“This is the Book (The Quran), whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious believers of Islamic Monotheism who fear Allah much and love Allah much).” (Al-Baqarah 2:2)
The above-stated verse clarifies that guidance is given to those who fear Allah (swt) and have Taqwa. What is Taqwa? It stems from the root word ‘Waqa’ meaning ‘to protect’.
Fear of Allah (swt) is only one element of Taqwa, which also means ‘to build a barrier between oneself and whatever angers or displeases Him’.
We have a remarkable example of Taqwa in the annals of history, and the way it brought a very noble person to Islam. Our beloved Prophet (sa), while braving the hardships of opposition and persecution by the Makkans, earnestly invoked Allah (swt) to strengthen Islam by guiding either Amr ibn Hisham (Abu Jahl) or Umar ibn Al-Khattab (rtam).
Allah (swt) answered his Dua, and granted Islam to Umar (rtam). Why? In spite of being an apparent archenemy of Muslims, he was not completely evil, and Allah knew the beauty of his heart. Subsequently, when he heard his sister recite the Ayah of Surah Taha, Umar’s (rtam) heart melted, and he entered the fold of Islam.
The word ‘Taqwa’ has been mentioned 250 times in the Quran. It is the essence of Islam. How can it be attained? Allah (swt) created Ramadan to train and discipline us for the rest of the eleven months. It is an opportunity for the believer to exit this month with rewards, to gain Taqwa, and, finally, to enter Jannah.
For starters, never look down upon those, who, in our perception, are sinners. Before such conceited thoughts of labelling others carry us away, we must remind ourselves of where we ourselves were before coming to Islam. Allah (swt) mentions: “…you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it…” (Ale Imran 3:103). Allah (swt) brings us closer to the weak believers or disbelievers, so that we may become a source of inspiration for them. But that requires Taqwa on our part. The Quran can otherwise be a source of misguidance for the non-Muttaqi. Allah say in the Quran: “…So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation (from the truth) they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking Al-Fitnah (polytheism and trials, etc.), and seeking for its hidden meanings…” (Ale Imran 3:7)
“A place in Paradise as small as the bow or lash of one of you is better than the entire world and whatever is in it.” (Bukhari) Allah (swt) encourages the believers to race each other to Jannah by performing virtuous deeds. (Al Maidah 5:48) But it needs to be planned. Every one of us can find something to relate to in the given list. Following are just a few of the glad tidings of a home in Jannah:
- Build a Masjid for Allah’s (swt) sake.
If a Muslim invests his wealth in building a place of worship or house of Allah (swt) in this world, his generosity will be amply rewarded. Allah (swt) is Al-Kareem. He will return to us much more in the hereafter in the form of a house in Paradise. (Bukhari and Muslim)
- Be patient upon a child’s death.
When Allah (swt) strikes us with calamities, such as the demise of a child, and we utter ‘Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajioon’ (We are for Allah and to Him we will return) and cry without wailing, Allah (swt) asks the angel: “Have you taken the soul of my servant’s child?” The angel replies: “Yes.” And upon our patience in grief, He instructs the angel to build a house of praise, “Bait ul Hamd”, in Paradise as a reward. (Tirmidhi)
- Offer Sunnah Mukadah.
Just imagine, every day we can build a house in Paradise simply by praying the 12 Rakahs of Sunnah Mukadah. It consists of 2 Sunnahs before Fajr, 2+2 Sunnahs before and 2 after Zuhr, 2 after Maghrib, and 2 after Isha. (Tirmidhi) A believer can end up being one of the richest property owners in Jannah with multitudes of homes, Insha’Allah.
- Enter the marketplace reciting the Masnoon Dua.
Malls, markets, and shopping arenas can be critical Iman-testers. At such a place and moment, if a believer remembers to seek Allah’s (swt) protection by glorifying Him, it will serve as an opportunity for him to build a home for himself in Paradise. Following is the prayer: “There is no God but Allah. He is one by Himself. There is no partner in Him. For Him is the kingdom, and for Him is the Praise. He gives life and He brings death, and He is Alive never to die. In His hands lies all good and He is Powerful over everything.” (Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)
- Surrender in an argument.
While discussing matters of Deen, there were disagreements among the companions, but they handled them gracefully. Nobody showed off their knowledge; rather, they humbled themselves. There was no abuse or accusations. Allah’s Messenger (sa) guarantees a house in the lower part of Jannah for the one who surrenders in an argument, despite being right. (Abu Dawood)
- Protect your private parts.
Though Islam endorses a segregated society to protect people from falling into Fitnah, there are circumstances when men and women may interact with each other for business provided they show proper Islamic decorum. Once, Umar (rtam) was stopped by a woman who wanted to ask him a question. He was once even led by a woman to her house so that Umar (rtam) could meet her husband. Nevertheless, anything enticing that can lead people to Zina is completely impermissible. Lowering the gaze and controlling shameful thoughts can protect us. And the Prophet (sa) guarantees that a believer can attain Jannah by protecting his private parts. (Bukhari)
- Recite Surah Al-Ikhlas.
“Say O Muhammad: He is Allah, (the) One. Allah-us-Samad (Allah – the Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, He neither eats nor drinks). He begets not, nor was He begotten. And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him.” (Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4) Recitation of the above Surah ten times daily can firmly ground Tawheed, and instill the concept of Taqwa in us. Consequently, it can build a dwelling in Heaven for us, Insha’Allah.
- Obey your husband.
The Prophet (sa) said: “Any woman who dies while her husband is pleased with her will enter Jannah.” (Tirmidhi)
Eventually, it is not our business to decide who gets to proceed to Jannah. Only Allah (swt) can be a judge of that. There are no shortcuts to Paradise. However, Allah (swt) encourages His faithful servants, and motivates them by offering incentives and rewards. Steadfastness on Islam is essential. Do not forget that Jannah is prepared only for the Muttaqeen.
Allah (swt) says: “Truly, the Muttaqun (the pious and righteous persons) will be amidst Gardens and water springs (Jannah). (It will be said to them): ‘Enter therein (Jannah), in peace and security.’ And We shall remove from their breasts any deep feeling of bitterness (that they may have). (So they will be like) brothers facing each other on thrones. No sense of fatigue shall touch them, nor shall they (ever) be asked to leave it.” (Al-Hijr 15:45-48)