Taqwa: fearing your Creator
Picture this: a person who has no fear of any consequence, away from the human eyes. What force could possibly keep this self-serving individual from committing utterly evil and cruel things? What could stop him from indulging in his darkest desires without any limitations or constraints? Is there anything that could hold him back from doing whatever he wants, whenever he wants?
^Read this again.
Now, consider this quote from Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, “Whoever fears Allah, does not vent his anger, and whoever is mindful of Allah does not do whatever he desires.” Abī Dāwūd 98
It is the awareness and fear of the higher power, in one form or another, that could deter this individual from engaging in evil, and the underlying fabric of our society from succumbing to the pit of savage self-indulgence.
But fear alone cannot be enough, and to call something “evil” is nonsensical without an objective definition of good and evil. And to realise the definitions, it is indispensable to acknowledge and recognise the Creator and the ultimate truth He revealed through His messengers throughout history.
It is Taqwa.
Taqwa is the sincere effort to abide by Allah’s commands and eschew anything that contradicts His will. It requires understanding what Allah has declared harmful or beneficial, and surrendering one’s intellect and desires to His wisdom. While knowing Allah is the most powerful, He’s also the most merciful. Taqwa elicits profound love and gratitude towards the Sustainer, the Creator. Taqwa and Iman remain incomplete without understanding who Allah is; His oneness and infinitude, as described in the Quran and Hadith, and all His attributes (Sifaat).
The modern and liberal mindset prioritizes individual gain over the collective good. It promotes self-obsession and the aimless pursuit of pleasure as a cure for dissatisfaction. It deems life and death meaningless, and humans, pointless. Leading one towards the loss of personal identity, existential nihilism, and depression. To those subscribed, Taqwa and piety are outdated concepts, and to be a practicing Muslim seems nothing but confining.
By aligning actions with Allah’s will, we revert to our true purpose and achieve fulfillment that cannot be found through material pleasures. Regardless of the generation, Taqwa will remain relevant. The human condition remains the same, and the need for guidance and purpose in life will never change. The principles of Taqwa apply to any condition or era, as it provides a timeless framework for leading a meaningful, just, and fulfilling life.
Humankind is not made perfect.
The idea of perfectionism in Islam is not endorsed. The deficient qualities of a human have been mentioned several times in the Quran. Therefore, humans will make mistakes: ˹for˺ they (humans) are truly wrongful ˹to themselves˺ and ignorant ˹of the consequences˺. (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:72)
Now, what remains is the key difference between a Muttaqi (who has Taqwa) and a Fasiq (arrogant sinner). A Muttaqi will be regretful and remorseful and would hastily ask for forgiveness when he/she commits an unlawful act. The Fasiq would persist in defiance of Allah and won’t repent. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “All the sons of Adam are sinners, but the best of sinners are those who are given to repentance.” (Mishkat:2341)
There is more to explore and learn about repentance. In the next chapter of Adab 101, we will discuss the concept of repentance, its philosophical and psychological importance, and the significance of Tawbah in Islam. Insha’Allah!