The word Taqwa comes from the word وقى to mean protect or guard oneself against something. Someone who has Taqwa guards themselves against all types of harm and this shall be explained, in sha Allah.
This word is extremely difficult to translate uniformly. As the context has to be considered before translating and that goes with anything. Several of the following words are common: piety, fear and God conscious. Some prefer not to use translations and use the word as it is. In the translations of the hadith in this article we have used fear or piety. But for all the other sections we will use the word Taqwa to clarify any confusion with the word useage.
Why is Taqwa important?
The following narrations will answer this question.
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “The most common thing which leads people to Paradise is fear of Allah and good conduct; and the most common thing which leads people to Hell is the mouth and the private parts.” (At-Tirmidhi)
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) said, “The majority of those who enter paradise, fear Allah and possess good character.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Attaining this, one of the most praiseworthy of qualities, is a way to paradise and it is weighty on the scales. That is why it is important.
What else is attained?
“The most noble of you is the most pious.” The Private Apartments 49:13
“Allah loves the pious.” The Repentance 9:7
Allah (Almighty and Majestic) loves those who have Taqwa and then you become one of the noblest people. Do you really want anything else?!?!? If Allah (Almighty and Majestic) loves someone then what happens? Then he tells the Angel Jibreal (upon him peace) to announce this to the inhabitants of the Heavens!
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “When Allah loves a servant; he calls Jibreal (upon him peace) and says, “I love so and so; so love him!” Then Jibreal loves him and calls out to the residents of the heavens, “Allah loves so and so; so love him.” Then the residents of the heavens love him and his acceptance his placed on the Earth. If Allah dislikes a servant then he calls Jibreal saying, “I dislike so and so; so dislike him; then Jibreal dislikes him and call out to the residents of the heavens. “Allah dislikes so and so; so dislike him.” They do and then dislike for him is placed on the Earth.” (Muslim, At-Tirmidhi, Bukhari and Malik)
This is the benefit of Taqwa that the residents of paradise know who you are and they accept you. What an amazing blessing for such an action.
Benefits of Taqwa
Are there benefits or are you just trying to make my life difficult! These verse spell this out in great detail for us.
"Whoever fears Allah is given recourse."
He has ease
"Whoever fears Allah is given ease in his matter."
His sins are removed
"Whoever fears Allah has his sins removed and is given a great reward."
Are these not benefits for you? When things are difficult you are given a way out. You are given ease in your matters, your sins are forgiven and have a great reward! Is there any more you need?!
Definition of Taqwa
Now that we have outlined the reasons and benefits we need to define exactly what it is, in order to put in into practice.
Imam Ghazali gives the following definition for Taqwa, “Removing sin from the Heart and not repeating the like of it.” (Minhaj al-Abideen p.112 Dar al-Ishaat)
تنزيه القلب عن ذنب لم يسبق عنك مثله
Ibn Juzayy said in his dictionary of terms from the introduction to his tafsir:
"Taqwa's meaning is fear, clinging to obedience to Allah and abandoning disobedience to Him. It is the sum of all good."
A person in a state of Taqwa is someone who is always on guard for what could harm his religion. So he lowers his gaze from the prohibitions, he seeks halal food, he make sure that his job is permissible, he is guards his ears from hearing the prohibited, he guards his eyes from prohibitions and he is relentless in performing his acts of worship to the best of his ability.
Sheikh Murabat Al-Hajj once saw a mouse who heard the smallest sound then quickly went back into its hole. He said that is Taqwa. I did not understand this for many years but one day the meaning was given to me. The mouse was on guard against anything that could harm him. So even the smallest noise could mean that something may be on its way to attack it. That is Taqwa to be on guard all the time even against the smallest threat.
A person with Taqwa is like soldier on guard ready for attack but with a detailed action plan.
“If you are patient and fearful then this is a weighty matter.” The family of Imran 186
Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (may Allah be pleased with him) once said, "Taqwa is not by fasting the day and not by praying the night. And it's not by mixing between the two of them. But Taqwa is leaving what Allah (Mighty and Majestic) has made prohibited and by doing what Allah (Mighty and Majestic) has made obligatory. After one has done this, Allah (Mighty and Majestic) will provide good things for that person."
A man came to the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) and asked, “O’ Prophet of Allah, give me counsel.” So he said, “Be fearful of Allah as it comprises of all goodness.” (Imam Ahmed 3, 82 and 266)
Taqwa is essentially an action of the heart and actions of the heart are by no means easy. They can be difficult and Taqwa is not something that you have one day and not the next. It has to be a permanent state that you have accustomed yourself to.
For all eyes not just some
One of our problems is that we deem it okay to be someone in a one place and someone totally different in another. In front of our parents we are pious, righteous and devout then as soon as we leave the house we are the exact opposite! This is something that we hear and see often. We are one person for our families and we are one person outside the house. This is all born from fear of our parents and not fear of Allah.
I remember being in the masjid with someone at a deen intensive a few years ago. The call for the prayer had gone and I was about to get up. I saw the other person and advised him to join us for the prayer. He said he did not want to pray with us. I was shocked then he said if his Pir (spiritual leader) was here then he would be in the first row. I retorted by saying, “Do you fear your Pir more than Allah?” He said it was good point but still did not pray.
Fear Allah because he knows what you are doing all the time and your family only know what you are doing at home!
Do not think just because my family cannot see me then I can do what I want. Why don’t you wake up and realise that you should be doing what Allah (the Exalted) wants and that is to be aware of all of what you do. Allah (the Exalted) knows what you heart is thinking right now and what you are about to do. So even though no physical person can see you the angels who record your deeds can see you. They are writing down all those disgusting things that we do when no one else can see us. Shouldn’t we have some shame?
The Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “I advise you to fear Allah in your private and public matters.” (Imam Ahmed 21465)
This is one of pillars of the spiritual path of the Shadhali’s which is to have Taqwa of Allah in secret and in public. (Usul Al-Tariqah by Imam Ahmed Zarruq)
The Prophet (May Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Fear Allah wherever you are. Follow up a bad deed with a good deed and it will blot it out. And deal with people in a good manner.” (At-Tirmidhi 1987 and Ahmed 5/236)
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “I advise you to be shameful before Allah as you would be shameful before a pious man of your clan.” (Ibn Abu Dunya’s Makarim Al-Khalaq/ Noble Qualities p.81)
Taqwa is not an easy station to acquire it takes time to remove all those things from yourself that are prohibited and then you also have to remove any paths ways to the prohibited. Works of the heart are great because they are just between you and Allah (Mighty and Majestic) and they are not for show. This is not easy but the reward and the blessings of attaining this quality is beyond what we can fully comprehend in this world.
As with everything once you know something you have a responsibility to practice. We cannot allow ourselves to be victims of a world which will swallow us whole and spits us out. We have to be ready to defend anything that could cause a deficiency with our connection to the Creator.
Hatim al-Asamm said, “I have chosen four things to know, and have discarded all the knowledge in the world besides.” He was asked, “What are they?” “One,” he answered, “is this: I know my daily bread is apportioned to me, and will neither be increased nor diminished; consequently I have ceased to seek to argument it. Secondly, I know that I owe Allah a debt which no other person can pay instead of me; therefore I am occupied with paying it. Thirdly, I know that there is one pursing me (i.e. Death) from whom I cannot escape; accordingly I have prepared myself to meet him. Fourthly, I know that Allah is observing me; therefore I am ashamed to do what I ought not.” (Kashaf Al-Mahjub p.13)
We are not pretending to be someone who has Taqwa. If anything we need to try very hard to attain this lofty station even though we do not deserve it by our actions nor our state. We pray that Allah (Almighty and majestic) forgives all the Muslims and gives us this state.
See a door of a Taqwa