Taqwa: Built Upon the 'Aqeedah
Taqwa is one of the most profound concepts in Islam. Taqwa is an avenue by which Muslims relate to one another in society and a means to channel their actions. Because of the great importance of taqwa, it has been referred to numerous times in the Qur'an and Sunnah in order to emphasize its relevance and significance to the Muslims.
Allah (swt) strongly emphasizes the rewards of people with taqwa in this life and the Hereafter. It is these muttaqeen that Allah (swt) grants assistance, victory and provides for. Thus, understanding the concept of taqwa is vital and mandatory for every Muslim.
Unfortunately, this is the very concept which the Muslims have left behind, as a result of faulty education. The disbelievers in the distant past, as well as in present times, have understood the importance of taqwa and the Islamic creed, and how it could jeopardize their interests. They realized how taqwa and the Islamic creed ('aqeedah) were the roots of power to the Muslims. Thus they began to warp and dilute it by adding Greek, Persian and Hindu ideas and philosophies to it. Eventually, the Muslims began to incorporate the false ideas of the body and soul, and their interrelationship, into the original, pristine Islamic concept of taqwa.
As a result, Muslims started portraying a person possessing taqwa as a soft-spoken, elevated, calm, pious, spiritual person, adorned with a certain type of holy attire. A picture of a person who over emphasizes prayer, fasting, and things such as donating to the masjid, while living a secluded and isolated life would be the one with taqwa, even though the same person would deal with usury, lie and sell alcohol. They began manufacturing their own version of taqwa and fed this false sentiment to the Ummah.
In contrast to this distorted picture the Qur'an and Sunnah defines the idea of taqwa as protecting oneself from the Hellfire by following the orders of Allah (swt) by doing what He (swt) has commanded and avoiding what He (swt) has forbidden. Many ayat in the Qur'an point up these ideas, "And unto Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth. And, verily, We have recommended to the people of the Scripture before you, and to you (O Muslims) that you (all) fear Allah, and keep your duty to Him, But if you disbelieve, then unto Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, and Allah is Ever Rich, Worthy of all praise." [TMQ An-Nisa' 4: 131]
Also, in the Prophet's (saw) last khutbah he said, "I ask you to fear Him (swt), listen to Him (swt), and obey." Both the ayahs, as well as the hadith, are commanding Muslims to have taqwa. A person should have taqwa as a barrier between himself and the Anger and Displeasure of Allah (swt). Through taqwa , the Muslim strives to obey Allah (swt) and abstains from His prohibitions.
The son of 'Ali (ra), Al-Hasan (ra) once said, "The people who have taqwa (al-muttaqoon) are the people who avoided whatever Allah (swt) has prohibited and have done whatever Allah (swt) has ordained."
Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (ra) once said, "Taqwa is not by fasting the day and not by praying the night. And it's not by mixing between the two of them. But taqwa is leaving what Allah (swt) has made Haram and by doing what Allah (swt) has made Fard. After one has done this, Allah (swt) will provide good things for that person."
A true muttaqoon is a person who strives to possess a solid understanding and knowledge of the rulings of Allah (swt) through the Qur'an and Sunnah. Without proper knowledge of the Islamic rulings, a person would not know what is asked of him/her. Therefore, it is a must to understand Islam properly as well as to have the proper intention of pleasing Allah (swt) in carrying out these actions.
Imam Ahmad mentions a hadith, narrated by a Sahabi, whereby a person once asked, "Oh Messenger of Allah, give me some advice." The Prophet (saw) responded, "I advise you to fear Allah (swt) because it is the head of everything." In another occasion the Prophet (saw) replied, "Fear Allah (swt) because it is the collection of all goodness." Allah (swt) also promises to be with those who have taqwa. Allah (swt) says,