الحمد لله الذي جعل الصيام جُنّة ، وجعله سبيلا موصلا إلى الجَنة ، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبد الله ورسوله صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين أما بعد۔
Allah Almighty says:
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ۔
“O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you—as it was for those before you, so perhaps you’ll attain Taqwa” [Surah Baqarah 183]
From the above ayah, we learn that the purpose and wisdom of fasting is to attain Taqwa.
The word taqwa and its derivatives appear more than 250 times in the Holy Qur’an. This indicates its importance in the life of a Muslim.
Now the question is, what is the definition of Taqwah? And how do we achieve it?
First of all, the Arabic word تَقْوَى is derived from وَقْيًا the root word of the verbs وَقَى، يَقِي. The و of وَقْيًا has been changed to a ت, and ي of وَقْيًا has been changed to a و and it became تَقْوَى on the scale of فَعْلَى
The increased form of trilateral verb for وَقَى، يَقِي is اتَّقَى، يتَّقِي on the scale of افْتِعَال as used in the verse لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
The linguistic meaning of the word Taqwa is to shield, to protect, to abstain, to fear, etc.
Regarding the tafisr of لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ , in tafsir Jalalain and tafsir Baidhawi, it says:
لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ المعاصي۔
Which means “so that you may abstain from sins.”
Different definitions of its Islamic terminology have been narrated from Sahaba, Tabieen, and righteous predecessors. Some of them are as follows:
1. It has been narrated that ‘Umar ibnul Khattab (radiyallahu ‘anhu) once asked Ubayy ibn Ka’b (radiyallahu ‘anhu) what is Taqwa? Ubayy (radiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, “Have you not traversed on a thorny path?” When ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhu) replied in the affirmative, Ubayy (radiyallahu ‘anhu) asked, “What do you do?” He replied, “I fold up my garment, and I [tread cautiously]. Ubayy (radiyallahu ‘anhu) said: “That is Taqwa.”
Similarly, a person who has Taqwa is cautious and careful with where he tread, out of fear of stepping into what Allah SWT has prohibited. He is aware of Allah SWT with every action and step they take. He does everything what Allah and his prophet ﷺ ordered him to do and avoids everything Allah ordered him to abstain from.
2. Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu) said:
التقوى هي الخوف من الجليل والعمل بالتنزيل والقناعة بالقليل والاستعداد ليوم الرحيل۔
“Taqwa is to fear the Almighty one and to act upon the revelation and to be content with what Allah has given you from this world and to prepare yourself for the hereafter.”
3. Ibn Mas’ood (radiyallahu ‘anhu) said:
أن يطاع فلا يعصي ويذكر فلا ينسى وأن يشكر فلا يكفر۔
“(Taqwa means) He (Allah) should be obeyed, should not be disobeyed; He should be always remembered and should not be forgotten and He should be thanked and ingratitude should not be shown to Him.”
4. Talq bin Habib (rahimahullah) a great Tabi’i said:
التقوى هي العَمَلُ بِطَاعَةِ اللهِ، عَلَى نُوْرٍ مِنَ اللهِ، رَجَاءَ ثَوَابِ اللهِ وَتَرْكِ مَعَاصِي اللهِ، عَلَى نُوْرٍ مِنَ اللهِ، مَخَافَةَ عَذَابِ اللهِ۔
“Taqwa is to perform actions of obedience to Allah, upon a light from Allah, hoping to get a reward from Allah. And to leave disobedience to Allah, upon a light from Allah, out of fear of His punishment.”
To summarise of the above definitions; Taqwa is to obey the command of Allah and abstain from His prohibitions. This is the purpose of fasting.
Fasting in the month of Ramadan teaches us Taqwa. When a believer fasts, if he wants, he could eat secretly during the day; no one will know it, but he does not do that. Why? Because he knows that he can not hide it from Allah. He does not break his fast even when he is alone, out of love and fear and consciousness of Allah. This is Taqwa. This is the lesson we must learn from fasting. Whatever we do, wherever we are, we must remember that Allah is watching us, as Allah Almighty says, إِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَبِالْمِرْصَادِ “Indeed your Lord is always watchful” [Surah al-Fajr: 14] and The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, اتَّقِ اللَّهِ حَيْثُمَا كُنْتَ “Fear Allah wherever you are” [Tirmidhi]
When the fasting people sit in front of the iftar after fasting for the whole day, no one starts the iftar even one minute before sunset. And after the sunset every one break their fast without any delay. This is Taqwa; to follow the commands of Allah, and fasting teaches us that. We must continue this act of obeying Allah’s commands after Ramadan as well. Every action should be done according to the rules of Islamic Shariah. Only then will we achieve Taqwa.
Fasting demands us to refrain from sins, which is the character of Taqwa. The Prophet ﷺ said,
إِذَا كَانَ يَوْمُ صَوْمِ أَحَدِكُمْ، فَلاَ يَرْفُثْ وَلاَ يَصْخَبْ، فَإِنْ سَابَّهُ أَحَدٌ، أَوْ قَاتَلَهُ فَلْيَقُلْ إِنِّي امْرُؤٌ صَائِمٌ۔
“If one of you is fasting, he should avoid obscene speeches and quarrelling, and if somebody quarrels or fights with him, he should say, ‘I am fasting.” [Bukhari 1904]
In another Hadith, He ﷺ said,
مَنْ لَمْ يَدَعْ قَوْلَ الزُّورِ وَالْعَمَلَ بِهِ فَلَيْسَ لِلَّهِ حَاجَةٌ فِي أَنْ يَدَعَ طَعَامَهُ وَشَرَابَه۔
“Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)” [Bukhari 1903]
He ﷺ also said,
إِنَّ الصِّيَامَ لَيْسَ مِنَ الأَكْلِ وَالشُّرْبِ فَقَطْ إِنَّمَا الصِّيَامُ مِنَ اللَّغُوِ وَالرَّفَثِ۔
“Verily, fasting is not only from eating and drinking. Rather, fasting is from idle talk and obscenity.” [Sahih ibn Hibban 3479]
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims generally try to abstain from sins and do more good deeds compared to other times. One should keep them active even after Ramadan. This is the character of Taqwa and the objective of fasting.
May Allah Ta’ala accept our fasting, forgive our sins, and grant us Taqwa. Ameen.
Syed Hussain ibn Imamuddin
02 Ramadan 1443 / 03 April 2022