As discussed earlier “sole purpose of human life” is to achieve peace and happiness by working as obedient vicegerent of Creator in this world. To achieve this, a believer needs to revolve his life around his Creator, Allah throughout his life. He has to connect his life with Allah. His journey to Allah must continue on the path of Islam. He starts his journey with Iman. In this journey he needs to learn and know “Islam- the straight path to Allah”. Otherwise, there is a risk of heading on wrong path and will never be able to reach destination. If he does not have sufficient knowledge about Islam, devil will try to deviate him from right path and direct him to wrong way. Therefore, he needs to be careful and remain conscious about Allah all time. This consciousness should reach to a stage that he sees Allah; while he thinks, says and does something and remains careful that he does not deviate from the path of Allah (Islam) in any action in his life. This is called “Taqwa” (consciousness of Allah). This Taqwa helps him to obey order of Allah in all affairs of life. Obeying Allah in all affairs of life is called “Ibada” (Worship). Thus, the journey that started with learning about Allah, Iman, Islam and acceptance of these; makes him obedient vicegerent of Allah through Taqwa and Worship. His work as “obedient vicegerent” in this world fulfill purpose of his creation and brings immense pleasure for him in this world and in life after death. He enjoys satisfactory life in this world and paradise after death as a reward from Allah. Allah has discussed in the Holy Quran repeatedly, about each of above five fundamental features that transforms life completely .The purpose of repetition is to establish these in the inner soul of every individual. The name of Allah appears in Quran 2698 times and in almost every page of Quran, Allah has introduced Himself to humankind. Therefore, it is important to read, understand and think on Quran for knowing Allah and accept him as he should be accepted. Denying or ignoring Creator, without knowing is mere ignorance.
We have also discussed about Iman in Allah and other fundamentals of Faith in previous chapters in detail with reference from Quran and Prophet’s (pbuh) teaching. It is also discussed that faith in Allah, warrants following Islam as only way of life.
In this chapter, we will discuss on Taqwa, which is essential for worship (ibada) of Allah.
‘Taqwa’ is translated in English as ‘Consciousness of Allah’. It is also translated as ‘Fear of Allah’, ‘love for Allah’, restraint etc. All these translation is right with respect to use of word ‘taqwa’ in specific verse of Quran and Hadith. However, central idea is same, that is:’ Consciousness of Allah in His fear and for His love’. This consciousness has a real meaning in life, that is: ‘Always remain conscious to obey order of Allah in thinking, talking and doing anything and never disobey Him.’ This consciousness prepares human mind to verify any action, he is going to do is according to order of Allah or not. If it is according to His order, he proceeds and if it is against His order, he stops. The following references from Quran, Hadith and scholars will help to understand Taqwa:
Verses of Quran about Taqwa:
Without fear and consciousness of Allah, obedience to order of Allah is not possible.
This is the reason, Allah has discussed about taqwa repeatedly in Quran. Taqwa with its derivatives are mentioned in Quran more than 250 times. These verses talked about qualities of people of taqwa like; trust ( 2:283), faithfulness ( 3: 186), patience (3:186), speak truth(33:70), do duty to Allah(4:131), obey order of Allah and abstain from whatever He has forbidden ( 3:102), pay obligatory charity, fulfill contract, perform prayer, spend for kins-orphan-needy (2:177). These are few examples of people of taqwa (muttaqeen). Ultimately, people of taqwa follows complete Quran as his way of life (2:2).
‘People of Taqwa ‘are the best people and for them are the best reward from their Lord:
‘The most honorable person to Allah is he who has taqwa’ (49:13).
‘And the good end is for people of taqwa’ (20:132).
Fear of Allah leads a believer to work as Muslim and die as a Muslim:
” O believers! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared). And do not die except as Muslim (by following Islamic way of life), (Quran 2: 102).
Prophet’s (pbuh) teaching on Taqwa:
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) made enormous effort throughout his life for training his followers the qualities of taqwa as stated in Quran. He was ‘Role Model’ for them to practice taqwa. He has built a nation on a moral base that helps to live through consciousness of Allah, obey order of Allah in all activities of life and avoid disobedience of Allah in fear of His punishment.
Few references from his teachings are as follows:
- ‘I advise you to have ‘Taqwa of Allah’ in your secret and open affairs’ (Musnad Imam Ahmed).
- ‘ Fear Allah wherever you may be, follow up an evil deed with a good one; which will wipe out evil and behave good towards people’ ( Tirmidhi ).
- ‘Fear Allah and be good to your family’ (Reported by Ibn Masud).
Practice of early Muslims on Taqwa:
Companions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and God-fearing Muslims of all time practiced qualities of Taqwa as stated in Quran and taught by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). All virtuous people of Muslim nation follow Muhammad (pbuh) as Role Model of Taqwa in all activities in their life. Few examples of their understanding about Taqwa are as follows:
- Umar (RA), second caliph of Islam and Ubay ibn Kaab (RA), a scholar of Quran explained meaning of Taqwa by an example of a person going through a narrow thorny desert path, while he is careful to snatch his clothes for protection from any harm. The meaning of this example is that people of taqwa is always careful to protect himself from harm of disobedience of Allah in any action in this journey of life on earth.
- Umar (RA), the second caliph of Islamic World, once looked at people praying and said: ‘The great number of times any of you raises and lowers his head does not deceive me. The real Din of Allah (Islamic way of life) is to be cautious and meticulous in the Din of Allah, refraining from what Allah has forbidden, and acting according to what Allah permits and forbids.
- Imam Hasan ibn Ali ( RA), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) said :
‘ The people, who have Taqwa are those people who avoid whatever Allah has prohibited and do whatever Allah has ordered’.
- Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (RH) said :
‘Taqwa is not by Fasting in the day and not by Praying in the night. Moreover, it is not by mixing between the two of them. But Taqwa is leaving what Allah has made unlawful (haram) and by doing what Allah has made obligatory (Fard)’.
- Imam ibn Tayymeah (RH) said :
‘ Taqwa includes doing everything that Allah has told to do, whether it is obligatory ( Fard) or recommended(Mustaab) and avoiding all that He has forbidden whether it is forbidden(Haram) or disliked (Makru)’.
- Imam ibn Juzayy ( RH) said :
‘Meaning of Taqwa is Fear, clinging to obedience to Allah, and avoiding disobedience to Him. It is the sum of all good’.
Above discussion with respect to Quran, hadith and practice of early Muslims gives a clear picture of Taqwa in Islam. However, when we compare this with contemporary practices of many Muslims on Taqwa, we see a different picture. Now a days most of the people, whom is considered ‘people of Taqwa’ are seen devoting in voluntary ( Nafl) prayer, fasting , reciting names of Allah(Tasbhi) and wearing special dress etc. However, they are not seen to care order of Allah in many other affairs of life; like family life, Social life, economic life, business- trade-commerce-industry, Judiciary, state affairs etc.
Early Muslims used to maintain ‘Taqwa’ in all affairs of life asper guidance in Quran and teaching of Prophet (pbuh).Their Taqwa was at mosque, home, society, market , business, trade, industry,court,state,battlefield everywhere. This is the right Taqwa and best way of satisfaction of Allah. Therefore, the safest way is to follow these without innovation.
Minimum status of Taqwa is to obey order of Allah at all work and avoid situation that may lead to His disobedience.
Highest level of Taqwa is a situation of mind, by which a believer feels that Allah sees him at all works, Angels record what he does, thinks and says; always ready to obey order of Allah.
So far, we have cleared what is Taqwa in Islam.
Now we will discuss where Taqwa is, how does it works, how to achieve taqwa and what is ultimate benefit of Taqwa.
Every believing man and woman possess quality of Taqwa, it may be either at high or at low level. It exist in the Soul, in the Mind and in Body of every believer:
- Soul- Taqwa of Spiritual Power.
- Mind- Taqwa of Intellectual Power.
- Body- Taqwa of physical body strength.
Taqwa of Soul:
Soul and Power of Soul is an invisible force in every man and woman that regulates his mind and body. Soul is the essence of human body. It is an unseen mystery, but everyone can feel its existence in the body. However, how it works and where it is located in the body is yet to unfold by science.
Allah has given power and freedom to soul.
It can give inspiration to body and mind to obey or disobey order of Allah. If Soul is corrupt, it inspires to do wrong and disobey Allah. If soul is pure, it inspires body and mind to Obey Allah and do righteous deed.
Purification of Soul is very important for Taqwa. It is called ‘Nagafatul Kalb’. Success and failure in life depends on whether a person purifies or corrupts his Soul.
‘Indeed he succeeds who purifies his Soul and fails, who corrupts his own self’ (Quran 91:10).
A believer should focus to purify Soul and attain “Proper Taqwa”.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to pray:
‘O Allah, I beg you grant my soul, it’s ‘Proper Taqwa’ and to refine it ‘(Muslim 2722).
Taqwa of Mind:
Like Soul, mind and mental power is also invisible part of body.
Thoughts, feeling, attitude, belief, imagination, memory, consciousness, thinking, judgement, perception etc. are function of mind.
Soul commands body and mind to think, say or do anything. Pure soul inspires body and mind to obey order of Allah and do righteous deed. Corrupt soul whispers to disobey Allah and do wrong.
For Taqwa of mind a believer always think, what to do and how to do something better for the satisfaction of Allah. He always remains conscious to avoid corrupt thinking that leads to corruption and disobedience to Allah. He prepares his mindset to investigate order of Allah for the body to execute.
Taqwa of Body:
Taqwa of body is a state of the body of believer that prepares every organ of body like; hands, feet, mouth, eyes, ears etc. to follow order of Allah and do righteous deed. As a practice of Taqwa before using these organs, a believer is required to check purpose of use of these organs and the way it is being used is according to order of Allah or not.
Taqwa of hand is to do righteous work and stop misuse of hand, Taqwa of ear is to use to listen order of Allah and learn, Taqwa of eye is to see signs of Allah and take lesson, and taqwa of feet is to walk for work for good and so on.
Ultimate Taqwa of entire body including Mind and Soul is to be cautious that these are used asper order of Allah for His satisfaction and any of the organs of body is not used against order of Allah; be cautious that these organs will give witness to Allah for their use by us:
‘ And you did not apprehend, while committing sins, that your ears, eyes and your skins would bear witness against you, but you thought that Allah was not aware of many of the things you used to do’(Quran 41:22).
How to be among people of Taqwa (Muttaki):
- Try to know qualities of Taqwa. Best way is to read, understand and follow order of Allah from Quran and teaching of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) from Hadith.
- Build relation with Allah through prayer, fasting and His remembrance at all work.
- Avoid situation that may lead to committing sin and disobedience to Allah at any work.
- Try to make habit to think that Allah is always with you, especially while going to do anything: “He (Allah) is with you wherever you are” (Quran 57:4).
- Try to make habit to think that Allah knows what you do:’ whether you do anything openly or in secret (remember that), Allah has full knowledge of everything ‘(Quran 33:54).
- Always think at work that Angels are recording what you are doing. This will help to avoid any unlawful act and bring purity at work :
’ Moreover, there are two scribes (Angel), one each sitting on the right and on the left, recording everything. He utters not a word, but there is a vigilant watcher at hand’ (Quran 50:17-18).
- Daily audit of all activities is important to ensureTaqwa. Quran teaches us to take our own account before it is put forward in front of us on the Day of Final Judgement:
‘O believers! Remain conscious of Allah; and let every human being look to what he sends for tomorrow. And (once again) remain conscious of Allah, for Allah is fully aware of all that you do’ (Quran 59: 18)’.
Umar (RA) the second Caliph of Islam used to teach people:’ Take account of yourselves before you are audited (by someone else). Weigh your deeds before they are audited (by someone else)’.
- Finally, after doing everything to achieve Taqwa; seek help from Allah and pray to Him to grant Taqwa; as was done by our beloved Prophet (pbuh):
‘O Allah! I beg you grant my soul its “Proper Taqwa” and to refine it ‘(Muslim 2722).
Taqwa, thus achieved, will prepare a believer to obey order of Allah and Worship Him, as He should be worshipped through performing duties assigned by Him and achieve the purpose of life.