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Allah (swt) said in the Qur’an: “O ye, who believe, fear Allah as He deserves to be feared and die not save as those who have surrendered unto Him.” (Al-Imran: 102).

In this blessed verse Allah commands His believing servants to fulfil two tremendous and weighty tasks, and it is not possible to fully comply with this order unless Allah bestows His very special favours on His believing servants.

As a matter of fact, if a person serves Allah with sincerity of intention, uprightness and from the bottom of his heart, directing all his efforts and thoughts to Him, taking refuge with Him, then Allah will not let the efforts of such a person go waste; He will not let him fail in his attempt. Rather He will help him, aid him, support him and cause him to prosper. And as a result thereof such a person is able to accomplish both the tasks mentioned in this verse in an excellent manner. 

Now what are these two tasks the accomplishing of which is demanded in this blessed verse? One is to observe one’s duty to Allah and to fear Him; the other is not to die save as a true Muslim as someone who has surrendered himself to Allah (swt). Allah has commanded His believing servants a number of times to observe their duty to Him, to fear Him and to adopt taqwa, but in this blessed verse the addition of Haqqa tuqatihi (He deserves to be feared) is found, that means to fear Allah as He deserves to be feared.

This addition is causing some perplexity to people of knowledge since it is not in the might of only human being to fear Allah as much as He deserves to be feared, and then at another place has stated: “Allah tasketh not soul beyond its scope.” (Al-Baqarah: 286)

Now if we look only at the obvious meaning of the verse Allah calls His servants to do something, which is simply not possible for them to do. Even if man would melt away, completely dissolve due to fear of Allah, even then he would not have feared Him, the One who overpowers each and everything without ever being overpowered Himself, the One who has control over each and every particle of His creation while no one has control over Him, as He deserves to be feared.

He is the One at whose command things come to existence. If He says ‘Be’, then it is. And this earth, with its vast stretches of land, its oceans and all the lives on it will in His grasp on the Day of Resurrection, all the heavens will be rolled up and held by Him in His right hand. So overwhelming is His existence, how could any of His creatures ever fear Him as much as He deserves to be feared?

Keeping in view these considerations the early scholars of this ummah have interpreted taqwa here as follows: that one should always be mindful of the Lord, never neglecting His remembrance; that one should be grateful for the countless blessings which one received from Allah; that one should obey the commandments of Allah in every matter and keep away from disobeying Him.

After this elucidation the phrase Haqqa tuqatihi might still be a cause of concern for the believing servants of Allah, but Allah Himself has said in Surat Taghabun: “So fear Allah as much as you can.” After this verse the actual meaning of the verse to be discussed becomes clear that one should fulfil Allah’s right to taqwa as much as one is able to.

It is rather easy to comprehend that if a person is always concerned to observe his duty to Allah will never be unmindful of his Lord; he will be grateful; he will do his utmost to obey his Lord, never disobey Him. So if a person finds himself in such a condition, at least for most of the time, then one can say that he fears Allah, that he observes his duty to Allah as much as he can.

The second commandment is that every believer should mould his life according to the principles of Islam, each and every sphere of his life should be penetrated by his faith, so much that when his time to leave this mortal world  has come he is completely immersed in the ocean of faith, and that his tongue confirms his state. This is the reason why Allah has first ordered His believing servants to observe their duty to Him and to fear Him with all their might so that they may always be faithful to Him, so that whenever death is to overtake them, it will not overtake them in a state other than true and deep faith and complete surrender to Allah.

by Shaikh Jabir Al-Jazairee