In the Qur’an, when God Almighty first introduces the command of fasting to the Believers, He explains to them that the purpose of fasting is to attain Taqwa.
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيۡڪُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِڪُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَّقُونَ
“O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may attain at-taqwa.” (Quran: 2;183)
The word Taqwa, an Arabic term, is one that cannot easily be transliterated into English. It is a word so rich in meaning that in fact many Islamic scholars of the past have attempted to explain it and have defined it in different ways, often overlapping each other. Chapters and books have been authored around this one word – Taqwa, so what does it really mean?
We find that the word Taqwa is described beautifully in a narration by Abu Hurayrah (May God be pleased with him), a loyal companion and friend of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Abu Hurayrah was once asked about Taqwa, so he in turn asked the questioner whether he had ever trodden a thorn-infested path. The man answered that he had. Abu Hurayrah asked him how he had walked on it. The man replied: ‘When I saw a thorn, I took evasive action, lest I was pricked by it.’ Abu Hurayrah answered him by saying: ‘That is exactly what Taqwa means – to take evasive action on seeing sin’.
From this narration, we learn that just like we would protect ourselves from the pricking of thorns to ensure our safety, we must protect ourselves from sins and the anger of God to ensure that we attain His pleasure and entrance into Paradise. This, in essence, is the meaning of Taqwa – to safeguard and shield oneself from sins, and to be God conscious at all times.
Taqwa is such a beautiful and highly regarded concept in Islam, that in fact God mentions in the following verse His love for those who have Taqwa:
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلۡمُتَّقِينَ
Verily God Almighty loves the Muttaqeen (those who are God-conscious) (Quran: 9;4)
And so, dear brothers and sisters, know that fasting is directly related to Taqwa. It is a time for training your soul to become more aware and conscious of God Almighty and protecting yourself from falling into sin. Hence, it is not only the bodies that fast, but the souls as well.
When our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) located the place of Taqwa, he pointed to his heart and said: “Taqwa is over here” three times.
So fast this month of Ramadan and strive to attain Taqwa, strive to fulfil the very purpose of Ramadan, and strive to be from those beloved to God.
We ask God Almighty to grant us all Taqwa and make us from the Muttaqeen in this blessed month, and to keep our hearts firm upon Taqwa for the remaining months of the year as well.
- Remain watchful of God Almighty throughout Ramadan, during the fast and when the fast ends!
- Remember that God Almighty is watching you even when you are alone and in a secluded place.
- Aim to be from those who are conscious of God Almighty by doing all that which pleases Him and abstaining from all that which displeases Him.
* A special Ramadan series in collaboration with New Muslim Academy.