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Fear of God

I was visiting a friend. We were deep in conversation in his drawing room when his ten year old son, Hussain, walked in. After formal greetings and introductions my friend told me that Hussain was memorising the Qu’ran. He asked his son to recite a few verses for me. Hussain, there and then, recited a passage that he had memorised that day. Certainly, his recitation was correct and his voice was sweet. However, my attention was centred on the words of the repetitive verse of the passage he was reciting. The verse was, Fattaaqullah wa atioon, So fear Allah and obey me (Surah 26:108,110,126 ff).

After the recitation, Hussain left us engaged in discussion on the subject of fearing God, and we talked about it for quite a long time. Not only the Qu’ran but also the Torah, Zabur, Injil and other books of the Prophets teach that we should fear God and obey his commandments. Job, known in Islam as Ayub, said, “The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding” (Job 28:28). David, known also as Daud, said, “The fear of the Lord is pure, unduring forever” (Psalm 19:9). On the same subject, Solomon, known also as Sulaiman, said, “He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death” (Proverb 14:26-27).

To encourage his followers, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more…. Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you in hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:4-5).

Do these passages refer to physical fear that we should literally tremble with fear in God’s presence? No, certainly not. To honour God, to trust him and to abhor wickedness amounts to the fear of the Lord. The Bible in many passages, commands us to obey God and fear him because he alone is holy (Revelation 15:4). He is the almighty and the only creator (Deuteronomy 10:17). He is the master and ruler of the Day of Judgement, when, though he is kind and forgiving, he will fulfil both his kindness and his justice in judging all people. Thus, as people of God we should ‘purify ourselves from everything that contaminates our body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God’ (2 Corinthians 7:1).

The fear of the Lord has several results. We avoid evil (Proverbs 16:6). He delights in us and extends his mercy (Psalm 147:11; Luke 1:50). Like the Old Testament, which includes the Torah and Psalms, the New Testament, which contains the Gospel of Jesus, has many passages on this subject. If you would like a copy in the English language, please write to the address below.

All biblical quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Published in Great Britain by Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.

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