Taqwa: The Cornerstone of Islamic Faith

We discussed in an earlier post the importance of La Ilaha Illallahand how that’s a prerequisite to being a Muslim. But molding our lives on the basis of those words is equally important in the eyes of Allah and thus we need to ensure that those solemn words indeed get lodged in our hearts so that they direct our behavior and lives.

More than a billion people today say “La Ilaha Illallah”, yet many of us would agree that the Muslim ummah as a whole will be quite possibly missing out on additional mercy and blessings of Allah unless we start living by those words in our lives. Many among us either don’t know how to live up to those words or simply don’t find it necessary to do so. To them, recognizing a deity called “Allah” is all that is needed to be categorized as a “believer”. As we shall see later, Quran tells us that it may be nothing short of a sign of hypocrisy.

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The fact is that those who call themselves Muslims need to infuse their hearts with Taqwa if they want to be viewed by Allah as true believers. In the English language, “Taqwa” has been translated and interpreted in various ways so that it may mean piety, righteousness, fearful of Allah, being God conscious, and so on. But we know that, similar to other words in the Quran, it is difficult to get a corresponding one word translation. Instead, some Quranic words pack more detailed concepts that must be elaborated on when translated into other languages. (See Quran on Allah sufficient for the believers)

After the first Surah (Al-Fatihah), which is mostly considered as a Dua, the Quran continues with Surah Al-Baqara (verse # 2) as follows:

“This is the Book (the Quran), whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqin (People of Taqwa).” (Sura Al-Baqarah:2)

This verse thus makes Taqwa a prerequisite for seeking guidance from Quran (a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun, i.e., who have Taqwa). Tafsir ibn Kathir states: “Hidayah – correct guidance – is only granted to those who have Taqwa.” He went on to point out that “the guidance in it (Quran) is only granted to the righteous (people with Taqwa in their hearts), just as Allah said,

(O mankind! There has come to you a good advice from your Lord, and a healing for that which is in your breasts (disease of ignorance, doubt, hypocrisy and differences), a guidance and a mercy for the believers (Surah Younus:57).

What is Taqwa?

Rather than coining our own definitions, let’s look at how various scholars have defined Taqwa (Reference
2). Abu Darda (R) 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 Muhammed 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 Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah. He states that Taqwa “includes doing everything that Allah has enjoined whether it is waajib (obligatory) or mustahabb (recommended), and avoiding all that He has forbidden, whether it is haraam (forbidden) or makrooh (disliked).[Reference 1]

A heart infused with Taqwa is, therefore, an attitude that one adopts about following Allahs teachings. It provides us the filter to get a renewed perspective regarding how we live various aspects of our lives because we become aware of Allah’s pleasure and displeasure in all our affairs.

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It is Taqwa that gives meaning to our simple worship rituals that otherwise would be nothing without it. Haven’t we pondered what would the physical actions of salat (prayers) such as bowing and prostrating mean without a heart infused with Taqwa? What makes the hunger and thirst (when fasting) of a believer different from the same actions of a non-believer? How would the physical acts of going between the two mountains of Safa and Marwa (in Hajj and Umrah) become valuable in the eyes of Allah? It’s the Taqwa in our hearts that provide these simple physical rituals a special meaning in the eyes of Allah. For example, when mentioning the ritual of sacrificing animals (in Allah’s name) in the Quran, Allah says, “It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is Taqwa (piety, etc.) from you that reaches Him. Thus have We made them subject to you so that you may glorify Allah for His guidance to you…” (Surah Al-Hajj: 37).

Let’s ensure, therefore, that our worship is not limited to empty acts but is rather adorned with Taqwa. Again, as the verse states, “…but it is the Taqwa (piety) from you that reaches Him.”

Where do we fall related to our Taqwa and the guidance from Allah?

If we read the first few verses of Surah Al-Baqara (almost the beginning of the Quran), we would note that Allah describes three types of people related to guidance.

The first group: In the first few verses (verses 2 – 5), He clearly explains that the Quran is a guidance for those who have Taqwa in their hearts and this guidance causes them to be successful. The people described in these verses are those who:

(1) Believe in the unseen (e.g. Allah, angels, the holy books that Allah revealed but got changed, prophets, day of resurrection, and Al-Qadr)

(2) Perform salat

(3) Spend for Allah’s causes from what Allah has provided to them

(4) Believe in what Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad

(5) Believe in what Allah revealed to the prophets before Muhammad, and

(6) Believe in hereafter.

The second group: The second group (described in verses 6 and 7) falls on the other end of the spectrum, and are the disbelievers. In describing them Allah says that it is the seal on their hearts and ears as well as a covering in their eyes that has caused them to disbelieve.

The third group: Finally, the Quran uses more verses (verses 8 through 18) in describing those regarding whom Allah says, “And of mankind, there are some who say: “We believe in Allah and the Last Day” while in fact they believe not” (verse 6). Some of the attributes that Allah points out in those people (in those verses) are the following:

(1) They think they are deceiving Allah and the believers but in fact they are deceiving themselves.

(2) In their hearts there is a disease (of doubt and hypocrisy).

(3) When Allah 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 then responds by saying that “Verily, they are the fools but they know not.”

(4) They mock the believers in turn and then Allah says: “Allah mocks at them and gives them increase in their wrongdoings to wander blindly.”

(5) Allah remarks about these people: “These are they who have purchased error for guidance, so their commerce was profitless. And they were not guided.”

The above (based on verses 2 – 18 of Al-Baqara) should be sufficient to move our hearts to the core and should create the urgency to associate ourselves with the first group (the ones with Taqwa). While a majority of us believers will associate ourselves with the first group, our behaviors and attitudes may instead make us appear to belong to the third. Let’s, therefore, ensure that our actions (not just words) disclose that we are people who have Taqwa (as mentioned in verse 2).

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On the road to inculcate Taqwa

 

Once we say “La Ilaha Illallah”, we should take a few steps to lodge Taqwa (piety, righteousness, humbleness, fear, God consciousness, etc.) in our hearts. Some of the steps we can take include the following:

Know as a believer that it’s Allah’s (our creator and sustainer’s) right to be obeyed: Let us never forget that it is Allah’s right to be obeyed. Ibn Qayyim said: “A benefit of understanding Allah’s right over the servant is that it opens the door of humbleness in front of Allah and closes the doors of conceit. It allows one to realize that salvation is only through Allah’s grace and mercy. It is Allah’s 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 and do not about His rights over them. This is how they are detached from Allah and deprived of the desire to meet Him. This is the epitome of ignorance of their Lord and of themselves” (Ighathatul lahfaan 1/99-101; secondary reference).

Audit yourself: From time to time we should pause and assess the condition of our hearts. If we do that with full introspection, it wouldn’t be difficult to determine whether our hearts are filled with piety and fear of Allah (Taqwa), or have remnants of hardness and a carefree attitude about Allah and His teachings. Allah 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” (Surah Al-Hashr: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) (Tafseer of Ibn Kathir: 4/346). Omar bin Khattab wrote to one of his employees: “Audit yourself in prosperity before the auditing of adversity. Whoever does this will be pleased and envied. Whoever is distracted from this by his life and fantasies, will face remorse and loss.”

Reflect your Taqwa in your deeds: Once you build the Taqwa in your heart (become cognizant of, and fear Allah in all your affairs), you should start practicing it in your actions. The sahaba and salaf used to exert themselves in ensuring that their actions reflected the Taqwa in their hearts. It’s said that Ibn Omar used to stay awake the whole night if he missed a prayer in congregation (because he knew (through the Taqwa in his heart) Allah’s pleasure associated with one praying in congregation). Imam Ghazali mentioned that we let ourselves (our nafs) off the hook when it (our nafs) is our biggest enemy and is more likely to rebel against our own selves (Ihya’ul ulum al-din, 4/381). About ensuring that we bring Taqwa in our actions, Abu Dhar reported that the Messenger of Allah, 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” [Al-Tirmidhi].

Condition yourself to inculcate Taqwa: We have to condition ourselves to fear Him by observing and reflecting more about our existence, our vulnerability as humans in this ocean in which we are journeying, and about the end that each one of us will meet soon. We should also become avid learners about what pleases Allah and what displeases Him and take that seriously. This observation and learning will enable us to learn new truths that can help us condition our states and hearts to inculcate the required Taqwa in our hearts.

Parting Words

Let’s ponder over Quran’s last verse that was revealed to the prophet (agreed to by many scholars, including ibn Kathir). It says: “And be afraid of the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah. Then every person shall be paid what he earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly (Surah Al-Baqara: 281).”

Remember, we are what we are – with the rewards and punishments from Allah and His mercy on us – based on the level of our faith in Allah and the Taqwa in our hearts. Sometimes we forget the connection between how our lives turn out to be and the One who makes it all happen. Once you remind yourself of that, remember the power bestowed by Allah on you as regards “free will” and how you can use it to influence the quality of your own lives. As long as you respect the limits that He has set for us (through the Taqwa in your heart), you can earn the blessings that He has promised for you, both in this life and in the hereafter. (See Quran on the last day and the hereafter)

We should, therefore, not delay to take a strong decision to increase our Taqwa. As Allah says in the Quran: “Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa” [al-Hujrat 49:13].

— End

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Reference 1: From the essay of al-Wasiyyah al-Jaami’ah li khayr al-Sunya wa’l-Aakhirah

Reference 2: “Taqwa: The Provision of Beleivers. Compiled by Aby Maryam Majdi, Al-Firdous Ltd)

The Iqrasense.com Blogger

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38 comments… add one
  • Amina

    May Allah help us maintain Taqwa in our hearts all the days of our lives. Thank you for this presentation.

  • daibah

    Very good.MashaAllah

  • Anonymous

    jzakAllah khair brother.

    Indeed, the good deeds remove the evil deeds (i.e. small sins)” [Hood 11:114].

    i would like to share more characteristics of hypocrites.They seek honor with people .

    004:139] .. do they seek honour, power and glory with them (disbelievers) ? Verily, then to Allah belongs all honour, power and glory.

    and love and fear of people as they should love and have taqwa of Allah.

    5:44 fear not men but fear Me and sell not My Verses for a miserable price (sell love of Allah, the creator , giver of oxygen ,light,water all blessings free of cost at the cost of pleasures and fear of others for little worldly gains ).

    [002:165] Yet there are men who take (for worship) others besides God, as equal (with God): They love them as they should love God. But those of Faith are overflowing in their love for God.

  • Taqwa is the reflection of our iman into the clear water….How can you otherwise say you love Allah if you do not fear HIm and if you do not care if He is pleased with your deeds and if you are not conscient that He is the Witness of anything and everything even before being into existance whatever that thing might be. If you love Allah for real any mistake or sin you do you will dislike it so much immediately that you will rush to make not one good deed but hundreads just to be sure the evil one will be erased. May Allah keep us far from haram and gave us sanity to come to certainty!
    Holy Quran: 5016. And indeed We have created man, and We know what his ownself whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein (by Our Knowledge).

  • diane

    Well done. May Allah bless you with an abundance of wisdom to continue to share with us.

  • May ALLAH SAW reward you abundantly. This has given me inspiration and strength.Keep on with the goodwork

  • Dawood Ishaq

    I that Allah will guide ummah of the twenty-first century to be of those who constantly pray for taqwah,inshan,iman and all the attributes os the sahabah”s. May Allah continue to bless iqrasense.com to give us a means to seek help toward betterment
    of our souls and spirit. I am always grateful to read every article you publish on the internet.Allahu Akbar

  • Syed Aziz-ul-Hassan Bukhari

    Subhan Allah May Allah help us maintain Taqwa in our hearts all the days of our lives. Thank you for this presentation. (Ameen)

  • Esraa Khalouf

    Assalamu Alaikum

    Just had this idea, I don’t know if a lot of you will agree…
    Maybe a good sign to know you are ‘Taqii’ or not, is that you always think there’s someone who’s more ‘Taqii’ than you… someone who obeys Allah in many occasions more than you…

    May Allah keep us all straight on his road
    Amen!
    ^.^

  • abubakar

    Very rich, fantastic n preachy. Keep it on, may His Almighty Allah rewad u abundantly.

  • Abdulhameed Olabisi, CEO Marketing vessel

    May Allah (SWT) place us bove the evil plots of Shaitan, the evil genius, who has been cutting our string of tight relationship with Allah. Amen

  • Rabia

    Salam to all,

    Very nice sharing. After reading Tawakal Allah and Takwa and many other articles, I get motivated that one day Allah will answer my prayers too. INSHALLAH AMEEN, All forgive us all and guide us to the right path.
    I request everyone to pray for me all my worries are solved.

    regards
    Rabia Aslam

  • Anonymous

    JazakAllah Khair,
    True. Taqwa is what is required to translate our faith into actions. To express our consciousness of Allah SWT and our desire to please Him and Him Alone, we need to think and act the way He SWT Has directed us to. Let’s not forget “the connection between how our lives turn out to be and the One who makes it all happen.”
    May Allah Grant us all to become Muttaqis. Aameen

  • Anonymous

    JazakAllah Khair
    True. Taqwa is what’s required to strengthen our Faith and translate it into deeds. To be constantly conscious of Allah SWT and desire to please Him and Him alone, we need to assess our Taqwa and express it through our thoughts and actions. Let us not (as you’ve worded so well) “forget the connection between how our lives turn out to be and the One who makes it all happen.”
    May Allah Grant us all the gift of Taqwa. Aameen.

  • Khalid Mahmood

    Excellent
    May Allah grant you with His mercy for enlightening us about the Taqwa. We should try to spare at least a few moments to ponder that how much our lives are on the right path. Life is very short and it is going towards its end very fast without our realization.
    Allah may give us all Taqwa and clear understanding of our Din – Islam. Aamin.

  • Dr. Lailun Nahar

    Very first I express my gratefulness to Allah, providing me this opportunity to come across these lessons for the life Hereafter! Ameen

  • Abdullahi Sheidu

    Al-hamdulillah,may Allah subhannahu wathallla continue to inspire u and reward u abundantly.Obviously,faith in the deen of al-Islam without taqwa is empty.May Allah equip us with adequate taqwa in our strive towards keeping His rules.Amin.

  • Dr.Mohammad Irshad

    Alhamdolillah,
    jazaakAllah- khairan.
    Described nicely with referrence from Quran and Sahih Hadis.
    May Allah bless us Taqwa in our all actions, and save us from even a litttle part of Shirk which is not excusable. Aameen!
    Lets strive for bringing Taqwa , that should be reflected by our actions.

  • Aisha

    Jazakhallah Khairan, May Allah continue to guide us on to the right path, Amin.

  • amal

    Masha’Allah JAzakhallah Khairan. This is amazing! may Allah reward you with everything that is good. This article will help many people gain new knowledge about Taqwa.

  • mohammed

    MashaAllah,Tabarakallah,
    Jazakallahu Khairan,
    Amazing article! May Allah reward Iqra Sense and its readers the best of his bounties.

  • Khokan

    Masha Allah! an excellent topic. May Allah give us towpiq to maintain taqwa in our heart. We certainly can if we fear Allah in step of our life worldly life and remember about our death and grave and hellfire. Ameen!

  • May the Almighty Allah give us Taqwah in our Hearts and also help us to bear the trials that come with it Ameen

  • Abubakar Saminu

    the timing of my reading of this article could’nt have been better; a day to the holy month of ramadhan. May Allah(AWT) enrich us with taqwa in our hearts. Ameen.

  • jamila Usman

    Masha Allah, a very important reminder. Jazakallah khairan

  • This is a wonderful reminder, JAZAKALLAHU KHAIRAN to u all @IqraSense.com

  • Maryam

    Very insightful

  • Yunusa Shagari Usman

    Jazakallahu kharan.May Allah inculcate taqwa into our hearts Ameen.

  • SURRAIYA

    assalamalaykum

    May Allaah s.w.t reward u fr this comprehensive article……

    what I humbly understand ‘faith and taqwa’ is, that when faith finds meaning in attitude of day to day life, we achieve taqwa. taqwa authenticates r faith.otherwise we r munafiq .NA OOZIBLLAAH

  • Farah

    This article was fantastic as it gives good explanations of what Taqwa is and it is a great reminder as we all have fluctuating levels of taqwa, this article is inspiring May Allah SWT accept this from you and bless you immensely and May Allah SWT keep the Muslim’s guided Ameen

  • Sheikh G Mohammad

    ‘Taqwa’ is a situation or condition in the heart which has fear of Allah, full obedience to Allah, eagerness to follow Allah’s orders and not to follow what He has forbidden for us, to show mercy and sympathy to all creations of Allah, to always ask Allah for his kindness and help to lead a simple but honest life in this world, and ask Allah to forgive our life’s all sins- small, big, known, unknown, willingly committed or unwillingly done. And believe in His one ness, power and rahmat always.

  • Generally every muslims think that TAQWA means fears from Al-Mighty Allah Taala. What is really means as per my study it is total submission to Al-Mighty Allah Taala. To obey all messages/orders of Allah Taala in all sphere of life. Even then shiver with fear for accountability of deeds during life time.

  • Aminata Sherif

    Asa: Anything that has to do with my deen, I take great pleasure in. May Allah reward you in abundance for all the great postings. They increase me in knowledge, alhamdolillah. May Allah keep providing for you and your family and keep you in good health. Ameen
    JAK

  • Amina

    Jazakallahu khairan, may Allah make us among those whom for ever have taqwa.

  • Sultan abdus salaam

    Alhamdulilahi may Allah suphanawataAllah bless us all with God consciousness and to always be in a state of remembrance

  • JAVED Kazi

    JazakAllah brother
    This article has brought me more closure to Allah (swt)

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