O son, be among those who have taqwa. What does it mean to have taqwa? It is a vast subject and there are plenty of definitions but this is what I have learned from Ustaz Shamsul, one of my earliest guides in my journey towards self purification. The Arabic word taqwa is spelled ta, qaf, waw and alif.
TA means tawbat. So repent, repent, repent...for we are always sinning and Allah will forgive. Repent from the bottom of your heart and repentance is not just lip service, it must be proven through your acts. I recall the moments of my 'initial repentance' (so to speak). I wept uncontrobally when I read a hadith qudsi saying: "A servant [of Allah's] committed a sin and said: 'O Allah, forgive me my sin.' And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: 'My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for them.' Then he sinned again and said: 'O Lord, forgive me my sin.' And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: 'My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for them.' Then he sinned again and said: 'O Lord, forgive me my sin.' And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: 'My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for sins. Do what you wish, for I have forgiven you.'" [Narrated by Muslim (also by al-Bukhari).]
Repent not only when you think you have done a major sin. It is to be done daily, all the time... astaghfirullah. The Prophet s.a.w istighfar 70 times a day, so we must do much more than that. Because the most subtle sin that we tend to commit is that of syirik khafi (the finest syirik) thinking that we exist and that without realizing it we also worship (rely upon and trust) 'idols' in the form of our self, our ego, our jobs, our partners, the ATM machine etc.
QAF means qanaah. It means being satisfied with what you have and not desiring for more. Thus, be careful not to take too much from the dunya but only seek and get what you need.
WAW means waraq. It is about having awareness on what is halal and what is haram and following the syariat closely. Do not be like some people who appear religious outwardly and speak about religion eloquently but their actions do not reflect their understanding of halal and haram.
ALIF means ikhlas. Being sincere, according to Ustaz Shamsul is 'to have your heart with Allah' all the time. All for Him, with Him, by Him, from Him and to Him. In other words, sincerity in your submission to Him, complete submission. It is also said sincerity is Allah's secret; while we could claim being sincere, only He knows the degree of our sincerity, hence the need to du'a "waniyatana niyatal mukhlisin", O Allah make my intention, a sincere intention.
O son, remember these four important virtues and you will be fine bi-iznillah: tawbat, qanaah, waraq and ikhlas.
The origin of the word Taqwa is from the Arabic root letters 'wa, ka, ya' (meaning shield) and its verb is from the word “Ittaki”. Ittaki means to be careful or to be protected or to be cautious. Taqwa is an internal compass on the path that leads towards Allah. The broader meaning and character of taqwa is to develop one’s behavior, so as to be cautiously aware in the worship of Allah and attain nearness to Him and in so doing, perfect oneself. - Abu Bakr Karoli from Islam Tomorrow
Taqwa in the Quran has three meanings. First is fear and a sense of awe. The second includes obedience and worship. Third is freeing the heart from sins, which is the reality and essence of taqwa. In summary, taqwa is to guard oneself against the anger of God and His punishment by fulfilling His commandments and abstaining from what He has prohibited. The reality of taqwa is that your Lord never sees you where He has forbidden you to be, nor does He miss you where He has commanded you to be. - Hujjatul Islam Imam al-Ghazali quoted from Abdul Rahman's Corner