TAQWÂ – تقوى
From the same root of the word وقايت.
Literally: Protecting. Guarding. Defending one’s own from the things needed to be afraid of. Protecting one’s own through hiding himself behind thr armour. For this reason, taqwâ is referred to as fear.
As a Sharî’ah term:
Taqwâ has two meanings:
The first is a general meaning, which is protecting one’s own from the harmful things in the âkhirah. The minimum degree of it is avoiding shirk and the highest degree of it is preventing the heart from attachment to anything other than Allah (‘Azza wa jalla). This is real taqwâ mentioned in âyah (3:102) اتَّقُوا اللّٰهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِه۪
The second is a particular meaning, which is preserving one’s own from the actions and sins resulting in the punishment of Jahannam.
“Irâdah, mind, feeling and the Rabbânî subtle faculties, which constitute the four elements of the conscience and four faculties of the rûh, each has an ultimate aim. The ultimate aim of the irâdah is ‘ibâdah of Allah; that of the mind is ma’rifatullah; that of the feelings is the love of Allah; and that of the subtle faculties is the vision of Allah1 . The perfect ‘ibâdah known as taqwâ comprises the four. The Sharî'ah both cultivates these, and corrects them, and takes them towards their ultimate aims.” The Damascus Sermon ( 117 )
“Concerning لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ2
"لَعَلَّ" signifies hope, and when it precedes something desirable it is used to increase eagerness, and when it precedes something repugnant, its function is to put [the listener] on his guard. Here, the hope cannot refer literally to the Speaker [that is, to Allah], so it is either metaphorical or refers either to the addressee or to observers or listeners.
If it refers to the Speaker, it is an allegorical metaphor. If one equips a person with the gear for a job, one hopes and expects that he will do it. In the same way, Allah has decked out humanity with the potentiality to be perfected, and the capacity of accountability and the means of the will.
The metaphor indicates too that the hikmah of man's creation is taqwâ. It also infers that ‘ibâdah results in the degree of taqwâ. So too it is a sign that the taqwâ is the highest degree.
Moreover, in the style of sultâns, the metaphor suggests encouragement and the holding out of hopes and [the making of] certain promises.
If لَعَلَّ refers to those addressed, it is as though saying: "perform ‘ibâdah through aspiring the taqwâ, between fear and hope." From this consideration, it indicates that man should not rely on his ‘ibâdah. It implies too that he should not suffice with his present degree of ‘ibâdah, but should confirm the saying "it is incumbent on you to act without ceasing" and look beyond the degree at which he is found [and aspire to more].
And if لَعَلَّ refers to observers and listeners, it is as though whoever observes human beings equipped with such abilities and potentialities will hope and expect taqwâ from them - just as a person who sees the claws and fangs of a predator will expect it to be rapacious. It indicates too that ‘ibâdah is required in man's fitrah.
Since the taqwâ results from the ‘ibâdah of all the classes [of men] mentioned previously, the word تَتَّقُونَ alludes to all [types and] levels of taqwâ. That is, taqwâ [preventing] the shirk, taqwâ [preventing the committing of] kabâir, taqwâ [causing one] to preserve one's heart from [attachment to] things other than Allah Ta‘âlâ, and taqwâ [causing one] to avoid [things leading to] punishment, and taqwâ [causing one] to restrain oneself from anger of Allah. It is also a hint that ‘ibâdah is that which is [performed] with ikhlas. And it indicates that ‘ibâdah should be the sole aim, and not a means, and suggests too that ‘ibâdah should not be [performed in the hope of] reward or [to avoid] punishment.” Signs of Miraculousness (175-176 )
(This letter is very important)
My ‘Azîz, Siddîq brothers
In recent times, I have considered the principles of taqwâ and ‘amal as-sâlih which, in the view of Al-Qur’an Al-Hakîm is regarded as the highest principle after îmân. Taqwâ is to abstain from prohibitions and sins. ‘Amal as-sâlih is acting in accordance with the circle of command and the gain of virtue. Repelling sharr is always superior to attracting good. And in the age of such destruction, dissoluteness and alluring desires, taqwâ, which is this repulsion of evil and abstaining from kabâir is a fundamental principle and has gained significant precedence.
Since the destruction and negative current are terrifically intensified in this age, taqwâ is the greatest principle against this destruction. Those who perform the fardh and who do not commit the kabâir will be saved. In times like these when kabâirs are prevalent, the likelihood of successfully achieving ‘amal as-sâlih with ikhlas is extremely difficult. Also, under these conditions, even a minor ‘amal as-sâlih is considered as great.
Also, a form of ‘amal as-sâlih is present within taqwâ. Since abstaining from haram is wâjib; performing a single wâjib has rewards equivalent to performing many sunnahs. In these times – due to the attacks of thousands of sins- a single act of abstaining from hundreds of sins with a simple ‘amal, is equivalent to performing hundreds of wâjibs. With the intention of this significant point, under the name of taqwâ and with the purpose of avoiding sin, what is derived from this passive ‘ibâdah is important ‘amal as-sâlih.
The most important duty for the students of the Risale-i Nur in this age is to act in accordance with the principle of taqwâ against destructions and sins. Since in today’s social life, hundreds of sins are attacking people every minute. Indeed taqwâ and the intention of refraining from sins is equivalent to performing hundreds of ‘amal as-sâlih.” Kastamonu Addendum (164)