Considering the Meaning of Piety in Islam
By KH A. Mustofa Bisri
We have recently heard some Muslims questioning categorically about piety. As though in Islam there are to types of piety: “ritual piety” and “social piety”.
Respecting the “ritual piety”, they tend to point toward such attitudes of those who emphasize obliged religious services, that related solely to God to attain self interest. Those who regularly perform such prayers, fast, and so forth; and do not care of social surroundings. In other word, they just emphasize relationship with Allah (Hablum minallah).
While, what they mean about “social piety” is that the attitudes of those whose really care of Islamic values in social sense. Those who like thinking and sympathizing with others; those who like helping, and so on, though these people are not as good as the first in performing religious services such as prayers, and so on. Those who emphasize relationship with human beings (hablum minan naas).
That perhaps originated from the phenomena of Muslims religious life. For instance, we all of the time find those who diligently perform five daily prayers, and even make the pilgrimage to Mecca again and again, but they look really foolish toward public interest, unmoved as they see others weakly oppressed. As though Islam just teaches men and women to perform what regarded as the right of Allah alone. Otherwise, we have also often seen Muslims whose concerns with human problems and who pay more attention to fellow human’s rights but they likely ignore “their own obligatory rituals”.
Whereas, all men and women know about the relationship with Allah and relationship with human beings. All have read a verse “Udkhuluu fis silmi kaffah!” they have known that there is such total piety within Islam. It is questionable if They have not known that Islamic piety consists of both pieties, ritual piety and social piety.
And especially for those who pay attention on how prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) performing fast and giving guidance how should people perform fast well, certainly they will have no doubts of the tenet showing these two aspects all at once. In other word, takwa that is the aim of Muslims’ fast, means total piety, consisting of ritual piety and social piety. One’s focus on one of them, may not ignore the others.
* KH Mustofa “Gus Mus” Bisri is Leader of Islamic Boarding “Pesantren” School Roudlatut Thalibin and one of Advisory Councils of the Central Board of Nahdlatul Ulama (PBNU)