What does it mean to fear Allah?

Q: What does it mean to fear Allah?

  • 3:130-131 (O you who have believed, do not consume usury, doubled and multiplied, but fear Allah that you may be successful. And fear the Fire, which has been prepared for the disbelievers.)

Considering the above ayaat, why did Allah tell us to fear Hell. Aren't we supposed to fear Allah only? Is fearing Hell (or the fear of not going to Paradise) somewhat similar to fearing Allah? However, on the flip side, why would somebody fear Allah if he doesn't fear Allah's punishment! I am getting very confused and uneasy over this apparent contradiction.

  • Also, as far as I know, Allah could also punish a person in this world, for example by causing somebody else to beat that person up. Does that mean we should also fear other people since Allah could inflict punishment on us through them?

I would really appreciate if you could give me detailed explanations regarding the above questions.


A: There is no contradiction in the verse. Hell is also Allah Ta`ala’s. So when He says ‘fear Hell’, He says in other words ‘My punishment’. Hence effectively you fear Allah Ta`ala and to make this more vivid and clear Allah Ta`ala speaks of His power and might and the manifestation of His might and power expresses itself in Jahannum.

The correct way of understanding this is that one who fears Allah Ta`ala will fear His punishment. Hence the fear of Allah Ta`ala is the real essence. It is like a doctor who says ‘fear aids’. What he actually is referring to is that fear those areas that will result in aids.

If you understand this correctly there will be no confusion. You fear Allah Ta`ala for His might and control over all things i.e. you fear all those areas that will result in the descending of the wrath and anger of Allah Ta`ala. One who is familiar with eloquence of the language does not find it difficult to understand these types of expressions.


Answered by:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)