Imtithaal Sampson is a 20-year-old student who recently completed Matric at Al-Azhar High School in Athlone. After spending three years in Hifth, she felt drawn to the spiritual environment of the institute and found herself longing to learn more about Islam. She is currently in the B.A. degree at Madina Institute.
What does Taqwa mean?
Contrary to popular belief, Taqwa does not mean to fear or be afraid of Allah. Defining the term Taqwa like this would be incomplete. However, many of us were raised to believe this misconception.
Taqwa is the Islamic term for being cognizant of Allah. This term encompasses many things, one of them being consciousness. Hence, one should know that Allah is all-knowing of ones actions, intentions and beliefs. “O, you who believe! When you hold secret counsel, do it not for sin and wrong-doing, and disobedience towards the Messenger (Muhammad SAW) but do it for Al-Birr (righteousness) and Taqwa (virtues and piety), and fear Allah unto Whom you shall be gathered.” (Quran, 58:9) This verse from the Quran shows us that Taqwa is a broad concept and not just restrained to one idea.
The word Taqwa comes from the word ‘Wa-Qa-Ya’ which could be translated as shield. This word can therefore be defined as a shield from wrongdoing. This shield can be built up with the consciousness that Allah is all-knowing. One can make this shield strong by refraining from partaking in prohibitions.
Therefore, during Ramadan, we as Muslims should focus on increasing our levels of Taqwa as it will instil in us the cautious behaviour of doing more good than evil. We can do this by engaging in as much Thikr and goodness as we are able to. Achieving Taqwa will allow us to continue a spirit of goodness and growth after the holy month of Ramadan has left us. In-Shaa-Allah Ameen.
Keeping the Ramadaan Momentum
It’s so strange. The moment we see the new crescent moon and hear the Eid Takbeer, we can feel the absence of Ramadaan. In Ramadaan it just feels easier to do good deeds and pray more often – whether it is the promise of multiplied rewards, the hope of being of those who are forgiven or the collective community encouragement and spirit – there is no short of motivation to put in extra efforts during this month.
We know from Surah Baqarah Ayah 192, that Allah ta’ala prescribed fasting for us so that we may become of those who attain Taqwa. In Ramadaan Taqwa feels like an achievable possibility – we are so much more aware of the Presence of our Creator, Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala. Many of us feel a spiritual low after the Eid rush, trying to find our feet and re-establish our “normal routine”. Here are 10 easy ideas to keep the “Ramadaan Feeling”, to help us be of the people of Taqwa, Bi IthniLlah (By the Will of Allah ta’ala)
- Read the Quran: Surah Baqarah, Ayah 2 may be translated as: “This is the Book about which there is no doubt, guidance for those conscious of Allah (People of Taqwa). ” Set aside some time every day to read at least 1 page of the Quran. Shaykh Muhammad al Ninowy recently said: “Read the Qur’an with the intention of healing”. I like to think, a page a day will keep the doctor away J
- Fast : It is widely known that it is sunnah to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. Having just come out of Ramadaan, with our days still short, it is an excellent time to establish this sunnah as a practice within our homes. Fasting in Shawaal comes with extra barakah and blessings – don’t miss this opportunity! The awareness of being in a state of fasting helps to increase our awareness of our Creator, Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.
- Pray Tahajjud: Make an effort to pray Tahajjud at least one night a week (late night prayers). The best time for Tahajjud prayers is the last third of the night, based on the hadith narrated by Abu Huraira Radiallahu ta’ala an, where he says the Messenger of Allah, sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wasalam said: Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, comes every night down on the nearest Heaven to us when the last third of the night remains, saying: “Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?”[Bukhari]
- Recite Salawaat: The quickest, easiest way to establish a connection with RasulAllah sallahu alayhi wa alihi wasalam is to send salutations on him. Surah Al Ahzab, Ayah 56 may be translated as: “Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [Allah to grant him] peace.” Get those tasbeehs out… Allahuma Salli Ala Sayyiduna Muhammad Wa Alihi….
- Be generous: In Ramadaan there is a spirit of giving. Surah Al Imran, Ayah 92, may be translated as, “You will never attain the good (reward) until you spend (in the way of Allah) from that which you love. And whatever you spend, indeed Allah is Knowing of it”. True generosity is giving before being asked. Be generous with your wealth, your belongings and possessions, and your time and skills. Give, share, love and serve for the sake of Allah ta’ala – and see how the barakah, blessings and goodness in your life increases.
- Be good to our neighbours: Ibn ‘Abbas told Ibn az-Zubayr, “I heard the Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa alihi wasalam) say, ‘A man is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbour is hungry.'”(Sahih; Al Adab Al Mufrad). Don’t let sending food and treats to our neighbours only happen in Ramadaan. Sharing is caring and giving is living!
- Visit the masjid: Make a point of praying in congregation and attending mosque events and gatherings. The Masjid is an ideal place to make friends, clear your mind, and connect with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Alhamdulilah, in Cape Town we’re very lucky, most of our masajid welcome women – let’s make the most of it!
- Encourage children: In Ramadaan, kids are encouraged to dress modestly, pray, fast, attend the masjid, be involved in charity, donate of their pocket money and visit neighbours. These are excellent character-building activities that should not just be reserved for Ramadaan. Try and develop these habits in children throughout the year.
- Make dua: Sometimes we get so caught up, we simply forget to make dua, or we’re so rushed, we just think “Allah Knows what is in my heart”. That is true – He is All Knowing. But despite Him Knowing what we want, and what is best for us, He gave us this gift of dua. Dua is an opportunity to talk to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. It is an opportunity to develop a connection with Him, a relationship with Him. It is a chance to express our love for Him. He is All Hearing. The sweetness of sincere dua is a feeling unmatched.
- Never lose hope in Allah ta’ala: We will make mistakes, and we will slip up – the important thing is to get back up and try again. We have to have sincere intentions, put in the effort, and do our very best, Allah ta’ala is the Most Merciful, and the Oft-Forgiving.
In Surah Baqarah, ayah 177 Allah ta’ala explains Taqwa : “Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveller, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfil their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the Mutaqun (People of Taqwa)”.
May Allah ta’ala make us people of Taqwa, who love Him and His Messenger Sallahu alayhi wa alihi wasalam, and may He grant us Tawfiq (success) in all our efforts to attain closeness to Him, subhanahu wa ta’ala, Ameen
Published in Modest Muse, June/July 2016