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.
The Virtues of Taqwa in the Quran
Allah Most High says in the Holy Quran:
“O people! Worship your Lord, Who created you and those before you, so that you may attain taqwa.” [Quran, 2:21]
The fruit of worship is the attainment of taqwa, and the fruit of taqwa is paradise—manifested eternally in the next life. So take heed, for what you do in this life has eternal implications, and it begins with the mindfulness of Allah.
Taqwa has many levels, but the three main ones are
- Baseline: To leave sin and embrace obedience to Allah.
- Intermediate: To leave disliked matters and embrace praiseworthy acts.
- Ideal: To leave all that distracts from Allah and embrace complete focus and consciousness of Allah.
“Be just! For it is closer to taqwa.” [Quran, 5:8]
Being just entails being fair, balanced, and giving people their due. Recognize what you owe to others and acknowledge what they have done for you. Let go of the entitled, egocentric worldview that we have become accustomed to having.
“For you to overlook is closer to mindfulness.” [Quran, 2:237]
Being gracious in your relationships, especially in your marriage, is the way of the people of taqwa. It is to overlook the faults of your fellow believers.
“If you are patient and mindful (of Allah), then their schemes will not harm you in any way whatsoever.” [Quran, 3:120]
Patience is not synonymous with being passive. Instead, it is to remain firm on the good pleasure of Allah Most High. It is to leave complaints in the face of hardship or distress, and in this context can also be described as steadfastness.
Our first reaction must be to turn to Allah without objection or complaint in the face of challenge. Often, our first reaction to distress is anger and complaint about our plight. On the other hand, the Islamic way is to have steadfastness and mindfulness of Allah’s absolute Power and Will over our affairs.
“And if you do what is right and are mindful (of Allah), then Allah was Ever-Forgiving and Ever-Merciful.” [Quran, 4:129]
“To do what is right” is to resolve our issues in a manner that heals, repairs, mends, and makes good. It is a rectification that occurs through the mindfulness of Allah.
This aya also reminds us that Allah’s forgiveness precedes our rectification, for He is eternally All-Forgiving and All-Merciful. Allah descends to the lowest heaven every night and asks, “Who is there to seek My forgiveness, so that I may forgive them?” We have a call to rectification every single night, yet most of us let it slip away.
This sura is contextually about divorce. It is a relatively short sura yet has many mentions of taqwa because this virtue is most important to uphold in times of difficulty.
“And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will grant them a way out.” [Quran, 62:2]
Taqwa is a means of spiritual openings out of difficulties. And when the openings are not as glaringly obvious, remember that Allah has guaranteed a response for you in a time He Wills, not in the time you wish, and in a manner He Wills, not in a manner you wish.
“And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will make their matters easy for them.” [Quran, 65:4]
Through your taqwa, you’ll find ease spreading into your life, both in day-to-day living and in spirituality. Because of this divine facilitation in your life, difficult choices are made clear and easy to choose.
“And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will expiate their sins and reward them immensely.” [Quran, 65:5]
In times of difficulty, taqwa itself will count as an expiation for the believer.
An analogy for this is that of a farmer who works outside, and when it starts to rain, he complains that his clothes are getting wet, forgetting all the other benefits he receives with the rain. That is the nature of tests in this life. Tribulations cultivate the harvest that sometimes has not been watered enough with sufficient gratitude. Sometimes Allah sends a little rain to bring about life to your heart and forgiveness to your soul.
“Oh Believers! Be mindful of Allah as He deserves, and do not die except in (a state of full) submission (to Him).” [Quran, 3:102]
When this verse was revealed, it shook the Prophet’s companions (Allah be pleased with them). How can someone be mindful of Allah as He deserves? It is a feat that none can achieve, for Allah’s deservingness of our taqwa will forever outstrip our ability to be genuinely mindful of Him. Then another verse was revealed to ease the anxiety of the companions where Allah commands the Muslims to have taqwa as best they can.
O Seeker, there is no quality of good qualities that is more mentioned and praised in the book of Allah than taqwa, so reflect on these noble verses. Mindful people are the most honored and accepted in the sight of Allah. They are His chosen friends, who are guarded by Him and beloved to Him. Paradise has been prepared and promised for them as their eternal abode.
Thus, taqwa is the garment and provision of the hereafter. It is the essential quality of the greatest faculty of the human being; the heart. Without taqwa, you will never be able to benefit from the reminders and admonishments in the Qur’an, for it is the very aim of worship and remembrance. It is like trying to drive a car without its key.
Taqwa is a means to abundant reward, receiving divine assistance and preventing harm from one’s enemies. It is the means to attain mercy, forgiveness, and expiation for your sins. As such, if the wayward and drifted embrace taqwa, Allah will enter them into paradise.
Taqwa will open the floodgates of blessings in your life, allowing you to distinguish between truth and falsehood clearly. It will enable you to attain eternal success and find a way out of constriction and difficulty. It is the means to unimaginable provision, to ease, to tremendous reward, and the rectification of your actions.
The formula is simple: have strong faith, and you will have taqwa.
May Allah make us of the people of 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.