Reflections: What Is Taqwa?

Taqwa. A word Muslims have heard many times before. So much so that sometimes, it’s easy to forget the power and severity behind it’s meaning. In its simplest definition, taqwa can translate into being aware and cognizant of Allah (SWT). Many people might see this as pretty easy. Of course we as Muslims believe that Allah (SWT) is the One and Only God and has no one else in partnership with Him – that’s the basic foundation of Islam. However, when we are speaking about taqwa, we are taking this idea to a deeper level. Taqwa is mentioned over two hundred times in the Quran, but why? Why is it such a repeated theme in the Quran?

I personally don’t like to use the term “fear” when describing Allah (SWT). A lot of times when you Google what taqwa means, many sources will tell you that it inherently means to “fear Allah.” Without any further context, an average person might see this and think, “Allah must be scary, angry, and mean” (astaghfirullah). When we look closer at the meaning of taqwa and what Allah (SWT) is actually telling us, we gain a much better understanding of it. Yes, taqwa is being fully conscious of Allah (SWT), but what does that do for us? We have to understand that whatever insight Allah (SWT) has sent down to us is for our benefit. When we implement taqwa into our lives, we are not only being cognizant of Allah (SWT), but we are also being hyperaware of our own actions and surroundings. Inevitably, taqwa really protects us from harm. Taqwa is a concrete way of protecting us from a vast array of situations. When we understand who Allah (SWT) is, when we understand His superior love and presence, it becomes easier to understand and try to implement everything He continues to tell us through the Quran. Allah (SWT) has sent down the Quran as a guidance for mankind. Many people write it off as just this big ol’ book of rules where you can’t have any “fun.” In reality, Allah (SWT), being the All-Knowing, has warned us about our own destructive behaviors. He has warned us about the dangers that humans can create externally and internally. When we focus on remembering Allah (SWT) and when we strive to please the One who has an eternal love for us, then handling difficult circumstances becomes that much easier. By simply knowing Allah (SWT), life becomes simpler.

“When we implement taqwa into our lives, we are not only being cognizant of Allah (SWT), but we are also being hyperaware of our own actions and surroundings.”

Being conscious of Allah (SWT) and constantly remembering Him, inevitably protects us from engaging in harmful behaviors and thoughts, whether it is with others or against ourselves. There are so many ways to attain taqwa. One example is when we fast. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) reminded us that fasting is an action that is beloved by Allah (SWT) because the individual is striving for closeness with Him. It is also beloved because it is practicing taqwa in its fullest form. Our bodies crave and scream for food and water, but we understand that Allah (SWT) is the Provider and Sustainer of all things on this Earth and in the Heavens, so we trust Him. Not acting upon our wants and desires is the true essence of taqwa because you are ultimately aware that Allah (SWT) is much greater than your needs. When you’re in constant remembrance that Allah (SWT) is the One and Only, then it’ll become easier to avoid placing a lot of importance in the needs of the dunya. Our praise and attention should always be focused around Allah (SWT). Do not prioritize anything or anyone over Allah (SWT).

It truly is amazing how in the Quran, Allah (SWT) doesn’t just briefly mention some abstract concept, but He literally gives us step-by-step guidance into how we can achieve true happiness and success within our lives both now and the hereafter.

May we all become people of great taqwa and may Allah (SWT) guide us all to the straight path insha’Allah. Jummah Mubarak!

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