I recently came across an elementary student’s written reflections on how to improve her behavior. She wrote something to the effect: “I think I can improve my behavior by having more taqwa. When I have taqwa, I feel that Allah (SWT) is watching me. I also remember that my classmates are my brothers and sisters…”
Allah is watching me. It sounds like a title of a children’s theme song. However, we as adults certainly need to be reminded of this. In the end, our actions, big or small, done publicly or privately, will be judged. I decided to ask more young students what they understood from the word “taqwa” and this is what I got:
Our words will be judged. Our actions will be judged. Our decisions will be judged. Every single little thing we say or do will be judged, for we cannot hide anything from Allah (SWT). He tells us so many times in the Quran to have taqwa. When we have taqwa, we do not make a single act or say a single word until we are sure that it will not displease Allah (SWT). Having taqwa is an important attribute for us, as Muslims, in this world. By having taqwa, we not only become better people, but we begin to lead by example and spread Islam throughout the world.
These days, there are so many negative stereotypes, and the best way to shatter these stereotypes and show the world that Muslims are really not bad people is to have taqwa, because taqwa is, essentially, the remembrance of Allah (SWT)’s instructions and the obedience of these instructions. Allah (SWT) tells us in the Quran not only to have taqwa, but to do good deeds, to care for our neighbors, to donate to the poor, and more. Go into the city one day with a few of your friends and display some taqwa: donate to the poor and the needy begging for money in the street, and donate generously… Not only is this showing taqwa but we also are spreading Islam and performing da’wa.
Taqwa. It’s a big topic. We are taught to look for it as the most important attribute in a spouse. I remember my mother saying something to the effect, “If he has taqwa, he will take care of you.”
But how does one build and nurture one’s taqwa? Is it a sort of magical feeling that comes with testifying one’s faith as a Muslim? We need to work at developing taqwa. There are always temptations; we can fall vulnerable and be weak. Making dhikr, keeping up with our salat, reading Qur’an and making du’aa … these all cultivate taqwa. If we start to slip in these areas, we start falling and our taqwa suffers.
I remember being at a Muslim youth conference so many years ago where a participant addressing the topic of “imaan” presented the analogy of the wheelbarrow. We have moments when we push that wheelbarrow up that hill and sometimes we slip and the wheelbarrow slides down. It’s not magic. We have to work at pushing that wheelbarrow up. Getting help to push that wheelbarrow up is nothing to be ashamed of either. Sowing the seeds of taqwa is hard work and we can’t always do it alone.
Mayce Ibraheem lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two sons.