والحمدلله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah
The topic of today will center around a hadith qudsi which illustrates the closeness of the slave to God, and the closeness of God to the slave, as Allah says: “… and indeed We are nearer to him than his jugular vein” (Surat Qaf 50: Verse 16)
The following hadith was narrated by Anas ibn Malik (may God be pleased with him):
A Bedouin man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said “O Messenger of Allah, teach me good”
So the Prophet (pbuh) took him by the hand, and said, “Say ‘SubhanAllah, walhamdulilah, wa la ilaha ila Allah, wa Allahu akbar’.” (Glory be to God, and all praise be to God, and there is no deity but God, and God is the Greatest)
So the Bedouin counted them on his fingers and then left, either to contemplate over the words or to memorize them, then he returned. When the Prophet (pbuh) saw him, he smiled. The Bedouin, who was a simple man, asked “SubhanAllah, walhamdulilah, wa la ilaha ila allah, wa Allahu Akbar- these are all for God, so what is for me?”
The Prophet (pbuh), still smiling, said, “If you say ‘O Allah forgive me’, He says ‘I have’. If you say ‘O Allah have mercy on me, He says ‘I have’. If you say ‘O Allah, give me rizq (provision), He says ‘I have’.”
(Reported by ibn Abi Ad-Dunya and Al-Bayhaqi, and has been classed as Saheeh by Al-Albany)
While this may seem like a simple hadith, it has very deep and profound meanings, as explained by the scholar Dr. Omar AbdelKafy.
The Bedouin, when he asked his latter question, wanted to feel at rest. Because he was simple, he saw that the words that he repeated were all for God. So he wanted to know, what is for him? I.e. what is Allah giving him?
The Prophet’s answer epitomizes the Divine Mercy. We are reminded of the hadith qudsi, where Allah says “And My servant continues to draw nearer to Me with supererogatory (nawafil) prayers so that I shall love him. When I love him, I shall be his hearing with which he shall hear, his sight with which he shall see, his hands with which he shall hold, and his feet with which he shall walk. And if he asks (something) of Me, I shall surely give it to him, and if he takes refuge in Me, I shall certainly grant him it.’” (Bukhari)
If you use your limbs for the sake of God, then He becomes the hearing, sight etc. How is this so? He does not make pleasurable to your ears except that which He loves, so He makes you hate listening to backbiting and gossip and foul language etc. and makes you love listening to the Qur’an, and to remembrances of God and so on.
When the Bedouin asked what is for himself, the Prophet (pbuh) said “If you say ‘O Allah forgive me’, He says ‘I have’.” How is this so? Because if Allah would like to give you what you want, He enables you to pray to Him and to ask Him. If He wants to give you, He reminds you to turn to Him. He wants you to repent and so he fills your heart with regret. In essence, these feelings are God calling us. Unfortunately, many people get bored and say “I’ve been asking for this for a long time, it is obvious I am not going to get it”, but it is God who chooses when to give things. In the hadith, Allah says “I have”- so ask Him. From God’s generosity, that if we make a mistake and sincerely regret it and repent, He forgives. He has said that this is because “My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for them. Bear witness my Angels that I have forgiven him.” (Bukhari and Muslim). Similarly, if we know that we have a Lord who is All-Hearing, All-Seeing, who is the One who responds to our supplications, then we should be in no doubt that He will respond (unless we are asking for haraam of course!!). We should know that He is Close and that He is the Loving (Al-Wadud), and will not chastise you after you have returned to Him for forgiveness.
Something should be said of forgiveness though. Forgiveness can be split into two parts- forgiveness between us and God for transgressions against Him; so when we repent, He forgives, inshAllah. However, transgressions against other human beings are not forgiven by God, unless we have the forgiveness of those we have wronged, or at least until we have returned their rights to them. It is not enough to hurt someone, or steal from someone, and then go to God and say “please forgive me”. This only happens after we have made amends with the person we have wronged and/or returned their rights to them. Further, we must learn to be forgiving of other people’s transgressions against us. We should not assume that people have malicious intentions when we feel that people have wronged us. We all know of the Prophet’s (pbuh) famous hadith when he said that we should make 70 excuses for people, and if we cannot, then we should think “perhaps there is something that I have not thought of”.
So then when we say ‘O Allah have Mercy on me’ and He says ‘I have’, what is one of the signs of His Mercy upon us? It is that when we read the Qur’an, we feel as though it is speaking to us. When we read verses about Paradise, we can imagine it. When we read verses about the Fire, we can imagine it too. Another of His mercies is that He makes the good deeds beloved to you, and sins odious to you. He provides for you from places you could never imagine. He lifts your burden off of you. And so on. These are all mercies that we have to remember to thank for, in addition to the mercies of health, wealth, family, education and the things that we take for granted. These things indicate that we are receiving God’s Mercy, and we should feel humbled in front of Him.
Something else should be said of mercy as well. The Prophet (pbuh) said “Have mercy on those on earth, and the One in heaven will have mercy on you” (Tirmidhi). If we want Allah to indeed say “I have”, then we must show mercy to those around us, whether they are our siblings, our parents, our spouses or anyone else we interact with. Only then will Allah’s Mercy descend upon us. We cannot expect from God when we ourselves withhold from others. Indeed AbdelKafy has said it is no wonder that there is so much oppression everywhere, when we cannot even show mercy between us, how do we expect others to show mercy to us? We should also remember that the Prophet (pbuh) said “Allah aids His servants as long as the servant aids his brother” (Muslim).
And when you say ‘Oh Allah, give me rizq’, He says ‘I have’. Firstly, we have to trust completely that the provision from God will reach you if He has decreed it no matter what, and that the hatred of an enemy will not stop it, and the protection of a loved one will not bring it closer. We must have yaqeen, certainty, in this. This is why we must not resort to illegal means to obtain what we want, because this is a lack of trust in God. Umar ibn AbdelAziz, who was a righteous Caliph, was visited by a man who wanted to give him a gift. Ibn AbdelAziz said “I do not accept gifts”. The man responded “O Umar, but the Prophet of God (pbuh) used to accept gifts”. Ibn AbdelAziz replied “Because to the Prophet (pbuh) it was a gift, but to us, it is a bribe”. As the gift to the Prophet (pbuh) would not tempt him to change God’s laws or to differentiate between people, whereas Ibn AbdelAziz was alluding to the fact that it was a temptation for other people in power to do just that.
Of course, this does not mean that we should be complacent and sit at home expecting things to come to us (note: rizq pertains to material and immaterial things). We must use the means that God has provided us, by working hard and with sincerity. This is a way of worshipping God as well, one that we are required to do. We all know the hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) when he says “God loves that, when a servant does something, he perfects it” (Al Bayhaqi). There is another hadith where the Prophet (pbuh) says something to effect that Allah loves to see a person tired after a day’s work i.e. God loves that when His servants work hard. Yet our dependency should be on God- say that a business deal has fallen through; we should not be frustrated because that deal was not written for us, and we should persevere.
This hadith should give us some sort of comfort. It should remind us of tawakul (trust in God) and yaqeen (certainty). Allah loves for His servants to ask Him, so we should ask Him. While people get annoyed if you persist, Allah is indeed the opposite- He loves the servant who persists in his asking. This is why when you ask, He says “I have”. Therefore we should seek closeness to God, and ask Him to guide us in all our affairs; that in itself is a blessing that we should thank for. Once we have asked Him sincerely, we should have trust and certainty in Him, and in our own hearts we should be calm because we should know that He is with us.
We ask Allah to forgives us, and to enable us to be forgiving. We ask Allah to have mercy on us, and to enable us to have mercy on others. We ask Allah to grant us, and to give us trust that whatever has been apportioned to us, will reach us.