Taqwa

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A mosque in Dayuan, Taiwan is named after the word Taqwa.

Taqwa (Arabic: تقوىtaqwā / taqwá , "piety") is a concept in Islam that is interpreted by some Islamic scholars as god-consciousness. Taqwa is perceived from the Holy Quran in English as one being enlightened or enlightenment. The concept of having piousness and being in an altered state of mind. Having Taqwa allows a person to be constantly aware of both God's presence and attributes and a reminder of their relationship and responsibility to God as His creation and servant. The scholars explain that the way to taqwa is through obedience of God, avoiding disobedience, and striving to stay away from doubtful matters.

Having Taqwa, as taught in Muslim theology, is a way to allow a person to be constantly aware of both Allah's presence and attributes. It can also be a reminder of a Muslim's relationship and responsibility to Allah as his creation and servant. Some Muslim scholars explain that the way to taqwa is through obedience to Allah, avoiding disobedience, and striving to stay away from doubtful matters.[1] The literal meaning is "to put a barrier between yourself and the wrath of Allah". In the Muslim community, it plays a role in ethics. Taqwa plays a significant role in one's relationship to Allah by reminding his believers of his power and knowledge. Taqwa also has a major role in the mystical side of Islam, and it is one of the Stations of the Sufi Path.

Ethics[edit]

Taqwa plays a large role in Islamic ethics because it is believed to be what truly makes Muslims aware of their actions in relation to Allah. Because of this construct, taqwa may be called one of the "ideal ethical values" of Islam.[2]

Theological interpretation[edit]

According to Tafsir ibn Kathir, the root meaning of taqwa is to avoid what one dislikes. It was reported that Umar bin Khattab asked Ubay ibn Kaab about Taqwa. Ubay said, "Have you ever walked on a path that has thorns on it?" Umar said, "Yes." Ubay asked, "What did you do then?" to which Umar replied, "I rolled up my sleeves and struggled." Ubay said, "That is taqwa, to protect oneself from sin through life’s dangerous journey so that one can successfully complete the journey unscathed by sin."[citation needed]

Ibn Abbas said about verse 2:2 in the Quran, هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ hudā lil-muttaqīn "guidance for the Muttaqin", that it means, "They are the believers who avoid shirk with Allah (swt) and who work in His obedience." He also said that Al-Muttaqin means, "Those who fear Allah's (swt) Punishment, which would result if they abandoned the true guidance that they recognize and know. They also hope in Allah's (swt) Mercy by believing in what He revealed."[citation needed]

Taqwa and the Qur'an[edit]

According to Erik S. Ohlander in his study on "Fear of God (Taqwa) in the Qur'an," taqwa is used in the Qur'an over 100 times. In a Quranic context, taqwa refers to fear of God in terms of protecting oneself from displeasing God.[3] On the surface, the translation of taqwa as simply "fear of God" has a negative connotation because it appears to depict God as someone to be avoided as we tend to avoid those that we fear. However, in an Islamic context this fear is motivation for right behavior. This fear of God is more of a fear of displeasing God and a fear of God's power as opposed to a fear of God himself.

Throughout the Qur'an, there are many stories that tell people to fear God, especially in terms of faith and the avoidance of committing sins. In one particular section of the Qur'an, God talks about etiquette and the washing of oneself before one prays: "And remember God's blessing upon you, and His compact which He made with you when you said, 'We have heard and we obey.' And fear you God; surely God knows the thoughts in the breasts."[4]

SIDENOTE: One thing to remember about the Qur'an is that it is the words of God spoken to the Prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel.[5] This affects the context from which the audience of the speaker is taken.

This part of the Qur'an speaks of "remembering God's blessing" and obeying God. In this context, the statement "And fear you God" refers to remembering God's relation to the rest of the world. We should obey God because he has power to bless us and he is all knowing. This fear reminds us of God being all knowing and all powerful. In this Quranic context taqwa is a fear of God that is more of an awareness than a fear. This part of the Qur'an demonstrates the three parts of "man's fear of God": "full trust in God with respect to what has not been granted to him; full satisfaction with what has been granted to him; and full patience with respect to what has eluded him."[6] The first two parts of what makes up "man's fear of God" refer to God's power. God has the power to give to man and the power to withhold or take away from man. Fear of God forces people to accept that power and maintain an awareness of such power. The last part of what makes up "man's fear of God" refers to God being all-knowing. The idea that people must have "patience with respect to what has eluded [them]" means that people must be patient about what they do not know, for God will reveal what He is ready to reveal when he feels the time is right. God has power and knowledge that he uses at his own will because he is all knowing. God knows what is going to happen and has the power and knowledge to know how and when to act. Taqwa is what reminds people of that power and knowledge and should be their response to it in order to get closer to God.

Sufism[edit]

Taqwa is known by sufis, as one of the stations of the Sufi Path.[7] In a mystical context, many believe that acting on taqwa means to distance oneself from everything that distances one from God. In other words, in order to act on taqwa, one must abstain from sin.[8] In a Sufi context, taqwa brings one closer to God.

In Sufism, taqwa has several degrees. The first degree or rank is that of the common people. This rank shuns anything associated with God. In other words, the common people participate in taqwa by simply avoiding shirk. The second degree or rank of taqwa are the elect who shun sins. The final rank is that of the prophets who avoid attributing acts to anyone other than God- "in other words, their fear comes to them from Him and is [directed] to Him."[9] The highest rank are those who distance themselves from everything that separates them from God, for one of the main goals in Sufism is to get closer to God because being separated from God is equivalent to that of hell.

The master-disciple relationship is one of great importance within Sufi practice. Taqwa is greatly valued within this relationship. God-fearing piety is seen as great religious devotion because it allows for "unhesitating obedience for the order's superior." In other words, if one can blindly follow his master, then he should be able to blindly follow God. Taqwa then leads to a lack of questioning authority, for the disciple submits to those with greater power than him. This submission reminds the disciple of God's power making the disciple a more devout worshipper of God.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Taḳwā." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Brill Online, 2013. Reference. Augustana. 26 April 2013 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopaedia-of-islam-2/takwa-COM_1457>
  2. ^ Nanji, Azim. "Islamic Ethics." The Institute of Ismaili Studies (2000): n. pag. Google Scholar. Web.
  3. ^ Ohlander, E. S. "Fear of God (taqwa) in the Qur'an: Some Notes on Semantic Shift and Thematic Context." Journal of Semitic Studies 50.1 (2005): 137-52. Print.
  4. ^ 5:10. Arberry, Arthur J. The Koran. Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks, 1998. Print
  5. ^ Hooker, Richard. "Islam: The Koran (Qur'an)." About the Koran (Qur'an). Washington State University, 2013. Web. 2013.
  6. ^ 126. Qušairī, ʻAbd-al-Karīm Ibn-H̲awāzin Al-. Al-Qushayri's Epistle on Sufism: Al-Risala Al-qushayriyya Fi 'ilm Al-tasawwuf. Reading: Garnet Publ., 2007. Print.
  7. ^ Berger, Lutz. "Fear of God and Hope (for God’s mercy) (in Sufism) ." Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Edited by: Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson. Brill Online, 2013. Reference. Augustana. 26 April 2013 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopaedia-of-islam-3/fear-of-god-and-hope-for-gods-mercy-in-sufism-COM_27081>
  8. ^ "Taḳwā." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Brill Online, 2013. Reference. Augustana. 26 April 2013 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopaedia-of-islam-2/takwa-COM_1457>
  9. ^ 128. Qušairī, ʻAbd-al-Karīm Ibn-H̲awāzin Al-. Al-Qushayri's Epistle on Sufism: Al-Risala Al-qushayriyya Fi 'ilm Al-tasawwuf. Reading: Garnet Publ., 2007. Print.
  10. ^ "Taḳwā." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Brill Online, 2013. Reference. Augustana. 26 April 2013 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopaedia-of-islam-2/takwa-COM_1457>
  • Ambros, Ames; Stephan Procházka (2004). A Concise Dictionary of Koranic Arabic. Reichert Verlag. p. 294. ISBN 3-89500-400-6. 

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