References of Ethics
Qur'an • Nahj al-balagha • Misbah al-shari'a wa miftah al-haqiqa • Makarim al-Akhlaq • Al-Mahajja al-bayda' fi tahdhib al-ahya' • Tanbih al-khawatir wa nuzhat al-nawazir • Jami' al-sa'adat • Mi'raj al-sa'ada • Al-Muraqabat
Waraʿ (Arabic: وَرَع) means piety. It is a spiritual state which protects the soul and keeps it away from slipping. Wara' is a position higher than taqwa where a person avoids doubtful issues and even permissible actions which may lead to sins. Shi'a scholars have considered different levels for wara' including wara' of repenters, wara' of the righteous, wara' of the pious and wara' of spiritual wayfarers. In hadiths, different fruits are mentioned for wara' such as the reinforcement of faith, keeping the person from forbidden issues, assisting the Ahl al-Bayt (a) through wara' and to reach highest levels of certainty.
Wara' has been defined as keeping the self from forbidden issues, avoiding sins, piety and avoiding doubtful issues in fear of engaging in forbidden issues. In hadiths, wara' is considered as avoiding forbidden issues and doubtful issues. Therefore, wara' can be defined as perfect protection of the soul and being fearful about slips, or self-discipline in order to revere the Truth.
Difference between Taqwa and Wara'
Wara' and taqwa are mentioned as synonymous in dictionaries; but, based on the definition of wara' in hadiths and the levels and degrees mentioned for it, taqwa is considered the first level of wara' which is avoiding forbidden issues and performing obligations. In Bayan al-Ma'ani, wara' is introduced a position higher than taqwa to achieve which, one must not only avoid sins, but one must also keep away from doubtful issues and permissible actions which may provide the grounds for sinning.
Levels of Wara'
Some Shi'a scholars have mentioned different levels for wara'. Al-Allama al-Majlisi mentioned four levels for wara' of repenters, wara' of the righteous, wara' of the God-wary and wara' of spiritual wayfarers or the truthful.
- Wara' of repenters: is that relieves one from the burden of sins and makes one's witness accepted.
- Wara' of the righteous: is a level of wara' in which one keeps away from performing doubtful issues so that no context for one's sinning is made.
- Wara' of the God-wary: is a state in which a person avoids performing permissible actions which may lead to forbidden issues; such as when one avoids speaking about people so that one does not commit back-biting.
- Wara' of the wayfarers and the truthful: which is turning away from anything other than God for the fear of spending even a moment on an action which does not lead to closeness to God; while, he knows that it would not lead to committing a forbidden action.
Imam Khomeini too considered some levels for wara'. He mentioned avoiding grave sins as wara' of ordinary people, avoiding doubtful issues in fear of engaging in forbidden issues as wara' of special ones, avoiding permissible issues in order to avoid higher spiritual positions as wara' of spiritual wayfarers, giving up positions in order to reach the presence of God and see the beauty of God as wara' of attracted ones and avoiding attention to the end as wara' of the friends of God.
Fruits of Wara'
In hadiths, different fruits are mentioned for wara' such as protecting religion, reinforcement of faith, companionship of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and assisting them, guarding the person from forbidden issues and sins, achieving the highest type of worship and achieving the greatest degree of certainty.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from ورع in Farsi WikiShia.