RAMADAN REFLECTIONS Part 1 – The Month of Taqwa

Allah (swt) says,

﴿يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ﴾
O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the ones with Taqwa (piety)).” [Al-Baqara: 183]

As individuals, we have goals that we seek to achieve each day of our lives, whether in our education, at work, at home, with our family or children, or other aspects of our life. But what is the goal that we seek to achieve in Ramadan and how should that goal affect the rest of our lives? In the verse above, Allah (swt) tells us that the aim of fasting is to become the ones with TAQWA. But what is Taqwa? And how do we become the ones who are Al-Muttaqun – the ones whom Allah (swt) loves, and has promised help, support, forgiveness great rewards, and protection from harm; and the ones to whom He (swt) describes as His friends. He (swt) says,

﴿إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُم بِالْغَيْبِ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ﴾

Lo! Those who feared their Lord in secret, theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward.” (Wa Ajrun Kabeer)” [Al-Mulk: 12]

We may think that the ones with taqwa or the pious are those who spend a long time in prayer or in the mosque, or who do a lot of dhikr and dua, fast a lot, or who live with few provisions. If we have this view then it may be these actions that we strive to do more of to gain taqwa. However, is this how Islam defines what taqwa is?

Umar ibn Al-Khattab (ra) once asked Ubay ibn Kab (ra): “How would you describe taqwa?” Ubay replied, “Have you ever walked through a thorny path wearing a long, loose flowing garment?” Umar replied “Yes”. Ubay then asked, “What did you do?” Umar replied, “I wrapped the garment tightly around me so that it would not touch or be ripped by the thorns and then made my way carefully along the path.” Ubay replied, “This is Taqwa.”

Taqwa is therefore to move carefully and cautiously through life to avoid falling into sin. It is a high state of consciousness of Allah (swt)’s Presence and Knowledge that motivates us to fulfill all the righteous deeds and avoid all His (swt)’s prohibitions.

The word ‘Taqwa’ is derived from the verb ‘Waqiya’, which linguistically means to protect oneself. And the one who has taqwa, has a constant awareness and fear of Allah (swt) that acts like a shield that protects him or herself from the Anger and Punishment of their Rabb  – a fear that pushes us to be His devoted slaves in all matters of our lives by fulfilling ALL His Commands and avoiding ALL His Prohibitions. Ibn Rajab (ra) said, “The essence of Taqwa, is to make a shield which guards against Allah’s anger and punishment. That shield is to obey His commands and abstain from His prohibitions.”

In Surah Al-i-Imran, verse 102, Allah (swt) says,

﴿يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ﴾

O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims”.

The Prophet (saw) when explaining this verse said, that fear Allah as He should be feared means, «أَنْ يُطَاعَ فَلَا يُعْصَى، وَيُشْكَرَ فَلَا يُكْفَرُ، وَيُذْكَرَ فَلَا يُنْسَى» “You must obey Him and never disobey Him; To thank Him and never to show Him any ingratitude; And to remember Him and never to forget Him.

The classical scholars have stated, that the people who have Taqwa (Al-Muttaqun) are the people who avoided whatever Allah (swt) has prohibited and have done whatever Allah (swt) has ordained.  In Surah Al Hashr verse 18, Allah (swt) says.

﴿يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ﴾

O you who believe, fear Allah and let every soul see what he has sent forward tomorrow. Fear Allah! Verily Allah is aware of what you do…” Regarding this ayah, Ibn Kathir says, “Allah commands us to fear Him, this includes doing what He has ordered and refraining from that which is reprimanded….

– the one with taqwa is not only the one who prays and fasts but also the one who treats their husband, wife, children, parents, and relatives with kindness and gives each their right from Islam;
– the one with taqwa is not simply the one who stays up in Qiyaam, reciting Qur’an and performing dhikr and extra prayers but the one who abides by the Islamic dress and the Islamic social laws in their interaction with the opposite sex;
– the one who has taqwa is not just the one who gives sadaqa but the one who deals with his business and money according to Islam – keeping away from riba and abides by the Islamic economic contracts;
– the one with taqwa is not the one who just stays on the prayer mat or in the mosque, keeping silent on the butchering of our Ummah in Syria, Palestine, Myanmar and elsewhere but speaks out against this atrocity as Allah orders;
– and the one with taqwa is not the one who only accounts those who do not pray, fast, or cover but rather the one who raises his or her voice to fulfil the obligation of accounting the Muslim rulers today; the one who speaks out against their corruption and implementation of kufr in our countries and calls for Allah (swt)’s Laws to rule in our Muslim lands through the establishment of the Khilafah state.

Taqwa is therefore like a key that unlocks the doors to the Pleasure of Allah (swt) and the door to Jannah – but like any key, it is difficult to unlock a door unless every tooth on that key fits the lock – likewise, it is difficult for us as Muslims to unlock the door to Paradise unless the obedience to Allah is upon every action we do, and upon every law that we follow.
The Prophet (saw) said,

«كُلُّ أُمَّتِي يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ، إِلاَّ مَنْ أَبَى»‏‏.‏ قَالُوا: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَمَنْ يَأْبَى؟ قَالَ: ‏«مَنْ أَطَاعَنِي دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ، وَمَنْ عَصَانِي فَقَدْ أَبَى»

All my followers will enter Paradise except those who refuse.” They said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Who will refuse?” He said, “Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise, and whoever disobeys me is the one who refuses (to enter it).

Written for The Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir by
Dr. Nazreen Nawaz
Director of the Women’s Section in the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir