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Taqwa in Sufism and Who is a Person of Taqwa?

May God include us and yourself among those who stand in awe of God, and who have drawn near to God with their whole being.

Thus no preoccupation has diverted them from God, outwardly or inwardly, and through His solicitude God has taken them as His friends. Their love for God Most High has been purified in every way.

Their state has become such that when they stand, they stand because of God and for God; they do nothing except they do so because of God and for God. Both their movement and their being at rest are because of God.

~ Shaykh Ahmad ibn Idris


Taqwa is known by Sufis as one of the stations of the Sufi Path. In a mystical context, many believe that acting on taqwa means to distance oneself from everything that distances one from God. In other words, in order to act on taqwa, one must abstain from all those that displeases God. In a Sufi context, taqwa brings one closer to God.

In Sufism, taqwa has several degrees. The first degree or rank is that of the common people. This rank shuns anything associated with God. In other words, the common people participate in taqwa by simply avoiding shirk (associationism). The second degree or rank of taqwa are the elect who shun sins. The final rank is that of the prophets and saints who avoid attributing acts to anyone other than God- "in other words, their fear comes to them from Him and is [directed] to Him." The highest rank are those who distance themselves from everything that separates them from God, for one of the main goals in Sufism is to get closer to God because being separated from God is equivalent to that of hell.

In a Quranic context, taqwa refers to fear of God in terms of protecting oneself from displeasing God. On the surface, the translation of taqwa as simply "fear of God" has a negative connotation because it appears to depict God as someone to be avoided as we tend to avoid those that we fear. Sufis don't like applying the meaning "fear of God" to Taqwa. Instead God who appear as Beloved to the Sufis, for them the fear associated with Taqwa is motivation for right behavior because of the fear of displeasing the Beloved and most importantly the fear of distance from God. Because it is the distance and veil from God is tantamount to Hell for the Sufis, in fact the Sufi understanding of Hell is that place which is absolutely veiled from the Presence and Grace of God.

This fear of God as understood by Sufis is expressed in the following expressions:

I fear separation from Allah.
I fear that at the time of death,
I may be rejected and it be announced:
‘You do not deserve to be in Our Presence.’

Such fear is what is meant by Taqwa to the Sufis.

In the book "The Hundred Steps" its author Shaykh Abdal Qadir al-Murabit wrote:

'No power, no strength but from Allah, the Exalted, The Vast.'

Shaykh Ibn 'Ajiba has said that the first degree of taqwa, guarding oneself, is the avoidance of wrong actions. Its second degree is the removal of faults, and its third degree is to turn from all that is other-than-Allah in order to withdraw into the Presence of the Knower of the Unseen.

One could say that the beginning of taqwa was the embracing of the moral parameters of the shari'at, while its middle was the deep acceptance of the self which Allah had allotted one so that its improvement and perfecting became the limit of one's interference in the world. The end of taqwa can then be seen as the arrival at the core, or at the center of the circle of the self.

Thus end of taqwa is nothing less than khalwa, retreat, deep inner contemplation and the delight of witnessing the Lights of the attributes and the essence.


Far from making the human being a recluse or one who plays no part in the world, the opposite is true. His arrow hits the mark. The man of taqwa is heard when he speaks, is copied when he acts, and illuminates others when he emerges.

The man of taqwa has no fear of the creation, thus the world belongs to him and the elements are his willing servants. All his fear is placed in Allah, the Vast, the over-seer of his affair and the Mover in all his dynamic activities.


Its dhikr is especially commended for travel. It is a dhikr most fitting in all matters concerning action and large movements involving many, like war.

La hawla wa la quwwata illa billahil aliyyu'l adhim 

There is no power and transformation except by Allah - the Most Exalted, the Awesome


wa 'alamu annaLlaha ma'al muttaqin.
The Qur'an 9:123

And know that Allah is with the person of taqwa.

InnaLlaha yuhibbul muttaqin.
~ The Qur'an 9:4

Indeed Allah loves those who have taqwa.

# Related:
* Who are People of Taqwa
* Characteristics of People who have Taqwa


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Technology of the Heart: Taqwa in Sufism and Who is a Person of Taqwa?
Taqwa in Sufism and Who is a Person of Taqwa?
What do Sufis think of Taqwa? Who is a Person of Taqwa?
Technology of the Heart
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