Fear of God and fasting

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Fear of God and fasting

Fear of God, which in Arabic means Taqwa, is the soul of fasting.

By Khwaja Mohammad Zubair (reflections)

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Published: Sat 21 Jul 2012, 11:47 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 11:52 AM

Taqwa is said to be that spiritual condition wherein a person, believing firmly in the Omnipotence of Allah and His Omnipresence, has an acute urge to distinguish between virtue and vice, and a burning desire to adopt the good and to eschew the evil in order to protect himself from the displeasure of Allah. Taqwa is the only force, which enables Muslims to reach the status of what is called ‘world class’ human beings.

God-fearing means saving, guarding or preserving a thing from that which harms on injures it. In a religious sense it means guarding against evil or being saved from sin, and in the terminology of Shariah, connotes keeping aloof from all that is injurious to the human souls. The root meaning of Taqwa is to save oneself from anything that causes apprehension of being harmful or injurious. It, therefore, includes the fear or apprehension of the consequences that follow from a certain act or behaviour. By extension, it means the awareness of one’s responsibilities to others.

It would not be a misstatement of fact if it is said that Taqwa epitomises the entire teachings of the Prophet of Islam. A study of the Holy Quran will show that every aspect of its teachings is directed towards the creation of this spiritual condition of God-fearing in every action of the believers.

According to the Holy Quran, Taqwa should be the ultimate result of all forms of worship. The holy Quran says: “People! Worship your Rab (Creator and Sustainer) Who created you and those before you, so that you may guard against evil...” (2:21). Again, the same virtue is emphasised as the objective of fasting: “O believers! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed for those who were before you, so that you may avoid evil” (2:183).

The Haj is also enjoined with the same objective: “Thus it is, and who so honour the symbols of Allah, then that indeed is from the piety of heart” (22:32). Animal sacrifice is also offered with this very aim: “Neither their meat nor their blood reaches Allah but your piety reaches Him...” (22:37).

According to the Holy Quran, the practice of basic moralities lead to the same goal: “... and to forego (for men) is nearer to piety...” (2:237). In Surah Ale Imran, Taqwa is bracketed with steadfastness and patience, and in Surah Baqarah with making peace among mankind. Even in conducting wars, when mere values are generally overlooked, Muslims have to abide by the dictates of Taqwa. This condition of heart transforms both the thinking and the action of man.

The Holy Quran repeatedly asks us to observe Taqwa, to abide by the decisions of the Holy Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), to act up to the injunctions of the Shariah, and to refrain from prohibited acts, and to attain glory. A Muslim surrenders before Allah and does what he is ordered to do and refrain from what he is told to keep away from. Taqwa, the fear of Allah, is the only force that can restrain man from evil and wickedness. It is this fear of Allah that keeps the heart of a believer awake and enables him to distinguish right from wrong.

Besides, Taqwa is the only virtue that brings honour to a believer, man or woman, in the Islamic society. The Holy Quran says: “O men We have created you from a male and a female, and have made you into races and tribes that you may (thereby) know one another. Indeed, the most honourable of you in the sight of Allah is (one who is) the most righteous of you. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware” (49:13).

Justice and Taqwa are two principles that emerge as necessary corollaries from the doctrines of Oneness of Allah, which according to the Holy Quran and the tradition, is the basic article of faith, whereas the discipline and the dos and the don’ts of the canon law are merely its outward expression, or means to the attainment of divinely ordained ends of man in its collective as well as individual existence. In Islam, being just is considered to be a necessary condition or being pious and God-

fearing, the basic characteristics of a Muslim.

The Holy Quran says: “...Deal justly; that is nearer to pity, and observe your duty to Allah. Surely Allah is well aware of what you do” (5:8). The Holy Quran aims to create an ideal society based on Taqwa for the good of the entire humanity. Allah says: “You are the best community created for the good of mankind.” The fear of Allah, the root of all wisdom, find expression in the individual’s awareness of the impact that his actions or failure to act will at the various stages or levels of his social connections and relationship have on others. It is admitted that the primary concern of Islam is to develop the personality of the individual as a God-fearing man, and equip him with the talent to live in peace with himself and peace with others.

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