In the beginning of Surah Baraqah Allah Almighty says beautifully:
This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for the mutaqeen (those have taqwa) (2:2)
The word mutaqeen has been repeated many times in the Quran and it does not really have an equivalent word in English, though it has been translated as god-fearing, mindful of God, righteous, so I prefer to keep mutaqeen as it is.
Taqwa has been mentioned 258 times in different verses and on different occasions in the Quran. What does it mean?
When you search for the word taqwa you will not find it under the letter ta, but the letter waw, because it stems from the root, waqa and yaqi –to protect and preserve yourself. Wiqaya means to protect yourself against fear or danger.
When Allah Almighty talks about those with taqwa, what are they protecting themselves from? From what displeases and angers Allah Almighty and the punishment of hellfire.
Allah Almighty encourages believers to seek taqwa, for instance when He is referring to Haj, He said:
Seek provisions, indeed the best of provisions is taqwa. (2:197)
How do you spot the people of taqwa?
In Surah Baqarah, after Allah Almighty said that the Quran is guidance for those with taqwa, He describes their qualities, saying they are the ones:
Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them (2:3)
We see from this that their characteristics are that they believe in they ghayb (unseen). Secondly, they establish prayers – in other words they are not just praying, but continuously praying on time in accordance with the prophetic sunnah. Thirdly they spend from what they have been given. These features reflect their internal link with Allah through believing in the unseen and salah and their external link through sharing what they have been given with others to benefit them.
Additionally they believe in the message, as well as what Allah Almighty sent to previous nations. And finally they are certain about the hereafter.
And who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith]. (2:4)
These are six characteristics of the people of taqwa.
How to be a person of taqwa
If we want to be people of taqwa we have to work on these characteristics especially in Ramadan, which is not just about fasting but also salah. Not the robotic salah, but a quality salah. Salah with khushoo’ and attentiveness.
Taqwa is obedience
I love the definition of taqwa which is agreed on by many scholars, which is carrying out the obligations and refraining from prohibitions. So the definition of taqwa is the one who is obedient to Allah and not rebellious.
There are five levels of taqwa:
- Protecting yourself against kufr (disbelief)
- Avoiding sins and prohibitions
- Avoiding doubtful matters
- Avoiding mubbah (permissible neutral) matters that are not clear to you
- Not allowing anything in your heart but Allah.
The fifth is very high level and we have to strive a lot to reach that level.
The fruits of taqwa
Allah Almighty mentioned that the fruits of being a person of taqwa are that you will be the most honoured person before Allah. It is not your status, network and connections in dunya which will elevate you, but how connected you were to Allah Almighty in dunya, which will bring you honour. We see the immediate and long-term benefits of taqwa in the verses
Surely the most honourable among you in the Providence of Allah have the most taqwa; (49:13)
When you follow Allah’s commands, He supports you:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوا وَّالَّذِينَ هُم مُّحْسِنُونَ
God is with those who are righteous and those who are virtuous. (16:128)
Closeness to Allah
Allah is with those who practice taqwa:
وَاللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الْمُتَّقِينَ
God is the Protector of the righteous. (45:19)
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَّقِينَ
God loves the righteous. (9:4)
Those who have taqwa are given the criterion of what is right and wrong – which is never given to any others.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَتَّقُوا اللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّكُمْ فُرْقَانًا وَيُكَفِّرْ عَنكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ ذُو الْفَضْلِ الْعَظِيمِ
O you who believe! If you remain conscious of God, He will give you a criterion, and will remit from you your sins, and will forgive you. God is possessor of infinite grace. (8:29)
Exit from difficulty and increase in rizq
Those who practice taqwa are given an exit from every difficulty:
وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مَخْرَجًا
And whoever fears God—He will make a way out for him. (65:2)
وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ ۚ
And will provide for him from where he never expected. (65:3)
Ease in affairs
Whoever practices taqwa Allah makes his affairs easy.
وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِ يُسْرًا
Whoever fears God—He will make things easy for him. (65:4)
Forgiveness and huge reward
وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يُكَفِّرْ عَنْهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِ وَيُعْظِمْ لَهُ أَجْرًا
Whoever fears God—He will remit his sins, and will amplify his reward. (65:5)
Acceptance of deeds
إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ
God accepts only from the righteous. (5:27)
وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
and observe taqwa, that you may succeed. (2:189)
الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَكَانُوا يَتَّقُونَ
Those who believe and are aware. (10:63)
لَهُمُ الْبُشْرَىٰ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ ۚ لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِكَلِمَاتِ اللَّهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ
For them is good news in this life, and in the Hereafter. There is no alteration to the words of God. That is the supreme triumph. (10:64)
Entry to Jannah
Jannah is for people of taqwa. Who doesn’t want to be in Jannah? So we want to achieve taqwa in our life
إِنَّ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ
For the righteous are Gardens of Delight with their Lord. (68:34)
Safety from Hell
Allah saves the people of taqwa in the akhirah
ثُمَّ نُنَجِّي الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوا وَّنَذَرُ الظَّالِمِينَ فِيهَا جِثِيًّا
Then We will rescue those who were devout, and leave the wrongdoers in it, on their knees. (19:72)
How do we measure our level of taqwa?
We need to have fear and hope in our life.
Avoid the haram and check your record daily. What did you do wrong today? Keep track.
Also maintain good character and keep repenting. Always judge with justice and be fair. Always glorify what Allah glorifies. If we do this, we will be among the people of taqwa.
We ask Allah top accept our deeds and make them purely for His sake. Ameen.
Delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim online to Muslim Council of Britain Ramadan 2020 Community Briefing on 26th April 2020.
January 15, 2021