A person once asked the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam),
‘O Messenger of Allah! Give me some advice.’
The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) replied:
“I advise you to fear Allah because it is the head of everything.”
This is taqwa–having fear of the Majestic, the All-Mighty, Most High, Most Exalted, the One Creator, the Supreme Power.
Muhammad (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said, “Have fear of Allah, it is the head of everything.” But to have fear of Allah, we must attain God-consciousness, the awareness that Allah is deeply involved in every aspect of our lives, in our every action, in our every thought, in every spoken word. He sees what we do hidden and what we do openly. He sees all that we do, whether it’s intentional or unintentional, whether it’s an evil, sinful act or a good, rewardful act. He hears all we say, whether we say it to someone’s face, to ourselves, behind someone’s back, or in our innermost thoughts. He is the Alive, the Eternal and He is closer to us than the vein in our neck (Suratul Qaaf 50:16).
The likeness of one who has the awareness of the reality of Allah’s existence in every single act, every single decision, every single word, every single thought is the likeness of a dry, curled up desert plant that receives a drop of moisture, which will make it spread out its leaves and sink its roots and flourish and blossom. Similarly, one who feels Allah in their heart at every breath they take and in every aspect of their lives and in everything they do from the important and profound to the everyday, simple tasks becomes aware of the great thirst, the great dependence and the great joy his or her life had been lacking without this devotion, without this urge to serve. And with it they strive for the pleasure of their Lord, finding fulfillment and happiness.
Taqwa–fear of Allah. There was a time when this actually meant something. There was a time when Umar bin al-Khattaab (radiyallahu anhu) merely said a two-word khutbah. He said, “Ittaqullah!” Fear Allah! And with that he started the Jumu’ah prayer. But today, we are in a situation in which these two words alone will hold no weight as it did at the time of the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) and his companions (radiyallahu anhum). There was a time when fearing Allah, the One, the True, was a type of advice in which people did take heed, but today its means absolutely nothing to us. Instead of having fear of He, whose hands hold our very lives, instead of having fear of He who holds our destinies, instead of having fear of He who takes not our eyesight or our hearing or our ability to feel, but gives us thousands of chances daily to turn to Him, who do we fear? We fear our friends, our peer group. We fear them so much that we disobey that same God, who loves us so much that He forgives all our sins if only one tear falls from our eyes onto our cheeks. One tear! We go out with our friends, even our relatives, to make them happy and to fit in. We go to the movies, we go out partying at clubs and pubs committing sins and earning the displeasure of Allah and earning the pleasure of Shaytaan (Satan) for their sake. “Here just have a sip of this. It’s not gonna do nothing,” or, “Smoke a joint, man. What’s wrong with you mama’s boy?!?” or, “Come on, baby, just once if you really love me.” These phrases might sound familiar to some of us. Instead of realizing that one day, on a day in which there is no doubt, we will be called up one by one to answer for every deed we committed and then either thrown into the Hellfire or welcomed into Paradise, we obey the disbelievers and the hypocrites (Muslims only by name):
“O Prophet! Keep your duty to Allah and obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. And follow that which is inspired to you from your Lord. Verily, Allah is well aquainted with what you do. And put your trust in Allah and Sufficient is Allah as Trustee.”
(Suratul Ahzaab 33:1-3)
“How do you disbelieve in Allah when He gave you life when you were dead, then He will give you death, then life again, then unto Him you will return?”
(Suratul Baqarah 2:28)
Instead of fearing the one who gave us life after we were dead, the One who bestows upon us food to keep our stomachs full, clothes to keep us warm, and houses to protect us, who do we fear? We fear our employers and our teachers. And because of fear of them, we choose not to worship that One, Powerful Lord at our prescribed times. We fear them?!?!? Them, who Allah, Himself created–created them as He created us, the believers, out of the dust of the earth?!? Yet, we fear them, who themselves will have no protects, no friends, no helpers, nor any interceders against Allah on the Day of Resurrection. Imagine, we make the choice not to worship the Lord of Kindness. And, in reality, we fear everything, but we fear not Allah, the Source of all Goodness.
“It is only Shaytaan that suggests to you the fear of his friends and supporters (disbelievers) so fear them not, but fear Me, if you are true believers.”
(Suratul Ali Imran 3:175)
“Truly, Allah is with those who fear Him, keep their duty to Him, and those who are doers of good for the sake of Allah only.”
(Suratul Nahl 16:128)
“Whoever fears Allah, Allah will grant him a way out of hardship; and whoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will forgive his sins from him and will enlarge his reward.”
(Suratut-Talaq 65:2, 5)
“Verily, those who are fearful of Allah are the people who, when an evil thought from Shaytaan comes to them, they remember Allah, and indeed they then see aright.”
(Suratul A’raaf 7:20)
Once the fear and awareness of Allah dawns on a person, life is never the same. When a person’s heart opens up to Allah, it cannot be. The way we view life, how we see life, our ambitions in life, our expectations in life, our goals in life, all change. After this, every aspect of life is seen with a spiritual and Islamic dimension. There is a reason, an aim, a goal to it all, a sense of justice and fulfillment, and a sense of a relationship with one’s Creator, the Creator who is deeply involved with every action and thought of our lives.
“It is Allah Who gives life and death and Allah sees well all that you do.”
(Suratul Ali Imran 3:156)
“Truly my Lord casts (a mantle) of Truth (over His servants), He that has full knowledge of (all) that is hidden. If I am astray it is only at the loss of my own soul; but if I receive guidance, it is because of the inspirations of my Lord to me; it is He Who hears all things and is ever near.”
(Suratus-Saba 34:48, 50)
This is why it is also important to realize that Islam is a way of life. It is not just a ritual of prayers, fasting, and feasting. Islam is the true deen, the Deen of Allah, a complete system of life and this life, the Islamic life, is to be lived the way Allah has prescribed it. And it starts with taqwa. Now, taqwa is more than just having fear of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (radiyallahu anhu) narrated: “Taqwa is not fasting during the day and it is not praying during the night and it is not the mixing of the two of them, but taqwa is leaving what Allah has made haram (forbidden) and by doing what Allah has made fard. After one has done this, Allah will provide good things for that person.”
Al Hasan (radiyallahu anhu) reported: “The people who have taqwa (called al-muttaqeen) are the people who avoided whatever Allah prohibited and had done whatever Allah ordained.”
And this, doing what is permitted and refraining from what is prohibited comes from the fear and awareness of Allah’s presence. The means of obtaining taqwa is in our grasp and our ability; it is in our very homes, and it is what our arwah (souls) crave. The means of gaining taqwa, the fear of Allah, which leads to a more nourished and healthy ruh, which leads to a more obedient Muslim, which leads to refraining from all haram, which leads to striving to gain Allah’s pleasure, which helps lead us to success, which will lead us to Jannah (Insha Allah) is the remembrance of Allah azzowajal, His dhikr, and it is the recitation of the Holy Qur’an, His very words. This is why the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said, “Fear Allah, it is the head of everything.”
It is so easy to remember Allah and to glorify and praise Him, especially once we’ve reached this step. For example, when we are standing in line at the grocery store with all our goods–breads, cereals, drinks, sweets, nourishments, we should do tasbih–Subhannallah, Alhumdulillah, Allahu Abkar, and just speak to Allah in your heart and thank Him for His blessings. Simple. Remember Allah, praise Him, wherever you are, whatever you are doing
May Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala Guide us and keep us on path wherein we may be counted amongst the muttaqeen!
Aameen! Summa Aameen!