Every year, this month of Ramadan comes in and goes off. I have heard ‘Taqwa’ to be the goal of this blessed month. And I have tried myself into more good deeds this month in hope of gaining ‘Taqwa’. After the month left me, I found myself not in a higher level of excellence. And that is when I realized, little did I know what really ‘Taqwa’ was!
The scholars of the past have defined taqwa in many different ways, many a times, each definition overlapping with the other. So, rather than putting all of them up here, I have chosen a simple definition for you to start with. And as we move along, we will discover many other definitions in sha Allah.
To begin with, Taqwa is the shield that you use to protect and preserve your relationship with Allah. Hence, it is carrying out every obligatory act, staying away from every forbidden act, leaving that which are disliked hoping the reward of Allah and fearing His punishment.
For verily with every obligatory act of worship you go closer to Allah , and every step that you take to stay away from His disobedience also takes you closer to Him . Every good deed that is recommended done takes you further closer to your Lord, and refraining yourselves away from things that are disliked adds to the protection of your relationship with your Master.
A preacher once said, ‘Know firstly, may Allah bless your religion and increase your certain faith, that Taqwa – according to the experts on internal purification – is to cleanse the heart of a sin that you attain firm resolve to leave it off, as a shield between you and other acts of disobedience, and to accustom yourself to shunning every reprehensible action.’
And Imam Ahmad said, ‘ Taqwa is to leave that which you desire for that which you fear’.
So when a person accustoms himself to staying away from reprehensible actions and leaves that which he desires for that which he fears, his heart gets purified every step and he falls in love with good deeds!
Hence, all good deeds emerge from the tree of Taqwa. Taqwa is the shield to protect and preserve your relationship with Allah, so you do good deeds, and more good deeds, and you stay away, far away from the evil deeds, and even avoid the permissible deeds that distract you from Allah. Taqwa is the comprehensive term for all goodness, walhamdulillah. It is the seed of all goodness. It is the beginning!
The lofty status of Taqwa
When their brother Noah said to them, “Will you not fear Allah? Indeed, I am to you a trustworthy messenger. So fear Allah and obey me.
The lofty status of Taqwa can be realised when we know that it has been the advice of all the prophets. Mentioned is one example from the numerous examples from the Qur’an where Prophet Nuh advised his people to have Taqwa. And why would the prophets advise all to have Taqwa?
Because they realized and internalized that Taqwa is the best provision, Our Lord Al-Musawwir (The Fashioner) says (meaning of which is) : but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah. And fear Me, O you of understanding.
The best clothing as He says (meaning of which is) : But the clothing of righteousness (Taqwa) – that is best.
The state through which Allah judges people, and He says soothing the heart saying (meaning of which is) : Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.
So instead of being attached to the dunya and working for it, they excelled in working for the hereafter due to their keen understanding of Taqwa, which is what made them so great!
Taqwa was their success formula, how do you define yours?
When ’Umar ibn Abd al Aziz died, the learned men came to his wife to express sympathy and say how great a calamity had struck the people of Islam by his death. And they said to her, ’Tell us about him – for the one who knows best about a man is his wife’.
And she said: ”Indeed he never used to pray or fast more than the rest of you, but I never saw a servant of God who feared Him more than ’Umar. He devoted his body and his soul to the people. All day he would sit tending to their affairs, and when night came he would sit up while business remained. One evening when he had finished everything, he called for his lamp – from which he used to buy the oil from his own money – and prayed two prostrations. Then he sat back on his folded legs, with his chin in his hands, and the tears ran down from his cheeks, and this didn’t stop until dawn, when he rose for a day of fasting.
I said to him, ’Commander of the Believers, was there some matter that troubled you this night?’ And he said, ’Yes, I saw how I was occupied while governing the affairs of the community, all its black sheep and its white sheep, and I remembered the stranger, beggared and straying, and the poor and the needy, and the prisoners in captivity, and all like them in the far places of the earth, and I realised that God most high would ask me about all of them, and Muhammad would testify about them, and I feared that I should find no excuse when I was with God, and no defence with Muhammad.’
What made Umar ibn Abdul Aziz such a legendary figure? What made him so amazingly successful and productive? Indeed, it was the Taqwa he had.
This goes the same for every righteous person who created an impact, an impact that others don’t even dream of. It wasn’t only the prophets who chose Taqwa as their provision and clothing and advised others to choose it too. It was the advise of Abu Bakr, Umar, Ali, Umar ibn Abdul Aziz and many others! They advised and shared with people their formula of success. The formula that made them so amazingly great in the sight of Allah as well as in the sight of people. And so, they advised people to have Taqwa.
Have Taqwa, before it’s never possible again
As I touched the cold forehead of my dead grandfather, I was in shock. My eyes couldn’t believe it was the same tall and handsome grand dad I had known throughout my life. His skin was wrinkled and his face had no more flesh left. When his shroud was laid down on the floor, the tall man seemed a short little human. I thought, would he ever lay down on the floor if he was alive? What use will his handsomeness or wealth be to him now? Everything seemed valueless except one. Everyone remembered him for all the good he did.
And yes, that’s what remains, the good deeds of a person. It is the good deeds of a person that remains with him, and remains for him in this dunya. If people are impacted, they are not impacted by the enchantment of your beauty, but they are impacted by the amount of good deeds you have done.
And good deeds can never stem out except from the one who has Taqwa. And Taqwa can never be truly realised until we understand what it means, its lofty status and put it in practice. You cannot learn Taqwa through academic lessons. It is to be felt at the performance of good deeds and refraining from bad deeds, when done out of hope from Allah and fear of Him.
Faria Alam is a young aspiring student who seeks to help young females educate themselves. She is a freelance writer and loves to read books of different disciplines. She takes great interest in personal development.