Meaning of `Taqwa of Allah
Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud commented on the Ayah,
اتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ
(Have Taqwa of Allah as is His due,)
"That He is obeyed and not defied, remembered and not forgotten and appreciated and not unappreciated.'' This has an authentic chain of narration to `Abdullah bin Mas`ud. Al-Hakim collected this Hadith in his Mustadrak, from Ibn Mas`ud, who related it to the Prophet. Al-Hakim said, "It is authentic according to the criteria of the Two Shaykhs Al-Bukhari and Muslim, and they did not record it.'' This is what he said, but it appears that it is only a statement of `Abdullah bin Mas`ud, and Allah knows best. It was also reported that Anas said, "The servant will not have Taqwa of Allah as is His due until he keeps his tongue idle.'' Allah's statement,
وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ
(and die not except as (true) Muslims) 3:102, means, preserve your Islam while you are well and safe, so that you die as a Muslim. The Most Generous Allah has made it His decision that whatever state one lives in, that is what he dies upon and is resurrected upon. We seek refuge from dying on other than Islam.
Imam Ahmad recorded that Mujahid said, "The people were circling around the Sacred House when Ibn `Abbas was sitting, holding a bent-handled walking stick. Ibn `Abbas said, The Messenger of Allah recited,
يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ
(Have Taqwa of Allah as is His due, die not except as (true) Muslims.) 3:102, then he said;
«وَلَوْ أَنَّ قَطْرَةً مِنَ الزَّقُّومِ قُطِرَتْ لَأَمَرَّتْ عَلى أَهْلِ الْأرْضِ عِيشَتَهُمْ، فَكَيْفَ بِمَنْ لَيْسَ لَهُ طَعَامٌ إِلَّا الزَّقُّومُ؟»
(Verily, if a drop of Zaqqum (a tree in Hell) falls, it will spoil life for the people of earth. What about those whose food is only from Zaqqum)''
This was recorded by At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban in his Sahih and Al-Hakim his Mustadrak. At-Tirmidhi said, "Hasan Sahih''' while Al-Hakim said; "It meets the conditions of the Two Sahihs and they did not record it."
Imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir said that three nights before the Messenger of Allah died he heard him saying;
«لَا يَمُوتَنَّ أَحَدُكُمْ إِلَّا وَهُوَ يُحْسِنُ الظَّنَّ بِاللهِ عَزَّ وَجَل»
(None of you should die except while having sincere trust in Allah, the Exalted and Most Honorable.) Muslim also recorded it. The Two Sahihs record that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«يَقُولُ اللهُ: أَنَا عِنْدَ ظَنِّ عَبْدِي بِي»
(Allah said, "I am as My servant thinks of Me.'')
The Necessity of Holding to the Path of Allah and the Community of the Believers
Allah said next,
وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعاً وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ
(And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves.) It was said that,
(to the Rope of Allah) refers to Allah's covenant, just as Allah said in the following Ayah,
ضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الذِّلَّةُ أَيْنَ مَا ثُقِفُواْ إِلاَّ بِحَبْلٍ مِّنْ اللَّهِ وَحَبْلٍ مِّنَ النَّاسِ
(Indignity is put over them wherever they may be, except when under a covenant (of protection) from Allah, and from men;) 3:112, in reference to pledges and peace treaties.
(and be not divided among yourselves), orders sticking to the community of the believers and forbids division. There are several Hadiths that require adhering to the Jama`ah (congregation of believers) and prohibit division. Muslim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«إِنَّ اللهَ يَرْضَى لَكُمْ ثَلَاثًا، وَيَسْخَطُ لَكُمْ ثَلَاثًا: يَرْضَى لَكُمْ أَنْ تَعْبُدُوهُ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا، وَأَنْ تَعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا،وَأَنْ تَنَاصَحُوا مَنْ وَلَّاهُ اللهُ أَمْرَكُمْ. وَيَسْخَطُ لَكُمْ ثَلَاثًا: قِيلَ وَقَالَ، وَكَثْرَةَ السُّؤَالِ، وَإِضَاعَةَ الْمَال»
(It pleases Allah for you to acquire three qualities and displeases Him that you acquire three characteristics. It pleases Him that you worship Him Alone and not associate anything or anyone with Him in worship, that you hold on to the Rope of Allah altogether and do not divide, and that you advise whoever Allah appoints as your Leader. The three that displease Him are that you say, `It was said,' and, `So-and-so said,' asking many unnecessary questions and wasting money.)
وَاذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُم أَعْدَآءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَاناً
(and remember Allah's favor on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His grace, you became brethren) 3:103.
This was revealed about the Aws and Khazraj. During the time of Jahiliyyah, the Aws and Khazraj were at war and had great hatred, enmity and ill feelings towards each other, causing long conflicts and battles to occur between them. When Allah brought Islam, those among them who embraced it became brothers who loved each other by Allah's grace, having good ties for Allah's sake and helping each other in righteousness and piety. Allah said,
هُوَ الَّذِى أَيَّدَكَ بِنَصْرِهِ وَبِالْمُؤْمِنِينَوَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِهِمْ لَوْ أَنفَقْتَ مَا فِى الاٌّرْضِ جَمِيعاً مَّآ أَلَّفْتَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِهِمْ وَلَـكِنَّ اللَّهَ أَلَّفَ بَيْنَهُمْ
(He it is Who has supported you with His Help and with the believers. And He has united their hearts. If you had spent all that is in the earth, you could not have united their hearts, but Allah has united them)8:62,63, until the end of the Ayah. Before Islam, their disbelief had them standing at the edge of a pit of the Fire, but Allah saved them from it and delivered them to faith. The Messenger of Allah reminded the Ansar from both Aws and Khazraj of this bounty when he was dividing the war booty of Hunayn. During that time, some Ansar did not like the way the booty was divided, since they did not get what the others did, although that was what Allah directed His Prophet to do. The Messenger of Allah gave them a speech, in which he said,
«يَا مَعْشَرَ الْأَنْصَارِ أَلَمْ أَجِدْكُمْ ضُلَّالًا فَهَدَاكُمُ اللهُ بِي، وَكُنْتُمْ مُتَفَرِّقِينَ فَأَلَّفَكُمُ اللهُ بِي، وَعَالَةً فَأَغْنَاكُمُ اللهُ بِي؟»
(O Ansar! Did I not find you misguided and Allah directed you to guidance because of me Were you not divided beforehand and Allah united you around me Were you not poor and Allah enriched you because of me)
Whenever the Prophet asked them a question, they would answer, "Indeed, Allah and His Messenger have granted us bounty.''