By Shaykh Sajid Umar
14 May 2019
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous –
[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.
The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.
O servants of Allah, and O children of Adam. Indeed all praises belong to Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) Who said:
“Indeed Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) is with the people of Taqwa, and with those who do good”.
We praise Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯), we seek His Assistance, and we seek His Guidance. And we seek refuge in Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) from the evils of ourselves and the adverse consequences of our deeds.
It is said that the first Khutbah that Muhammad (sall Alla¯hu alayhi wa sallam) completed upon his arrival to Madinah was a Khutbah dedicated to the topic of Taqwa. This is befitting when we consider that having Taqwa was the advice that Allah (subha¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) gave to previous nations before us, as well as to the Ummah of Muhammad (sall Alla¯hu ?alayhi wa sallam). Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) advised previous nations – the Jews and the Christians – towards Taqwa and gaining this quality in their lives. He also advised the Ummah of Muhammad (sall Alla¯hu ?alayhi wa sallam) towards adopting this quality of Taqwa in their lives. Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) says,
“And We have instructed those who were given the Scripture before you to have Taqwa. And We have advised you, as well, towards Taqwa.”
Taqwa is a tremendous quality and a lofty station to achieve. It forms the foundation of our religion and without it; one cannot say that they live a real life. This is due to the fact that the abode and home of Taqwa is the heart, and we are more hearts and souls than we are bodies. This becomes even clearer when we visit someone that we knew or someone that we befriended after they pass away. When we visit them, their body’s with all its various parts are in front of us, however, nothing is working because Allah the All-Powerful has removed the force that caused the bodily functions to work. This means that when we visit one another, we are actually visiting one another’s hearts and souls rather than visiting only bodies.
Without Taqwa, there can be neither prosperity for us in this life nor the next because the fruits of Taqwa encompass the life of this world and the next. In Taqwa, we find precious gems, we find wealth and we find success – both in this world and the Hereafter.
Taqwa is a term that, along with its derivatives, has been mentioned in the Qur’an approximately 240 times. When Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) makes mention of a particular word that denotes a particular quality, numerous times, it teaches us how important that quality is to Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯). It is no secret that this quality of Taqwa is synonymous with the month of Ramad?an.
Whilst the term ‘Taqwa’ is not foreign to the majority of us, the reality is that the actual meanings of Taqwa are foreign to many of us. According to many Muslims, because of the various English translations available, Taqwa means the fear of Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯), piety, righteousness, or – and perhaps this is the best explanation, given the richness of the Arabic language and the inabilities of the English language – Taqwa refers to being God-conscious.
In reality, these translations, definitions or explanations only deal with a portion of the meanings for Taqwa. When we look at the Qur’anic narrative we find a plethora of meanings intended when the word Taqwa is used by Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) depending on the context.
To look at the meaning of Taqwa from a linguistic perspective is to consider its meaning before the advent of Muhammad (sall Alla¯hu ?alayhi wa sallam). Our scholars (rahimahum Allahu) say that Taqwa, linguistically, referred to the method by which someone repels a particular harm, or the tool used to repel a particular harm. That is why the Arabs would say “waqahu Allah su’a wiqayatan” – Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) protected him from harm or He shielded him from harm.
As for the definition of Taqwa after the advent of Muhammad (sall Alla¯hu ?alayhi wa sallam), the ‘Ulama (rahimahum Allahu) discuss Taqwa using different explanations, nonetheless, the meanings of their explanations are similar. The reason for these different explanations is due to the various usages of the term Taqwa by Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯), in His Book.
An example of this is when alcohol became prohibited. The companions of the Prophet (sall Alla¯hu ?alayhi wa sallam) expressed their concerns over the fate of their brothers who had passed away before this commandment had been revealed. In response to their question, Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) revealed:
“On those who believe and do good there is no blame for what they eat, when they are careful [of their duty] and believe and do good deeds, then they are careful [of their duty] and believe, then they are careful [of their duty] and do good [to others], and Allah loves those who do good [to others].”
Taqwa has been mentioned three times in this Ayah. Our Scholars say that Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) intended independent meanings of the same word. Thus, when Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) used Taqwa the first time in the verse, He referred to avoiding Shirk and perfecting Tawhid; when Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) used it the second time, He used it to warn us against Bid?ah and to command us towards protecting the Sunnah, and when Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) used it for the third time in this ayah, He used it to denote the importance of obedience and remaining steadfast.
This teaches us that in our quest of acquiring Taqwa we must endeavour to:
1. Protect our Tawhid and shun Shirk.
2. Revive the Sunnah and eradicate Bid?ah.
3. Adopt piety and righteousness and stay away from all causes of evil.
In other instances, Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) intends by the term Taqwa to fear something like in the following verse:
“And fear the day in which you shall be returned to Allah…”
Here the verse refers to fearing the day you die and fearing the Day of Judgement.
Sometimes Taqwa is used in the Qur’an in the context of a commandment. In many a translation, we find it translated as ‘fear Allah’, however, the term fear here should not be understood to mean staying away from Him, losing hope in Him and feeling incapable of turning back to Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯). Rather, it refers to fearing the punishment of Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯). Thus, to grow in your Taqwa this Ramad?an, grow in your fear of the Day of Judgement and grow your fear of the punishments of the grave and the hellfire.
In other verses, Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) uses the word Taqwa in the context of veneration and reverence of Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯).
For Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) says, “…and Allah makes you cautious of (retribution from) Himself….” The scholars say here Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) commands us to exalt Him, glorify Him, and hold Him in high regard. Therefore, we should strive to ensure that Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) is the purpose, reason and focus behind our every thought and action.
For example, when we begin our ?alah we say Allahu Akbar (Allah is Greater). What is Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) greater than?
Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) is Greater than everything outside of the ?alah. When saying Allahu Akbar, everything outside of the ?alah is irrelevant and thus, only Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) matters as He is greater than everything else.
From amongst the definitions we have is that Taqwa is to place a barrier between oneself and the punishment of Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) by remaining upon the commandments of Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) and staying away from the prohibitions.
Ali (radiy Allahu ‘anhu) defined Taqwa as fearing the Majestic (meaning Allah) and acting upon revelation (following the Qur’an and Sunnah), being satisfied with a little, being a person of contentment and preparing yourself for the day when you return to Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯).
‘Umar b. Al-Khattab (radiy Allahu ‘anhu) once turned to Ubay b. Ka’b (radiy Allahu ‘anhu) and asked him, “O Ubayy, what is your understanding of Taqwa?”
His reply was “O Commander of the Faithful, have you ever walked a thorny path?”
So ‘Umar said, “Yes I have.”
“What did you do when you walked that path?”
‘Umar said, “I rolled up my garments up to my shin, so I could see the ground and see my feet. And I would put one foot forward and another back, out of fear of being pricked by a thorn.”
Ubayy then said, “O Commander of the Faithful that is Taqwa.”
Taqwa is to roll up one’s garments, to work in obedience to Allah (Subhanahu w Taala), to watch out for Halal and Haram, and to be cautious not to commit errors out of the fear of Allah (Subhanahu w Taala ¯).
Ibn al-Mu’taz said: “Shun all sins, be they small or large, for that is Taqwa. And be like the one walking on a thorny path, wary of what he sees. And do not make light of small sins, because mountains are made of many pebbles”
Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahu Allahu) says that Taqwa is to act in the obedience of Allah (subh?a¯nahu wa ta?a¯la¯) out of faith and desire for reward, in respect to both commandments and prohibitions. For when you do something, you do it because you believe in Allah (Subhanahu w Taala ¯), expecting Him to reward you. And when you leave something, you leave it because Allah (Subhanahu w Taala ¯) warned you against it, and you leave it expecting rewards form Allah (Subhanahu w Taala ¯). This is Taqwa. That is why the Prophet (Sall Alla¯Hu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said the one who stands during the night of Ramadan and fasts during the day of Ramadan because he knows that Allah (Subhanahu w Taala) has commanded him to do it, and he believes in Allah (Ramadan¯) and he does it with the belief that Allah (Subhanahu w Taala) will reward him, his previous sins will be forgiven.
Talq b. Habib said “When tribulation befalls you, extinguish it with Taqwa.”
So they asked him, “What is Taqwa?”
And he said, “Taqwa is to act in obedience to Allah, on a light from Allah, hoping for Allah’s reward. It is to leave disobedience to Allah, on a light from Allah, fearing the punishment of Allah (Subhanahu w Taala)”.
If we analyse these different definitions and usages of the word Taqwa in the Book of Allah we can say that Taqwa refers to a few things:
1. Tawhid and everything that leads toward strengthening it and leaving shirk, and adopting all those processes that will protect you from falling into shirk.
2. Leaving all that which will cause punishment in the Hellfire, even for a short while. To seek repentance, to practice good deeds, to be charitable, to revive the Sunnah, and to leave Bid’a.
3. Shunning those matters which, despite being Halal and permissible, obstruct us from acquiring a greater portion of the Hereafter. Sometimes we engage in something permissible which causes us to become desensitised to the extent that we start practicing that which is disliked until we become even further desensitised. Eventually, our Imân decreases to the point when doing Haram becomes an option.
Food For Thought
One may reflect as to why we witness people on the day of Eid engaged in numerous sins after fasting an entire month of Ramadan. If fasting brings about Taqwa why is it so easy to fall into sin on the day of Eid and onwards? This happens because of a deficiency in the entire fasting process that prevents the attainment of Taqwa. This deficiency is in the form of Ramadan being experienced with only the body and not with the heart and soul. The body fasts whilst the heart, soul and tongue are immersed in disobedience. That is why the Prophet (Sall Alla¯Hu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said:
“Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah (Subhanahu w Taala) is not in need of his leaving his food and drink”. 
Thus, when fasting this Ramadan, pay acute attention to the fasting of the entire self; when the body starts fasting, the heart, soul, mind and tongue should start fasting as well. In this way our fasting is holistic and acquiring the true benefits of this blessed month becomes a true possibility.
Do I Know If I Am From The People Of Taqwa After Ramadan?
If you find that after Ramadan there were certain sins that overcame you and now you are proactively abstaining from these sins, and seeking sincere forgiveness from Allah (Subhanahu w Taala) in the event of falling into them, then that is from the signs of Taqwa being present in you, In Sha’ Allah.
Last year, we witnessed the World Cup fever. A great lesson that we can derive from these sporting events is the rigorous training the athletes undergo before they start the event. The Olympian is running and training four years prior to that one big marathon run. The footballers are training and practicing in preparation for their big stage.
Let us learn from this and prepare now. If you want to be diligent in fasting and Tahajjud prepare yourself to continue these acts after Ramadan. If we want to be diligent with Allah al-Dua, let’s start Allah al-Dua now. Do not be deceived by Shaytan into thinking that you have time. Do not lose Ramadan. Respect it; it is a gift from Allah (Subhanahu w Taala).
I promise to make an effort to remember every reader of this article during this month of Ramadan and request that you all too remember me and my family in your Ramadan supplications. May Allah Subhanahu w Taala) grant us life to witness another Ramadan and make us from the family of Taqwa.
Death is a door that everyone will walk through. Many people we spent Ramadan with last year have since departed, and in the past week alone we have heard of the passing of many Muslim families.
Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raji’oon.
Their death comes as a shock and should be a lesson for us all. May Allah (Subhanahu w Taala) have mercy on them and grant them graves which are gardens from Jannah. May Allah (Ramadan )preserve us all in His obedience and bless us with sound health and strength to complete this Ramadan with excellence, and many more Ramadan thereafter. Amin.
May Allah (Subhanahu w Taala) make us diligent before, during and after Ramadan. May Allah (Subhanahu w Taala) protect us from the curse of Jibril (Alayhi al-Sala¯m) upon the person who witnesses Ramadan and Ramadan leaves them without them being forgiven. May Allah (Subhanahu w Taala) protect us, accept our deeds and grant us the highest paradise. Amin.
 Al-Qur’an, 2:182-185
 Al-Qur’an, 16:128
 Al-Qur’an, 4:131
 Al-Qur’an, 5:93
 Al-Qur’an, 2:281
 Al-Qur’an, 3:28
 Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani (ra?imahu Allahu) in his book Fath al-Bari
 Sa?i? al-Bukhari 1903