What is Taqwa (Piety) in Islam

Taqwa (piety) has been mentioned in the Holy Qur’an in more than 60 locations, and the derivatives, have been mentioned in more than 190 locations. We hear it mentioned all the time at the beginning of every Jummah (Friday Prayer). So the question that often arises, “What is Taqwa?” and “How can I attain it?”

What is the meaning of Taqwa?

There are many meanings and understandings of the word Taqwa. Often, it is translated as “Fear of God”, and while fearing Allah is part of Taqwa, its meaning is deeper than this.

The linguistic meaning of Taqwa is “a shield or protective barrier”. It is to protect oneself from what angers Allah. Some scholars define it as placing a protective barrier between yourself and Allah’s punishment. Furthermore, it also means doing that which Allah has enjoined and avoiding that which He has forbidden.

An incredible example that demonstrates this, is when Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) asked Ubay Ibn Ka’ab (may Allah be pleased with him) about Taqwa.

Ubay said “Have you ever taken a thorny path?” Umar replied, “Yes I have.” Ubay then asked, “So how did you travel along this thorny path?” Umar replied, “I rolled up my garment and was cautious as to where I would tread to avoid being pricked by the thorns.” So Ubay responded and said, “This is Taqwa.”


This example explains the meaning of Taqwa. It illustrates how a person of Taqwa is cautious and careful with where they tread, not out of fear of stepping on a thorn, but out of fear of stepping into what Allah SWT has prohibited. They are aware of Allah SWT with every action and step they take.

The virtues and benefits of having Taqwa

Taqwa is one of the most virtuous characteristics a Muslim can have. Allah says:

“إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتْقَىٰكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌۭ”

“Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware.”


“فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُتَّقِينَ”

“Surely Allah loves those who are mindful ˹of Him˺.”

Through these verses, we understand that the believers most honored by Allah are those that have Taqwa.

 “رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَىُّ النَّاسِ أَفْضَلُ قَالَ ‏”‏ رَجُلٌ يُجَاهِدُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالُوا ثُمَّ مَنْ قَالَ ‏”‏ ثُمَّ مُؤْمِنٌ فِي شِعْبٍ مِنَ الشِّعَابِ يَتَّقِي رَبَّهُ وَيَدَعُ النَّاسَ مِنْ شَرِّهِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ”

The Messenger of Allah was asked, “Which of the people are most virtuous?” He said, “A man who takes part in Jihad in Allah’s cause.” They said, “Then whom?” He said, “Then a believer who stays in one of the mountains path out of Taqwa for his Lord, leaving the people secure from his evil.”

It leads to guidance from Allah:

“ذَٰلِكَ ٱلْكِتَـٰبُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًۭى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ”

“This is the Book! There is no doubt about it—a guide for those mindful ˹of Allah˺”


And grants us the ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood:

“يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ إِن تَتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّكُمْ فُرْقَانًۭا وَيُكَفِّرْ عَنكُمْ سَيِّـَٔاتِكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ ذُو ٱلْفَضْلِ ٱلْعَظِيمِ

“O believers! If you are mindful of Allah, He will grant you a decisive authority, absolve you of your sins, and forgive you. And Allah is the Lord of infinite bounty.”


When facing difficulties, those who have Taqwa will be granted a way out by Allah SWT and will be granted ease in their affairs:

“بِهِۦ مَن كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْـَٔاخِرِ ۚ وَمَن يَتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُۥ مَخْرَجًۭا“

“This is enjoined on whoever has faith in Allah and the Last Day. And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will make a way out for them,”

How is Taqwa and Ramadan related?

The purpose of fasting is to attain Taqwa, as Allah SWT says:

“يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ”

“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may attain Taqwa.”

Fasting is an exercise of Taqwa. As we fast throughout the day, our body urges us to eat and drink. Our hearts, however, resists these temptations, out of love and obedience to Allah. By abstaining from food and drink, which is Halal and also a necessity for our bodies, we build the strength we need to abstain from the Haram.

Through abstaining from that which is halal and being wary of Haram during Ramadan, we are able to attain this God-consciousness.

Watch this video to understand the purpose of fasting in more detail.

What is Taqwa (Piety) in Islam
Taqwa (Piety) in Islam

Ways to work on Taqwa?

  1. Fast outside Ramadan: When we fast, we are engaged in the very exercise that builds Piety. We are more conscious of what we say, see and do. Train yourself to continue this after you finish fasting.
  2. Let go of the Haram: Part of Taqwa is to avoid the Haram. By being aware of Allah SWT and knowing that He watches everything we do, we will avoid the prohibitions.
  3. Increase your worship:
    • Read Qur’an daily
    • Pray at night and during your free time
    • Give Sadaqah (charity) more often instead of just on the day Jummah
    • Make more Du’a during the day, prayer and before and after prayer. Allah loves those who make Du’a. You have nothing to lose, you are asking from the Lord of the heavens and the earth, He can grant you whatever you want.
  4. Struggle against your Nafs (self jihad): Struggling against one’s desires is one the greatest form of jihad we can do, as it is the hardest. Use the synergy of fasting alongside with struggling against your Nafs.       

What are practical applications in this day and age?

Taqwa in this day and age is difficult to attain, because of the accessibility of Haram and the difficulty in the halal, e.g. zina has become easier to do, while marriage has become very difficult. However, with the assistance of Allah it can become easier, it is Allah that can help you attain the state of piousness.

“أَلَآ إِنَّ أَوْلِيَآءَ ٱللَّهِ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ“

“There will certainly be no fear for the close servants of Allah, nor will they grieve.”


In order to gain Taqwa, we need to repent to Allah constantly, especially with sins that we repeatedly commit, and we need to fight our Nafs so we don’t go back to that sin. As well as, increasing our worship and consciousness in Allah.

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