The Shariah is the house of the servitors. All the people are gathered there. They keep it flourishing with service and worship. The Haqiqah is the house of the sanctuary. The recognizers are gathered there. They keep it flourishing with veneration and contemplation. The distance from service and worship to veneration and contemplation is the same as that from familiarity to love. Familiarity is the attribute of wage-earners, and love is the attribute of recognizers.
The wage-earner brings all the varieties of piety mentioned in the verse. Then he says, “Oh, if the wind blows against it, or something of it is taken away, I will lose the wage for that.” The recognizer performs all of it according to its stipulations. Then he says, “Oh, if any of it remains, I will be held back from good fortune.”
The wage-earner says, “My prayer, my fasting, my alms-giving, my patience in trials, my loyalty to covenants!”
The recognizer says in the tongue of abasement, “Who am I to wear the cloak of loyalty to You, to have my eyes carry the burden of Your disloyalty, To have the spirit’s scent come from my lips and speak of You, to grow an exalted branch in my heart and suffer Your trial?” [DS 933]
2:177 Piety is not that you turn your faces to the east and the west. Rather, piety is he who has faith in God, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets; who gives wealth despite loving it to kinsfolk, orphans, the indigent, the son of the road, beggars, and slaves; and who performs the prayer and gives the alms tax; those who are loyal to their covenant when they make a covenant; those who are patient in misfortune, hardship, and moments of peril. It is they who have been truthful, and it is they who are the Godward.
When he was dying, Abū ʿAlī Rūdbārī said to his sister, “O Fāṭima, look, the doors of heaven have opened, the Gardens have been adorned! The maid-servants have gathered at the battlements and they are saying, ‘Enjoy yourself, O Abū ʿAlī! All this was built for you!’” The tongue of Abū ʿAlī’s state was answering, “O God, how could I be joyful with paradise and houris? If You give me one breath, from that breath I will build a paradise!” Your rightful due is that I look on no one else with the eye of love until I see You. I will close my eyes and not open them until the day of visiting You, O exalted Friend!
Piety is not that you turn your faces. Piety, in brief, is of two sorts: belief and deeds. Belief is to realize the roots, and deeds are to obtain the branches. Inescapably anyone who truly consolidates the roots and performs the stipulated branches is one of the pious. The station of the pious is the Abode of Settledness.
That is in His words, “Surely the pious are in bliss” [82:13].
What the Lord of the Worlds clarifies in the course of this verse is exactly that belief and those deeds. He says, “he who has faith in God, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets.” Up to this point He clarifies belief and lays down the foundations of the roots, and from here on He begins the mention of the deeds.
These He set down in two sorts: One sort is taking care of people: keeping company with them, caressing the far and the near, and giving comfort to them. Thus He says, “who gives wealth despite loving it to kinsfolk, orphans, the indigent, travelers, beggars, and slaves.” He begins first with relatives, for their rightful due takes precedence over the rightful due of others. This is why the Prophet said, “Charity will not be accepted if a womb relative is in need.” Then come orphans, who are the most helpless of people and have no kin. Then the poor, who have no possessions, neither present nor absent. Then the wayfarers, who have nothing in hand, though they may have wealth elsewhere. Then the beggars, who are the poor, both those who speak truthfully and those who lie. Then slaves, who have masters to take care of them and attend to them. The Lord of the Worlds preserved the order of their need and worthiness. Whenever someone is more helpless, needier, and more fitting for charity, He mentions him earlier, for his rightful due is greater. What a generous Lord, who keeps everyone in his own place and conveys to everyone what is fitting as needed! He says, “I govern My servants through My knowledge; surely of My servants I am aware, seeing [35:31].”
The other sort of deeds is specific to the worshipful servant and does not go beyond him to anyone else, like performing the prayers, having truthfulness and self-purification in the deeds, coming back to loyalty in covenants, and having patience in trials. This is why the Lord of the Worlds says, “who performs the prayer” to His words “and moments of peril.” Then He says, “It is they who have been truthful, and it is they who are the Godwary” They are the ones who, in the half of piety that is belief, are truthful, and, in the half that is deeds, put Godwariness into action.