What is your greatest fear? How would you react to it? You would run away from what you fear, right?
However, this is not the case with God. When we fear Him, we flee to Him because there is no refuge but Him, He is our only refuge as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to remind us.
Dunya – The Biggest Fear
Prophet Muhammad said:
I apprehend that you will vie with one another for the life of the world. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
This dunya is like a monster that if we dive into the sea of it, it devours us, and thus, we find ourselves drowning in loss.
Except those who are God-conscious, who are fully aware of the reality of this dunya, they never let themselves drown in its sea.
So Flee to Allah! I am truly sent by Him with a clear warning to you. (51:50)
Allah told us the way we should turn to Him: Fleeing.
Fleeing from dunya distractions, fleeing from our desires, fleeing our nafs… And this deserves a great amount of effort.
Through this story, Sheikh Bilal Assad gives a simple meaning of taqwa:
One day I got angry with my daughter, and she started to cry. She was afraid because I shouted at her. Instead of running away from me, which is the automatic response, she ran away to me!
I’m thinking, “why is she running to me? She’s meant to be afraid of me. And she’s not running to her mother, who was sitting on my side. She’s running back to her father.
And I’m asking the question in my head, “hold on, this is something interesting! I’m very angry at her she should be running away.”
And I’m saying, “go to your mother, I don’t want to talk to you.”
But she kept on crying more and she insisted on coming to me to hug me, to kiss me, and to sit in my lap knowing that she had done something wrong.
Sometimes our children can become like our educators. We learn something from them sometimes in the nature which Allah created them in.
In the end, when she insisted on sitting in my lap, afraid of me, I carried her, put my arms around her, she calmed down and she slept comfortably and peacefully.
She is running away from her father into the compassion of her father. Isn’t that the way we should have taqwa to Allah? Did you not hear in the Quran where Allah says to flee to Him?
So ˹proclaim, O Prophet˺: “Flee to Allah! I am truly sent by Him with a clear warning to you. (51:50)
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made his famous dua:
Oh Allah, I seek refuge in You from You. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
So, the meaning of taqwa is encompassed with Rahmah, compassion and mercy.
And, when Allah tells us:
O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you—as it was for those before you—so perhaps you will become mindful ˹of Allah˺. (2:183)
The ultimate goal is taqwa. What you need to understand is that Allah is nurturing us like a parent nurtures their child.