Why Should I Fear Allah?

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SHAFAQNA – Is loving God enough to earn a person a ticket to Paradise?

A Christian may say “yes”, and a Muslim may also say “yes” and add that loving God is one of three elements necessary for entry to Paradise.

The other two are fear and hope.

All elements are interconnected and one by itself is not sufficient for a person to reach the ultimate goal of God consciousness which is the vessel that leads a believer to Paradise.

Loving God

Love is the driving force for humans to make any forward movement toward a goal that involves the heart. This love can be driven by physical, mental and spiritual elements.

The love for God starts in a mental level and it is further elevated to the spiritual level by proper nurturing and practices. Islam teaches this through the best manual – the Quran.

As we come to know Him through His ways of dealing with His creations, His love, forgiveness, the vast blessings that He has bestowed on us, as well as His immense guidance, we cannot but grow in love of Him.

But loving God alone is not sufficient.

A Personal Story

In the years when I was practicing Christianity, I grew to love God through continuous reading of the Books of the Old Testament. I was amazed how much caring God showed to humans starting from Adam by sending them Prophets and guidance and how ungrateful His creatures were.

Time and time over He would send Prophets to guide mankind. The consequence of their rejection was repeated defeats by their enemies and their subjugation to the disbelieving nations. But as they repented and obeyed their prophets, God showered His blessings upon them and gave them victories.

I noticed that there were various chapters that included lamentations of their Prophets for continuous disobedience and rebellion of the so-called believers in God.

I realized that the missing element was “fear.” They feared not their God nor did they care for the consequences of their disobedience.

When I put my focus on the New Testament, I noticed that “love” was the driving element that encouraged belief and obedience. I liked that … but there was a problem.

We were told as long as we loved and accepted Jesus as our Savior, we are going to make it to Paradise. Well, this was an easy way to go to heaven. Yet when I noticed that many engaged in sinful acts and still very active in Church and truly believed that they were saved, I questioned the whole concept of redemption.

If Jesus died for my sins, does that mean, by accepting him as my savior I can sin and still make it to Paradise? I don’t think I ever heard the Pastor talk about Hell or any topic containing fear.

It got worse when I felt that the only way to pray was to pray to Jesus, as He was supposedly God. The God that I was searching for did not look like a man-Jesus. But I did and still love Jesus very much, as a righteous Prophet of God.

The continuous missing elements lead me to take a deeper look into Islam. Then, I saw that “fear, love and hope” combined, were my missing links. Islam had the answer.

Why Fear?

If your mother did not warn you, as a child, about burning your hand when getting near the stove, what would happen?

Likewise if your father did not put you on alert about the dangers that are waiting for you out there as a youth, what then? These fear elements may have saved you much trouble.

You had the choice to listen or not. You would face the consequences. Yet Allah warns us about not only the consequence of disobedience of His laws in this world, but also of the Hereafter. He does not compel us to accept but gives us warning.

The fear factor is only beneficial if we realize how fully reliant we are on Allah. On our own, we can never be 100% right all the time. In fact, humans are more inclined to evil than good if they were not brought up conscious of God. So what is the solution?

Let us better define fear from Islamic stand point. No word better than taqwa can fit the purpose.

Taqwa Explained

The word taqwa has various meanings which include God consciousness, awe or fear of Allah which inspires a person to be watchful of wrong actions and strive toward acts which please the Creator.

In this context taqwa and fear are interchangeable. Fearing Allah becomes an honorable state of a worshipper which will lead him to a much higher state than the ordinary person.

Imam Al-Ghazali said:

“Fear rips away desires and maddens luxuries so that cherished sins become reprehensible, just as a honey lover is repelled by it when he learns that it has poison in it. This is how fear burns desires; disciplines the organs; subordinates the heart and gives it tranquility.

It also enables the heart to rid itself of pride, hatred, and envy; and it leaves it absorbed in it (fear). Hence, the heart becomes preoccupied with its own worries and looks towards its best interest in the long run. It is then engaged in only matters like meditation, self-analysis and struggle. It cherishes its time and moments.” (Ihya’ 4/160)

Prophet Muhammad said:

“If, through fear of Allah, tears, even to the extent of a fly’s head, fall from any believer’s eyes and drop on some part of his cheek, he will be kept away from Hell by Allah.” (Ibn Majah)

We can see that “fear” is “taqwa” which is God consciousness in its true sense. But how can we reach this station?

Steps for Gaining Taqwa

1. Recite the Quran while Understanding the Meaning

No words or books train the heart to come to know Allah except His own words. When we contemplate and ponder over the meanings of the verses, our hearts are moved and our limbs are inclined to act upon them.

The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:

“Recite the Holy Quran for it will come as an intercessor for its reciter on the Day of Judgment.” (Muslim)

Many of the Prophet’s companions used to take a long time finishing reciting the Quran because they wanted to reflect, ponder, contemplate and act upon each verse of the Quran. We should also do the same so that we can gain maximum benefit from each verse of the Noble Quran.

2. Remember Allah Often

Allah says: {O ye who believe, remember Allah much. And glorify Him morning and evening.}(Quran 33:41-2)

Train your tongue to praise and remember Him often no matter where you are and what you are doing to the point where it becomes a habit. But do not become a repeating machine. Try to ponder and contemplate over His grandeur and magnificence. He has power over all, so remember him in meekness and awe and humble yourself over His greatness and majesty.

Focus and concentrate!

 Watch How You Spend Your Time

The vast available means of entertainment and job activities leave nearly no time to focus on religion.

Please be very careful with what you do and how you spend your time. Choose very carefully what and who will fill your precious time.

Try to be with the Muslim community and their activities. Make your local masjid a place you visit daily for each prayer, especially for men, if you can. Who are your friends and how do they influence you? It is said that: “It takes ten good teachers to out-do the influence of one bad friend!”

Seek out pious friends who are not only Muslim by name, but by practice. They should clearly fear Allah, while love and respect Him. They should encourage you to participate in acts of charity, seeking knowledge and have the spirit of humbleness and modesty. They will bring you closer to Allah.

 Seek Knowledge

One may not achieve a higher spiritual level without authentic religious knowledge. As we learn, we act upon it either in a physical, mental, or spiritual level or all combined.

It is best to commit to regular studies with reliable teachers or institutions.

The Prophet is reported to have said:

“Ask Allah for beneficial knowledge and seek refuge with Allah from knowledge that is of no benefit.” (Ibn Majah)

This is religious knowledge so that the worshipper understands who he/she is worshipping and the dos and don’ts of the religion.

Yet knowledge without an open heart and spirit is like any other topic. The love, fear and hope in God must penetrate the deepest part of the soul.

 Be Aware of Satan’s Distractions

Some distractions seem simply innocent and not evil. Yet a wise worshipper understands very well the deception of Satan.

In fact such distractions are so numerous that we cannot point to only a few. They are all around us.

As we learn the Book of Allah, we understand better how to save ourselves from these distractions.

 Humility in Character

Arrogance is the worst enemy of a serious believer.

The Prophet said:

“And no one humbles himself before Allah but Allah will raise him (in status).” (Ibn Majah)

Humbleness does not mean to think lowly of oneself and have an inferiority complex. It simply means one is avoiding pride, no matter what their status is, and to avoid degrading others.

Another word for pride is Al-Kibr in Arabic which means, “rejecting the truth and looking down upon people.”

One does not exalt himself for one’s actions no matter how great they are. You never know, Allah may reward a small action done in humility much more that the ones involving pride.

{Allah only accepts from those who have taqwa (fear of Allah).} (5: 27)

Pleasing Allah as Your Number One Goal

This takes a shift of consciousness from our existing one to another much higher level.

How is this achieved?

Practice, practice, practice!

You may not achieve this level unless you know full well what the Creator has ordained or forbidden; what He likes or dislikes; who He loves and why; what are His commandments.

If He loves those who spend their nights worshipping Him and asking Him for forgiveness while praising Him, would one spend their nights watching TV and engaging in idle talk?

 Why Am I Here?

Asking ourselves this question will bring us into a much deeper realm of spirituality and closeness to our Creator. He tells us in a very simple language, our purpose of creation:

{And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.} (51:56)

Yet to understand this verse is not so simple. One must understand that worshipping Him is the only wayof closeness to Him.

Remember Death

It is only through remembering death that one recognizes the real value he assigns to pleasures of this life. They will lose all the worth in his sight, as it is clear he will not carry them to the grave with Him.

So, what pleasures can I be engaged in that do not push me into the burning Hell?

Surely there are many. But who decides? Satan or you?

Imagine your life will end tomorrow. Can you stand in front of Allah and claim that you have done all you could while living on earth in order to please Him?

Hoping in God

The last element of attaining salvation from the Islamic perspective is having hope in Allah all times knowing that no matter how much we err and sin, as long as we intend to return to Him, ask for forgiveness and live a righteous life, His vast mercy is awaiting us.

{Say: “O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.} (39:53)

Does it not make clear sense that the elements of “love”, “fear” and “hope” are all necessary in order to maintain a realistic balance in regards to our perception of our Creator? Otherwise, we may be deceiving ourselves.

In this context we can clearly see that “fear” has its own place when other elements are included.

We have to examine our intention toward our Creator. If we seek peace, there is no other alternative but to seek His pleasure. This is the only way for moving from darkness into light.

{By which Allah guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace and brings them out from darkness into the light, by His permission, and guides them to a straight path.} (5:16)

Finally, let us be among those who are invited to the Home of Peace and among the ones guided by Him to the straight path.

{And Allah invites to the Home of Peace and guides whom He wills to a straight path.} (10:25)

By Raya Shokatfard – Raya Shokatfard holds an MA in Journalism/Mass Communications and an M.A.D. in TV journalism. BA in Communication and BA in Islamic Studies. She has been Islamic propagator in the U.S and Egypt for many years and academic lecturer, writer, international presenter, consultant, foreign correspondent.

This article was published first in AboutIslam.net

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