Prophet Muhammad: The Perfect Family Man

Religion between Faith and Fear of Allah

By Abu Amina Elias

The root meaning of taqwa (God-fearingness) is to avoid what one dislikes.

The wise person is he who reckons himself and works for (his life) after death.

Ibn Kathir writes in his commentary on Surat Al-Baqarah:

Deen (Religion) means the reckoning, the reward or punishment. Similarly, Allah said:

On that Day Allah will pay them the recompense (of their deeds) in full. (An-Nur 24:25)


Shall we indeed (be raised up) to receive reward or punishment (according to our deeds). (As-Saffat 37:53)

A tradition states: The wise person is he who reckons himself and works for (his life) after death.

This means he holds himself accountable. Also, `Umar ibn Al-Khattab said:

‘Hold yourself accountable before you are held accountable, weigh yourselves before you are weighed, and be prepared for the biggest gathering before He Whose knowledge encompasses your deeds’:

That Day shall you be brought to Judgment, not a secret of yours will be hidden. (Al-Haqqah 69:18)

The root meaning of taqwa (God-fearingness) is to avoid what one dislikes. It was reported that `Umar bin Al-Khattab asked Ubayy ibn Ka`b about God-fearingness. Ubayy said: ‘Have you ever walked on a path that has thorns on it?’ `Umar said: ‘Yes’. Ubayy said: ‘What did you do then?’ He said: ‘I rolled up my sleeves and struggled’. Ubayy said: ‘That is God-fearingness’.

Abu Ja`far Ar-Razi said that Al-`Alaa’ ibn Al-Musayyib ibn Rafi` narrated from Abu Ishaq that Abu Al-Ahwas said that `Abdullah said: ‘Faith is to trust’. `Ali ibn Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said concerning ‘faith’ in the verse:

…who have faith in what has been revealed to you and others before you and have strong faith in the life hereafter. (Al-Baqarah 2:4)

This means they trust. Also, Ma`mar said that Az-Zuhri said: ‘Faith is the deeds’. In addition, Abu Ja`far Ar-Razi said that Ar-Rabi ibn Anas said that ‘They have faith’ means they fear Allah.

Ibn Jarir At-Tabari commented:

The preferred view is that they can be described as having faith in the unseen by the tongue, deed and creed. In this case, fear of Allah is included in the general meaning of faith, which necessitates following deeds of the tongue by implementation.

Hence, faith is a general term that includes affirming and believing in Allah, His Books and His Messengers, and realizing this affirmation through adhering to the implications of what the tongue utters and affirms.

Linguistically, in the absolute sense, faith merely means trust, and it is used to mean that sometimes in the Qur’an, for instance, Allah (the Exalted) said:

He trusts (yu’minu) in Allah, and trusts in the believers. (At-Tawbah 9:61)

Prophet Yusuf’s (peace be upon him) brothers said to their father:

But you will never believe us even when we speak the truth. (Yusuf 12:17)

Further, the word ‘faith’ is sometimes mentioned along with deeds, such as Allah said:

Save those who believe and do righteous deeds… (At-Tin 95:6)

However, when faith is used in an unrestricted manner, it includes beliefs, deeds, and statements of the tongue. We should state here that faith increases and decreases.

There are many narrations and hadiths on this subject; all favors are from Allah. Some scholars explained that faith means khashyah (fear/awe of Allah). For instance, Allah said:

Verily, those who fear their Lord unseen (i.e. they do not see Him, nor His Punishment in the Hereafter, etc.); theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward (i.e. Paradise). (Al-Mulk 67:12)


Who feared the Most Gracious in the unseen and brought a heart turned in repentance. (Qaf 50:33)

Fear is the core of Faith and knowledge, just as Allah (the Exalted) said:

It is only those who have knowledge among His servants that fear Allah. (Fatir 35:28)

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.



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