ذَلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ هُدًى لِلْمُتَّقِينَ
This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah [2:2]
Allah swt begins the Qur’an-e-karim with the first verse of Surah Baqarah. Now, in one sense, Surah Fatiha is the beginning of the Qur’an but in another sense, Surah Fatiha is the introductory chapter or the summary of the entire Qur’an and its from Surah Baqarah onwards that Allah swt begins the major in-depth treatment, with all of the different issues that He swt hints at.
So, Surah Baqarah begins with Alif-Laam-Meem by which Allah swt seeks to humble humanity because the vast majority of Ullema believe that despite different attempts at approximating the meaning of Alif-laam-meem, it falls under the huroof-e-mutashabihaat. Its one those verses of the Qur’an-e-karim, that Allah swt has not given humanity any knowledge about. Allah swt humbled us by saying Alif Laam Meem and then by saying ذَلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ that this is the book in which there is no doubt; there is no skepticism; there is no deficiency; no ambiguity in anyway. This is a book that no.2 is going to be a guidance; however who will it be a guidance for? هُدًى لِلْمُتَّقِينَ for the people of Taqwa. It means that in order to recieve huda or to recieve Hidaya, or to recieve guidance: the shart-e-awwal [the first condition] i.e. the first pre-requisite to that is taqwa.
And Taqwa really is an essential part of our Deen, its part of our kamil-iman, its part of perfection of our iman, it is the izhaar of our iman. Because it certifies our belief that Allah swt alone is the Hakim; is the Commander, is Akbar; is Great, is A’azam; is Rahman, is Rahim, is Magnificent, is Glorious, is Zul-Jalaal, has all Power and Might. So, in other words the real practical demonstration of our emaan in all of His attributes, is if we adopt a life of Taqwa.
So, Taqwa is not just related to ‘amal, but its also deeply, inherently related to our iman.
The meaning of Taqwa is extremely vast, in fact taqwa is meant to touch upon every aspect of our life. Taqwa means several things:
1. It means in one sense: to fear Allah swt and that is its primary meaning, i.e. to fear Allah swt and out of that fear that fear to lead a life of obedience and righteousness.
2. Second meaning it has is: God consciousness. To be conscious of Allah swt, to be aware of Him at all times and that can again be motivated by either emotional states of fear for Allah swt or love for Allah swt
So, this aspect of Taqwa is meant to become so firmly embedded in the heart of every believing man and woman that it becomes inseparable from every aspect of her[/his] life. So, each and every aspect of her life would then be effected by a desire to adopt taqwa, to lead that moment that second of her life in attainment of the Pleasure of her Lord. Second thing is that taqwa is meant to be embedded in every single amal, every single action that we do. every single qawl; every single speech that we utter; every single khayal; every thought we might think and every single jazba or emotion or feeling that we might feel.
Taqwa is the way to do tazkiya or to purify our actions, words, thoughts and feelings; to make them saalih, to make them pure, to make them wholesome.
So, the ‘amali izhaar the practical demonstration of our iman – in our aakhirah in our yearning to meet Allah swt to meet our beloved Lord on that day and to dwell in the presence of ambiya for eternity, the practical manifestation of our iman in all of these things is Taqwa.
In other words, Taqwa is the rabt or the link between iman and ‘amal. If a person wonders that why is it that although I am a person of belief I have not been able to become a person of practice or my level of practice is not corresponding to my level of taqwa or my practice is deficient so the thing that is going to enable the person to increase their practice is taqwa. Whether that practice is in their individual life, their family life, whether its at communal societal level or individual level. The thing that is going to bring a change in their person in their ‘amal is their taqwa is their fear and consciousness and love for Allah swt.
And taqwa does not simply say change an individual person in other words it changes us at an individual level, it also changes your relationship with others. Taqwa is phenomenal, it not only increases us in our ‘amal in our iman but also increases us in our justice; just way of dealing; our compassion with others; our forgiveness for others our patience with others our forbearance or sabr or tahammul or hilm when dealing with others. Taqwa is something thats going to enable us to stay away from lying, from fraud from deception. It will enable us to stay away from envy from stinginess, from doubts, from arrogance, from all of these negative attributes that affect not only ourselves but affect others and it’s precisely this attribute, this sift of taqwa – that was the imtiaz or that was the distinguishing or distinct feature of the Sahaba-e-karaam radiallahu anhu ajmaeen and distinct feature of our whole Muslim Ummah actually and the azmat the urooj the greatness and the ascendancy of this ummah is directly related to the level of taqwa that the individual members of this ummah have.
Those Muslims, as individuals or as collective, who made taqwa their usool, their principle of life, then Allah swt granted them izzah. Allah swt says in the Qur’an-e-karim:
وَلِلَّهِ الْعِزَّةُ وَلِرَسُولِهِ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
‘…that for Allah swt is izzah and for His Messenger saw and for the people of iman…’ [63:8]
and the izzah the honour, or the grace and dignity of the iman lies in their taqwa in their fear of Allah swt, their obedience to Allah swt, in their love for Him, in their awareness and consciousness of Him swt. ‘
Elsewhere, Allah swt commands in the Qur’an-e-karim:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ
that you should have fear of Allah swt as He deserves. [3:102]
that you should fear Allah as He deserves to be feared; you should be aware of Allah swt as He deserves to be aware of ; we should be conscious of Allah swt as He deserves to be conscious of; we should obey Him swt as He deserves to be obeyed; we should let iman into our hearts and transform us into righteousness and piety as befits our belief in Allah swt - حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ
وَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ
…And do not die except if you die in a state of Islam. [3:102]
In other words, taqwa is something that we are guaranteed that if we do it on this earth, we would die in a state of iman. And that is true, precisely because the early Muslims were not people who were trying just to get by or just to squeeze through hellfire and barely make it into Jannah – they weren’t people like that. They were people who thought that actually it befits the Majesty of Allah swt; it befits His Mercy; it befits His love for us; it befits His generosity towards us that we should try to bring to Allah swt the greatest attributes that we possibly can. So, they strived to do their best, when it came to their Deen. And, unfortunately many of us in this day and age, believe in striving to do the best for our dunya, we believe in trying to find the best spouse; trying to find the best means of employment; trying to get into the best university; trying to get the best lifestyle; trying to dress ourselves in the best type of clothing; but very of us our trying to attain the best level of Taqwa…
Some of us, when it comes to this word ‘Taqwa’, we seem to think that somehow either our Deen or the Qur’an or Allah swt Himself are content or actually teaching us that we only need to adopt the bare minimum level of Taqwa. Allah swt says in the Quran-e-karim:
إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ
[Surah Hujurat, 49:13] That the most honoured of you in the eyes of Allah swt are those who are most in their taqwa.
So, the more and more we become honoured in the eyes of the divine, the more and more we become pleasing to Him is a direct result of how much taqwa we adopt.
So, that is why tasawwuf has put a deep emphasis on taqwa, because tasawwuf is primarily about loving Allah swt and making yourself such that you become His beloved
and Allah swt has said in the Qur’an-e-karim: إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ that the most honoured of you in the eyes of Allah swt are the ones who have the most Taqwa then the true lover of Allah swt will race towards flock towards adopting taqwa, because they would now know from the Qur’an that Taqwa is not something that you can swing by.
to be completed*