Understanding the “Taqwa”. Piety, fear of God … or caution?

The term ”  Taqwa  “is universally translated by translators and scientists by” fear of God “or” piety “. For example, the Koranic term

 inna ‘Akrama-kum’ inda Llâhi ‘ATQA-kum “(Quran 49-13) is translated as follows:

“The noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most pious” (Regis Blachere).


“Yes, the noblest of yours, with God is the most righteous of you” (Muhammad Hamidullah).

For the Muslim Muhammad Hamidullah, for the non-Muslim Regis Blachere, the term taqwa  is, in fact, rendered with a spiritual perspective or spiritualizing. This can satisfy Muslim readers. Yet our analysis of the word ”  taqwa  “in its first context, that is to say the way he had before the Qur’an and by the time of the utterance of it, leads us to reconsider this ingrained perspective in speech and minds.

Indeed, the notion of ”  taqwa  “from an anthropological point of view, is a concept of tribal sociality refers to the fact that to take precautions”  waqāya  “to prevent harm, misfortune, the harmful consequences of an act … The conduct of ”  the ittiqā ‘  “is the assessment of a situation, in order to engage in conduct that is beneficial for oneself and his family, that is to say, in the context of the time, for the kin group that is inextricably linked to the one who is responsible.

So we need to think in those terms rather than individual terms. Because the discourse of the Koran does not deal with individuals as such. It is aimed at the tribal way that can be called “collective individuals” (group leaders, relationship managers).

Thus, ”  Taqwa  “Koran, which is   taqwa vis-a-vis God, must understand or be understood in the same line as the ”  Taqwa  “tribal, which captures closer how first Quran listeners got the message.Obviously, this consideration of the first meaning of the word asked this fundamental question: What does it mean to take precautions against God?

Given the creative power of God as contained in the Koran; given, also, to the eschatological punishment (final judgment) which is that of God, take vis-à-vis the precautionary Creator and Master of all can only mean first have enough sense not to s to oppose Him! For as never ceases to proclaim the Koran, which opposes exposes not only the punishment of the relationship manager, but also the disappearance and dispersion of his!

Thus, in the context of disputes Madinan mentioned Sura 49, it is better to understand:

“The best of you is the wisest / most attentive to the consequences / the most reasonable” (in the sense of one who analyzes the better the consequences of his actions for himself and his family, which is close to the idea of ​​prudence) (49-13)

With this approach, the “  Taqwa  “historical Koran is part of a strictly pragmatic perspective as a rule of life for the survival of man and his group in the most concrete sense. The spiritual perspective (or spiritualizing) the usual ”  Taqwa  “, in turn, does not take sufficient account of the imaginary field of the time and that of a largely depends on a subsistence economy society.

It does not make it “taking precautions” or “make guarantees” not to fall into trouble or danger. Thus, “cautious”, ”  al-muttaqūn  “, ie” those who have made ​​the right choice “between several possible lines, are in paradise by 52-17 Qur’an:”  inna l-muttaqīna fī jannātin wa na’īmin  “or the expression  ittaqū-nī , which we translate as follows: “Be cautious to Me” (2, 41); rather than “This is Me that you must fear.”

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