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FEAR OF ALLAH

Fear of Allah is one of the highest and best levels in Islam. It is one of the best forms of worship which Allah has commanded be directed to Him and only to Him. Allah uses various words meaning fear, and commands that all of them be directed to Him alone.

Among them are:

KHAWF - fear or dread. Focuses more on the mind state of fear than Khashyah.

KHASHYAH - same as above. Focuses also on the actions which result from this fear.

RAHBAH - fear or dread but also the concept of feeling alarmed or terrorized or intimidated.

ISHFAAQ - anxiety, worry or apprehension.

There are fine shades of difference in meaning between these words but English is inadequate to express it. So all roughly translate these to fear.

Speaking about the martyrs who lost their lives in Allahs path and after mentioning the greatness of their reward in the Hereafter, Allah said about them

KHAWF:
Those to whom the people said: The people have gathered against you so fear (Khawf) them. So that increased them in faith and they said: Allah is sufficient for us and He is the best of Protectors. And so they returned with a great gift from Allah and bounty. No harm touched them. They sought the pleasure of Allah and Allah is the Possessor of great bounty indeed. That is nothing but Shaitaan who inspires fear (Khawf) of his allies. So do not fear them and fear (Khawf) Me if you are truly believers. (Aale Imraan:173-175)

KHASHYAH:
So do not fear (Khashyah) the people but fear (Khashyah) Me and do not purchase with My sighs a paltry value. (Al-Maa-idah:44))

RAHBA:
And Allah said: Do not take for your self two gods. He is only One God so of Me be Afraid (Rahbah). (An-Nahl:5 1)

About His angels, Allah said Khawf:

They fear (Khawf) their Lord above them and they do what they are commanded. (An-Nahl:50)

Allah promised those who fear (Khawf) Him in this life two gardens in the Hereafter:

And for the one who fears the standing before his Lord, two gardens. (Ar-Rahman:46)

In Surah Al-Dahr, Allah speaks about final state of those who followed the path of guidance, those who fulfilled their oaths and promises and gave their food and sustenance - in spite of their love for it - to orphans, poor people and prisoners. Here we see that fear of Allah frees us from all other fears - not only in this life but during the terrible events of Qiyaamah (the hereafter) as well.

Those who fulfill their oaths and fear (yakhaafoon) a day whose harmfulness will be alarming. And they give food, in spite of their love for it, to the poor, the orphan and the prisoner. We feed you only seeking the Face of Allah. We do not want from you any reward nor thanks. Verily, we fear from our Lord a day of frowning and distress. So Allah shielded them from the harm of that day and granted them light and joy. And rewarded them for their patience a garden and silk. (Al-Dahr:7-12)

If we suffer some anxiety and lack of security because of our steadfastness in the practice of Islam, it will be well rewarded by Allahs protection from the terrifying events of Qiyaamah and from the punishment of hell-fire.

Allah said: They said: We used to be before this with our families in a state of anxiety / fear (Ishfaaq) but Allah has granted us great favor and shielded us from the punishment of the fiery wind. (At Toor:26-27)

The Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) said: There was a man from among the peoples who came before you who doubted if his action were good enough. He said to his family: If 1 die, scatter me over the ocean on a stormy day. They did so. Then Allah collected him together and said to him: What drove you to do what you have done? The man answered:

Nothing drove me to it but fear (Ishfaaq) of You. And so Allah forgave him.

This man was ignorant of the complete power of Allah over all things and ordered his family to burn him and scatter his ashes over the ocean in his ignorance, thinking that he could escape from Allah, Even though what he did was wrong and based on ignorance, Allah forgave him because of his great fear (Ishfaaq) of Allah - which is one of the ways of worship of Allah.


TYPES OF FEAR:
1. Inner or true fear:
This is an act of worship of the heart - in fact, it is one of the most complete forms of worship. Thus, it must be directed exclusively to Allah, the Most High. If it is directed to other than Allah, that it is Shirk such as those who fear other than Allah such as idols or evil ones (Taaghoot), that they may be able to inflict some harm on them.

Allah tells us this in Holy Quraan while narrating the story of people of Hood when they say :

We merely say that some of our deities have afflicted some harm of you. Say: I invoke Allah as my witness and I bear witness that I am innocent of that which you associate apart from Allah so scheme against me all of you and give me no breaks. (Al Hood:54-55)

The Mushrikeen (Polytheists) of Makkah likewise attempted to instill fear in the Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) for those whom they worshipped besides Allah:

Is not Allah sufficient for his slaves? And they seek to instill in you fear for those less than Him. (Az Zumar:36)

Similarly, we see some of the Muslims, (who unknowingly exaggerate and devote more than what Allah has ordered, to the Saints and almost dedicate the attributes of Allah to the Saints in graves) fearing the Saints as they should fear Allah and attempting to instill fear in the people who are strict on the teachings of Prophet Mohammad (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) regarding Tawheed (Oneness and Uniqueness of Allah) when they speak out against the shirk in which they are involved.

2. Outward fear (fearing other than Allah in ones practice):
This is when one leaves some of the obligations of Islam out of fear of the people. It is forbidden and is a type of Shirk which negates the completeness of Tawheed. It does not include a case of force or duress in which case a Muslim has permission to leave an obligation or even speak a word of falsehood to save his / her own life. As cited earlier, Allah said:

That is nothing but Shaitaan who inspires fear on his allies. So do not fear them and fear Me if you are truly believers. (Aale Imraan:175)

Shaitaan and his forces attempt to instill fear in the hearts of the believers in order that they not fight in the path of Allah or enjoin the right and forbid the wrong. Allah has forbidden this fear. As ones faith increases, the fear of Shaitaans allies, which he seeks to instill in our hearts diminishes. Our fear of Shaitaans allies will increase only when we are defenseless i.e. without the strong belief in Allah that carries His support, against Shaitaans machinations. This verse reminds us that this fear must be exclusively of Allah and that is one of the conditions of complete belief.

3. Natural or biological fear: 
This is the simple, biological fear which is part of our nature such as when one is confronted by a wild animal or other dangerous situation. This is a natural part of a human being and although it varies from an individual to another individual, it has nothing to do with the subject of Tawhid and Shirk. Allah said:

And Musa was apprehensive of a fear in himself. (TaaHaa:67)

The Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) was asked: Can a believer be a coward? He answered: Yes. (Muwatta Imaam Maalik, but it is Mursal)

Love (Mahabbah) of Allah:
The true of worship is the completeness of love and the completeness of submission to Allah, the Most High. Love of Allah is by taking Him as Deity and Sovereign and by submitting our will, drives and inclinations to Allah. This love is the foundation of Islam and inseparable from fear of Allah and his punishment and hope for the forgiveness and mercy of Allah. In this sense, this love is not befitting to any other besides Allah. So, whoever loves something other than Allah as one should love Allah or greater than that becomes one of those who has set up rivals or equals to Allah.

Allah said: Among people are those who take from those less than Allah rivals who they love as the love of Allah. Those who believe are strongest in love of Allah. (AI-Baqarah:165)

The rival mentioned here, is with regard to the individuals love, not with regard to Allahs Lordship and Omnipotence. Few, if any among mankind, have claimed rivals to Allah in these latter issues.

On the other hand, many among mankind and even among the Muslims have rivals to Allah in their love. The meaning here is when their love for these rivals is of the type of love which rightfully belongs only to Allah - i.e., a love mixed with humility, submission and glorification of the object of love. When this is directed to other than Allah it will, sooner or later, drive them to directing worship to these rivals such as with supplication (Duaa) and other forms of worship. Loving others along with Allah (al mahabbah maAllah) is different loving for the sake of Allah (al mahabbah fillaah). This latter is something commanded by Allah. The love which cannot be directed to other than Allah is that love which contains elements of glorification, submission or the belief in some absolute need for this one, besides Allah. It is Shirk to make ones love for other than Allah equal to that of Allah, the Most High.

Allah tells us of the conversation between those who worshipped others along with Allah and the objects of worship in the Hellfire:

By Allah, we were surely completely lost. When we equated you with / the Lord of the Worlds. (Ash Shoora:97-98)

They knew and acknowledged that Allah alone possesses creation, provision, life and death. Their equating of others with Allah was with regard to their love, their glorification and other forms of worship. This is always the state of the people of Shirk against Allah. They love their object of worship, they glorify them and are devoted to them as they should do all, of those things with Allah. Many times, they love their objects of worship more than they love Allah. This can be observed in many ways. They are pleased and joyful at the mention of the objects of worship more than they are pleased with the mention of Allah, the Alone and One. They are angered if anyone detracts from or insults the object of their worship more than if one detracts from or insults Allah, the Most High.

What is worse: they are enraged if the boundaries or prohibitions of their object of worship are violated, but when the boundaries and prohibitions of Allah, the Almighty and Great, are violated and disrespected, they do not show any anger. They produce endless excuses and rationalizations for every kind of disobedience to Allah, but will tolerate no transgression whatsoever against the prohibitions of those whom they love beside Him. Though they acknowledge Allah as Omnipotent Lord, the remembrance of their other objects of worship may be much greater and ever present in their hearts and words, while the remembrance of Allah Himself the One and Alone is less frequent and less fervent than the remembrance of these others. They see nothing wrong with that, claiming that their object of love or worship is their means and their intermediary to their needs from Allah, the Most high. This is precisely the state of the idol worshippers of Makkah to whom the message of Mohammad (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) first came and which the people of Shirk have passed on to one another through the ages, though their particular objects of worship may vary.

Allah said about the Mushrikeen of Makkah and all others in all times and places who direct some acts of worship to other than Allah (even though they may believe in Allah as Lord):

Sure! We have sent down to you with the truth. So worship Allah, devoting your religion exclusively to Him. To Allah belongs the pure religion. But those who take allies less than Him (say) We do not worship them except that they may bring us closer to Allah. Surely, Allah will judge between them regarding that over which they differ. Allah surely does not guide one who is ever-given to lying and to dejecting faith. (Az-Zumar:2,3)

As for the natural love for certain things, such as the love of the people for things which please them like wealth, children, etc., this is not related to the topic, under discussion, unless it drives one to leave obligations or commit the forbidden.

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