Quran, the holy book of Islam, mentions six traits of the righteous in its verse 2:177/178.
“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East or the West.” Just following a creed by itself is not righteousness. Rather, righteousness requires a combination of comprehension of tenets and actions that show one’s sincerity and commitment. A wayfarer needs a route map, understanding of the trail, and means and resources for the journey.
“But truly righteous is he (1) who believes in God and the Last Day and the angels and the Book and the Prophets.” An understanding of how the spiritual world works and how God guides people is necessary for a person to be able to understand what righteousness is, how to attain it, and how to tread the path of righteousness.
“And (2) spends his money for love of Him.” It is necessary to sacrifice one’s hard earned possessions to show one’s sincerity. It is not easy to part with one’s property, but it has to take place to uplift souls in constraint for the sake of God to win the pleasure of their creator.
“On the kindred and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and those who ask for charity, and for ransoming the captives.” The righteous look after the needs of their relatives and the destitute and try to help them. Care for fellow humans is an essential part of the almsgiving of a righteous starting from the blood relations to others that are in need. First priority for spending one’s money is his family. Economically strong families can contribute better to the welfare of the needy.
“And (3) who observes Prayer and (4) pays the Zakat (a structured almsgiving that helps greater and equitable distribution of wealth and discourages hoarding).” Righteous discharges his duties to his creator and his duties to fellow humans. He keeps a balance and is not swayed in one direction so much as to neglect the other. Worship brings man closer to God and brings humility and appreciation of God’s favors. Spending brings man closer to fellow humans and brings a sense of goodwill in a society.
“And (5) those who fulfill their promise when they have made one.” One must give the rights of others and fulfill his responsibility to others. One should be reliable and dependable. The promises made among spouses, employer and the employee, ruler and the subject, between individuals, communities and nations, must be honored and taken care of to be counted among the righteous.
“And (6) the patient in poverty and afflictions and the steadfast in time of war.” A righteous person is steadfast during economic cycles, unexpected disasters, accidents and spread of diseases, local and global conflicts. He faces them bravely and hopes for better life after they have run their course. He is on the alert and is watchful, adopts appropriate precautionary measures and safeguards.
“It is these who have proved truthful and it is these who are the God-fearing.”
Ahmad is a regular contributor to The Forum’s opinion pages. He has translated, compiled and co-authored “A Gift for the Queen,” “Points to Ponder,” “Why Islam is my choice” and “Words of Wisdom.” He lives in Fargo and can be reached at email@example.com