The Reality of Taqwa

The noble shaykh Ahmad ibn Idris (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

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Taqwa is to make Allah, most high, a protection between yourself and everything other than Himself. It is not as has been said, to make something a protection for you between yourself and between Himself, for that would be a veil between you and Him. Taqwa is therefore a very high rank. Allah most high said:

{O People, worship Allah who created you and those who came before you, so that perhaps you might achieve taqwa}  (2:21)

He – most high and transcendent – wanted to pull us to worship Him, and so reminded us of His blessings upon us, to drive us to Him. At other times, He would drive us toward Him by mentioning what He has prepared for us in Paradise, and at other times He drives us toward Him through warnings and the mention of punishment.

The people of noble character worship Allah to thank Him for His blessings.

The people of desire are driven to Him through the mention of Paradise and what Allah has prepared for them in it.

The people of fear are driven to Paradise through the mention of warnings and punishment.

Therefore, worship is either in return for the blessings of Allah, or out of fear of the Fire, or out of desire for Paradise. In this verse, Allah singled out His blessings in mention, when He said: {who created you and those who came before you}

All of those who came before us, of that which is in the Heavens and the Earth, were created for us. Therefore He commanded us to worship Him out of gratitude to Him for creating us, and out of gratitude to Him for creating for us that which came before us. He created you from none existence, when you had no choice, and created those who came before you so that you would be from their descendants.

Then He – most high and transcendent – said, {so that perhaps you might achieve Taqwa}

Meaning: If you worship Allah for the sake of these three things, or one of them, then, (as the hadith states), “Allah sends special breezes in some days of your lives” through which He might open for you the door of Taqwa.[1] Taqwa is to worship Allah, most high, not for anything, but only for Him, through Him, seeking His pleasure. The person of Taqwa sees nothing but Allah, fears nothing but Him, and desires nothing but Him…. Allah, most high, said:

{The person of Taqwa will be far removed from [the Fire], he who gives his money away to purify himself, not to return a favor to anyone, rather he seeks only (to meet) His Lord, the Most High, and He will be well pleased} (92:17-21)

Therefore what they want is to meet Allah, most high, and their reward from Him is only what they desire, because in Paradise people receive what they desire, and they desire naught but Him. This is the degree of the people of Taqwa.

Al-Iqd al-Nafis, pp. 168-9.

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[1] It is as if the shaykh is saying that Allah told us to worship Him in hopes of achieving Taqwa, and reminded us of His blessings in particular, because this type of worship, the worship of the grateful servant, is the one that most leads to achieving Taqwa. However, even worshiping Allah out of desire for the bliss of Paradise or out of fear of His punishment can lead to Taqwa too, if Allah most high chooses to open that door of goodness for us through His mercy and generosity. Here he is referring to the words of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah exalt him and send him greetings of peace):

“Allah sends (special) breezes in some days of your lives, so place yourselves in a position to receive them. Perhaps one of you will receive such a breeze, after which he will never be of the wretched.” (Narrated by al-Tabarani in al-Awsat and al-Kabir)

“Seek goodness throughout your lives, and place yourselves in a position to receive the breezes of Allah’s mercy, for Allah sends breezes of mercy with which He blesses whomever He wishes from among His servants.” (Narrated by al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Iman, Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf)

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