Taqwa to the believer is to know that Allah (swt) is watching over you throughout your life. Whatever you speak, whatever you do is all monitored by Allah (swt). Allah (swt) mentions Taqwa in the Quran nearly two hundred times, because He is emphasizing strongly on the concept of His fear.
TAQWA- True And Quality Worship for Allah (swt)
Taqwa makes our acts of worship meaningful. For instance, alone just the physical act of going between the two mountains of Safa and Marwa, while performing Hajj or Umrah, will gain no importance in the eyes of Allah (swt). Similarly, have we ever pondered what will be the actions of Salat, such as bowing and prostration mean without a heart containing Taqwa? What makes our thirst and hunger different from a disbeliever, during Ramadan? The answer to all these questions is Taqwa.
It’s the Taqwa in our hearts that provides these simple physical rituals a special meaning in the eyes of Allah (swt). It is mentioned, “It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is piety from you that reaches Him. Thus have We made them subject to you that you may magnify Allah for His Guidance to you. And give glad tidings (O Muhammad (sa)) to the Muhsinun (doers of good).” (Al-Hajj 22:37)
Again, as the verse states, “…but it is the Taqwa (piety) from you that reaches Him.” Let us ensure that our acts of worship and our hearts are beautified with feeling of Taqwa.
What is Taqwa?
As per the scholars, the definition of Taqwa is:
Abu Darr said: “From the completion of Taqwa is that the servant fears from His Lord even with regard to things, the weight of an atom.”
Sheikh Muhammad Tantawi says: “The word ‘Muttaqoon’ is the plural of ‘Muttaqi’. ‘Muttaqi’ is the gerund from the verb ‘Ittaqa’ (acquired protection). ‘Ittaqa’ is from the root verb ‘Waqa’ which means he protected himself from that which harms him.”
One of the more complete definitions and explanations was provided by Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah. He states that Taqwa “includes doing everything that Allah has enjoined whether it is Wajib (obligatory) or Mustahab (recommended), and avoiding all that He has forbidden, whether it is Haram (forbidden) or Makrooh (disliked).” (Reference 1)
Abu Darr was once asked, “What is that you love most in this life? He replied, “I love sickness, hunger and death. He was asked the reason and he said, “If I get sick, my sins fall off; And, if I get hungry, my heart becomes closer to Allah (swt), And if I die I meet my Creator”. This is level of Allah’s (swt) fear.
Where do you stand on the graph of Taqwa and guidance of Allah (swt)?
There are three types of people mentioned in the Quran, in the first few verses of Surah Al-Baqarah.
The first group: In the first few verses 2 – 5, Allah (swt) clearly explains that the Quran is guidance for Al – Muttaqoon- the people who have Taqwa in their hearts, and this guidance causes them to be successful. The people described in these verses are those who:
- Believe in the unseen (e.g. Allah (swt), angels, the holy books that Allah (swt) revealed but got changed with time, prophets, day of resurrection, and Al-Qadr)
- Perform Salat.
- Spend for Allah’s (swt) cause from what Allah (swt) has provided to them.
- Believe in what Allah (swt) revealed to Prophet Muhammad (sa).
- Believe in what Allah (swt) revealed to the Prophets before Muhammad (sa).
- Believe in hereafter.
The second group: The second group falls on the other end of the spectrum- as mentioned in verses 6 and 7- and are the disbelievers. In explaining these verses, Allah (swt) says that these people have a seal on their hearts and ears, as well as, a covering on their eyes that has caused them to disbelieve.
The third group: Finally, the third group is from verse 6 to verse 18.
Regarding these people, the Quran says, “Verily, those who disbelieve, it is the same to them whether you (sa ) warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe.” (Al-Baqarah 2:6)
Some of the attributes that Allah (swt) points out in those people (in those verses) are the following:
1. “They (think to) deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not!”
2. “In their hearts is a disease (of doubt and hypocrisy) and Allah has increased their disease. A painful torment is theirs because they used to tell lies.
3. Allah mocks at them and gives them increase in their wrong-doings to wander blindly.
4. When Allah (swt) tells them to believe by modeling themselves according to the Prophet and the true believers, they say, “Shall we believe as the fools have believed?” Allah (swt) then responds by saying that, “Verily, they are the fools but they know not.”
5. And when they meet those who believe, they say: “We believe,” but when they are alone with their Shayatin (devils – polytheists, hypocrites, etc.), they say: “Truly, we are with you; verily, we were but mocking.”
6. Allah (swt) remarks about these people, “These are they who have purchased error for guidance, so their commerce was profitless. And they were not guided.”
These groups were reminded in order that we should check our intentions and thoughts. These verses should be enough to create the urgency to associate ourselves with the first group (Al – Muttaqoon: the ones fearful of Allah (swt)). Let’s, therefore, ensure that our actions (not just words) reveal that we are people who have Taqwa (as mentioned in verse 2)
Taqwa can be inculcated in our hearts by taking a few steps.
A believer should realise the fact that Allah (swt) has the biggest right after saying:
“La Ilaha Illa Allah”, Allah (swt) right becomes mandatory.
Ibn Qayyim said: “A benefit of understanding Allah’s (swt) right over the servant is that it opens the door of humbleness in front of Allah (swt) and closes the doors of conceit. It allows one to realize that salvation is only through Allah’s (swt) grace and mercy. It is Allah’s (swt) right that He should be obeyed and not disobeyed: that He should be remembered and not forgotten; and that He should be appreciated and not unappreciated . . . Many people think about their rights over Allah (swt) and do not know about His rights over them. This is how they are detached from Allah (swt) and deprived of the desire to meet Him. This is the epitome of ignorance of their Lord and of themselves.” (Ighathatul Lahfaan)
Time and again we should check the status of our hearts- whether we have the required devotion and fear of Allah (swt)? Or, do we have remnant of hardness and carefree attitude about Allah (swt) and His teachings.
Allah (swt) says in the Quran, “O you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow (tomorrow), and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do” (Al-Hashr 59:18)
Ibn Kathir says that the phrase ‘let each soul see’ or “let every person look” in the above verse means to take an account of one’s own actions before being audited (by Allah (swt)) (Tafseer Ibn Kathir).
Omar bin Khattab wrote to one of his employees: “Audit yourself in prosperity before doing the audit of adversity. Whoever does this will be pleased and envied. Whoever is distracted by his life and fantasies, will face remorse and loss.”
Taqwa reflection in every action
After inculcating Taqwa in the heart, actions should instill the element of piety, Allah’s (swt) consciousness, humbleness, righteousness. We have inspiring examples of Sahaba and Salafs, whose deeds manifested their hearts. Ibn omar used to stay awake the whole night, so that he does not miss a prayer in congregation, since the reward for praying in congregation is more rather than praying alone. Hence, through the Taqwa in the heart every difficult act becomes easy. As per Imam Ghazali- our Nafs should not deviate, as it is our biggest enemy and is more likely to rebel against our own selves (Ihya’ul ulum al-din).
About ensuring that we bring Taqwa in our actions, Abu Dhar reported that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Fear Allah wherever you may be; follow up an evil deed with a good one which will wipe (the former) out, and behave good-naturedly towards people” (Tirmidhi)
Remembering our final resort – death
We should remind ourselves about death and our meeting with Allah (swt), in order to retain Taqwa in our hearts. We should become ardent learners of what Allah (swt) like and dislikes, and mould our lives accordingly. This is because the life of this world has to come to an end, and we should take it seriously. With this thought in our mind, Taqwa can never leave our hearts.