Hadith 18: The Concept of Taqwa
By Imam An-Nawawi
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-'ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam, is His Messenger
Abu Dzarr Al-Ghifari (Jundub bin Junadah) and Abu Abdul Rahman (Mu`adz bin Jabal), (radiyallahu anhum), reported that the Messenger of Allah, (Sallallahu`alayhi wasallam), said: “Fear Allah wherever you may be; follows up an evil deed with a good one which will wipe (the former) out, and behave good-naturedly towards people.”[Recorded by At-Tirmidzi: good (hasan)]
Taqwa is one of the most signigicant and comprehensive Islamic concepts. The term is derived from Arabic root word, "waqayya" which means“to protect.” Taqwa therefore means to protect one own self from the severe punishment of Allah by following His guidance.
Some translate Taqwa as “To fear Allah”. However, fearing Allah is only one aspect of this comprehensive concept. Ali Ibn Abi Talib, (radiyallahu anhu), defines it as: “Fearing Allah, is the adhering to His commandments, being content with what He grants one with, and getting ready for the Day of Judgement.”
Mohammad Asad (rahimahullāh) translates it as “To be Conscious of Allah.” It might be better according to some Muslim linguist to use the transliteration of this Qur’anic term and keep it as it is.
The term has been mentioned many times both in Qur’an and Sunnah. Allah the Almighty says: "O believers! Have Taqwa of Allah as is His right to have Taqwa. And die not except while you are Muslims" [Surah Al-Imran, 3: 102]
By realization of Taqwa, a Muslim is granted many bounties and blessings which he or she may gain. Among them are: the Love of Allah, a criterion by which to judge and distinguish between right and wrong, a way out of difficulties, matters will be made easier for him or her, sins will be remitted, guidance, help to acquire beneficial knowledge, prosperity and success.
According to the view of Ibn Rajab (rahimahullāh) as well as other scholars that Taqwa means to fulfill obligations and avoid prohibitions and doubtful matters. It is the advice of Allah to all humankind, and it is the advice of all prophets, (alayhimus-salam), to their people. Prophet Mohammad, (Sallallahu`alayhi wasallam), used to advise and continuously remind his Companions about Taqwa in all his talks and on different occasions.
Those who define Taqwa as “Fearing Allah” look at the concept as a motive, because according to early scholars the minimum level of fearing Allah is what motivates a Muslim to fulfill obligations and keeps him or her away from prohibitions.
Taqwa Does Not Imply Perfection.
Taqwa does not imply perfection as those who have Taqwa are subject to commit sins. However, if they do so, they repent right away and follow up the bad deed they have done with a good deed to wipe the bad one out as mentioned in this hadith. This clarifies the debatable issue between some scholars: whether or not avoiding minor sins is considered an aspect of Taqwa.
Good Deeds Remove Evil Deeds
Allah the Almighty and all Merciful have left the door of forgiveness opened to many means by which the punishment for a sin might be removed. To do good deeds right after bad ones to wipe them out is one mean. This is mentioned in Surah Hud, 11: 114: "Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds."
There are other ways and means by which sins are forgiven as stated in the Qur’an and Sunnah such as:
· Istighfar (seeking forgiveness by supplication)
· Tawbah (repentance)
· Du'a’ of Muslims for one another
· The intercession by the Prophet, (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam)
· The intercession of pious Muslims
· Performing the daily five solah regularly and on time
· The torment in the grave
· The horrible scenes and events of the Last Day
· The mere Mercy and Forgiveness from Allah Almighty
If we do a good deed, Allah will reward us by guiding us to do another good deed. Hence, doing a good deed will lead to doing another good deed. Doing a bad deed without regretting it or without istighfar or wiping it out by doing a good deed will most likely lead to doing another bad deed, whether of the same type or of a different type. By doing a bad deed with that attitude makes the person subject to repeat it again and again and doing other bad deeds becomes possible until the heart of that person is “sealed” and the person turns into a transgressor.
It is an obligation that every Muslim should treat others, deal with them, and interact with them in a good manner.
As the Prophet, (Sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam), says in the following hadiths: “Piety and Righteousness is being of good character.”[Recorded by Imam Muslim]; “The believer with the most complete Iman (faith) is the one with the best behavior.” [Recorded by Imam Ahmad and Abu Dawud]; “There is nothing heavier in the scales than good character.”[Recorded by Imam Ahmad and Abu Dawud]
The Prophet, (sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) also made Iman (faith) and good character as the main basic criterion whether or not to accept a man for marriage.
Ibn Rajab (rahimahullāh) says in his commentary: “Having good character is a characteristic of Taqwa. Taqwa cannot be complete without it. It was mentioned here by itself due to the need for explicitly explaining that point. Many people think that Taqwa implies fulfilling the rights of Allah without fulfilling the rights of humans. Therefore, the Prophet, (Sallallahu`alayhi wasallam), explicitly stated that he or she must deal with people in a kind manner.”
Taqwa encompasses the fear of Allah Almighty which means the submission to Allah; adhering to Allah’s commandments, to perform good deeds avoiding the munkar, to judge and distinguish between right and wrong; remembering Allah, being grateful with Allah blessings; and to attach to the Akhirah which is permanent rather than the temporary worldly matters; good conduct, character and behave good-naturedly towards others and; to be conscious of Allah in all aspects of life.
The Excellence of Taqwa
There are several benefits derived from being Taqwa such as:
· The Qur’an is in itself guidance for those who are God-conscious: “This is the Scripture whereof there is no doubt, guidance unto those who ward off (evil)” [Al-Baqarah, 2:2]. This is why many people do not really benefit from reading scriptures of holy books, because their hearts are not really receptive to them.
· Taqwa helps people to have proper vision, knowledge, and wisdom: “O ye who believe! If ye fear Allah, He will grant you a criterion (to judge between right and wrong), remove from you (all) evil (that may afflict) you, and forgive you: for Allah is the Lord of grace unbounded”[Al-Anfal, 8:29]. Another verse that relates taqwa to knowledge and vision says: “Observe your duty to Allah. Allah is teaching you. And Allah is knower of all things”[Al-Baqarah, 2:282].
· Taqwa is also a cause for receiving the blessings of Allah and finding a way out of problems and tribulations occurred: “And whoever is careful of (his duty to) Allah, He will make easy for him his affair” [At-Talaq, 65:4].
· Taqwa as a perquisite for the forgiveness of sins: “And whoso keepeth his duty to Allah, He will remit from him his evil deeds and magnify reward for him” [At-Talaq, 65:5].
· Taqwa is also a precondition for receiving Allah’s mercy: “That (mercy) I shall ordain for those who do right, and practice regular charity, and those who believe in Our signs’ [Al-A`raf 7:156].
· Ultimate victory is Taqwa: “Lo! The sequel is for those who ward off (evil)” [Hud 11:49].
· Ultimate bliss is also reached by God-consciousness, and not only is this bliss in life on earth but also in the eternal life of the hereafter: “Behold! Verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve” [Yunus, 10:62].
· Qur’an mentions taqwa as an essential quality; one should submit to Allah’s will and take taqwa as provision for the travel from this life on earth to the eternal life in the hereafter: “For the best provision is to ward off evil. Therefore keep your duty unto Me, O men of understanding” [Al-Baqarah, 2:197]. Having this quality of taqwa would result in a feeling of inner peace, and eternal tranquility would spread among people.
· The pious and righteous will be in Jannah: "Verily, the Abrar (pious and righteous) will be in Delight (Jannah). And verily, the Fujjar (the wicked, disbelievers, sinners and evildoers) will be in the blazing Fire (Hell)." [Al-Infitar,82:13,14]
The concept of Taqwa encompasses the fear of Allah Almighty which means the submission to Allah; adhering to Allah’s commandments, to perform good deeds avoiding the munkar, to judge and distinguish between right and wrong; remembering Allah, being grateful with Allah blessings; and to attach to the Akhirah which is permanent rather than the temporary worldly matters; good conduct, character and behave good-naturedly towards others and; to be conscious of Allah in all aspects of life.
The core of faith in Islam is Tawhid and Taqwa, the submission to Allah Almighty. Without a proper Tawhid there would be no fear of Allah. If we fear Allah Almighty, and love Allah the most, this should lead us to be closer to Allah. Otherwise, the claim is not valid or incomplete. The level of our taqwa and fear of Allah should be increased as we progress in our life. And Tawhid is the essence of the message of Allah. Allah sent the Prophet, (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam), with this message and made him an example for us to emulate and follow. Consequently, it is a Tawhid by following the Prophet, (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam), and it is part of submission to Allah Almighty.
Allah Almighty, says: “O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared”. [Al-’Imran, 3:102]; and Allah also says: “So, keep your duty to Allah and fear Him as much as you can...” [Al-Taghabun, 64:16] The second Verse explains the meaning of the first one.
`Abdullah bin Mas`ud (radiyallahu‘anhu) reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu`alayhi wasallam) used to say: "Allahumma inni as `alukal-huda wat-tuqa wal-`afafa wal-ghina (O Allah! I ask You for guidance, piety, chastity and self-sufficiency)". [Recorded by Muslim].
Guidance here means guidance at every turn of life and steadfastness on the path of truth. Fear of Allah is the greatest means of piety and strongest defense against sins. Chastity is the state of being free from what is unlawful. Self-sufficiency is the antonym of poverty and here it means the self-contentment. What it implies is that one should not care for what people possess. In view of all these qualities, the do’a of the Prophet (Sallallahu`alayhi wasallam) mentioned in this Hadith is very comprehensive and valuable.
Allāh Almighty says: "Verily, the Abrar (pious and righteous) will be in Delight (Jannah).And verily; the Fujjar (the wicked, disbelievers, sinners and evildoers) will be in the blazing Fire (Hell)." [Al-Infitar, 82:13, 14]
Anas Ibn Mālik (radiyallāhu’anhu) who said: “The supplication most often recited by Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam):Rabbana-ātina-fid-dunya hasanah, Wa fil-ākhirati-hasanah, Wa-qina-`ādzabānnār (O Lord! Bestow upon us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the punishment of the Fire).’” (Al-Baqārah 2:201) [This is recorded by Al-Bukhāri, Muslim, and Tarmidzi]. Tarmidzi (rahimullāh) said: “Hasanah is very comprehensive and includes in all kinds of good and benefits of this world and of the Hereafter. Good health, wealth and satisfaction of the world and good status in Jannah, forgiveness from sins and Allāh’s bounties and favours in both worlds are included in this duā’” [Recorded in Jāmi’ At-Tarmidzi]
Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Jarir recorded that Umm Salamah (radiyallāhu`anha), said that the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) used to supplicate: ‘Ya muqallibal-qulubi, thabbit qalbi `ala deenik (O Controller of the hearts make my heart steadfast in Your religion).”Rasulullah (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) then recited: Rabbana la tuzia’qulubana ba’ daiz hadaitana wahab Lana min laduñ karahmah; Iñnaka an tal wahhāb. (Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after Thou have guided us, and grant us mercy from Thou. Truly, Thou are the Bestower.) (Al-`Imran, 3:8) [This is recorded by Muslim and At-Tirmidzi]
Abu Musa (radiyallāhu‘anhu) reported: The Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said to me, “Shall I not guide you to a treasure from the treasures of Jannah?'' I said: "Yes, O Messenger of Allāh!'' Thereupon he (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: (Recite)‘Lā hawla wa lā quwwata illa billāhil [‘aly-yul ‘Azeem]’ (There is neither change of any condition nor power except by Allāh [the Most High, the Most Magnificent]).'' [This is recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
And Allāh Almighty Knows best.
[Excerpted from Commentary on Hadith 18 : "The Concept of Taqwa", 40 Hadiths Of Imam Nawawi, By Dr. Jamal Ahmed Badi, via IC Truth]