wool and clothes worn by the people of taqwah. Ash-Shawkani added that the this garment is the “garment of wara’ that prevents one from transgressing against Allaah”. Others said that this “garment of taqwah” is simply Islam…

Indeed it can be understood that the “garment of taqwah” is all of the above and combines both, the physical aspect of clothing (that is worn in accordance to the Sunnah) and the spiritual aspect of clothing in perfecting one’s Imaan, hayya, khashiyah and maintaining one’s chastity, performing righteous deeds and keeping firm upon Islam.

3. Imam Tabari brought the following hadeeth in his Tafseer, on the authority of Hasan al-Basri who heard Uthman bin Affan رضي الله عنه narrate that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

والذي نفس محمد بيده ، ما عمل أحد قط سرا إلا ألبسه الله رداء علانية ، إن خيرا فخير وإن شرا فشر

“By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, no deed is done secretly except Allaah will robe (dress) him publicly (on the Day of Judgement). The good (robe) for the good deed and the evil (robe) for the evil deed.” [Tabarani, Mu’jam al-Kabeer and Bukhari, ‘Adab al-Mufrad’ and others – graded as marfu’ by Ibn Rajab in ‘Jaami al-Uloom’, 1/410 and as ‘nadhara’ by Ahmad Shakir. According to Tabarani, the sanad is supported]

Thus this symbolic act of Allaah robing His servants in the Hereafter, is connected to the deeds one performs.

4. Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

إن الله لا ينظر إلى أجسادكم ولا إلى صوركم . ولكن ينظر إلى قلوبكم

“Verily Allaah does not look to your bodies nor to your faces but He looks to your hearts,” and he pointed towards the heart with his fingers. [Saheeh Muslim, 2564]

And in another lengthy hadeeth, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم pointed to his chest thrice and said: “…Taqwah is here.” [Saheeh Muslim, 2565]

Imam An-Nawawi commented on this and said:

معنى الرواية الأولى أن الأعمال الظاهرة لا يحصل بها التقوى ، وإنما تحصل بما يقع في القلب من عظمة الله تعالى وخشيته ومراقبته . ومعنى نظر الله هنا مجازاته ومحاسبته أي إنما يكون ذلك على ما في القلب دون الصور الظاهرة . ونظر الله رؤيته محيط بكل شيء . ومقصود الحديث أن الاعتبار في هذا كله بالقلب ، وهو من نحو قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ألا إن في الجسد مضغة الحديث

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4. It is the ikhlas of a person that manifest itself through one’s deeds. Some people wrongly assume that the hadeeth (about Allaah not looking at “your bodies and faces”) means that one is at liberty to wear whatever one likes and do whatever pleases him as long as his intentions are sound. Some practise isbal and appeal to such narrations to show that Allaah does not look at your clothing or your bodies, but what is inside your heart. While these people conveniently forget that intentions can not be sincere while one flouts or opposes the Sunnah of the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم in all that they do, whether it be in dress-code or other than that!

5. Similarly, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى said about Al-Birr:

لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ

“It is not Birr that you turn your faces towards east and west (in prayers); but Birr is the one who believes in Allaah and the Last Day…” [Al-Baqarah, 177]

Similarly, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى said about the sacrifices:

لَن يَنَالَ اللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَاؤُهَا وَلَـٰكِن يَنَالُهُ التَّقْوَىٰ مِنكُمْ

“It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allaah, but it is Taqwah from you that reaches Him.” [Al-Hajj, 37]

Ibn Katheer reported in his Tafseer that Abul-‘Aliyah said: “The Jews used to face the west for their Qiblah, while the Christians used to face the east for their Qiblah. So Allah said: “It is not Birr that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers)” – meaning, “this is Iman and its essence requires implementation.”

Similar was reported from Al-Hasan and Ar-Rabi’ bin Anas. Ath-Thawri recited: “but Birr is the one who believes in Allah”, and said that what follows are the types of Birr. He has said the truth. Certainly, those who acquire the qualities mentioned in the Ayah will have indeed embraced all aspects of Islam and implemented all types of righteousness…”

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6. It is of importance to note that straight after the Ayah of “the garment of Taqwah being better” in Al-A’raaf, 26, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى Said:

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ لَا يَفْتِنَنَّكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ كَمَا أَخْرَجَ أَبَوَيْكُم مِّنَ الْجَنَّةِ يَنزِعُ عَنْهُمَا لِبَاسَهُمَا لِيُرِيَهُمَا سَوْآتِهِمَا ۗ إِنَّهُ يَرَاكُمْ هُوَ وَقَبِيلُهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا تَرَوْنَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا الشَّيَاطِينَ أَوْلِيَاءَ لِلَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ

“O Children of Adam! Let not Shaytan deceive you, as he got your parents [Adam and Hawwa’] out of Paradise, stripping them of their garments, to show them their private parts. Verily, he (Shaytan) and qabeeluhu (his tribal soldiers) see you from where you cannot see them. Verily, We made the Shayateen Auliya’ (protectors and helpers) for those who believe not.” [Al-A’raaf, 27]

This Ayah imparts huge amount of guidance, if only we ponder. Allaah linked the “libas of taqwah” in the previous Ayah, to the stripping of the libas of Adam and Hawwa’ when they disobeyed their Rabb and fell victim to the whisperings of Shaytan (see TaHa, 121) – Showing that it is taqwah alone that protects one from the plots of Shaytan; for it continually reflects the true nature of one’s heart and sincere intentions, which then make themselves manifest upon the limbs of a Muslim.

7. Shaytan and his tribal soldiers see us from where we cannot see them. This is from the respite [see Al-A’raaf, 15] Allaah granted him until the Day of Resurrection, after which Iblees said:

ثُمَّ لَآتِيَنَّهُم مِّن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَن شَمَائِلِهِمْ ۖ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ

“Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You).” [Al-A’raaf, 17]

Ash-Shukr is again from the characteristics of the believers and it is not attained except with taqwah that is inherent within ourselves, and which reflects outwardly on our tongues as well as the actions of the limbs. Hence the essence of all these Ayaat are linked by the call to preserve ourselves from sin and transgression by building our defences against Shaytan – the greatest of these defences is having taqwah to Allaah.

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May Allaah increase our taqwah and make us amongst the shakiroon.

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