10 Steps to Gaining Taqwa
Take provision; but the best provision is taqwa of Allah. So have taqwa of Me, people of intelligence! (Surat al-Baqara: 197)
What is Taqwa?
Taqwa means consciousness, awe or fear of Allah, which inspires a person to be on guard against wrong action and eager for actions which please Allah and stay away from those actions which displease and anger him.
the skins of those who fear their Lord shiver from it (when they recite it or hear it). Then their skin and their heart soften to the remembrance of Allah." [39:23]
Why should we fear Allah?
It is because we are fully reliant on Allah and we have no control over our final fate and the day and time when we will return to Allah. We are so weak, vulnerable and low beings whereas Allah is the greatest and most high, honoured and has power over EVERYTHING!
Allah can take us at ANY second and what would become of us if we were taken whilst committing a sin? We would risk the torture of the grave and a day so terrible that we cannot even comprehend for what would become of us on the day of judgement?
Therefore we MUST fear Allah and totally submit to him and obey his commands lest we are taken whilst we are indulging in sin and face the torment of the grave, the terrible state of ALL on the harshest of days the day of judgement and the fire of Hell who's fuel is of men and stones.
The fruits of fearing Allah
Ghazali (rahmatullahi `alayhi) said: ‘Fear rips away desires and muddens luxuries so that cherished sins become reprehensible, just as a honey lover is repelled by it when he learns that it has poison in it. This is how fear burns desires; disciplines the organs; subordinates the heart and gives it tranquility. It also enables the heart to rid itself of pride, hatred, and envy; and it leaves it absorbed in it (fear). Hence, the heart becomes preoccupied with its own worries and looks towards its best interest in the long run. It is then engaged in only matters like meditation, self-analysis and struggle. It cherishes its time and moments.’ [Ihya: 4/160]
Hadith - Al-Tirmidhi #5359, Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas'ud
Allah's Messenger said, "If, through fear of Allah, tears--even to the extent of a fly's head--fall from any believer's eyes and drop on some part of his cheek, he will be kept away from Hell by Allah." Ibn Majah transmitted it.
So how can we increase our taqwa or fearful awareness of Allah?
Here are 10 steps for us to increase in and gain taqwa:
1. Recite the Qur'an with its meanings:
We should read the Qur'an with its meanings and try to understand what Allah is telling us in the Qur'an. Contemplate and ponder over the meanings of the verses of the Qur'an and act upon what you learn for learning something beneficial without acting upon it is of no use. We should read each vere of the Qur'an with humility and submissiveness.
Recite the Holy Qur’aan as much as we can for It will come as an intercessor for its reciter’ on the Day of Judgement [Muslim]
Many of the sahaba used to take a long time finishing reciting the Qur'an because they wanted to reflect, ponder, contemplate and act upon each verse of the Qur'an. We should also do the same so that we can gain maximum benefit from each verse of the Noble Qur'an.
2. Remember Allah:
keep your tongue moist with the glorification and remembrance of Allah As much as possible . The more we remember him the more he will remember us. Ponder over the greatness and creations of Allah.
O ye who believe, remember Allah much. And glorify Him morning and evening (33:42-43)
Glorify him no matter what you are doing with your day. Ponder and contemplate over his highness and magnificence. He has power over all so remember him in meekness and awe and humble yourself over his greatness and majesty.
3. Busy yourself with good works:
The more you busy yourself making the best of your time then the less time you will have to even contemplate doing haraam. Take part in local Islamic activities and in the Muslim community. Involve yourself with your local Masjid. Maintain the Masjid as in clean it vacuum any handy work etc. Give dawah locally and involve yourself as much as possible with good works and do everything ONLY to please of Allah.
4. Be with good company:
This is very important because we are who our friends are. If we involve ourselves with the wrong crowd then whether we like it or not then their bad influence will rub off on us and we will end up thinking like them and doing the sins that they do.
Bad company is like poison so we MUST keep away from it. It is better to be alone than with bad company. we should avoid taking as friends those who speak too freely, who miss Salah, who do not dress modestly, who backbite, slander etc.
The company of such people is poison; just even sitting and talking with them will lead one to commit sins. Just as a person who sits for a long time with a perfume seller begins to smell nice, and a person who sits by a gutter cleaner begins to smell awful, similarly a person who spends time in the company of the wicked eventually gets affected badly by them.
Instead we should seek out pious friends who fear Allah taala and who have the qualities of humility, charity, compassion, modesty and knowledge. If we sit with them we will always benefit and they will be a means for us to get closer to Allah!
Remember: “All friends will be enemies of one another on that Day (Day of Judgment) except those of the virtuous.” (al-Qur’an 43:67)
5. Learn religious knowledge:
Try to acquire as much knowledge as is possible and act upon everything you learn for learning without acting upon that knowledge is of no use and we will be accountable for the knowledge we had that we never acted upon. Spend time with the learned and sit with them and take wisdom from them. Go to Islamic courses and involve yourself with learning about the deen as much as you can as we should continue to acquire knowledge of Islam until our very last breath.
A person without knowledge is like someone walking along a track in complete darkness. Most likely his steps will wander aside and he easily can be deceived by shaytaan. This shows that our greatest danger lies in our ignorance of Islamic teachings and in our unawareness of what the Qur’an teaches and what guidance has been given by the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaiyhi Wasallam). But if we are blessed with the light of knowledge we will be able to see plainly the clear path of Islam at every step of our lives. We shall also be able to identify and avoid the dangerous paths of Kufr, Shirk and immorality, which may cross it. And, whenever a false guide meets us on the way, a few words with him will quickly establish that he is not a guide who should be followed.
Every one of us, young or old, man or woman, should at least acquire sufficient knowledge to enable ourselves to understand the essence of the teachings of the Qur’an and the purpose for which it has been sent down. We should also be able to understand clearly the mission, which our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu Alaiyhi Wasallam) came into this world to fulfil. We should also recognize the corrupt order and system, which he came to destroy. We should acquaint ourselves, too, with the way of life which Allah has ordained for us.
No great amount of time is required to acquire this simple knowledge. If we truly value Iman, it cannot be too difficult to find one hour every day to devote for our Iman.
6. Always be alert and aware of whatever may divert you away from Allah:
Be alert to anything that may lead you towards sin. Shaythan is always wanting to lead us astray and he may pounce on us when we are not aware so we must always have an awareness of his evil tricks.
We must think that whilst we commit any action we may be taken by death for death awaits no one so before doing any action we must think is it good for us or bad and if it is bad then we must realise that we CANNOT take the risk of the consequances were we to die in that state.
We must also guard our tongues because the tongue will be that which will lead the most Muslims into Jahannam. Therefore we must think before we speak and if we know we are not going to say anything useful then it is better to not speak at all than to risk committing a sin.
Therefore let us be alert to the carnal pleasures that may lead to the realm of the forbidden and always be aware that Allah is watching us because he really is and it is not just a cliche! if we gain awareness that Allah is watching us no matter what we are doing then we would think twice before committing a sin!
7. Be humble in character:
Shun arrogance and pride and never think of yourself as better than anyone else.
Al-Nawawi (RA) said:
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “And no one humbles himself before Allaah but Allaah will raise him (in status).”
Humbleness is to know the value of oneself, to avoid pride, or disregarding the truth and underestimating people. As the Prophet sallallahu`alaihi wa sallam said, according to Muslim and others, "Al-Kibr is rejecting the truth and looking down upon people" [Muslim, Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud].
Humbleness is for one who is important and significant and he fears to gain notoriety or to become too great among people. Humbleness is that one should humble himself with his companions.
Humbleness is to humble oneself to one who is below you. If you find someone who is younger than you, or of less importance than you, you should not despise him, because he might have a better heart than you, or be less sinful, or closer to Allah than you. Even if you see a sinful person and you are righteous, do not act in arrogance towards him, and thank Allah that He saved you from the tribulation that He put him through.
Humbleness is that your deed should not become too great in your eyes. If you do a good deed, or attempt to get closer to Allah ta`ala through an act of obedience, your deed may still not be accepted, "Allah only accepts from those who have taqwa (fear of Allah)." (Surat al-Maida: 27)
8. Do everything to please Allah:
Everything you do in your life do it JUST so that you can please Allah. This will ensure that you think before you do any action so that you can do everything to please Allah and keep away from anything that displeases him. This awareness will ensure that you are always doing good works or at least trying to find ways of doing good works just so that you can please Allah and get closer to him.
Before every action we should think to ourselves is this action going to derive any benefit to us or is it going to cause us more harm than good. If we think like this before EVERY action then we will do a lot less sins and a lot more good and we would also gain a fearful awareness of Allah of the consequances of doing that which displeases Allah.
9. Focus on the main purpose of our lives:
We should keep reminding ourselves of the purpose of our life and why we are here. Throughout our daily lives especially in our busy day we forget our main purpose and therefore end up doing a lot of sin and wasting time.
Therefore before doing any action think of your main purpose in this life and then think is what i am going to do or even think of doing compatible with the main purpose of my life? If it is then do it and if it is not and will just either waste your time or lead you towards sin then keep away from it.
Think to yourself that you have NO time whatsoever to do that which will not conform to your main purpose in this life and so evrything you do should conform to and be compatible with your main purpose in this life which is to worship Allah and do everything to please him and stay away from anything he has forbidden us from and which displeases him. We should also think that anything which will not be of benefit to us is a waste of time and therefore we will ALWAYS be searching for ways to please Allah and to add to our good deeds.
10. Remember much the destroyer of pleasures: DEATH!
The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: "Remember often the destroyer of pleasure." (Sunan al-Tirmidhi and Sunan al-Nasa'i)
Know that it can strike at ANY second and be aware that if it were to strike whilst you were committing a sin then how will you be raised in that state and what will be our state in the grave and on the day of judgement? What will you answer to Allah when you were fully aware of the implications and consquences of our actions? For man is heedless.
Therefore remember death much and make it a habit to visit the graveyard at least once a week so that you may be reminded of death and know that you may end up in the grave alongside the others at ANY second and the next grave dug could be yours or mine.
May Allah make us of the most fearful of him and of the pious and may he bring us closer to him and guide us to the straight path. May he save us from the torment of the grave and the fire of hell. Ameen
And Allah knows best in all matters