Taqwa is the concern within one to refrain from what is displeasing to Allah and preserve what is pleasing to Him. It manifests itself upon our limbs, but it begins from the heart. This article series—based upon Shaykh Faraz Rabbani’s course The Path of Muhammad: Birgivi’s Manual of Taqwa Explained—provides an overview of what Muslims must concern themselves when seeking the attainment of taqwa.
There are over one hundred and fifty verses of the Qur’an that relate to taqwa, and over forty verses that have explicit commands that call to taqwa. This article will cover a few of these verses arranged thematically by Imam Birgivi. Some of these verses are accompanied by brief commentary and advice. Allah Most High says in the Holy Qur’an:
- “The most noble of you in the sight of Allah are the most mindful.” [Qur’an 49:13] These are the people highest in rank, closest in proximity and most ennobled in virtue with Allah.
- “And Allah is the Guarding Friend of the mindful.” [Qur’an 45:19] Not only are they brought near to Allah, but He is also their Patron, Supporter and Carer.
- “Do not [falsely] deem yourself good, for it is Allah alone Who truly knows who is mindful [of Him].” [Qur’an 53:32] Look inward, for taqwa is only found in the heart. Always question the sincerity of your actions and ask yourself, “Am I truly mindful of Allah when I do good acts?” Perhaps it is a facade put up when others are around, and once they leave, the good action goes with them.
- “And the mindful people will certainly have a good return.” [Qur’an 38:49] Remember that there is something after the insanity of this world – something to yearn for and look forward to.
- “And rush towards forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden vaster than the heavens and the earth, prepared for those mindful [of Allah].” [Qur’an 3:133[ Allah has invited you, so come. If you miss this opportunity – despite the constant spiritual and existential reminders – you declined the invitation. You’d have nobody to blame but yourself, for Paradise is already prepared and waiting for you.
- “And those who were mindful of their caring Lord will be taken to Paradise in groups until they arrive at its [already] open gates. And the guardians of the gate greet them with “Peace be upon you! You have done so well, so come in, to stay forever.” [Qur’an 39:73] True taqwa is not merely doing ritual action because you’re “supposed to.” This entails being mindful of a worldly thing [your action], but not of Whom the action is for.
- True taqwa is recognizing the Omnipotence, Mercy, Care, Beauty and Awesomeness of your Lord. It is to have careful restraint in this world by being perpetually aware of your Creator and Sustainer. Us entering Paradise “in groups” indicates the importance of keeping good company. Cultivate taqwa by spending time with, emulating, and serving righteous people.
- “And truly the [eternal] abode is far better for those who are mindful [of Allah]. Will you not then understand?” [Qur’an 12:102] Which do you prefer: a fleeting, whimsical pleasure or an eternal abode of ease? Pause and reflect upon the fact that your desires are fleeting, and refraining from them has eternal consequences. Be clear about the delusional reality of this world. The honored servant of Allah considers the consequences of matters. If a person doesn’t pause to reflect, they’re no different than an animal.
- “…And Allah shielded them (the people of taqwa) from the punishment of Hellfire – As a complete bounty from your lord. That is [truly] the ultimate triumph.” [Qur’an 44:51–57] The word shield has the same Arabic root as the word taqwa. You are shielded from Hell in the afterlife because you shielded yourself from the displeasure of Allah in this world.
- “…And be mindful of me, O people of reason!” [Qur’an 2:197] Reflect and reason with yourself: Allah tells us that He is the One Who created everything from nothingness. You didn’t have to exist. The fact that He took you out of absolute nothingness into existence is a gift. Someone remaining in Hell is better than non-existence in the first place (in an existential sense)! The One Who took you out from nothing and then sustained you is calling and warning you to reflect.
- “The best garment is mindfulness.” [Qur’an 7:26] In a time when many are worried about their appearances and outfits, we forget to cloak ourselves with the garment of taqwa. If you beautify yourself with the attire of something outside the standard of taqwa, you won’t find any good in it.
- “Whoever venerates the distinguishing signs of Allah, that is indeed from mindfulness that is in hearts.” [Qur’an 22:32] Respect for any symbol of our religion is respect for Allah due to its relationship with Him. Scholars have the guidance of Allah. The Prophet is the emissary of Allah. The Qur’an is the book of Allah. The Ka‘ba is the house of Allah. Increase and cultivate your mindfulness of Allah through the veneration of these symbols.
- “My Mercy encompasses all things…” All of creation is an expression of Divine Mercy. Our mere existence is mercy, life is mercy, being human is mercy, and every moment we live in is mercy. And there’s the potential for attaining even more mercy. How do we get it? The remainder of the verse tells us.
- “…And I shall write it for those who remain mindful.” [Qur’an 7:156] Make mindful choices, even in the seemingly trivial things. And even when you fall short, Allah’s mercy encompasses it if you respond with mindfulness. From sin, repent. From temptation, turn away. From heedlessness, return to consciousness. From whims, refrain. From folly, desist.