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Taqwa

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The Islamic World: Past and Present What is This? Accessible coverage of Islam from the seventh century to the twenty-first century

    Taqwa

    A key concept of Islam, the term taqwa refers to piety, virtue, and a properly formed awareness or reverent fear of God. It appears in the Qur'an more than 250 times, where it is equated with faith, justice, truthfulness, and obedience to God. The concept of taqwa is central to Sufi spiritual thought and practice, but it has also acquired political significance among Muslim activists in modern times.

    The Indian-Pakistani scholar Sayyid Abu al-Ala Mawdudi (died 1979 ) identified taqwa, together with brotherhood and equality, as the foundation of a true Islamic society. Egyptian activist Sayyid Qutb (died 1966 ) regarded taqwa as an important aspect of Islamic political activity. For Sufis, the concept of taqwa implies deep spirituality and religious devotion. For Mawdudi and Qutb, the term had a more dynamic meaning, and it occupied a central place in their understanding of God's sovereignty in political matters.

    Pakistani educator and modernist Fazlur Rahman ( 1919 – 1988 ) called taqwa “the most important single concept in the Qur'an.” He argued that reverence for God provides human beings with insight and enables them to overcome their weaknesses. In his view, the Qur'an's central purpose is to develop this insight in Muslims, motivating them to take action and achieve progress in their societies. According to Rahman, taqwa involves a strong sense of moral responsibility and signifies an effort by an individual to align the public and private spheres of his or her life. See also Mawdudi, Sayyid Abu al-Ala; Modernism; Qutb, Sayyid.

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