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TAQWA: Meaning and Essence

In his special sermon on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr on August 20, 2012 Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius gave a discourse on the most important quality a Muslim aspires to acquire: TAQWA.

Read the Extracts from the Eid Sermon:

“...When a person does a good deed, he must do so only for the pleasure of Allah. That person must have the Taqwa, that is, piety, righteousness.  Of what essence is that Taqwa? If you ask somebody on the street, what is that piety (Taqwa), he shall be embarrassed to give you an answer. And if you tell him that it means becoming pious, he can open wide his eyes or laugh at you. In his ignorance, when he hears those words, he can laugh it off. Therefore it must be understood that Taqwa is the master of words, a key word in Islam. Taqwa designates a virtue, a quality which is precise and well appreciated by Allah the Almighty.

In the Quran itself Allah tells us: O you who believe, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims (that is, in submission to Him). (3: 103)  What Allah makes us understand here is that Taqwa is the aim itself of our faith and also that of all our worship and acts of worship. Allah, moreover, makes us understand from the Quran: “O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous”. (2: 22) And this applies for each act of worship which we do and particularly Salat whereby Allah the Almighty says: This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah - Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them”. (2: 3-4)

Open the Quran in whichever page you want and you shall see that there are instances where the word Taqwa is repeated several times on the same page! In the Hadith, our beloved prophet Hazrat Muhammad (sa) has said: “that the Taqwa is efficacious for it corrects all our deeds and also Taqwa rectifies and transforms you and puts you back on the right path.”

When Hazrat Muadh ibn Jabal (ra) prepared to go to Yemen to become the Governor of this Province, Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him) told him: “Oh Muadh, perhaps after this year we shall not meet in this life.” When the Prophet (sa) said that, Hazrat Muadh (ra) began to cry and this Hadith indicated that the Holy Prophet (sa) turned his face in the direction of Madina (perhaps he also was crying) and he said: All those who are close to me and who have a good relation with me shall be the ones who have the fear of Allah in their hearts, who live their life with Taqwa.(Musnad Ahmad)

Hazrat Abdullah ibn Masud (ra) narrated that the Holy Prophet (sa) said: “If someone, in fear of Allah let down a tear, even if that tear is as small as the head of a fly, and that this tear fall on his face, Allah shall protect his face from the fire of hell.” (Ibn Majah)

Hazrat Abu Huraira (ra) narrated that Hazrat Muhammad (sa) said: “A Muslim brother must not (harm or hurt) another Muslim brother; on the contrary he must help him, and support him and does not consider him as inferior. Who may know more that in the eyes of Allah, the one whom you consider as inferior has the fear of Allah, and when the Holy Prophet (sa) said that, he touched his heart three times and said that Taqwa is found therein (that is, in the heart)”. (Muslim)

The term Taqwa is indescribable. It means more than piety. Therefore, there is no real translation of the word which is satisfying. The term Taqwa, which is translated often as ‘fear of Allah’, has nothing to do with fear, as in fear of a monster, or fear of the darkness of the night etc. Taqwa designates a revered fear, a fear imprint with respect towards Allah. In fact it means: prevent oneself to disobey Allah, prevent oneself from committing those deeds which is disliked by Allah and therefore you do not do these things because of the love which you have for Allah or for the revered fear which you have for Him.

Taqwa has essentially 3 meanings:

(1)    Idjtenaab: That is, protect yourselves from all sorts of sins, and all that which is disliked by Allah and His Prophet (sa).

(2)    Fear (of Allah): Not to approach anything which can awaken the anger of Allah; all those things which can bring us far away from Allah.

(3)  Protect yourselves from everything that is Ghairullah (that is, that are against Allah and his commandments) and in this case, the Taqwa means the seeking of the remembrance of Allah, seeking His pleasure.

Once Hazrat Umar (ra) asked Hazrat Ka’ab bin Habbab (ra): “What do you understand by Taqwa?” Therefore Hazrat Kaab (ra) answered: “Oh Chief of the Believers, “Have you ever traversed a narrow path which is covered with prickly bushes on either side?” Hazrat Umar (ra) replied: “Yes I have.” Hazrat Ka’ab (ra) then asked: “How did you walk on this path?” Hazrat Umar (ra) said: “I gathered together all my clothes very tightly around myself and walk very carefully”. Hazrat Ka’ab (ra) said: “This is Taqwa.”

To have faith, one must have Taqwa and we just cannot separate the two. Islam encompasses Taqwa and Iman in its totality. Taqwa is a supreme recommendation throughout the Holy Quran, as if it is the most important of all notions, the most essential of all virtues and a very fundamental matter which regulates our everyday life and without which faith is nothing. The great man and prophet of Allah Hazrat Muhammad (sa) transformed the lives of his companions and successors and also the saints of Islam when he succeeded in destroying the filth of the inner heart and to make grow therein the flowers of devotion, sincerity, goodness, and generosity etc.

Therefore before I end my sermon, I would advice all my brothers, sisters and children on this day of Eid-ul-Fitr – which is a blessed and joyful day for those who have accomplished their duty to its fullest for the pleasure of their Lord) – therefore I tell you:

“Yaaa-ayyuhallaziina, Eid Mubarak! Aamanuttaqul-laaha wa kuunun ma-as-Saadiquun.” “Habbatakum Al-Takula wal Imaani waftaalakum abwaabul kulussi wal mohabbati wal furqaan.”

O you who believe, Eid Mubarak!

Be righteous and join those who are truthful. I advise you to tread on the path of Taqwa and Iman and after that Allah shall open the door of sincerity and love for you.

Therefore let us make this supplication:

“Allahoumma aati nafsi Taqwaha wa anta khairah man ataha Taqwaha, wa anta Waliyyuuha wa Mawlaaha.”

O Allah give my soul its piety, for You are the Best to give it this piety. You are its Protector and Guardian. (Ameen)

May Allah give us this Taqwa, Ameen.


Taqabbalallahu minaa wa minkum
(May Allah accept it from us and you)

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