Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim.
Allah the Most Merciful says in the Quran:
And take provisions (for Hajj), but indeed, the best provision is taqwa of Allah . And fear Me, O you of understanding. [2:197]
What is taqwa?
The word taqwa is usually translated as “consciousness of Allah” or “fear of Allah.” The meaning of taqwa is self-preservation, to protect oneself— but from what? From earning the displeasure and anger of Allah, and from letting Shaytan overcome you.
Consider the example of a son who loves, admires and respects his father a lot. He is careful not to disappoint his father, and so he works extra hard at studies. He fears his father’s anger and displeasure with him, and therefore, despite a strong urge to do so, he refrains from pinching his new baby sister whom he is extremely jealous of snatching away the love of his parents from him.
He wants his father to be pleased with him, so he always keeps his father’s shoes ready before he leaves home in the morning. And if people say anything bad against his father, he gets very angry and protests immediately.
Allah, the Exalted, is above all examples. A Muslim doesn’t become a true believer until he loves Allah, the Wadud, more than anything else in the universe; until he admires Allah the Light of the Heavens and the Earth, until he respects Allah’s judgments, because He is the Mighty Judge.
So it makes perfect sense that we are constantly reminded in the Quran, the best of reminders, to have taqwa. We need to have taqwa all the time because Shaytan is always there to lead us astray, to make us forget taqwa. He never takes a rest, and so we can’t rest either.
But why does Allah mention taqwa especially in the above ayah which is regarding Hajj? And why does He Ajja Wa Jalla say that it is the best rizq (provision)?
I never had the answers to those questions, until I went on the journey myself. If you go on a journey towards Allah’s House, Shaytan tries his best to:
- Turn you away from it, discourage you from going in the first place, and if he fails in doing that,
- Spoil your Hajj so that you lose the rewards, or thirdly,
- Tries to instigate you against Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, so that you harbor negative thoughts about Him.
He comes to you from every direction, so that if you spoil one of his traps, he lays for you a thousand more. He challenged Allah the All-Mighty:
Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path. Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful. [7:16-17]
So the first step to having taqwa is: to tie your camel. Make elaborate preparations, and get all your tools ready in order to combat Shaytan. As for Hajj, get everything ready for the journey days beforehand. What Shaytan does to at this stage is try to make you forget important details of your task, important appointments, papers etc. A very useful way of combating this is making to-do lists, and, this is the important part, constantly updating and checking the lists.
But no matter how hard you plan, things will always go wrong. At this point, preparations and hard work won’t help you. Now comes the second step: put your complete trust in Allah al Wakeel. No matter what goes wrong, it is a test from Allah in order to purify you.
As you can see, no matter what clothings, money, etc you take for Hajj, it will never be enough. Things will always go wrong, and Shaytan will come to you from all directions and try to turn you away from Allah. The best rizq therefore which you can take with you when going for Hajj is taqwa. Then Allah says in the ayah, Allah is the best Giver of rizq. Therefore, we ask Allah to grant us the rizq of taqwa:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ الْهُدَى وَالتُّقَى وَالْعَفَافَ وَالْغِنَى
Allahumma inni as-alukal huda, wat-tuqa, wal-‘afaf, wal-ghina.
O Allah, I ask You for guidance, piety, chastity and affluence [ibn Majah]
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