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Sawāb or Thawāb (Arabic: ثواب) is an Arabic term meaning "reward". Specifically, in the context of an Islamic worldview, sawab refers to spiritual merit or reward that accrues from the performance of good deeds and piety.
The word sawab is in use in a large geography where people believe in Islam, although the spelling and pronunciation of the word would slightly change. In Kazakh society, for instance, it may be pronounced as "sauap", in Iran as "savab", in Arab areas as "thawab" and in India and Pakistan as "savab" or "sawab". In Turkish the word transforms to sevap.
Activities for earning sawab
Usually any and all good acts are considered to contribute towards earning sawab, but for a Muslim there are certain acts that are more rewarding than others. The primary contributing factor on the extent of the reward is based on one's intention in one's heart - the silent, unspoken one that God is aware of and not the expressed, articulated one. These may be one and the same, but the articulation is not required prior to performing the deed.
The meritorious acts in Islam can be divided into categories - the spiritual good and the moral good. There cannot be moral good without the spiritual good. Or at least the moral good will not have a high bearing if not accompanied by the spiritual good.
Spiritual good includes the acts of worship including Prayer (obligatory and supererogatory), remembrance of God in the aftermath of the prayer or at any other time, acts of prescribed charity (zakat), reading of the Quran, among others.
The moral good comes from treating parents with love and affection, and not with disdain; visiting sick people, keeping ties of kinship, spending money wisely in charitable causes, giving family their due rights, etc.
The relative merits of each act lies with God alone, and is dependent on such factors as the extent of the level of sacrifice, the difficulty endured (or that one would endure from doing the good), intention for benefits in the hereafter, etc.
- Shan Muhammad. The Indian Muslims: The Tripoli and Balkan wars. Meenakshi Prakashan, 1980. "... The consideration which the giver of the Sadka receives is the Sawab or religious merit. God promises Sawab in future and the Quran lays down that the promise of God is sure to be realized ..."
- Bruce G. Privratsky. Muslim Turkistan: Kazak religion and collective memory. Psychology Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-7007-1297-7. "... the Quran will "touch" them (tiye bersin), and the family will be blessed because of the merit (sauap; Ar. savab) ..."
- Michael M. J. Fischer, Mehdi Abedi. Debating Muslims: cultural dialogues in postmodernity and tradition. Univ of Wisconsin Press, 1990. ISBN 978-0-299-12434-2. "... dictation exercises plague Iranian schoolchildren, for instance, when teachers dictate kar-e savab savab darad ("there is merit in good deeds"), and expect the children to know that the first savab is spelled sawab ("good, right"), while the other is thawab ("merit, divine reward") ..."
- Catalunya Trade, 2011. "iSawab Islamic App". "... The app's main basis is the Quranic injunction to enjoin good and forbid evil (3:110). While this app encourages and reminds users to do good (earn Sawab), hopefully this will also serves to forbid evil and ignorant acts...."
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