There was once a father, who called out to his 3 children and gave them a fruit each. He told them to go and hide and eat the fruit and make sure no one sees them eating the fruit. The first child went and hid under the bed and ate his fruit. The second child went in the cupboard and hid, made sure everywhere was dark and ate his fruit slowly without making a sound, while the third child didn’t eat his.
After a while, the father called to them and ask what they did with the fruit and the first answered he ate his without anyone seeing him. The second replied saying he made sure everywhere was dark and didn’t make a sound when eating his and finally, the last child answered saying he didn’t eat his, the father asked why and he replied “Because ALLAH sees me all the time and I can never hide from HIM”
That, in a nutshell, is TAQWAH.
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 special meaning in the eyes of Allah. It is Taqwa that gives meaning to our worship rituals that otherwise would be nothing without it.
لَن يَنَالَ اللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَاؤُهَا وَلَٰكِن يَنَالُهُ التَّقْوَىٰ مِنكُمْ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ سَخَّرَهَا لَكُمْ لِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُحْسِنِينَ –
Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you, and give good tidings to the doers of good. Q22: V37
There are lots of meanings and understanding of the word “Taqwah”. It is often translated as Piety, Fear of ALLAH or becoming conscious of ALLAH. But while fearing Allah and being conscious of HIM is all part of Taqwah, its meaning is far deeper than that. It is one of the most important and comprehensive parts of Islam and considered an essential part of a believer. When a believer has true taqwah, it illuminates in all aspect of his life, shining through even in the darkest of times.
بَلَىٰ مَنْ أَوْفَىٰ بِعَهْدِهِ وَاتَّقَىٰ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَّقِينَ
But yes, whoever fulfils his commitment and fears Allah – then indeed, Allah loves those who fear Him. -Q3: V76
TAQWAH linguistically is derived from the root word “WAQAYYA”, meaning “to protect”. So taqwah means to protect or have a protective barrier on yourself from the punishment of ALLAH by following His guidance. Taqwah also means to DO what Allah has permitted and to NOT DO what Allah has forbidden.
In a narration between Ubay ibn Ka’ab and Umar ibn Khattab, Umar was asked about Taqwah and posed the same question to Ubay what he would do when walking along a thorny path and Ubay replied saying he would roll up his garment and walk cautiously and avoid being picked by the thorns.
This analogy illustrates how one is conscious and careful with the way one lives life. Thinking of the thorns as the prohibitions of ALLAH and being careful not to get hurt by them. Those with Taqwah are in constant awareness of ALLAH in every single action, no matter how insignificant it is.
WHY WE LOSE TAQWAH.
Sinning is the major if not one of the major factor that kills the Taqwah in our hearts. In our society, we are surrounded by cheap access. Constant and easy opportunities to sin. so rampant that there is nowhere you go that sin is not pervasive. It is on our streets, Our places of Work, Our Homes, Our Bedrooms, in our Hands and places we don’t think of.
We are bombarded with Major and Minor sins constantly that the sin begins to normalise on our lips, eyes and hearts. A sin we dare not do then, we discover no longer bother us. So much so when we are reminded “Fear Allah” it sparks anger, hatred and resentment toward the reminder.
Our hearts no longer care if ALLAH sees us sinning. Forgetting we will account for our actions and choices on the Day of Account. We become heedless in our deen and begin to slip away from the path of ALLAH deeming all consequences.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ
O you who have believed, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims [in submission to Him]. Q3: V102
Today our hearts have become hard and dry. We hardly cry when we pounder or hear the Quran out of the fear of Allah. We forget that lack of crying stems from the hardness of the heart and what hardens the heart is sinning. To add to our problems as Humans, when a test or a trial falls upon us, dua and sabr become the last act we do.
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah was asked about that for which people are admitted into Paradise the most, so he said: “Taqwa of Allah and good character.” And he was asked about that for which people are admitted into the Fire the most, and he said: “The mouth and the private parts.” (Tirmidhi)
HOW DO WE GAIN TAQWAH?
So how does one develop Taqwah in their hearts? We can’t seek Jannah without the obedience of Allah. We cannot attain obedience if we do not have the fear and consciousness of Allah. Acquiring taqwa is a process that takes time. It grows with the increase of faith in the heart of a believer until they become convinced that Allah is aware of everything they do and each word they say. And the major way to increase our faith (Iman) is by understanding and practising Islam.
So the first step to having taqwa is: Renew your intentions and make efforts “tie your camel”. Make elaborate preparations, and get all your tools ready to combat shaytan. No matter how hard you plan, things might go wrong. At this point, preparations and hard work won’t help you.
Now comes the second step: put your complete trust in Allah, Al-Wakeel. Because no matter what goes wrong, it is a test from Allah to purify you. So when things don’t go according to your plan, seek comfort in remembering it is going according to Allah’s plan and that Allah is the best of planners. So keep practising Islam.
WITH TAQWAH COMES EASE IN ALL MATTER.
Being a believer does not guarantee that one will never be tested or tried or a calamity not befalling them. ALLAH says in Surah Al-‘Ankabut (Q29 v 2-3) “Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried? * But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars.”
One thing we need to realise is that through the blessing of Taqwah, Allah brings ease in all affairs. HE gives you all the tools necessary to endure and pass HIS tests. Allah reassures us in the Quran saying “………That is instructed to whoever should believe in Allah and the Last day. And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out” (Q65 V2). So when faced with difficulty and remain steadfast on their faith for HIS sake and HIS fear, Allah will surely make a way out for you.
WITH TAQWAH COMES ACCEPTANCE OF DEEDS.
وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ ابْنَيْ آدَمَ بِالْحَقِّ إِذْ قَرَّبَا قُرْبَانًا فَتُقُبِّلَ مِنْ أَحَدِهِمَا وَلَمْ يُتَقَبَّلْ مِنَ الْآخَرِ قَالَ لَأَقْتُلَنَّكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ
“And recite to them the story of Adam’s two sons, in truth, when they both offered a sacrifice [to Allah ], and it was accepted from one of them but was not accepted from the other. Said [the latter], “I will surely kill you.” Said [the former], Indeed, Allah only accepts from the righteous [who fear Him].” – Q5: V27
Taqwah should always reflect in all our deeds. Whether its salah or telling a joke. Always remember ALLAH is watching you. Let all actions you wish to engage in be for HIS sake. From waking up for fajr to taking a bath for HIS sake, for Allah loves purity. To be grateful for the food you’re eating for HE is Ar-Razaq. To appreciate the way you were created and fashioned for HE is Al-Khaliq (The Creator) and Al-Musawwir (The Fashioner)
WITH TAQWAH COMES SUSTENANCE.
Are you going through financial difficulty? Or do you fear to get broke and become poor? Or are you scared of tainting your rizq with Haram? Allah Gives us the secret in the Quran.
وَلَوْ أَنَّ أَهْلَ الْقُرَىٰ آمَنُوا وَاتَّقَوْا لَفَتَحْنَا عَلَيْهِم بَرَكَاتٍ مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَلَٰكِن كَذَّبُوا فَأَخَذْنَاهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ
And if only the people of the cities had believed and feared Allah, We would have opened upon them blessings from the heaven and the earth; but they denied [the messengers], so We seized them for what they were earning.” -Q7: V96
This is an Ayah referring to the people of Musa (A.S). They didn’t have taqwah, ALLAH seized their sustenance. Which implies that those that have Taqwah, ALLAH will provide for them from His bounties. So let us turn to ALLAH in Humility. For whatever we seek in sustenance can be found in vast treasures of ALLAH.
WITH TAQWAH COMES SALVATION FROM JAHANNAM.
Allah will save Muttaqin (the one who has Taqwah) from hell, so try to do the right thing. ALLAH says:
وَإِن مِّنكُمْ إِلَّا وَارِدُهَا ۚ كَانَ عَلَىٰ رَبِّكَ حَتْمًا مَّقْضِيًّا – ثُمَّ نُنَجِّي الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوا وَّنَذَرُ الظَّالِمِينَ فِيهَا جِثِيًّا
And there is not one of you but shall pass by Hell. This is upon your Lord an inevitability decreed. * Then We will save those who feared Allah and leave the wrongdoers within it, on their knees. – Q19: V71 – 72
So be pious and receive rewards from Allah the Almighty. When a believer ensures that his obedience to Allah and his love remains above all, he is gifted by Allah the ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood. In the Holy Quran, Allah says: “O you who believe, if you fear Allah, He will grant you a criterion (Furqan)” Q8: V29. So to know the Importance of Taqwa in Islam and its benefits is useful for all Muslims.
WITH TAQWAH COMES SUCCESS.
For the success of this life and the hereafter, we must attain Taqwa. We should not delay in increasing our taqwa. We should be in constant prayer to Almighty Allah to guide us to the right path.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اصْبِرُوا وَصَابِرُوا وَرَابِطُوا وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful. – Q3: V200
Whoever wants to succeed in this life and the afterlife must do righteous deeds for the sake of the Almighty Allah.
TAQWAH IN CONNECTION WITH RAMADHAN.
We all know the famous verse in the Qur’an that talks about fasting and Taqwah “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous -“(Q2: V183). Fasting is an exercise of Taqwah. If you realise, when fasting, our body urges us to eat and drink. We resist it out of love and obedience of Almighty Allah. We become cautious about the kind of deeds we do in Ramadan.
So let us use this precious opportunity to build our taqwah. it is a time that comes once in 12 months. If we can keep away from that which ALLAH has made Halal. Surely staying away from that which is forbidden should be easier (by the will of Allah). Such is the blessing and Rahma of the month of Ramadhan.
Lastly, when we love someone, be it our fathers, mothers or spouses we make efforts in finding out what they want, what makes them happy, what makes them even happier. We make sure there’re always smiles on their faces. Making them pleased with you all the time and fear anything that will make them angry or displeased with you… even go the extra mile of finding out acts you can do to regain their pleasure when you displease them.
The same applies to gaining Taqwah. Learn about Allah, Things He loves, things that please HIM and do them solely for HIS sake. Learn the things that displease HIM and keep away from them.
Even if it means going back to the basics and rediscovering Islam, rekindle that connection with Allah and build new connections. And when you displease Allah, seek forgiveness, regret the sin and do a good deed to replace the bad deed.