The Importance and Benefits of Taqwa

Islam’s Enlightened Teachings

The Importance and Benefits of Taqwā

Mawlana Nasir Jamal Attari Madani

One of Islam’s distinguished teachings is to fear Allah. The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, اِتَّقِ اللَّه حَيْثُمَا كُنْتَ - “Fear Allah wherever you are.”[1]

We shall discuss three facets of this hadith. The first, regarding fearing Allah, shall be mentioned in this article. The next two will be explained in further editions of the magazine اِنْ شَــآءَالـلّٰـه.

اِتَّقِ اللہ – This refers to fearing Allah regarding the fulfilment of one’s obligations and avoiding sin, and stems from taqwā being the cornerstone of Islam. Stations of truth and certitude are attained from taqwā.[2]

Simple definition of taqwā: Avoiding acts which cause one harm in the Hereafter is taqwā, and he who does this is referred to as muttaqī (متَّقی).[3] Sufyān al-Thawrī رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه said: “People are referred to as righteous due to abstaining from things which others do not.”[4]

Categories of taqwā:

   1Avoiding disbelief. By the grace of Allah, all Muslims have attained this.

2   Avoiding misguidance. Every Sunni has achieved this.

3   Avoiding every major sin.

4   Avoiding minor sins.

5   Avoiding doubtful matters.

6   Avoiding desires.

7   Avoiding turning one’s attention to others. This is the station of Allah’s elect servants.[5]

All nations were instructed to fear Allah, as stated in the Quran:

وَ لَقَدْ وَصَّیْنَا الَّذِیْنَ اُوْتُوا الْكِتٰبَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ وَ اِیَّاكُمْ اَنِ اتَّقُوا اللّٰه

And We have indeed emphasised to those who received the Books before you, and to you; that remain fearful of Allah.[6]

Adopting taqwā has been instructed in many more verses.

Pertinent details regarding the mention of taqwā in the Quran

The command to have taqwā, i.e. fear, was issued with various attributions in the Quran. The meaning of taqwā in each respective case is in accordance with the association. For example:

1) The Quran contains frequent mention of fearing Allah. When we are ordered to have taqwā in relation to Allah, this means to save oneself from His wrath.

2 - 4) There is also the command to adopt taqwā regarding the punishment of Allah, the place of punishment (such as Hellfire), and sometimes, the time of punishment (such as the Day of Judgement).[7]

Foundation of taqwā: The foundation of taqwā is to first be aware of the matters in which taqwā must be adopted. Bakr b. Khunays رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه states: “How can someone become pious if he does not know what to avoid?”[8]

The final Prophet’s routine: When the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم appointed a commander over an army, he would counsel him in particular about adopting taqwā and being good towards Muslims.[9] He also counselled Muslims about taqwā in his final sermon. The Companions عَـلَيْهِمُ الرِّضْوَانْ also advised Muslims to adopt the same.[10]

Three signs of taqwā:

Prophet Dāwūd عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام told Prophet Sulaymān عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام, “The taqwā of a believer manifests in three matters: having complete reliance regarding that which he did not receive, being content with what he has, and firm patience concerning that which was taken from him.”[11]

The effect of taqwā

As for Muslims who adopt taqwā, Allah places blessings in their actions, and they become well-wishers for all. As a pious Muslim seeks to please Allah and does not seek praise, his words are more beneficial than those of normal people.

Abū Saīd al-Balkhī رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه was asked: Why do the words of pious predecessors bear more efficacy than those after them?” He replied, They desired for Islam to be shown honour, people to attain salvation, their brothers to be shown compassion, and for Allah to be pleased. We desire personal honour, people’s praise and worldly wellbeing.”[12]

The advice of the righteous

A person once asked a righteous man to advise him. The latter said:

You are like an individual who fell into dirt, yet he approaches a perfume-seller asking where perfume is. He replies, “Go, buy soap, and then wash yourself and your clothes. After that, come back and apply perfume.”

You are the exact same as this. Your nafs is soaked in sin. Take the soap of regret and the water of repentance, and place them in vessels of fear and hope. Wash your outward with these to purify yourself from the dirt of crime and betrayal. Go to the bathhouse of righteousness and bathe yourself with the water of truth. Then come to me, and I shall apply the perfume of gnosis to you.[13]

حَيْثُمَا كُنْتَ This highlights how Allah knows our inward and outward states. We must fear Allah whether we are alone, being showered in bounties, or facing intense trials. His commands are to be acted upon in every situation. Working to please Him should be our aim, as well as avoiding anything that displeases Him.[14]

A way of fearing Allah

Despite being obedient to Allah day and night, our pious predecessors would still fear Allah. When a storm began, Aāˈ al-Sulaymī رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه would cry and exclaim, “This is due to me. Creation will be trialled by this. If Aāˈ were to die, creation would be safe from this.” Crying profusely, he would say, “Perhaps I will be dragged to Hellfire first, yet I am heedless!”[15]

If a community is not heedless of Allah and knows He is watching them, imagine how much preservation would be afforded to their rights. Contemplate the immense serenity and peace they shall experience. Reflect over the fine manner in which they would fulfil their obligations.

Wherever the fear of Allah develops in people and wishing well for others becomes a part of their attributes, they will become a means for removing difficulties from people and facilitating ease for them. Their speech will be used to please Allah, as well as to benefit others and save them from harm. Their hands will not be used to pull people down, but rather to support them instead.

Let us make a promise to fear Allah and avoid disobeying Him regardless of the condition we are in.

[1] Jāmiʿ al-Tirmidhī: 1987

[2] Mirqāt al-Mafātī, vol. 8, p. 810

[3] Tafsīr al-Bayāwī, vol. 1, p. 99

[4] Jāmiʿ al-ʿUlūm wa al-ikam, p. 201

[5] Tafsīr Khazāʾin al- Irfān, p. 4 with amendments

[6] Al-Quran, 4:131, Al-Nisāˈ, Translation from Kanz al-Īmān

[7] Jāmiʿ al-ʿUlūm wa al-ikam, pp. 201-202

[8] Ibid, p. 201

[9] aī Muslim: 4522

[10] Jāmiʿ al-ʿUlūm wa al-ikam, p. 202

[11] Iyā al-ʿUlūm, vol. 4, p. 90

[12] ālat Ahl al-aqīqat maʿa Allah, p. 38

[13] ālat Ahl al-aqīqat maʿa Allah, p. 43

[14] Mirqāt al-Mafātī, vol. 8, p. 810

[15] ālat Ahl al-aqīqat maʿa Allah, p. 70




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