Taqwa superimposes on Fitra (Constitution).
This builds consciousness of answerability to Allah, resulting from belief and surrender to Him. This status, as consequence, regulates one’s behaviour from trespassing and violating the sanctity of creations whilst leashing heedlessness.
This insulates Fitra against the interference of Satan.
Comparatively, Fitra is a neutral tool whereas Taqwa is active and resilient, invoked as a preventative control mechanism (Indian Newslink, June 15, 2014)
Khaleepha Omar bin Al Khattab once asked Ubay bin Ka’ab, “How would you describe Taqwa?” In reply, Ubay asked, “Have you ever had to traverse a thorny path?”
Omar replied in the affirmative and Ubay then continued, “How do you do so?”
Omar said that he would carefully walk through after first having collected all loose and flowing clothing in his hands so that nothing is caught in the thorn.
Ubay said: “That is the definition of Taqwa.”
Shaykh Al Islam bin Taymiyah states “Taqwa includes doing everything that Allah has enjoined whether it is wajib (obligatory) or mustahab (recommended), and avoiding all that He has forbidden, whether it is haram (forbidden) or makrooh (disliked).”
Taqwa is the fundamental element in the life of a Muslim on which the whole edifice of socio-economic and political life is built.
Taqwa is variable in proportion to one’s attachment to Allah.
Taqwa and Iman (Acknowledgment) are variable twins and indicators of presence or absence of the other.
Therefore the stronger the Taqwa is, more refined the person becomes. Being such an important aspect, like cement mortar binding the bricks together making a solid building, Taqwa’s influence transcends all aspects of the life of a Muslim.
Therefore, the Holy Quran is emphatic and outlines its importance in the following verses: (a) Taqwa is a precondition to seeking guidance from the Quran. “This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those (Muththaqin) who fear Allah” (Quran 2:2) and (b) Taqwa is the purpose for which the Quran was revealed. “(It is) a Quran in Arabic, without any crookedness (therein): in order that they may guard against Evil (attain Taqwa)” (Quran 39:28).
The Quran makes fasting in the month of Ramadan a source to enhance Taqwa.
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that ye may (learn) self-restraint (Taqwa)” (Quran 2:183).
Taqwa is regarded as the best of human qualities acceptable to Allah.
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily, the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you” (Quran 49:13).
Taqwa is about accounting and being responsible for one’s deeds.
“O ye who believe! Fear Allah and let every soul look to what (provision) he has sent forth for the morrow. Yea, fear Allah: for Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that ye do” (Quran 59:18).
The Quran guarantees that Allah will protect those who have Taqwa from unknown sources.
“And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out” (Quran 65:2).
The Quran also warns of those who do not take the Prophet (saw) as the final arbiter as having no Taqwa. “But no, by thy Lord, they can have no (real) faith, until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction” (Quran 4:65).
The Quran warns of those who partially accept the commands of Allah as having no Taqwa.
“Then is it only a part of the Book that ye believe in, and do ye reject the rest? But what is the reward for those among you who behave like this but disgrace in this life? and on the Day of Judgment, they shall be consigned to the most grievous penalty For Allah is not unmindful of what ye do” (Quran 2:85).”
Obedience to Allah
For Taqwa to be complete, one has to obey the Commands of Allah totally by acting upon what is permitted and refraining from what is prohibited.
That makes one enter Islam completely.
“O ye who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and follow not the footsteps of the Evil One; for he is to you an avowed enemy.” (Quran 2:208).
Taqwa is an important element in life and a Muslim cannot rely solely upon Fitra as a means of conducting him/herself correctly since Satan interferes to misguide unless Taqwa insulates.
The combination of Fitra and Taqwa are sufficient for a Muslim to lead a refined and responsible life. This protects one from his or her own misbehaviour from harming others but this does not protect one from harm from others.
This phenomenon makes a dent in the social justice system where one behaves correctly and responsibly under the influence of Fitra and Taqwa but the society cannot reciprocate sufficiently unless Shariah or a legal code protects the individuals and families against violations of their rights by the misconducts of the society. Hence, Islam takes us to the next level of refinement, which is social, economic, political and environmental in dimensions creating an ambience of protection, safety, security, and refinement with human dignity.
Islam considers Shariah to protect and refine mankind by bridging the positives of Fitra and Taqwa with a system that establishes social justice and equity.
A simple definition of Shariah is ‘the way.’ Further, it connotes the way shown by the Supreme Creator, Allah. It is not a way created by human ingenuity, which is limited by space, time and the nature of things as is seen visibly falling apart and failing in the contemporary society.
Shariah comes to operate only when the inbuilt voluntary mechanism of Fitra fails to prevent negative action due to heedlessness and when Taqwa fails to respond due to absence of due diligence.
It is an external preventative control system that restrains the doer from harming, and remediates and indemnifies the victims from harms.
Being a community with a divine mission, Muslims ought to live as an integrated collective community irrespective of where they live.
Islam does not encourage individualism and it espouses collective living.
This enables the individuals and families moulded by Fitra and Taqwa to bind together as a single community.
Where socio-economic, political and other challenges emerge to damage Fitra, Taqwa and refinement of the community, this can be checked by reaching consensual social contracts, binding all in proportion to their social capacity to uphold righteousness, justice and equity amongst the believers.
This evolves Shariah as a tool to answer contemporary needs without even the instrument of the State in a democracy.
Today, Shariah is the most misunderstood system in the world, because all contemporary ‘legal’ systems in the world operate and manage the wealth, resources and human affairs with no links with the one who created everything in the first place and placed man as His best creation.
Due to the absence of the link with the Owner of the creations in the affairs of the Created, the system is destined to fail.
That is what we witness in the modern world where, in spite of the marvellous material achievements, mankind is trekking towards an unknown destiny, seeking satisfaction and happiness but ending like moths that traverse towards the light to their decimation.
Fitra, Taqwa and Shariah are important elements in Islam that influence positive human actions to protect humanity, the environment and the universe from human influenced harms.
Source: Rocket Science, the monthly newsletter of Mt Albert Islamic Centre, Auckland