…..I was also confused about the true meaning of taqwa (piety, God-consciousness), tawakkul( reliance on God) and tawba(repentance). I had read somewhere that in order to understand the Quran one must have a wholesome disposition, a wholesome intellect, breadth of vision and the “light” of understanding and these come about through taqwa. What is taqwa though? How is it attained? At that time I had no idea.

The Quran describes the person of taqwa thus:

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and giveth wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the Allah-fearing. (2:177)

The Quran also tells us:

Deal justly, that is nearer to piety. (5:08)

O ye Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness,- that is the best. (7:26)

Apart from outer raiment there is also spiritual raiment, that is the raiment of taqwa which is even more needed than the outer garments. Just as the outer garment covers the nakedness of the body and adorns it, so does the garment of taqwa cover our bad traits and adorn our good ones.

After reading the descriptions of the people of taqwa in the Quran my heart was set free from the fear of those “righteous folk” who are often seen carrying the staff of their own righteousness and pouring scorn on their “weaker” fellows in a remorseless manner. Such people truly deserve to be pitied. The real people of taqwa are people of beauty and grace; of good character, clean hearted, full of faith, generous, just, truthful, soft-hearted, able to control their anger and their desires; free of arrogance, searching out the faults of others or being sarcastic and derogatory towards them.

Their outer garments are beautiful and pleasing and their inner garments are even more beautiful. This is the raiment of taqwa. Their outer form does not proclaim their righteousness and if their inner self ever entertains the idea that they are people of taqwa, this inner raiment is ripped to shreds leaving them stark naked in the valley of arrogance. This is a two-edged sword. Only that fortunate one  survives its blow whose taqwa is for God alone.