In the name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful.
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.
Hadiths of Taqwa
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “O people, truly your Lord is One. And no Arab has virtue over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab, nor a brown person over a black person, nor a black person over a brown person—except by taqwa.” [Bayhaqi]
Never deem yourself better than anyone else—not even a disbeliever. You don’t know which state you’ll find yourself in when death comes to receive you. Perhaps the disbeliever will have a better ending than you, so have taqwa and always question the sincerity of your actions.
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “On the Day of Judgement, Allah Most High will call out, ‘Truly I have established an ascription, and you have made an ascription. And I have made the most honored of you the most mindful. But you have refused, and you insist on saying so-and-so is better than so-and-so. So today, I will raise my ascription, and I will lower your ascriptions. Where are the people of taqwa?’” [Bayhaqi; Tabarani]
Allah has established an ascription where He is the Lord, and we are His servants. And we, too, ascribe ourselves to many things, such as “I am from this family,” “I am from that nation,” or “I work as such-and-such.” On that day, the ascriptions that we claim in this world—the ones that make up our so-called “identity”—will be of no avail to us. Allah explicitly tells us that the only valid ascription on that day is that of the people of taqwa: recognizing Him as the Master and everything else as the subservient.
For six days, Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to Abu Dhar, “Reflect!” After these six days, the Prophet said, “I advise you to have mindfulness of Allah in your private and public affairs. If you err, immediately follow it with good. And do not ask anyone for anything.” [Ahmad]
Reflection is what makes us honorable in the sight of Allah. An honorable intellect looks at what benefits versus what harms and what lasts versus what is fleeting. Allah is at the forefront of the minds of the people of taqwa, so they always prioritize the actions of the hereafter over this world. And when they need something, they turn to Allah first before taking any worldly means to achieve their goals.
“Nothing is more beneficial to the believer after taqwa of Allah than a righteous wife whom, if he commands her she obeys him, if he looks at her he is pleased, if he swears an oath concerning her she fulfills it, and when he is away from her she is sincere towards him about herself and his wealth.” (Ibn Majah)
This is the importance Allah places on taqwa, a priority fundamentally higher than the need to get married. If taqwa is the best thing you can acquire, then the best kind of spouse is one who has taqwa. All life decisions revolve around it.
Sayings of the Righteous Predecessors
Sahl Ibn Abdullah said, “There is no helper but Allah and no guide but the Messenger of Allah and no provision but taqwa and no action except steadfastness.”
Abu Bakr al-Razi said, “Whoever doesn’t perfect between themselves and Allah their mindfulness and their vigilance (the sense that Allah is watching), they will not reach the state of unveiling and beholding.”
So, O Seeker of Allah, if you are genuine in your claim to seeking Allah, direct yourself fully to mindfulness. Become passionately in love and lose yourself in its pursuit so that no deterrent prevents you from taqwa. Allah commands you to attain taqwa and perfect it as best you can. And know that seeking perfection in this regard is not merely to achieve taqwa in and of itself, but rather for the One Who you seek this quality. May Allah make us attain the true taqwa of Him.
Rational Merits of Taqwa
The reason also points to the superiority of taqwa because we understand from the Quran and Sunna that ridding oneself of blameworthy qualities comes before adorning oneself with good qualities- Just as beautifying oneself comes after cleansing oneself; The second without the first doesn’t benefit.
So it is the foundation for all virtuous qualities. So hold onto it firmly and command your people to keep fast to it in the best of ways because in it is the felicity in this life and the next. And you will succeed in the good of both lives.
More about Taqwa
- A man came to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, I ask you for advice.” The Prophet replied, “Hold fast to the mindfulness of Allah, for it encompasses all good.” (the good of this life and the next, because taqwa relates to carefully guarding the rights of Allah and carefully guarding the rights of creation, and if you can do that you have encompassed all good). [Qushayri; Abu Ya’la]
- The prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) returned from battle and called Fatima to come to him. He said, “O Fatima, buy your freedom from Allah, for I will not avail you with Allah in any way.” (there is a personal accountability that nobody can be held responsible except for the individual. This doesn’t negate the extraordinary intercession of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). The company you keep will also help you traverse the path over hell.) The prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said the same thing to his wives and other family members.
- Banu Hashim are not more deserving of being my umma; Quraysh are not more deserving of being my umma. Instead, the people most deserving to be my umma are the people of taqwa. Nor are the Ansar more deserving of being my umma. You are all from one man and one woman, and you are alike like the teeth of a comb. Nobody has virtue over one another except with taqwa.”
And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.
[Shaykh] Faraz Rabbani
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The Path of Muhammad: Birgivi’s Manual of Taqwa Explained
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age. He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.