Home > Taqwa (Fear of Allah) > Definition of Khauf (Fear)

Definition of Khauf (Fear)

The literal and legal (Islamic) definition of Khauf (Fear)

1. The literal definition:
Ibn Manzoor (ra) has stated that the Arabic word KHAUF means fear in its intransitive form. In its transitive form it means to frighten (1).
Qurtubi says that Khauf is fright and alarm in the future in its intransitive form. In its transitive form it means to alarm and frighten. (2)

2. The legal definition of Fear:
We have to realise the Islamic meaning of Khauf from the elements of fear and alarm caused by humans, ferocious animals and by Allah All-Mighty. Here, we mean fear of and from the Being of Allah and His Presence. However, we find a remarkable difference and that is when humans fear the creation they run away from that which they fear and dread meeting it. In contrast, when man fears his Creator he seeks refuge in Him and begins to obey Him. This is the awe of Allah which is quite apparent in the verse: ‘So run (escape) towards Him…’(3) Ibn Abbas (rd) explained this verse as meaning: ‘ Run towards Him through repentance; escape from Him to Him and obey Him.’

Fear of Allah comprises fear of Hell, crying through apprehension of Allah’s Presence and remorse for not fulfilling all the duties towards Him. This kind of fear is good because it is positive and creates a positive reaction which leads towards loving Allah and abstaining from evil This attribute of fearing Allah is one of perfection just as loving Allah is an act of perfection, i.e. it illustrates the might and perfection of Allah. It is unlike fear of the creation where being frightened is considered (and is) a sign of imperfection and weakness. Abu Qasim (ra), the wise man, used to say: ‘Whoever fears something runs away from it, and whoever fears Allah runs to Him.’(4)

Abu Hafs (ra) said: ‘Khauf is the whip of Allah that disciplines those who desert Him. Khauf is a lamp in the heart: a person can see by its light what is good and what is evil. Everybody who fears creation runs away from it. Those who fear Allah run to Him.’(5)

Ibn Qayyim (ra) said: ‘Escaping means to ran away from something to something. There are two kinds of escape: one of the fortunate and the other of the unfortunate. The unfortunate ran away from Allah, not to Him. The fortunate ran to Him. As for running away from Him to Him, that is the escape of His friends.’ (6)

REFERENCES:
1. Lissan ul Arab: 2/ 1292
2. Tafseer Qurtubi
3. Surah Dhariyat: 50
4. Ihya ul Uloom: 4/153
5. Madirij Salikeen: 1/550 and the Qushairiyah Epistles
6. lbid: 1/504

Categories: Taqwa (Fear of Allah)
  1. August 13, 2014 at 9:04 am

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