Ramadan, the Habit Change Opportunity: Taqwa

By Mirza Yawar Baig


THEY say, ‘Habits make a person.’ Psychologists tell us that habit change takes 21 days. If someone does something continuously for 21 days it will become a habit. We are about to come to the Annual Habit Change Workshop that Allah sends as His Mercy every year to help us to cultivate habits of the people of Jannah.

The first and most critical condition of being a Jannati, of being from among the people of Jannahis to be a Muslim. And a Muslim is one who submits to Allah and has Taqwa of Allah. To attain levels with Allah one has to make effort; to enter that blessed group of people who will be honored and entered into Al Jannah. And remember, it is Allah who will decide who is a person ofTaqwa. It is not a matter of either one proclaiming it for himself or of his friends or followers proclaiming it for him.

Allah ordered us to have His Taqwa – to fear His displeasure and be aware of His presence – when He said:

O you who believe! Fear Allâh (have Taqwa) as He should be feared. And die not except in a state of Islâm (as Muslims). [A’al Imraan, 3:102]

Allah ordered the Muslims to develop a state of mind and heart where they fear to displease Him as it is His right that people should fear to displease Him. And He told the Muslims to make sure that they don’t die except in a state of complete submission to Him. This is the meaning of ‘fearing Allah’. I make this point because we hate things we fear. But with respect to Allah we love Him. Allah said about the Believers:

But those who believe, love Allâh the most (above all else). [Al Baqarah 2:165]

So the fear of Allah that we talk about is the fear of displeasing Him because we love Allah above all else and so we fear displeasing Him more than anything else. Anyone who deliberately disobeys Allah is showing that He doesn’t love Allah. So there is no need for any confusion between fear and love of Allah. Then Allah showed us how to develop Taqwa and gave us the means to do it. He made fasting Fardh (compulsory) upon us so that we can develop Taqwa.

O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon. [Al Baqarah 2:83]

As we can see, Allah ordered us to have Taqwa and then showed us how to develop Taqwa – by fasting. Once a Muslim develops Taqwa then his submission to Allah is assured and so the second part of the ayah becomes possible.

And die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims).

The secret of obedience is to obey without question. It is not obedience without understanding. The understanding when obeying Allah is to understand who Allah is; not what the command is or the logic behind it. This is a major trap that most of our so-called intellectuals fall into. They get lost in trying to understand the logic of the command and forget who is commanding it. That is why Ramadan comes to emphasize the fact that the Muslim obeys because Allah commanded it; not because it makes ‘sense’ to him.

Allah made some things Halaal and some things Haraam. But in Ramadan during the hours of daylight, He made even the things which are ordinarily HalaalHaraam. When the Muslim obeys Allah and fasts he is essentially doing something which makes sense only when one understands whose command it is. It is emphasized for the Muslim that if he obeyed Allah during Ramadan and stayed away even from Halaal then how much more important it is for him to stay away from what Allah prohibited and made Haraam?

That is why it is so critical to know Allah, to be connected to Allah, to be conscious of Allah and to be concerned about His pleasure and approval for all that we say or do because to Him is our return. Ramadan comes to reiterate this to us every year; that we are the slaves of Allah and in being true to that is our salvation. Ramadan comes to teach us obedience. It comes to teach us the meaning of Uboodiya. It comes to teach us the meaning of being Abdullah and Amatullah and to do that because we love Allah above all else.

To be continued in-sha Allah.