Encouragement for Taqwa
"It is not Al-Birr (piety, righteousness, and each and every act of obedience to Allah, etc.) that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers); but Al-Birr is (the quality of) the one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, and to Al-Masakin (the poor), and to the wayfarer, and to those who ask, and to set slaves free, performs As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat ), and gives the Zakat , and who fulfill their covenant when they make it, and who are As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.) in extreme poverty and ailment (disease) and at the time of fighting (during the battles). Such are the people of the truth and they are Al Muttaqun (those with taqwa)." (2:2).
Definition of Taqwa
The word taqwa is a derivative of the word ittaqa from the root word"waqa", which means"he protected himself from that which harms him." Essentially, this is what taqwa is- a protection from that which harms the self. Hasan al Basri, may Allah have mercy on him, said "The ones who have taqwa protect themselves from what Allah has prohibited and act upon what He has commanded. Taqwa remains with them until they forsake many halal things fearing that they could be haram."
Abu Darda, radi Allahu anhu, said "The complete form of Taqwa is to fear Allah so much that one begins to fear Him from the potential sin a mustard seed and until one leaves what might be halal in the fear that it could be haram based on the verse 'So whoever does an atom's amount of good, he will see it; and whoever does an atom's amount of evil, he will see it.' So do not prohibit any goodness and act upon goodness. Do not underestimate any evil and protect yourself from it."
Abu Hurairah, radi Allahu anhu, was asked about Taqwa so he asked the questioner whether he had trodden a thorn infested path. The man said he did. Abu Hurairah asked him how he walked on it. The man said"When I saw a thorn, I kept away from it because I might be pricked by it." Abu Hurairah said"That is exactly what means." [to take actions to avoid sins]
Description of those with Taqwa
"And certainly the abode of the Hereafter is much better for those who have taqwa. Do you not understand?" (al an'am:32)
Ali, radi Allahu anhu, said "When Allah created His creation, He did so while He was completely independent of their obedience towards Him and of their disobedience towards Him. No disobedience can hurt Him and no obedience can benefit Him..."
The people of taqwa are described by Ali radi Allahu anhu in the following:
Their speech is true, their garments are of moderate nature and their walk is one of humility. They lower their gazes when they see something that Allah has forbidden them to see and they listen to beneficial knowledge. They maintain integrity in both adversity and prosperity.
Had it not been for the appointed time (death) Allah has written for them, their souls would not remain an extra second in their bodies out of longing for reward and fear of punishment. The Creator ranks Supreme in their eyes, so everything else becomes immaterial to them. They are with Paradise as if they had already witnessed it and enjoyed its presence. They are with Hell as if they have already seen it and tasted its torment. Their hearts grieve and their evil if any is not contagious. Their bodies are lean, their needs are very few and their souls are chaste.
They observe patience for a few days and experience lasting comfort. This is a profitable exchange that their Lord has made pleasant for them The world tempts them, but they do not succumb. It imprisons them, but they ransomed themselves in exchange.
During nights they stand in rows and read portions of the Qur'an. They recite with proper recitation which grieves their hearts and drink it like medicine. If a verse of yearning comes along, they reach for it and believe it is their destination. If an intimidating verse comes along, they pour their hearts towards it and believe that Hell and its screams are in their ears. They sleep on their foreheads and elbows (they engage in prayers so much that it is s as if they sleep in those postures) and ask Allah to deliver them.
In the day, they are tolerant, learned, kind and God fearing. Fear has chipped away at their bodies as if they were arrows. Anyone looking at them would think that they were sick. But they are not sick. Some will say they are confused. A great fear has made them look like that. They are not content to do only a few actions, nor do they ask a great deal. They condemn themselves and are apprehensive about their deeds. If one of them is called"pious", he fears what will be said of him and says"I know myself better than you do. My lord knows me better than I do. O Allah! Do not take me to task for what they re saying about me and O Lord make me better than they think. Forgive my sins which they do know know about."
Their signs are that they are strong in Islam, resolute in their softness, firm in their belief. They crave for knowledge and are knowledgeable with tolerance, moderate in richness, pleasant in hunger, forbearing in distress, seeking halal, active in pursuing guidance and abhor greed.
They perform good deeds in fear of rejection. They spend the evening in gratitude and the morning in remembrance. They sleep in alarm and they awake in joy. If their carnal desires make it difficult for them to fulfill that which they dislike they deprive them (the self) of that which they like. The apple of their eyes is in what does not perish and their self-denial is in what disappears. They combine knowledge with tolerance and speech with action.
Their hopes are realistic and their mistakes few, their hearts are humble in content, their diet meager and manners are simple, their deen safe guarded, their desires killed and their anger subdued. Goodness is expected from them and evil is shielded against them. If they are among those who are oblivious, they are counted amongst those who remember Allah. If they are among those who remember, they are not written among the neglectful. They pardon those who wrong them, they provide for those who deprive them and meet those who severe ties with them. They are never profane and always lenient. Their wrong doings are almost non-existent and their good deeds are always present. They are resolute when the earth quakes, steadfast in calamities and grateful in prosperity.
They are not prejudiced against those who they dislike nor do they favor those who they love. They acknowledge the truth before it appears and do not lose anything they are entrusted with. They do not call anyone names nor do they hurt their neighbors. They do not curse at the time of difficulties nor do they venture into falsehood.
Silence does not bother them and if they laugh they do not raise their voices. If they are treated with injustice they remain patient until Allah vindicates them. Inside them they live in toil while others are comfortable around them.
Their abstinence from those who stay away from them is their exemption from malice. Their proximity to those who are close to them is a means of mercy for those who are close to them. Their remaining aloof is not out of pride and arrogance, and their being close is neither a ploy nor a scheme."
Muadh Ibn Jabal, radi Allahu anhu, said"On the day of judgment, it will be announced 'Where are the ones who had taqwa?' So the ones with taqwa will stand up from under the Shelter of the Compassionate. Allah will not be invisible to them. The people asked Muadh who the ones with taqwa are. He said"Those who stay away from shirk and worshipping idols and purify their Deen for Allah."
Allah subhana wa ta'ala says in the Qur'an:"And make provisions for yourselves, for the best provision is Taqwa. So fear Me O people of understanding."
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