Ramadhan Ruminations Lesson 5: Goodness and Purity, by Syaikh Hamza Yusuf
Insyaallah, we’ve been looking at taqwa, and the idea that the people of taqwa. Another qa’idah or principle in the Qur’an is the idea of tibb or goodness (thoyyib). The opposite of what is thoyyib is called khubts or khobits. So we have at-thoyyibun and al-khobatsat. The thoyyibun are the people of taqwa. These are the people that have trained their soul, disciplined their soul to be good. In a hadits, “Innallaha thoyyibun la yuqbalu illa thoyyiba”, verily Allah is good and only accept the good or the pure.
This is a very important quality in the Qur’an. Allah SWT said, “Say (O Muhammad SAW): “Not equal are Al-Khabith and At-Taiyib, even though the abundance of Al-Khabith (evil) may please you.” So fear Allah much [(abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden) and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)], O men of understanding in order that you may be successful.” (QS Al-Maidah: 100). So they are not equal, the khobits and the thoyyib; the foul and the pure; the polluted to the pure. This is a very important principle in the Qur’an that the thoyyibun lit thoyyibat, pure people, pure men for pure women. Pureness is a quality that can be found in anything. You can have pure water; you can have polluted water. You can have pure money, which is earned through halal means; you can have impure money, which is earned through haram means. Understanding what purity is very important and this is one of the things that Muslims are working on themselves: to get closer to Allah SWT through getting pure.
Allah SWT says, “So that Allah may distinguish the wicked from the good and place the wicked some of them upon others and heap them all together and put them into Hell. It is those who are the losers.” (QS Al-Anfal: 37). Allah will have the khabits some of it on others; so piles up all together and then He puts it into hell. Thus khabits heads into hell and thoyyib heads to paradise. This is something very important to remember: that we want to be thoyyib. Allah SWT says in the previous QS Al-Maidah:100, even if you’re impressed with much of the foulness, fattaquallah, have taqwa of Allah o people of innermost understanding, in order that you successful. This ayat reminds us that khobits is not the same with thoyyib. Taqwa is not the same with its opposite, which is state of disobedience to Allah. Then it says wa law a’jabaka, even if you’re impressed with so much of the khabits. Because when you look out to the world, you’ll see khabits and it seems to be flourishing. Don’t be impressed by it. You see, if you want to be a successful television program today, it has to be foul. You can’t have a pure television program. That’s how you can have success in the dunya, but not in the akhirat. If you look at people now, its foulness is what seems to charm other people. Pure people, thoyyib people now are looked on as what’s wrong with you, get with the program!; why aren’t you drinking? Why are you dressing modestly? Because to dress immodestly is hubb, and to dress modestly is thoibubah, it’s something that reflects a purity. So that’s what the Qur’an is saying. Then the ayat says, fattaqullaha, have taqwa of Allah. This is like the airplane crash that happens several years ago. There was a Syrian family that when they were getting on the plane, they were demanded that the women take off her hijab. She refused and said I did it for God. She wouldn’t do it and then she ended up not getting on the plane with her family. The plane went down. This was a woman who adhering to principle. Allah SWT rewards her with that adherence. It doesn’t mean good people do not die in airplane crashes. They do. It can happen. It’s an example of somebody that adhere to something; and Allah SWT showed her that reality. We’ll find that very often in our life: when we adhere to this principle, Allah SWT will show us, will reveal to us the blessings of adhering to those principles. So we shouldn’t be fooled by this.
Another verse in the Qur’an, Allah SWT reminds us, “Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.” (QS An-Nahl: 97). So whoever does good deed, whether a male or female; whoever acts righteously whether they’re male or female and they have belief. In another word, they’re doing it because they know that Allah SWT is watching them and aware of them. Allah SWT says, we will cause them to live a thoyyib life, a pure life. In another word, when you act according to taqwa, when you act according to this principle, Allah SWT is going to give you a good life. These are axiomatic truth that Allah SWT has promised to His people.
Another thing, in QS An-Nahl: 32, “Those whose lives the angels take while they are in a pious state (i.e. pure from all evil, and worshiping none but Allah Alone) saying (to them): Salamun ‘Alaikum (peace be on you) enter you Paradise, because of (the good) which you used to do (in the world).” So there are people that the angel when they cause them to die, these are the people that are thoyyibin. These are the people that Allah SWT will protect.
Another important aspect of this concept in the Qur’an of thoyyib is food. We often don’t think about this but Allah SWT tells us, “O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.” (QS Al-Baqoroh: 168). Eat of the good things, halalan thoyyiba. Eat halal things and pure things; and do not follow the progress of syaithan. If we want to understand Iblis, Iblis is progressor. Iblis is not a conservative. Iblis is always changing the post, it always moves them a little bit further. Now he’s telling us, for instance, marriage: what’s wrong with intimacy outside of the marriage if it’s two people that love each other and they agree on it? and then move it to the next stage, move it to the next stage. What’s coming next are things like in Germany: incest, making a permitted incest. This is what syaithan does: he takes people progressively. What we are trying to do is to conserve the best of the past. We don’t want to conserve the negative aspect of the past. Racism is something that in many places of the past. It still exists today; it’s not something that we want to conserve. But family, we want to conserve family; yet syaithan wants to destroy family. Marriage will conserve family; while syaithan wants to destroy family. So syathan takes people by progression.
Allah SWT reminds us to eat these pure things: halalan thoyyiba. And this is very important to understand that food can be halal but not thoyyib. For instance, there are a lot of foods now that are actually harmful for you. Much of the chicken-people eat a lot chicken-, if you look at how chickens were raised, you look how they’re fed, look at hormones that given to them. This affects people. Another thing, if you eat good thing, then you’ll do good. If you eat thoyyib, your action will be thoyyib. If you eat khobits, your action will be khobits. So there’s direct relationship between the caloric energy that you derive from foods and how that caloric energy is used in your action. If that caloric energy is derived from halalan thoyyiban sources, pure and permitted sources, then what you will do will be pure or permitted. If it’s derived from khobits and haram sources, in another word prohibited and foul sources, then what’s you’re doing to do is foul. This is axiomatic. It is very important to do this. This is why Allah SWT says to the messenger: “O (you) Messengers! Eat of the Taiyibat and do righteous deeds. Verily! I am Well-Acquainted with what you do.” (QS Al-Mu’minun: 51). Eat from the pure thing and do righteous action. Inni bima ta’maluna ‘alim: I am completely aware of what you’re doing. This is a good example of the direct correlation between what you eat and what you do. In another word, it is axiomatic: if you eat pure, you’ll do pure; if you eat foul, you’ll do foul. So food is extremely important to watch, what you’re eating. Jazakumullahu khoiran.