This article is from Reading Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.
In the first part of this article, after answering the question on the importance of taqwa and why we should fear Allah, the first two steps for gaining taqwa were detailed:
Reciting the Quran with understanding and remembering Allah often.
In this second part, eight more steps are detailed on the path to taqwa.
Watch How You Spend Your Time
The vast available means of entertainment and job activities leave nearly no time to focus on religion.
Please be very careful with what you do and how you spend your time. Choose very carefully what and who will fill your precious time.
Try to be with the Muslim community and their activities. Make your local masjid a place you visit daily for each prayer, especially for men, if you can. Who are your friends and how do they influence you? It is said that:
“It takes ten good teachers to out-do the influence of one bad friend!”
Seek out pious friends who are not only Muslim by name, but by practice. They should clearly fear Allah, while love and respect Him. They should encourage you to participate in acts of charity, seeking knowledge and have the spirit of humbleness and modesty. They will bring you closer to Allah.
One may not achieve a higher spiritual level without authentic religious knowledge. As we learn, we act upon it either in a physical, mental, or spiritual level or all combined.
It is best to commit to regular studies with reliable teachers or institutions.
The Prophet is reported to have said:
“Ask Allah for beneficial knowledge and seek refuge with Allah from knowledge that is of no benefit.” (Ibn Majah)
This is religious knowledge so that the worshipper understands who he/she is worshipping and the dos and don’ts of the religion.
Yet knowledge without an open heart and spirit is like any other topic. The love, fear and hope in God must penetrate the deepest part of the soul.
Be Aware of Satan’s Distractions
Some distractions seem simply innocent and not evil. Yet a wise worshipper understands very well the deception of Satan.
In fact such distractions are so numerous that we cannot point to only a few. They are all around us.
As we learn the Book of Allah, we understand better how to save ourselves from these distractions.
Humility in Character
Arrogance is the worst enemy of a serious believer.
The Prophet said:
“And no one humbles himself before Allah but Allah will raise him (in status).” (Ibn Majah)
Humbleness does not mean to think lowly of oneself and have an inferiority complex. It simply means one is avoiding pride, no matter what their status is, and to avoid degrading others.
Another word for pride is Al-Kibr in Arabic which means, “rejecting the truth and looking down upon people.”
One does not exalt himself for one’s actions no matter how great they are. You never know, Allah may reward a small action done in humility much more that the ones involving pride.
Allah only accepts from those who have taqwa (fear of Allah). (5: 27)
Pleasing Allah as Your Number One Goal
This takes a shift of consciousness from our existing one to another much higher level.
How is this achieved?
Practice, practice, practice!
You may not achieve this level unless you know full well what the Creator has ordained or forbidden; what He likes or dislikes; who He loves and why; what are His commandments.
If He loves those who spend their nights worshipping Him and asking Him for forgiveness while praising Him, would one spend their nights watching TV and engaging in idle talk?
Why Am I Here?
Asking ourselves this question will bring us into a much deeper realm of spirituality and closeness to our Creator. He tells us in a very simple language, our purpose of creation:
And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. (51:56)
Yet to understand this verse is not so simple. One must understand that worshipping Him is the only way of closeness to Him.
It is only through remembering death that one recognizes the real value he assigns to pleasures of this life. They will lose all the worth in his sight, as it is clear he will not carry them to the grave with Him.
So, what pleasures can I be engaged in that do not push me into the burning Hell?
Surely there are many. But who decides? Satan or you?
Imagine your life will end tomorrow. Can you stand in front of Allah and claim that you have done all you could while living on earth in order to please Him?
Hoping in God
The last element of attaining salvation from the Islamic perspective is having hope in Allah all times knowing that no matter how much we err and sin, as long as we intend to return to Him, ask for forgiveness and live a righteous life, His vast mercy is awaiting us.
Say: “O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (39:53)
Does it not make clear sense that the elements of “love”, “fear” and “hope” are all necessary in order to maintain a realistic balance in regards to our perception of our Creator? Otherwise, we may be deceiving ourselves.
In this context we can clearly see that “fear” has its own place when other elements are included.
We have to examine our intention toward our Creator. If we seek peace, there is no other alternative but to seek His pleasure. This is the only way for moving from darkness into light.
By which Allah guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace and brings them out from darkness into the light, by His permission, and guides them to a straight path. (5:16)
Finally, let us be among those who are invited to the Home of Peace and among the ones guided by Him to the straight path.
And Allah invites to the Home of Peace and guides whom He wills to a straight path. (10:25)