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Creating the Complete and Balanced Islamic Individual

26th October 2015
The Importance Of Having Both 'Ilm (Knowledge) And Taqwaa (Fear of Allah/God-Consciousness)

The Qur'aan is not simply a book of laws - of dos and don'ts - but it is foremost a book of tarbiyyah or a Book that develops and allows people to grow spiritually and morally. In the following verse, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى describes the Qur'aan as a maw'idhah


"This [Qur'aan] is a clear statment to mankind, a guidance and admonition (maw'idhah) to the Muttaqeen (those who fear Allaah, have God-consciousness)." (Soorah Aali 'Imraan, 3:138) 

Lane gives the following definition for the word maw'idhah, "He exhorted him, admonished him, or warned him; commanded him to obey; he gave him good advice, or counsel; and reminded him of the results of affairs; he reminded him by informing him of that which should make the heart tender; he reminded him of that which should soften his heart by the mention of reward and punishment." [1] 

So, maw'idhah involves warning the person about the consequences of his actions. It includes reminding him of what his wrong actions will lead him to. It also includes, as the English expression states, "putting the fear of God in him," as well as making his heart soft and submissive to the truth. 

Hence, the Qur'aan is a Book that is meant to reform the individual, either changing him if he were void of guidance or improving him if he already was walking along its straight path. It brings him from the death of jaahiliyyah (ignorance) to the life of Islaam - such that his heart and mind sees things in the light of Allaah's سبحانه و تعالى guidance and he acts accordingly. This is the true life of a human, a life which is different from that of one in ignorance, just as life is different from death. Allaah says,



"And is one who was dead and We gave him life and made for him light by which to walk among the people like one who is in darkness, never to emerge therefrom? Thus it has been made pleasing to the disbelievers that which they were doing." (Sooratul-An'aam, 6:122) 



"Not equal are the blind and the seeing, Nor are the darknesses and the light, Nor are the shade and the heat,And not equal are the living and the dead. Indeed, Allaah causes to hear whom He wills, but you cannot make hear those in the graves." (Soorah Faatir, 35:19-22) 

Allaah سبحانه و تعالى also says,



"And We did not give Prophet Muhammad, knowledge of poetry, nor is it befitting for him. It is not but a message and a clear Qur'an. To warn whoever is alive and justify the word against the disbelievers." (Soorah Yaa Seen, 36:69-70) 

The difference between this goal of the Qur'aan and the previously discussed goal is that the latter is referring basically to showing the straight path - like telling a person the laws of driving - while this goal is another aspect of the Qur'aan which develops the person in such a way that he follows the straight path that he finds from the previous goal - such as imbibing the citizen with his civic responsibility so that he abides by the driving laws even if he has no fear of being punished. [2] 

In other words, the Qur'aan is not just giving the human the knowledge ('ilm) of what is correct but is also imbibing him with the fealing of fear, love and responsibility to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى (taqwa) [3] that will drive him to do what is proper and correct. This is achieved through many means in the Qur'aan. 

For example, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى tells humans the real nature of this world and its pleasures. [4] The Qur'aan also contrasts the fleeting pleasures of this world with the real pleasure of Allaah's سبحانه و تعالى rewards. [5] The Qur'aan also vividly describes to mankind what will happen on the Day of Judgement to both those who were pious and those who were evil. 

In fact, after almost every law stated in the Qur'aan, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى closes the relevant verses with the remembrance of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, promises of reward for those who stay within His limits and promises of punishment for those who wish not to abide by His commands. These are just some examples of how the Qur'aan gives both 'ilm and taqwa [6] to the individual. [7] 

A clear example from the Qur'aan of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى both showing the Muslims the straight path or correct actions as well as inspiring them withtaqwa or urging them to follow Allaah's سبحانه و تعالى guidance can be seen in Sooratul-Baqarah. Verses 221-242 of that Soorah cover twelve different laws or ruling involving marriage, marital relations, divorce, waiting peridod, maintenance, nursing and so on. In the verses, every ruling is clearly tied to an aspect of belief or 'aqeedah

The first ruling concerns marriage with polytheists and ends with the words, 


"They [the disbelievers] invite you to the Fire. But Allaah invites to Paradise and to forgiveness, by His permission. And He makes clear His verses to the people that perhaps they may remember." (Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:221) 

The second ruling prohibits intercourse with a menstruating wife and ends by saying, 


"Indeed, Allaah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves." (Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:222) 



"And fear Allaah and know that you will meet Him. And give good tidings to the believers." (Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:223) 

The next ruling concerns oaths and ends with,



"And Allaah is All-Hearer, All-Knower (the One who hears and knows all things)." (Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:224) 




"And Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Forbearing." (Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:225) 

This is followed by the ruling concerning al-eela [8] and ends with, 


"But if they return [to normal relations] - then indeed, Allaah is Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:226) 

The next verse ends with,



"...then indeed Allaah is All-Hearer, All-Knower" (Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:227) 

The fifth law concerns the waiting period and states, 


"and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allaah has created in their wombs if they believe in Allaah and the Last Day." (Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:228) 

The next verse discusses the number of divorces and concludes in this manner, 


"These are the limits of Allaah , so do not transgress them. And whoever transgresses the limits of Allaah - it is those who are the wrongdoers." (Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:229) 

Next comes the order to remain with such wives properly or to let them free, which is followed by Allaah's words, 


"And do not take the verses of Allaah in jest. And remember the favor of Allaah upon you and what has been revealed to you of the Book and wisdom by which He instructs you. And fear Allaah and know that Allaah is Knowing of all things." (Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:231) 

The following ruling concerns the breastfeeding of children and is followed with the words, 


" And fear Allaah and know that Allaah is Seeing of what you do." (Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:233) 

Then comes the ruling concerning the waiting period of the widow followed by the words, 


"And Allaah is [fully] Acquainted with what you do." (Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:234) 

Next comes a ruling about an indirect marriage proposal to a widow whilse she is still in her waiting period ('iddah). This command is followed by Allaah's warning, 


"And know that Allaah knows what is within yourselves, so beware of Him. And know that Allaah is Forgiving and Forbearing." (Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:235) 

At this point, there is a brief change in topic as the person is reminded of the importance of prayer, as some rulings concerning prayer are mentioned. Then the final ruling found in this set of verses discusses the maintenance of the divorced woman in these words,



"And for divorced women is a provision according to what is acceptable - a duty upon the righteous." (Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:241) 

All of these rulings are ended by Allaah's سبحانه و تعالى words, 


"Thus does Allaah make clear His signs to you in order that you may understand." (Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:242) 

The importance of giving both 'ilm (knowledge) and taqwa (fear of Allaah God-consciousness) cannot be overemphasised. If a person simply has the knowledge of what is right without anything in his soul driving him to perform that right deed, all of that knowledge will be of no avail or benefit to him. This can clearly be seen in western societies. For example, how many people in the West know very well the dangers and harmful effects of smoking, drinking alcohol, drugs and so on, but, at the same time, how many of these same people have the will and drive to refrain from these acts that they know are so harmful to them? [9] 

On the other hand, a false sense of taqwa without 'ilm can also be very dangerous [10] as such a person may do something very displeasing to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى while he should have known better, and this may lead to his destruction. Allaah سبحانه و تعالى says, 


"Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): 'Shall We tell you the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds? [They are] those whose effort is lost in worldly life, while they think that they are doing well in work.'" (Soorah Kahf, 18:103-104) 

In fact, this was the way of the Christians who worshipped Allaah سبحانه و تعالى not based on knowledge. Hence, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى calls the, in particular, those who have gone astray. 

By the grace of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, if the person realises this goal of the Qur'aan and sincerely tries to achieve it through his reading and study of the Qur'aan, he will be given both 'ilm and taqwa and he will become a complete Muslim in his life. In every rak'ah of his prayer, he will be asking Allaah سبحانه و تعالى to guide him away from being a person of 'ilm without taqwa or a person with a false type of taqwa that is not based on 'ilm. In every rak'ah, he recites, 


"Guide us to the straight path, The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray." (Sooratul-Faatihah, 1:6-7) 

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم explained to whom the last two terms were referring to when he said, "Those who earned the wrath of Allaah (maghdoobi 'alayhim) are the Jews and those who went astray (ad-Daalleen) are the Christians." [11] [12] 


[1] E. W. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon (Cmabridge, England: The Islamic Texts Society, 1984), vol. 2, p. 2953 

[2] Note that there is a strong relationship between the implementation of this goal and the first goal discussed above. This is acceptable as these goals need not be mutually independent. There should be some overlap as the goals are all strongly related to one another, as shall be highlighted later. 

[3] See: Fear Allaah Wherever You Are (Taqwa) - 

[4] There are many verses concerning this topic, such as the following: 


"[This] worldly life is only amusement and diversion. And if you believe and fear Allaah, He will give you your rewards and not ask you for your properties." (Soorah Muhammad, 47:36) 


"Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children - like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allaah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion." (Sooratul-Hadeed, 57:20) 

[5] For example, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى says, 


"Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire - of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allaah has with Him the best return. Say, 'Shall I inform you of [something] better than that? For those who fear Allaah will be gardens in the presence of their Lord beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally, and purified spouses and approval from Allaah. And Allaah is Seeing of [His] servants.'" (Soorah Aali 'Imraan, 3:14-15) 

[6] See, Virtues of Knowledge which is Learnt and Taught for the sake of Allah - 

[7] One can see that the style of the Qur'aan lends itself to this giving of both taqwaa and 'ilm through the following means: 

(a) The Qur'aan presents what actually happens as if the person is witnessing the even itself by exposing all of the important and relevant aspects in a clear, vivid manner. 

(b) The Qur'aan does not discuss essentially related matters in separate chapters like what one finds in science or philosophy books but rather everything is tied together and presented as one unified, related whole. 

(c) At the same time, though, the Qur'aan stresses various aspects of life in balance or proper proportion, the proportions they deserve to be given in Allaah's سبحانه و تعالى sight, and 

(d) the Qur'aan gives reality a life or breathing spirit that allows the Qur'aan to influence the reader. 

Of course, since the Qur'aan is the speech of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, the Creator and Lord of mankind, His message is able to strike the hearts, intellect and emotions of mankind like no humanly produced work could. In fact, the way the Qur'aan is able to affect mankind directly in the heart and soul is another proof that its source is Allaah سبحانه و تعالى. 

[8] This is an oath that a man makes vowing to abstain from his wife. 

[9] A society in which people lose their moral conscience even though they have the knowledge of what is right or wrong is doomed to disaster. Sayyid Qutb رحمه الله commented, "This is what causes the failure of all of the systems that are not based on the control of the heart, which is God-consciousness (taqwaa). And all the theories and ideologies that man has made for man and that do not have any authority from Allaah سبحانه و تعالى likewise fail." Fi Dhilaal al-Qur'aan, vol. 3 ,p. 1384. 

[10] Although in the long-run 'ilm without taqwaa is much more dangerous. Perhaps the person of taqwaa without 'ilm shall be forgiven in some cases because of his ignorance and good intentions while the one with 'ilm and no taqwaa combines knowing that the act he is performing is wrong with bad intentions. 

[11] Recorded by Imaam Ahmad رحمه الله. See the discussion of the different narrations from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and his Companions رضي الله عنهم stating the same in Shaykh al-Huwaini's رحمه الله footnotes to Imaam Ibn Katheer's رحمه الله Tafseer al-Qur'aan al-'Adheem, vol. 1, pp. 501-504. 

[12] How to Approach and Understand the Quran, pp. 127-135.

posted by Seifeddine-M on 26th October 2015 - 0 comments


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