Allah (SWT) says in Surah Al-Imran #133
Race and compete for forgiveness from Allah, (SWT) and for a Paradise which is as wide as Heavens and Earth and is prepared for the pious believers.
Next Allah (SWT) describes the signs of these pious believers. Al-Imran #134
Those who spend in Allah’s cause (of that which Allah (SWT) has given them) in ease and adversity, those who repress their wrath and are forgiving towards mankind. Allah (SWT) loves the good doers.
Let us first try to understand what is piety. Piety has three levels. When a person saves himself from disbelief and from making partners with Allah (SWT), he is called a pious person. In this sense all believers are pious people even if they commit some sins. If a person saves himself from all that what Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (SAS) do not like, he has a higher level of piety. Finally if a person seeks love of Allah (SWT) at all times he has a still higher level of piety. Allah (SWT) describes in the Quran Al-Imran # 102
O you who believe fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except as muslim. Note here taqwa does not exactly mean fear but rather to be conscious of the obedience of Allah (SWT) in every walk of life.
Allah (SWT) has described various characteristics of these truly pious people. They spend in ease and adversity. In other words if they have one thousand dollars they spend at least one dollar and if they have one thousand cents they spend at least one cent. Spending in the way of Allah (SWT) is a way of life with them. Allah (SWT) may remove their adversity by this good act. Furthermore, a person who loves to help others will not usurp or swallow others’ wealth; rather he prefers to do good to others. Aishia (RUA) once gave one grape for charity since she did not have anything else. Some good people gave one onion in charity. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) said:
Save yourself from hell fire even by giving one piece of date for charity. Don’t let a beggar go empty handed. Give him the feet of goat if nothing else is at hand.
It is described in “Tafseer Kabeer” of Imam Razi that once Prophet Mohammad (SAS) appealed to the people for charity. Some brought gold and silver. One person brought skin of dates and said, “I do not have anything else.” Another person said to Prophet Mohammad (SAS), “I have nothing to give for charity. I give charity of my dignity. That is even if somebody mistreats me or rebukes me, I shall not get angry.” Hence we learn that even the poor people used to spend whatever they had to help others at the time of Prophet Mohammad (SAS).
In this verse spending is not specified. Spending does not mean to spend wealth only but also time and talent as well. There is a great wisdom in describing that the pious believers spend in ease and adversity. Most of the people forget Allah (SWT) when they are in much ease. They also forget Allah (SWT) because they are very worried about their adversity. An Urdu poet said:صاحب فهم وذكا
The poet says to himself, “Do not consider a person to be an intellectual who forgets Allah (SWT) when he is prosperous and he does not fear Allah (SWT) when he is angry.”
Allah (SWT) says that the second indicator of these pious believers is that they control their wrath. Thirdly they not only control their wrath but also forgive people whole heartedly. Last but not least they are good to, their fellow-beings. Imam Baihaqi (RU) reported an event in his explanation of this verse. He said, “One time Ali bin Hussain (RU) was making ablution and a servant was pouring water on his hands with a container. The container of water slipped from the hands of the servant and fell on Ali. The servant observed some unhappiness on the face of Ali. The servant was very smart. He recited the above verse bit by bit. When he recited the part about pious people controling their wrath, Ali (RU) swallowed His anger. When he recited that they forgive others Ali (RU) said, “I forgive you.” When he recited that Allah (SWT) loves those who are kind to defaulters Ali freed the slave.
Forgiving others will have a great reward on the Day of Judgment. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) said, “Allah (SWT) will announce on the Day of Judgment, that those having any rights over Allah (SWT) should rise or stand up now. At that time those people who forgave the cruel people who tortured them will rise.” Prophet Mohammad (SAS) also said,
Those who wish to have a lofty palace in paradise and high levels of paradise should do the following:
-Forgive those who torture them.
-Give gifts to those who never give anything to them.
-Not avoid meeting those who intentionally cut off relations with them.
It may not be out of place to remind you that the Muslims should exchange gifts as often as they like. It should be a matter of habit with them, and they should not limit themselves to special occasions like disbelievers do with Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Allah (SWT) guides us beautifully regarding how to behave with our worst enemies. Surah Fussilat # 34
The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. If you return bad behavior with goodness, then those who are your bitter enemies will become your bosom friends and buddies.
Once a person misbehaved and rebuked Imam Abu Hanifa. Imam Abu Hanifa did not say anything to him. He went home and gathered some presents and visited this person. Imam Abu Hanifa gave him these presents and thanked him for behaving like this and said: “You have done me a great favor by transferring your good deeds to my account by misbehaving with me like this.”
Further more Allah (SWT) says in Al-Imran # 135,136
Allah (SWT) is giving additional characteristics of the pious believers.
When they (the believers) happen to do an evil or wrong deed, they remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins-and none can forgive sins but Allah-And do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know.
For such, the reward is Forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing under neath, where in they shall abide forever .How excellent is this reward for these doers.
Note that Forgiveness of Allah (SWT) precedes the entry into paradise in this verse. It clearly indicates that entry into Paradise is only through the forgiveness and mercy of Allah (SWT) and not dependent on our deeds. It is also interesting to note that Allah (SWT) says that the value of Paradise is worth more than the Earth and all of the Heavens combined. Alternately, another meaning of this verse is given. The width of Paradise is equal to the Heavens and the Earth combined. We wonder if this is the width of Paradise, what will the length be like, since the length is always bigger than the width. Finally, this verse states that this Paradise is already prepared for these pious believers. According to some renowned Muslim scholars Paradise is above the Seventh Heaven and the spirits of martyrs are already benefiting from its fruits.
I pray to Allah (SWT) that He bestows us with these qualities of the pious and practicing believers. Ameen.