Allah, the Almighty, said:

{They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded.} [an-Naḥl 16:50]

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وجَلَّ: "يَخَافُونَ رَبَّهُم مِّن فَوْقِهِمْ"

Fear means being removed from the assurance of security126 upon beholding the news [of Allah’s warnings], and it is of three levels:

الخَوْفُهُوَ الانْخِلاعُ عَنْ طُمَأنِينَةِ الأمْنِ بِمُطَالَعَةِ الخَبَرِ،وَهُوَ عَلى ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَاتٍ:

The first level is the fear of punishment, and this is the fear through which faith is validated127, and it is the fear of the masses. It originates from:

  1. believing the warnings

  2. being mindful of the offenses

  3. being watchful of the consequences128

الدَّرَجَةُ الْأُولَىالْخَوْفُ مِنَ الْعُقُوبَةِ، وَهُوَ الْخَوْفُ الَّذِي يَصِحُّ بِهِ الْإِيمَانُ، وَهُوَ خَوْفُ الْعَامَّةِ، وَهُوَ يَتَوَلَّدُ مِنْ:

  1. تَصْدِيقِ الْوَعِيدِ

  2. وَذِكْرِ الْجِنَايَةِ

  3. وَمُرَاقَبَةِ الْعَاقِبَةِ

The second level is fear of the plotting [of Allah] while one rejoices in the times of wakefulness that are mixed with the sweetness [of faith] 129.

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّانِيَةُخَوْفُ الْمَكْرِ فِي جَرَيَانِ الْأَنْفَاسِ الْمُسْتَغْرِقَةِ فِي الْيَقَظَةِ، الْمَشُوبَةِ بِالْحَلَاوَةِ.

For the elite among the believers, there is not a desolation of fear, but only the awe (haybah) of [Divine] reverence130. It is the highest ranking to be identified at the peak [of the station] of fear. It is awe that is encountered by the one in [a state of] disclosure during times of soft conversation. It protects the witness/ observer during the time of friendly (nightly) dialogues, and it strikes the eyewitness/beholder with the shock of [Divine] might.

وَلَيْسَ فِي مَقَامِ أَهْلِ الْخُصُوصِ وَحْشَةُ الْخَوْفِ، إِلَّا هَيْبَةَ الإجْلَالِ، وَهِيَ أَقْصَى دَرَجَةٍ يُشَارُ إِلَيْهَا فِي غَايَةِ الْخَوْفِوَهِيَ هَيْبَةٌ تُعَارِضُ الْمُكَاشَفَ أَوْقَاتَ الْمُنَاجَاةِ، وَتَصُونُ الْمُسَامِرَ أَحْيَانَ الْمُسَامَرَةِ، وَتَفْصِمُ الْمُعَايِنَ بِصَدْمَةِ الْعِزَّةِ.

126 A certain predecessor of heedlessness, callousness, indifference, weakness of religious commitment, and spiritual lethargy.
127 For the complete lack of fear means complete lack of eemân.
128 Those who believe the warnings of Allah and His Messenger ﷺ, believe in the hereafter (the ending), and recognize the gravity of their offenses and shortcomings will also be vigilant (have taqwâ).
129 This is the fear of the people who have good states of faith. They will not feel secure until they meet their Lord and secure their place in paradise. The first level of fear is that which is simply called‘khawf’ (خوف) because it involves a level of fright that moves one away from sin; the second level may be called ‘khashyah’ (خشية), which also falls under the category of fear but involves a level of sukoon (composure) befitting of those actively engaged in obedience.
At-Tirmidhi reported from ‘Abdur-Raḥmân ibn Sa‘eed ibn Wahb that ‘Â’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said:

"سَأَلْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ  عَنْ هَذِهِ الآيَةِ‏:‏ ‏(والَّذِينَ يُؤْتُونَ مَا آتَوْا وَقُلُوبُهُمْ وَجِلَةٌ‏)‏ قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ أَهُمُ الَّذِينَ يَشْرَبُونَ الْخَمْرَ وَيَسْرِقُونَ قَالَ ‏"‏ لاَ يَا بِنْتَ الصِّدِّيقِ وَلَكِنَّهُمُ الَّذِينَ يَصُومُونَ وَيُصَلُّونَ وَيَتَصَدَّقُونَ وَهُمْ يَخَافُونَ أَنْ لاَ يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُمْ أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَهُمْ لَهَا سَابِقُونَ‏"

“I asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ about this âyah:

{And those who give that which they give with their hearts full of fear...} [al-Mu’minoon 23:60]

‘Are they those who drink khamr (wine, alcohol) and steal?’
He said: ‘No, O daughter of aṣ-Ṣiddeeq. They are those who fast, pray, and give charity while they fear that their Lord will not accept it from them:

{It is these who hasten to do good deeds, and they are the foremost of them.} [al-Mu’minoon 23:60]’”
130 Al-Muqarraboon (in the passive voice) are the ones who are brought close to their Lord. They do not have the desolation of remoteness. Their fear is all about the necessary haybah (awe) that will prevent them from overstepping their limits with their Lord after He lets them into His presence, close to Him.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


Shaykhul-Islam Abu Isma‘il Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Ansari al-Harawi (396-481H)

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj