On the authority of Abu Dharr Jundub ibn Junada and Abu Abdul Rahmaan Muaadh ibn Jabal (RadhiAllahu Anhuma) from the Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) who said:
“Fear Allah wherever you are. And follow up a bad deed with a good deed and it will wipe it out. And behave towards the people with a good behaviour.”
[Recorded in al-Tirmidhi]
“Fear Allah wherever you are”
Taqwa (translated here as ‘fear’) comes from the root word waqaaya, which means “he protected” or “to protect”. When the word taqwa is used with respect to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala), as in this hadith, it means that one must fear and protect oneself from the anger and punishment of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala). These things are what we have to fear above all else, both in this world and in the Hereafter.
Taqwa or fear of Allah, is one of the most important concepts found in the Qur’an and Sunnah. It could be described as the foundation of the religion. It has been the command of Allah for all of the Messengers:
“To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth. We have advised the people of the Scripture before you and you also [O Muslims] to have taqwa of Allah [fear Allah and keep your duty to Him].”
Taqwa is such an important characteristic, that whenever the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) sent an army out to battle, he would advise them to have tawqa of Allah, as this would be the cause of their success or defeat.
When we realise that Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) sees us at all times and knows what we do, think and say, then the obvious implication is that we should fear Allah’s anger and punishment at all times. That includes when we are accompanied and when we are alone, and when we are receiving blessings and trials. The Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) used to supplicate:
“I ask of You to give me fear of You in matters that are not seen as well as those that are witnessed.”
[Recorded in al-Nisaai]
The minimum aspect of taqwa is to obey Allah and not disobey Him (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala). To achieve a higher level, one must put some distance between oneself and anything that could anger Allah. The people of taqwa, will leave even permissible deeds out of fear that there might be something harmful in them. Leaving these doubtful or permissible deeds then acts as a barrier between the believer and any acts of disobedience.
When a believer performs all the obligatory deeds that they are capable of and stays away from all the forbidden and doubtful matters, and when they further perform the recommended acts and stay away from the disapproved ones, they are truly deserving of the title muttaqeen “the people possessing taqwa“. The reward for these type of people is the highest of rewards. Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) says:
“And the good end [Paradise] is for the [people of] taqwa”
May Allah make us of those people who fear Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) wherever we are and earn His (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) highest reward. Ameen!
“And follow up a bad deed with a good deed and it will wipe it out.”
This part of the hadith illustrates that even those with taqwa, or fear of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) may still slip and make mistakes. No one is perfect, but those who are from the mutaqeen or people of taqwa, do not persist in their sins. When they remember Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) they immediately perform a good deed to outweigh the negative effects of a bad one. Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) speaks of these people in the Qur’an:
“And be quick in the race for forgiveness from Your Lord and for Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the mutaqeen, Those who spend [for Allah’s cause] in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men. Verily, Allah loves the doers of good. And for those who, when they have committed some evil or wronged themselves, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah – and who do not persist in what they have done, while they know. For such, the reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing amidst them, wherein they shall abide forever. How excellent is this reward for the doers [of taqwa].”
SubhanAllah, may Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) make us of the mutaqeen, Ameen!
It is important to note that a bad deed that violates the rights of others, cannot simply be wiped away by a good deed. Instead, the sinner must return the right to the person or ask for their forgiveness. An example of this would be if you said something bad about a person in a gathering, you should seek Allah’s forgiveness and say something good about them in a gathering of at least the same size, to outweigh the negative effects of what you have said.
We should also remember that in the same way that good deeds wipe away evil deeds, evil deeds can also wipe away good deeds. That is, the reward for the deed may be removed by the bad deed that is performed after it. This is especially true with regards to major sins such as dealing in riba (interest) or committing adultery.
May Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) protect us always and forgive our sins and write our name amongst the Muttaqeen. Aameen!