Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
What is Taqwa?
Taqwa is among the more frequently used words in the Quran. Allah talks about the muttaqeen, and asks us to have taqwa so many times. Why though? Because it is one of the most important qualities to have as a Muslim, and also one of the most difficult ones to acquire.
So what is taqwa? Who are the muttaqeen? We have a general idea of the concept. Common translations of muttaqeen are ‘God-conscious’, ‘God-fearing’, one who attempts to protect oneself from displeasing Allah. But what does it mean to you and me to be a muttaqi? Allah has provided us answer to that question in the Quran. Let us look at two of the verses which give a definition of muttaqeen.
Definition # 1
الم o ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ o الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْغَيْبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ o وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ مِن قَبْلِكَ وَبِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ يُوقِنُونَ o أُولَٰئِكَ عَلَىٰ هُدًى مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ o *
Alif, Lam, Meem. This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah – Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them, And who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad ﷺ], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith]. Those are upon [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful. [2:1-5]
*In order to understand Quran better, learn Arabic at UQ Academy. Start with our course Learn 50% of the Quran in 9 hours.
In the first part of surat al Baqara, Allah divides people into three groups: the muttaqoon, the kafiroon, and the munafiqoon. If we’re not among the muttaqoon, are we among the munafiqoon, or among the kafiroon? Taqwa is thus the distinguishing criterion between the true believers and the disbelievers and hypocrites.
Allah says that the Quran was revealed as a guide for the muttaqoon, and then gives the definition of a muttaqoon.
A muttaqi is one who:
- believes in the unseen:
The unseen includes everything which is beyond our perception but which Islam requires us to believe in– Allah, His angels, jinns, qadr, and the Hereafter.
- establishes prayer:
Notice that Allah said yuqimoonas Salat, i.e. those who establish prayer and not just pray. Establishing prayer means praying all prayers in their proper times and with proper rules and etiquettes.
- spend out of what We have provided for them:
Notice how Allah reminded us that whatever we spend for His sake, it was He who provided it to us in the first place. That is the mindset of the muttaqeen.
- who believes in what has been revealed to the Prophet ﷺ:
This refers to the Quran and by extension the sunnah as well. Truly believing in revelation also means that we act upon it. If we don’t, that itself is a proof that our belief is weak.
- and what was revealed before that:
This refers to the previous scriptures given to other prophets.
- of the Hereafter they have yaqeen:
Hereafter is included in the unseen, so this is its second mention. Allah is especially highlighting it again, and saying that the muttaqoon don’t just believe in it, but they have yaqeen that it exists. Yaqeen is the degree of belief where you are as sure of something as if you can see it very clearly with your own eyes. This is the all-embracing attitude of the muttaqoon which envelops all their actions. Someone who has yaqeen of the Day of Judgment, Jannah and Jahannam, and the opportunity of seeing their Creator will have a completely different personality than someone who doesn’t. This is what distinguishes the true believers.
At the end of the passage Allah mentions their qualification and reward – They are the only ones who are truly on the right path, the straight path mentioned the previous surah (Fatiha), and they are the only ones who will be successful. So someone who doesn’t have taqwa is not on the right path and won’t be successful. Now taqwa is something which cannot be seen outwardly. Only we know if we have it or not, no one else can tell. So let us compare ourselves with the definition of muttaqeen and see where we stand. We will look at definition # 2 in the next article in sha Allah.