Ramadan Day 7: What is the meaning of “Taqwa”? [Qur’an 3: 102-109]

Assalaamualykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh

Meaning of `Taqwa of Allah

يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ – وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعاً وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ وَاذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُم أَعْدَآءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَاناً وَكُنتُمْ عَلَى شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُمْ مِّنْهَا كَذلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ ءَايَـتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ

(102. O you who believe! Have Taqwa of Allah as is His due, and die not except as (true) Muslims.) (103. And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s favor on you, for you were enemies of one another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His grace, you became brethren, and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His Ayat clear to you, that you may be guided.)

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud commented on the Ayah,

اتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ

(Have Taqwa of Allah as is His due,)

“That He is obeyed and not defied, remembered and not forgotten and appreciated and not unappreciated.” This has an authentic chain of narration to `Abdullah bin Mas`ud. Al-Hakim collected this Hadith in his Mustadrak, from Ibn Mas`ud, who related it to the Prophet . Al-Hakim said, “It is authentic according to the criteria of the Two Shaykhs ﴿Al-Bukhari and Muslim﴾, and they did not record it.” This is what he said, but it appears that it is only a statement of `Abdullah bin Mas`ud, and Allah knows best. It was also reported that Anas said, “The servant will not have Taqwa of Allah as is His due until he keeps his tongue idle.” Allah’s statement,

وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ

(and die not except as (true) Muslims) (3:102), means, preserve your Islam while you are well and safe, so that you die as a Muslim. The Most Generous Allah has made it His decision that whatever state one lives in, that is what he dies upon and is resurrected upon. We seek refuge from dying on other than Islam.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Mujahid said, “The people were circling around the Sacred House when Ibn `Abbas was sitting, holding a bent-handled walking stick. Ibn `Abbas said, The Messenger of Allah ﴿recited﴾,

يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ

(Have Taqwa of Allah as is His due, die not except as (true) Muslims.) (3:102), ﴿then he said;

(Verily, if a drop of Zaqqum (a tree in Hell) falls, it will spoil life for the people of earth. What about those whose food is only from Zaqqum)” This was recorded by At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah

Imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir said that three nights before the Messenger of Allah died he heard him saying;

(None of you should die except while having sincere trust in Allah, the Exalted and Most Honorable.)Muslim also recorded it.

The Two Sahihs record that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

(Allah said, “I am as My servant thinks of Me.”)

The Necessity of Holding to the Path of Allah and the Community of the Believers

Allah said next,

وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعاً وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ

(And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves.) It was said that,

بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ

(to the Rope of Allah) refers to Allah’s covenant, just as Allah said in the following Ayah,

ضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الذِّلَّةُ أَيْنَ مَا ثُقِفُواْ إِلاَّ بِحَبْلٍ مِّنْ اللَّهِ وَحَبْلٍ مِّنَ النَّاسِ

(Indignity is put over them wherever they may be, except when under a covenant (of protection) from Allah, and from men;) ﴿3:112 in reference to pledges and peace treaties.

Allah’s statement

وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ

(and be not divided among yourselves), orders sticking to the community of the believers and forbids division. There are several Hadiths that require adhering to the Jama`ah (congregation of believers) and prohibit division. Muslim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

(It pleases Allah for you to acquire three qualities and displeases Him that you acquire three characteristics. It pleases Him that you worship Him Alone and not associate anything or anyone with Him in worship, that you hold on to the Rope of Allah altogether and do not divide, and that you advise whoever Allah appoints as your Leader. The three that displease Him are that you say, `It was said,’ and, `So-and-so said,’ asking many unnecessary questions and wasting money.)

Allah said,

وَاذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُم أَعْدَآءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَاناً

(and remember Allah’s favor on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His grace, you became brethren) ﴿3:103.

This was revealed about the Aws and Khazraj. During the time of Jahiliyyah, the Aws and Khazraj were at war and had great hatred, enmity and ill feelings towards each other, causing long conflicts and battles to occur between them. When Allah brought Islam, those among them who embraced it became brothers who loved each other by Allah’s grace, having good ties for Allah’s sake and helping each other in righteousness and piety. Allah said,

هُوَ الَّذِى أَيَّدَكَ بِنَصْرِهِ وَبِالْمُؤْمِنِينَوَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِهِمْ لَوْ أَنفَقْتَ مَا فِى الاٌّرْضِ جَمِيعاً مَّآ أَلَّفْتَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِهِمْ وَلَـكِنَّ اللَّهَ أَلَّفَ بَيْنَهُمْ

(He it is Who has supported you with His Help and with the believers. And He has united their hearts. If you had spent all that is in the earth, you could not have united their hearts, but Allah has united them) (8:62,63), until the end of the Ayah. Before Islam, their disbelief had them standing at the edge of a pit of the Fire, but Allah saved them from it and delivered them to faith. The Messenger of Allah reminded the Ansar ﴿from both Aws and Khazraj﴾ of this bounty when he was dividing the war booty of Hunayn. During that time, some Ansar did not like the way the booty was divided, since they did not get what the others did, although that was what Allah directed His Prophet to do. The Messenger of Allah gave them a speech, in which he said,

(O Ansar! Did I not find you misguided and Allah directed you to guidance because of me Were you not divided beforehand and Allah united you around me Were you not poor and Allah enriched you because of me)

Whenever the Prophet asked them a question, they would answer, “Indeed, Allah and His Messenger have granted us bounty.”

وَلْتَكُن مِّنْكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ – وَلاَ تَكُونُواْ كَالَّذِينَ تَفَرَّقُواْ وَاخْتَلَفُواْ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَآءَهُمُ الْبَيِّنَـتُ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ – يَوْمَ تَبْيَضُّ وُجُوهٌ وَتَسْوَدُّ وُجُوهٌ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ اسْوَدَّتْ وُجُوهُهُمْ أَكْفَرْتُمْ بَعْدَ إِيمَـنِكُمْ فَذُوقُواْ الْعَذَابَ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَكْفُرُونَ – وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ ابْيَضَّتْ وُجُوهُهُمْ فَفِى رَحْمَةِ اللَّهِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَـلِدُونَ – تِلْكَ ءَايَـتُ اللَّهِ نَتْلُوهَا عَلَيْكَ بِالْحَقِّ وَمَا اللَّهُ يُرِيدُ ظُلْماً لِّلْعَـلَمِينَ

وَللَّهِ مَا فِى السَّمَـوَتِ وَمَا فِى الاٌّرْضِ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ تُرْجَعُ الاٍّمُورُ

(104. Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma`ruf (all that Islam orders) and forbidding Al-Munkar (all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful.)

(105. And be not as those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them. It is they for whom there is an awful torment.)

(106. On the Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) when some faces will become white and some faces will become black; as for those whose faces will become black (to them will be said): “Did you reject faith after accepting it Then taste the torment (in Hell) for rejecting faith.”)

(107. And for those whose faces will become white, they will be in Allah’s mercy (Paradise), therein they shall dwell forever.) (108. These are the Ayat of Allah. We recite them to you in truth, and Allah wills no injustice to the `Alamin.) (109. And to Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And all matters go back (for decision) to Allah.)

The Command to Establish the Invitation to Allah

Allah said,

وَلْتَكُن مِّنْكُمْ أُمَّةٌ

(Let there arise out of you a group of people)

that calls to righteousness, enjoins all that is good and forbids evil in the manner Allah commanded,

وَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

(And it is they who are the successful.)

Ad-Dahhak said, “They are a special group of the Companions and a special group of those after them, that is those who perform Jihad and the scholars.”

The objective of this Ayah is that there should be a segment of this Muslim Ummah fulfilling this task, even though it is also an obligation on every member of this Ummah, each according to his ability. Muslim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

(Whoever among you witnesses an evil, let him change it with his hand. If he is unable, then let him change it with his tongue. If he is unable, then let him change it with his heart, and this is the weakest faith.) In another narration, The Prophet said,

(There is no faith beyond that, not even the weight of a mustard seed.)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Hudhayfah bin Al-Yaman said that the Prophet said,

(By He in Whose Hand is my soul! You will enjoin righteousness and forbid evil, or Allah shall send down a punishment from Him to you. Then, you will supplicate to Him, but He will not accept your supplication.)

At-Tirmidhi

The Prohibition of Division

Allah said,

وَلاَ تَكُونُواْ كَالَّذِينَ تَفَرَّقُواْ وَاخْتَلَفُواْ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَآءَهُمُ الْبَيِّنَـتُ

(And be not as those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them) ﴿3:105﴾.

In this Ayah, Allah forbids this Ummah from imitating the division and discord of the nations that came before them. These nations also abandoned enjoining righteousness and forbidding evil, although they had proof of its necessity.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu `Amir `Abdullah bin Luhay said, “We performed Hajj with Mu`awiyah bin Abi Sufyan. When we arrived at Makkah, he stood up after praying Zuhr and said, `The Messenger of Allah said,

(The People of the Two Scriptures divided into seventy-two sects. This Ummah will divide into seventy-three sects, all in the Fire except one, that is, the Jama`ah. Some of my Ummah will be guided by desire, like one who is infected by rabies; no vein or joint will be saved from these desires.)

Mu`awiyah said next:﴾ By Allah, O Arabs! If you do not adhere to what came to you from your Prophet then other people are even more prone not to adhere to it. ” Similar was recorded by Abu Dawud from Ahmad bin Hanbal and Muhammad bin Yahya.

The Benefits of Brotherly Ties and Unity and the Consequence of Division on the Day of the Gathering

Allah said next,

يَوْمَ تَبْيَضُّ وُجُوهٌ وَتَسْوَدُّ وُجُوهٌ

(On the Day when some faces will become white and some faces will become black;) ﴿3:106﴾ on the Day of Resurrection. This is when the faces of followers of the Sunnah and the Jama`ah will radiate with whiteness, and the faces of followers of Bid`ah (innovation) and division will be darkened, as has been reported from Ibn `Abbas. Allah said,

فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ اسْوَدَّتْ وُجُوهُهُمْ أَكْفَرْتُمْ بَعْدَ إِيمَـنِكُمْ

(As for those whose faces will become black (to them will be said): “Did you reject faith after accepting it”)

Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “They are the hypocrites.”

فَذُوقُواْ الْعَذَابَ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَكْفُرُونَ

(Then taste the torment (in Hell) for rejecting faith,) and this description befits every disbeliever.

وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ ابْيَضَّتْ وُجُوهُهُمْ فَفِى رَحْمَةِ اللَّهِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَـلِدُونَ

(And for those whose faces will become white, they will be in Allah’s mercy (Paradise), therein they shall dwell forever.) in Paradise, where they will reside for eternity and shall never desire to be removed. Abu `Isa At-Tirmidhi recorded that Abu Ghalib said, “Abu Umamah saw heads (of the Khawarij sect) hanging on the streets of Damascus. He commented, `The Dogs of the Fire and the worst dead people under the cover of the sky. The best dead men are those whom these have killed.’ He then recited,

يَوْمَ تَبْيَضُّ وُجُوهٌ وَتَسْوَدُّ وُجُوهٌ

(On the Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) when some faces will become white and some faces will become black;) until the end of the Ayah. I said to Abu Umamah, `Did you hear this from the Messenger of Allah’ He said, `If I only heard it from the Messenger of Allah once, twice, thrice, four times, or seven times, I would not have narrated it to you.’ ” At-Tirmidhi said, “This Hadith is Hasan.” Ibn Majah and Ahmad recorded similarly.

Allah said,

تِلْكَ آيَـتُ اللَّهِ نَتْلُوهَا عَلَيْكَ

(These are the Ayat of Allah. We recite them to you) meaning, `These are the verses of Allah, His proofs and signs that We reveal to you, O Muhammad,’

بِالْحَقِّ

(in truth) making known the true reality of this world and the Hereafter.

وَمَا اللَّهُ يُرِيدُ ظُلْماً لِّلْعَـلَمِينَ

(and Allah wills no injustice to the `Alamin. ) for He never treats them with injustice. Rather, He is the Just Ruler Who is able to do everything and has knowledge of everything. Therefore, He does not need to treat any of His creatures with injustice, and this is why He said next,

وَللَّهِ مَا فِى السَّمَـوَتِ وَمَا فِى الاٌّرْضِ

(and to Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the Earth.),

they are all His servants and His property,

وَإِلَى اللَّهِ تُرْجَعُ الأُمُورُ

(And all matters go back to Allah,) for His is the decision concerning the affairs of this life and the Hereafter, and His is the Supreme Authority in this life and the Hereafter.

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Jazaakumullaahu khayraan

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