It’s beautiful to sit back and reflect in silence. Everything is rushing by; we get caught up in completing tasks without taking the time to contemplate over our existence, and our relationship with the One we owe our existence to. Our lack of reflection is perhaps why sometimes our hearts harden. We fail to reflect on our actions, and the motivations behind them. We fail to reflect on the attributes of God and His Names, and how they manifest in our own lives. When we do wrong, our hope in God’s mercy decreases. But unfortunately, this shows that we didn’t really have hope in His mercy to begin with- rather our hope was in our own perceived good deeds. At other times we feel down because of a delay in the response to a fervent du’a. Yet this downward spiral can be stopped if we take the time to think about a beautiful and oft-quoted hadith qudsi, where Allah has said:
“I am at my servant’s opinion of me” (Bukhari)
What does this mean? Imam Zaid Shakir, in his commentary on “Treatise for the Seekers of Guidance” by Imam Al-Muhasibi, stated that this means that if we think that Allah is Kind and Generous, that is what we will find. Just as the Prophet (pbuh) tells us that God is too gracious to turn the hand that asks him away with nothing, He too is more Merciful than to disappoint you and your good opinion of Him.
There is an amusing story of a king and his minister. Whenever anything would happen, the minister would always tell the king “la3ala khair” which means “perhaps there is something good in it”. The king started to get annoyed at this minister because every time something would happen, this was the minister’s response. So once when they were on a hunting trip, the king had an accident where his finger was cut off. As they rushed back to the palace, the minister said “la3ala khair”. For the king, this was the last straw. “How can there be any good in my losing my finger?!” he bellowed, and he threw his minister in jail. Just before going to jail, the minister said “la3ala khair”. The king went back to his hunting expedition alone in the rain forest. Suddenly, he was kidnapped by a savage tribe that wanted to sacrifice him to their gods. Just before sacrificing him, one of them noticed that he was missing a finger. Fearing a bad omen, they let him go! So the king went back in relief to the minister. released him from jail and told him what happened. He then said “well, I discovered what was good in my finger being cut off, but what about you? What good came from you being in jail?” The minister replied “Your highness… had you not thrown me in jail, I would have been with you. Had I been with you, they would have sacrificed me instead of you!”
We must always believe that Allah intends good for us. Imam Ash-Shawkani, an 18th-19th century Yemeni scholar, once stated:
“One who has a good opinion of God will find the copious abundance of His goodness deluging him”
This can be seen in the example of Aisha (ra), when she was wrongfully accused in the incident of Al-Ifk. When making du’a, she did not ask God “why am I being tested like his?” or even make du’a against those who lied about her. Instead she said to Allah “I know that you will show my innocence…” and hoped that the Prophet (pbuh) would see a vision in his sleep that she was innocent. But her good opinion of Allah resulted in verses in the Qur’an declaring her innocence and warning people from ever saying such a thing again about anyone.
We should be like this even when we cannot see an apparent wisdom. Imam Al-Muhasibi has said that one of the obligations of the heart is to entertain a good opinion of God in those situations that vex our understanding. There are many benefits to tribulations, and we should always know that Allah is either alerting us to something such as a sin we should desist from; or that He wants to raise our station with Him by teaching us patience; or that He wants us to draw closer to Him through du’a.
So, if you take one thing out of this humble tarbiya, take a step back, reflect and remember that He who is more merciful towards you than your own mother, is always there for you.