Taqwa (piety) is derived from wiqayah, which means self-defense and avoidance. Sufis define it as protecting oneself from Allah’s punishment by performing His commands and avoiding His prohibitions. Besides its literal and technical meanings, in religious books we find the meanings of piety and fear used interchangeably. In fact, Taqwa (piety) is a comprehensive term denoting a believer’s strict observance of the commandments of the Shari`ah and the Divine laws of nature and life. Such a person seeks refuge in Allah against His punishment, refrains from acts leading to Hell-Fire, and performs acts leading to Paradise. Again, the believer purifies all outer and inner senses so that none of them can associate partners with Allah, and avoids imitating the worldviews and life-styles of unbelievers. In its comprehensive meaning, Taqwa (piety) is the only and greatest standard of one’s nobility and worth: The noblest, most honorable of you in the sight of Allah is the most advanced of you in Taqwa (piety) (Al-Hujurat: 13).
In the context of worship and obedience, piety means purity of heart, spiritual profundity, and sincerity. In the context of refraining from what is unlawful, piety means being determined not to commit sins and to avoid doubtful things. The following may help in this regard:
1. Be alert to whatever may divert you from Allah.
2. Be alert to the carnal pleasures that may lead to the realm of the forbidden.
3. Ascribe all material and spiritual accomplishments to Allah.
4. Never consider yourself as higher and better than anyone else.
5. Long for Allah’s pleasure and satisfaction in all affairs.
6. Renew the fountains of your Iman by studying and reflecting on Allah’s creation.
7. Remember death, and live with the conscious knowledge that it may happen at any time.
In conclusion, Taqwa (piety) is the heavenly water of life, and a Muttaqi (pious) is the fortunate one who has found it. Only a few individuals have achieved the blessing of this attainment.”
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