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Chapter 1. Taqwa: Its Literal And Legal (islamic) Meanings

Literal Meaning of Taqwa:

Ferozabadi (rh) says: 'The verb in its radical, three-letter­ form means to protect and preserve.'

Sheikh Muhammed Tantawi (rh) says: 'The word Muttaqoon is the plural of Muttaqi. Muttaqi is the gerund from the verb Ittaqa (he acquired protection). Ittaqa is from the root verb Waqa which means he protected himself from that which harms him.

Legal (Islamic) Meaning of Taqwa:

Ali says: 'Taqwa is to fear the All Mighty; to act upon the Revelation; to be content with little and to prepare for the Day of Travel.' (A combination of all four qualities.) Abu Darda says: 'The complete form of taqwa is to fear Allah so much that one begins to fear Him from (the potential sin in) a mustard seed and until one leaves what might be halal in the fear that it could be haram. This is substantiated by 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 undermine any goodness and act upon goodness. Likewise, do not underestimate any evil and protect yourself from it.'

lbn Abbas says: 'The ones with taqwa are those believers who prevent themselves from shirk - associating partners with Allah.' He also said: 'They are the ones who fear Allah's punishment for failing to follow what they know to be guidance and hope for His Mercy with regard that which they believe came from Him.'

Muadh lbn Jabal says: 'On the Day of Judgement, it will be announced : 'Where are the ones who had taqwa?'

So they (the ones with taqwa) will stand up from under the Shelter of The Compassionate. Allah will not be invisible to them .' People asked Muadh who are the ones with taqwa. He replied: 'Those who stay away from shirk and worshipping idols and then purify their Deen for Allah.'

lbn Masood commented about the verse: 'Fear Allah as He is supposed to be feared,' that it means to obey Him and not to disobey Him, to remember Him and not to forget Him and to thank Him and not to be ungrateful.'

Abu Hurairah was asked about taqwa so he asked the questioner whether he had trodden a thorn-infested path. The man said he had. Abu Hurairah asked him how he walked on it. The man said: 'When I saw a thorn, I took evasive action, lest I was pricked by it.' Abu Hurairah answered him by saying: 'That is exactly what taqwa means (to take evasive action on seeing sin).'

Ibn Mu'taz (the poet) rephrases this: 'Leave sins big and small, that is taqwa.

Be like the one walking on thorns, dreading what he sees. Don't underestimate the minute (small), for mountains are made of small stones.'

Hasan Basri (rh) says: 'The ones who have taqwa protect themselves from what Allah has prohibited and act upon what He has mandated. Taqwa remains with them until they forsake many halal things fearing that they could be haram .

Sufyan Thauri (rh) says: 'They have been called 'the fearing' because they fear what is not usually feared.'

Talq ibn Habib (rh) says: 'Taqwa is to obey Allah with the (divine) insight (noor) that He will reward and to refrain from disobedience with the insight and fear that He will punish.'

Omar ibn Abdul-Aziz (rh) says: 'Taqwa is not fasting by day and standing for prayers at night. Rather it is to refrain from what Allah has prohibited and act upon what He has mandated. Whoever is granted anything beyond (this level of obedience), he has been given goodness upon goodness.'

lbn Rajab (rh) says: 'The essence of taqwa is to make a shield (which guards) against Allah's anger and punishment. That shield is to obey His commands and abstain from His prohibitions.

Perfect taqwa requires that one performs all voluntary and recommended acts as well as refraining from all reprehensible and dubious acts. This is the ultimate form of taqwa.'

Sahal ibn Abdullah says: 'There is no assistant except Allah and there is no guide except the Messenger of Allah. There is no provision except taqwa and there is no act except to be firm using taqwa. Whoever desires to reform his taqwa should abstain from all sins.'

Nasrabadhi says: 'Whoever holds firm to taqwa will inevitably look forward to leaving the world. Allah says: 'And certainly the abode of the Hereafter is much better for those who have taqwa. Do you not understand?'

Abu Sulaiman Darani says: 'Taqwa comprises all goodness. It is Allah's order for predecessors and for posterity. It is the best way for a person to derive benefit in the same way that Abu Darda replied when people asked him why he did not engage in poetry (while his companions did):

'Man wishes that he is given his desire;

Whereas Allah bars everything except that which He intends.

'Man says: 'My benefit and my wealth.'

Whereas the fear (taqwa) of Allah is the best form of benefit.'

So be informed, my brother' Are you among those who have taqwa , or arc you with those who are transgressors and oblivious? Do you fear Allah as these predecessors feared him, or do you fall short of that?