A Priceless Transaction: Attaining Taqwa
I spent several of my years at school protecting my younger sister from bullies. I would wait outside her classroom and accompany her to her classes. I was her shield, but there were times I could not protect her and it broke my heart. Many years later, I realized that Allah’s protection was always present. He was always with her, watching over her, ensuring she was safe.
He is our personal protector, Al-Wali. Our special guardian, and friend, as He reminds us:
“Allah is the ally [Wali] of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into the light…” (Al-Bakarah, 2:257)
Allah loves you!
I know you care about Allah. I know you love Islam. Allah has given you gifts of guidance. These are reminders that when you prioritize Allah in your life, Allah will prioritize you. Ramadan has left us, and our journey of submission begins again. Our journey to Jannah. Our spiritual, physical and emotional journey to be the best people we can possibly be. The most moral, the most generous, the kindest, and inspirational role models for a greater goal. Paradise.
It begins with submitting to Allah, because this life is a test. It is an exam, as Allah tells us:
“[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving.” (Al-Mulk, 67:2)
As I was a shield for my sister, Allah is the ULTIMATE shield for us. He is the Protector, and in order to purchase this shield, we need to make an exchange of taqwa with Allah . As I grew up and attained maturity, my shield became my awareness that Allah wanted me to be the best person and stay away from everything He had forbidden, because it was harmful to me. It was my personal armor against the calls of evil and protection from the distractions which pulled me away from God. Everyone has a turning point and mine came in Ramadan. It began with an intention to change. Really change, because I began to understand the purpose of life. The purpose of God. The purpose of my existence in this world.
Together, let us make an intention to take the necessary steps to change. Together, let us aim for Paradise, the highest place, with the Al-Kareem, The Most Generous.
The Greatest Shield
This journey to the hereafter demands your dedication. How many of you have stayed up late nights in order to pass an exam? How many of you have cooked all day for a family gathering? It took determination and long term vision that it was worth the effort. You were certain you would get something in return, or fearful of the consequences if you failed to deliver.
The greatest transaction you will make is an exchange for the Hereafter, and I assure you, there is no stronger shield than taqwa. There is no greater motivation, and source of inspiration in being certain that you are worthy of Allah. People will let you down. They may hurt you, but when you uphold taqwa in your life, and let it fulfill its role, then nothing can harm you, unless Allah wills. Your shield will protect you and if you forsake it, then it will always be waiting for you, ready to give you the protection you need.
In a sermon to the Muslim community, the leader of the Muslims was warned of an assassination attempt, in response he said:
“Surely, there is a strong protective shield of Allah over me. When my day would come it, would get away from me and hand me over to death. At that time, neither an arrow would go amiss nor a wound would heal up.”
He is your personal Bodyguard, and if Allah makes a pact to protect you, then you are the safest person in the world. You may be wounded in this life, but Allah is As-Shafi’i, and He will heal you. The greatest failure in this life is to meet death, without passing the exam for Jannah.
Will You Commit to the Cause of Allah?
In a prophetic statement, the Prophet discussed the importance of commitment to Allah. He will be with you whenever we need Him. How many times have you cried tears alone? Can the Prime Minister hear you? Can the Police come to your aid? You don’t need to send a whatsapp message or make a phone call. You don’t even need to dial a number! Your silent tears are heard by Allah. Your invisible wounds are seen by Him. He just needs your commitment to a greater cause. His cause.
The Prophet said:
“Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. Become acquainted with Allah in prosperity and He will become acquainted with you in adversity. Know that whatever surpassed you was not going to reach you, and whatever reached you was not going to surpass you. Know that help comes with patience, relief with affliction, and hardship with ease.” 1
The Transaction: Taqwa
You may be wondering, what is taqwa? Taqwa literally means to take shield from something; to be on one’s guard. The purpose of a shield is to protect something. Technically, to protect you. Therefore, taqwa is the consciousness that saves a person from the punishment of Allah. It is due to the fear of Allah , a person avoids sins and seeks to perform good deeds to save herself from Eternal Punishment, Hellfire. It is due to the love of Allah, a person carries out good deeds.
I’ll share two examples with you. One is of a mother with her child. At a busy road, she is always on guard of oncoming traffic. I have a child, so I understand the caution required on a busy road. She will look in every direction before she takes a step forward, and even as she walks, her sense of awareness will be high. Similarly, when a person has a driving test, they are incredibly alert, as they have a qualified driving examiner making note of every incorrect and dangerous mistake she makes. She is careful, as she wants to pass the test. This is the same caution Allah expects you to have in this world.
Recently, the Chilcot Inquiry was released in the United Kingdom, a report into the illegal invasion of Iraq. I was reflecting, can you imagine if Tony Blair had taqwa? If he was cautious of his actions on everyone involved. If he reflected over the pain and suffering it would cause in the world. But no, greed, power and a false illusion of this life lead him astray, and resulted in the death of over a million innocent lives. Blair lacked the consciousness that Allah could hear every conversation, read every letter, and understand his deepest intentions.
This is a contemporary example, though we have countless examples in the Qur’an, such as the genocide committed by Pharaoh against Bani Israel. Let us reflect. Our lives are important, and our actions are not trivial in the sight of Allah. In my community I have seen cases of racism against people of color, abuse cases against women, whether cases of domestic violence, or rape cases against women. The quality of taqwa is a means to protect a person from falling in these shameful sins. It is a means to protect you from your own desires, which will harm you in this life and the Hereafter.
Isn’t it time we devoted ourselves to His cause, through taqwa? We will meet again, inshaAllah, with more reminders, examples and continue our journey of self improvement.
Until then, please share your comments!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sister Alima Ashfaq is the founder and director of “I am Alima”, and “Women Of Ilm”. Her aim in life is to assist Muslim women in coming closer to Allah through Islamic knowledge. She has studied under various scholars and students of knowledge in order to gain an extra insight into her religion and to better herself in her role as an “I am Alima” instructor. Sr. Alima has been a part of various organisations and has also held a number of leadership positions. Besides this, she has also lectured in all the main Universities in the UK, including the University of Birmingham and the Sheffield University. She also has a flair for writing and has authored Du’as of Superstars, Love Unveiled and Falling in Love. Furthermore, she has compiled and edited the Threads of Hope in conjunction with Sh. Muhammad Alshareef and I am Alima.
- At-Tirmidhi, Hassan ↩