Often the words with root "َتَقَو" are translated to English words associated with "fear", for example, Abdullah Yusuf Ali translates "اتَّقُونِ" to "fear Me". But I feel that this doesn't convey the deep meaning intended by Qur'an. Is there a better word better conveying and preserving the meaning?
I prefer to use the term "God-consciousness" to translate taqwa if I'm forced to do so in one or two words. "Be conscious of Allah's rights", "Fear Allah as He should be feared" IMO are both valid translations depending on the context of the ayah.
If I'm not too mistaken, a better (and more literal) translation for the root تقو is "to make protection from". So تقوى taqwa literally means "protection from Allah's wrath". You can see this used as a verb in اتق الله ittaqi Allah (protect yourself from Allah's wrath). It doesn't always have to be protection from Allah's wrath, see this famous Arabic proverb:
اتقي شر الحليم إذا غضب
ittaqi shar al-haleemi itha ghadib
Beware (protect yourself from) the anger of the meek one.
You can use a combination or subset of these words/phrases:
- to protect from
- to shield yourself
- to stay away from
- to be preserved
- to avoid
It doesn't translate as
fear. The word
fear (n) or
to fear (v) is used in Quran with the root "خوف".
Human are different from animals. An animal lives as it desires, and this "living according to desires" is not harmful for them. But human are not in the same line. They need to protect themselves from wrong paths and desires. The word from the root
تقو is used in the meaning of this kind of "protection" in Quran.