Taqwa is a quality that originates from the heart. It is spiritual and may very well expose itself in a pious person through his good actions and manners but it is derived from one’s mind, heart, and soul. Taqwa is the fear of God. It is the fear of earning His displeasure and being deprived of His all abounding mercy. Of course, this fear is based on a clear knowledge of His attributes of Justice and Perfection. It is like a shield that keeps one cautiously on guard against all evils. Allah says:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْكَبِيرُ
“Verily, those who had faith and had done righteous deeds will have gardens beneath which rivers flow. That is a great achievement.” (Surah Al-Buruj 85:11)
Keeping foregoing in mind, a person can attain taqwa if he submits wholeheartedly to every order of His Lord. The Quran and the Sunnah contain all that is needed for a person to attain Taqwa. When a person willingly submits to every directive from the Shari’ah (the Law of God), his iman (faith) will reach great heights and thus make of him a God-conscious person. As a result, he will in his every affair fear to do any sort of evil as he is aware of God. Allah says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ
“O you who believe, fear Allah as it is His right to be feared and do not die except while you are Muslims.” (Surah Al Imran 3:102)
Being mindful of one’s relationship with God is an individual obligation whose foundation is knowledge, and whose life is practiced according to Islam. Allah call’s the believers, ordering them to be cautious: “Oh you who believe, be cautious of Allah.” Allah says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ
“O you who believe! Enter into submission one and all and do not follow the footsteps of Shaitan; surely he is your open enemy.” (Surah Al Baqarah 2:208)
The true believer’s fear of God is so intense, that not even an evil thought can remain in his mind, for as soon as it visits, he removes it without delay and invites God to his thoughts. This is true God-consciousness.
The five levels of taqwa
Ibn Juzay al-Maliki wrote, “The degrees of taqwa are five:
- Be cautious of falling into disbelief. This is the station of submission to Allah.
- Be cautious of falling into sin and evil. This is the station of repentance.
- Be cautious of doubtful things. This is the station of carefulness.
- Being cautious of the permissible. This is the station of indifference. Ibn al-Qayyim said, “There are some people who will observe the obligations and avoid the prohibited. However, Shaytan will busy them with the permissible acts until they fail to make use of their extra time.”
- Be cautious of letting anything enter the heart save Allah. This is the station of witness.
Taqwa in Practice
Once ‘Umar asked a companion, “describe for me taqwa.” The companion responded, “If you were to walk through a thorny pathway with a flowing robe, how would you walk?” ‘Umar answered, “I would gather my garments, squeezing them tight, and walk carefully.” The companion responded, “That is taqwa.”
How to Gain Taqwa?
If you were born a Muslim or accepted Islam, then you already possess taqwa. This is great news and should serve as a springboard to preserve and develop your existing relationship with Allah. There are some pretty clear ways to do this. However, knowledge and practice are two very different entities:
- Make a sincere intention to improve your taqwa.
- Ask Allah to increase your taqwa. It is authentically reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to supplicate: اللهم إني أسئلك الهدى والتقى والعفاف والغنى, “Oh Allah, I ask You for guidance, piety, virtue, and sufficiency.”
- To increase your worship. Allah says, “Worship Allah…you will obtain taqwa.”
- Observe the sunnah whenever possible. The Prophet said, “I am the most God-fearing person.” Thus, following him is a guarantee, if one’s intention is right, that one is on the ways of taqwa. Imam Malik said, “The Sunnah is like the Ark of Noah. Whoever got on board was safe. Who didn’t, drowned.”
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَكُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ
“Oh, you who believe! Fear Allah and be with the truthful.” (Surah Al Tawbah 9:119)
Fear God’s punishment, especially when you think of doing something evil and be in the company of righteous people in order to avoid evil suggestions from the devil and his helpers, whether these come to you while you are alone or surrounded by evil people. Being in the company of good people will add to your strength, it will protect you. Allah says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
“Oh, you who believe! Fear Allah, and let every soul look to what it sends forward for the morrow. And fear Allah; Allah is aware of what you do.” (Surah Al Hashr 59:18)
Fear Allah (SWT) so that you do nothing to displease Him and make sure you are aware of what you are sending ahead for yourself so that it does not come back to haunt you, for God is witnessing everything and He will implement His absolute justice in the hereafter. Note the repetition of “fear Allah” to stress the importance that this holds.
Taqwa is defined as fearing Allah when a person fears from Almighty Allah then he will not commit sins:
- Taqwa follow up a bad deed with a good one
- Taqwa may lead to the realm of the forbidden
- Taqwa means a lot more than just piousness
- Taqwa activate derive the pleasure of Allah
- Taqwa practising towards worship of Allah
- Taqwa to distinguish truth from falsehood
- Taqwa renew the fountains of your iman
- Taqwa is the long for Allah’s pleasure
- Taqwa never consider yourself higher
- Taqwa alert to the carnal pleasures
- Taqwa ascribe all material
- Taqwa is steadfast in Salah
- Taqwa is the soul of fasting
- Taqwa is satisfaction in all affairs
- Taqwa is better than anyone else
- Taqwa is the result of all worship
- Renew the fountains of your Iman
- Reminding yourself of Allah`s Presence
- Ability to distinguish truth from falsehood
- Be alert to whatever may divert you from Allah
It is only those who fear God, those who know that though they see Him not; He surely sees them and who perform their prayers that will be successful in the hereafter. Such a person does not lose hope in God’s mercy but rather keeps his trust in it. We know that we humans are fallible and therefore we are bound to make errors. We can only try our best.
Allah (SWT) gives a description of the God-fearing as follows in the Quranic Verses:
- “Surely Allah loves Muttaqin.” (Quran, 3:76)
- “Therefore fear not men but fear Me.” (Al-Maidah 5:44)
- “guide for those who are aware of Allah.” (Quran, 2: 2)
- “Have taqwa of Allah for you to succeed.” (Quran, 3: 200)
- “Then We will save those who have had taqwa.” (Quran, 19:72)
- “And whoever fears Allah, He will make an end.” (Quran, 65: 2)
- “so fear them not, but fear Me, if you are (true) believers.” (Al ‘Imraan 3:175)
- “Indeed, those who are al-Muttaqoon [the pious] – when an impulse touches them from Satan, they remember [Him] and at once they have insight.” (Quran, 7:201)
- “Those who fear Allah, when a thought of evil from Satan assaults them, bring Allah to remembrance, when lo! they see (aright).” (Al Araf 7:20)
- “Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as a trial, and to Us, you will be returned.” (Quran, 21:35)
- “O, you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Quran, 2: 153)
The importance of fearing God more than anything and anyone is deeply stressed on various occasions in the Quran. The true believer fears God most and for this reason, would never submit to evil out of fear of a certain person or situation as he is aware that the most just God is a witness to his every action. He fears to lose even the smallest jot of God’s mercy and good pleasure. Such is Taqwa. Allah says:
وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مَخْرَجًا وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ
“Whoever fears Allah, then Allah will make for him a way out from a place he does not expect.” (Surah At-Talaq 65:2-3)
Taqwa inhabits the heart and it is only within the capability of Allah to know what the hearts conceal. Taqwa is a quality whose virtues are astounding. May God bless and keep us. Taqwa is similar to the strategies, plans, and policies of an organization, which enable it to realize its goals and objectives (success in the Akhirah in this case).