‘IFFAH – عفة
Literally: Keeping one's self clear of sin. Innocence; especially chastity.
As an Islamic term: Using al-quwwa ash-shahawiyyah (the power of animal appetites) in the bounds of wasat which is in as-sirât al-mustaqîm, that is the way commanded by Allah (‘Azza wa jalla). Desiring what is halal and shunning what is haram.
“One day a number of bright youths came to me, seeking an effective deterrent in order to guard themselves against the dangers arising from life, youth, and the lusts of the nafs. Like I had told those who had previously sought help from the Risale-i Nur, I also said to these youths:
Your youth will definitely leave you, and if you do not remain within the bounds of the licit, it will be lost, and rather than its pleasures, it will bring you calamities and suffering in this world, in the grave, and in the âkhirah. But if through tarbiyyah of Islam, you spend the ni’mah of your youth as shukr in ‘iffah, in uprightness and obedience, it will in effect remain perpetually and will be the cause of gaining eternal youth.” The Words ( 158 )
“الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ: Know that as-sirât al-mustaqîm is justice (‘adl) and is the summary of hikmah, ‘iffah and shajâ'ah which are the wasat in the three degrees of man's three powers (quwwa).
To explain: Allah (‘Azza wa jalla) housed rûh in man's body, which is changing, needy and exposed to dangers. He introduced three powers (quwwa) in it to preserve.
The First: al-quwwa ash-shahawiyyah al-bahîmiyyah, the power of animal appetites to attract benefits.
The Second: al-quwwa al-ghadhabiyyah as-sabui’yyah, the predacious power of anger to repulse harmful and destructive things.
The Third: al-quwwa al-aqliyyah al-malakiyyah, the power of mind pertaining to the malâikah to distinguish between benefit and harm.
However, since His hikmah necessitated that mankind should achieve perfection through the mystery of competition, Allah did not determine limits on these quwwas in fitrah, as He did on those of animals. He determined limits on them through the Sharî’ah that it prohibits ifrât and tafrît and orders the wasat. This is what is clearly ordered by the âyah فَاسْتَقِمْ كَمَٓا اُمِرْتَ 1 Since there is no fıtrî limitation in these three quwwas, three degrees occur in each: the degree of tafrît which is deficiency, the degree of ifrât which is excess and the degree of wasat which is ‘adl.
Tafrît in al-quwwa al-aqliyyah is gabâwah and foolishness, and its ifrât is jarbaza2 and over-meticulousness in trivialities and its wasat is hikmah3 . وَمَنْ يُؤْتَ الْحِكْمَةَ فَقَدْ اُو۫تِىَ خَيْرًا كَث۪يرًۜا 4 Know that just as these quwwas vary in these three degrees, so do each of their branches. For example, in the question of the creation of actions, the wasat is the madhab of ahl al-Sunnah between the Jabriyya and the Mu'tazila, and in the question of belief, the madhab of Tawhîd is the wasat between the denial of the attributes or existence of Allah (ta'til) and anthropomorphism (tashbîh). The examples can be made further on this analogy.
Tafrît in al-quwwa ash-shahawiyyah is extinction (khumud) which is having no longing for anything, while its ifrât is fujûr which is to desire whatever is encountered whether halal or haram. Its wasat is ‘iffah, which is desiring what is halal and shunning what is haram. Compare the branches of this quwwa such as eating, drinking, dressing so on with the root of this principal.
Tafrît in al-quwwa al-ghadhabiyyah is jabânah that is fear of what is not to be feared and having wahm. Its ifrât is tahawwur5 which is the source and father of despotism, domination and dhulm. And its wasat is shajâ'ah which is giving freely of one’s rûh with love and eagerness for the defence of the laws of Islam and the upholding of the Word of Tawhîd. Compare this same principle within each of its branches.
The six extremes are thus dhulm and the three wasat are ‘adl which is as-sirât al-mustaqîm and is to act in accordance with فَاسْتَقِمْ كَمَٓا اُمِرْتَ 6 Whoever passes along this way will cross the bridge suspended over the Fire.” The Sign of Miraculousness-24
1 [Therefore stand firm [in istiqâmah] as you are commanded (11:112)]
3 (To know and distinguish haqq and bâtil, obeying haqq and abstaining from bâtil)
6 [Therefore stand firm [in istiqâmah] as you are commanded (11:112)]