The Best Remembrance
by Yasir Qadhi
There are many benefits we can extract from the last few verses of Surah Al-Hashr. These are verses known for their sweetness and beauty, and their conciseness, and profound meanings.
Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala says:
Oh you who believe, have the taqwa of Allah, and let every person look to what he has sent forth for tomorrow (Al-Hashr 59/18).
This is an address from Allah to those who proclaim to be Muslim. Ibn Mas’oud said, “Whenever you hear the phrase ya ayuhal ladhina amanu, pay attention because it is addressed to you.”
The taqwa of Allah is the most comprehensive and concise legacy that Allah has given us in the Qur’an. Taqwa literally means to build a barrier, or to protect. It is a barrier you build to save yourself from the punishment of Allah. It is not a wall built of bricks and stones, but it is built by doing what Allah has told you to do and by abstaining from what He has prohibited.
Everyone should have taqwa of Allah and examine what they have prepared for tomorrow. Everyone is prepared materialistically for tomorrow, but Allah is saying to prepare for the real tomorrow – the Akhirah and the Day of Judgement.
We have in this world a few years or decades left in life. Compare that to infinity. This makes it seem as if that will happen tomorrow, even if we might have thirty or forty years of life left. Who amongst us knows when death will happen? A time will come when literally it will be your last day and last night on the face of this earth, and there will be a literal tomorrow.
Allah is reminding us metaphorically and literally to be prepared for tomorrow. Allah is also reminding us in this verse that we do not have any bosses in Islam. In our work we have a boss who oversees us. Similarly, in school professors and teachers will examine us. In our religion though, we have no bosses. No one will check if you prayed today or not. No one will check if you have been a good Muslim today or not. You have to do it for yourself. ‘Umar ibn al Khattab used to say, “Take a count of yourself before you will be taken account of.”
See what you have prepared for tomorrow. Imagine a teacher coming into class on the first day of class and announcing the questions for the final exam. If you pass this exam you pass the class. Is it conceivable that any person of intelligence will fail that class? Is it possible? Of course not.
Then why is it that even though we know the five questions that will be asked on the Day of Judgment, the vast majority of mankind will fail them? We will be asked about:
1. Our life, and what we did with it.
2. Our wealth, and how we earned it,
3. How we spent it,
4. Our knowledge, and how much we acted upon it, and
5. Our health, and what we did with it.
Even though we may have forgotten sins we have committed before, Allah has not forgotten about them. Even though we might forget some good we have done, Allah will bring it on the Day of Judgment and reward us for it. Allah is well aware of all that we do.
And do not be like those who forgot about Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala, so He made them forget themselves (Al-Hashr 59/19).
To “forget” means to not show any concern. If something is important to you, you never forget it. This is more than simple rejection of Allah. There are many who proclaim to believe in Allah, who profess eman, but do not worship Allah. They have forgotten Allah.
Allah causes those who forget Him to forget themselves. Those who reject Allah are the ones who are most conscious of themselves in terms of their material lives. They have not forgotten themselves. But this is not the meaning of forgetting here. When you forget about Allah, you forget about your purpose of life in the process. You forget why you are here, and what you are doing on the face of this earth. Why are you living when you do not have a God to worship?
That is why Allah describes the believers as having a light. Light tells you where you are, it tells you the obstacles, it tells you your purpose and how to get there.
Allah describes those who do not worship Him as wandering aimlessly in the dark. They do not have a goal. And even if they had one, they would not even know how to get there. So they wander around aimlessly following their desires. They have no purpose for life. They are worshipping themselves, because they have rejected a deity worthy of worship.
Verily, they are those who have gone astray. Had we revealed this Qur’an to a mountain it would have crumbled and shattered to dust out of a fear of Allah (Al-Hashr 59/21).
Allah is reminding us of the effectiveness and the power of this book. If it was revealed to a structure, an icon of stability like a rock or mountain, it would shatter to dust.
Allah describes the believers,
The believers are those who when Allah’s name is mentioned, their hearts tremble with fear .
This means their eman shoots up. If the mountain can shatter, surely our hearts can tremble. If the mountain can be crushed and destroyed, surely our eyes can shed a tear or two. Allah reminds us about the real power of the Qur’an and the fact that it is us who have become hard hearted towards it. And Allah then says, and this is the main point:
He is Allah (la ilaaha illAllah).
There is no deity, no being, no object worthy of our worship, our veneration, our love, our hope, our sajdah, our fear, our tawakkul, or our sabr, except for Allah. This is the meaning of la ilaaha illAllah.
How will you know who Allah is? Has any human being seen Allah? No human being has seen Allah, yet. The greatest blessing that a believer shall be given is to look at Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala.
The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam did not see Allah. He was asked by A’isha, “Did you see your Lord?”
He said, “Light. How could I see him?”
Light is the hijab of Allah. The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Were this hijab to be removed, then the bright light of His face would destroy all that it sees.” The creation could not bear to look at Allah, so Allah out of mercy to the creation has a hijab.
Have we spoken with Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala? We know Musa spoke with Allah directly, and we know that the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam spoke with Allah directly in the journey of ‘Isra wa Miraj. But we have not spoken with Allah, so how do we know about Allah?
Immediately after Allah tells us not be to among those who have forgotten Him, He then mentions His names and attributes so that we will know Him. Our primary source of knowledge about our Creator is His names and attributes. Have you ever wondered why the Qur’an is full of Allah’s names and attributes? Allah’s names and attributes are much more than the prohibitions and commands in the Qur’an. They are much more than the descriptions of Jannah and Nar, and the stories of the prophets of old.
His names and attributes are the fundamental building block of our eman. How can we love Allah when we do not know who He is? How can we fear Allah when we do not know His names and attributes? How can we put our trust in Allah when we do not know His descriptions?
Knowledge of Allah is attained through His names and attributes. That is why, right after the verse where Allah says, "Do not be amongst those who have forgotten Allah," He mentions some of His many names and attributes.
He is the one who knows the seen and the hidden. Allah knows everything – the past and the present. Allah says in the Qur’an:
Not a leaf falls except that He knows it. Not a seed sprouts out, even in the darkness of the soil, except that Allah knows it.
Allah knows the future. Allah describes what will happen on the Day of Judgment. He describes conversations between the people of Jannah and the people of Nar.
And Allah’s knowledge is not limited to this. He also knows that which will not happen. He knows if something were it to happen, how it would happen, and what would happen if it happened. For example, Allah can send the kuffar back to this world and give them another chance. But Allah says:
If We were to give them this chance, they would still do what they had done before.
They would not be better people. So Allah’s knowledge is so perfect that he even knows what will not happen, and if it were to happen, how it would happen and what would happen.
This is the knowledge of Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala. This is how perfect He is. He is The Rahman and The Rahim, two very common names of Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala.
Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim
Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim come from the same root, rahima, which means to show mercy and be compassionate. By deriving two names from the same root, Allah is emphasizing His merciful nature.
Allah’s mercy encompasses everything.
Were it not for Allah’s mercy we would not be here.
What is the difference between Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim? Ar-Rahman characterizes Allah’s mercy as it relates to His divine essence. By nature Allah is always merciful, without exception. That is why no created object can call himself Rahman.
Ar-Rahim characterizes Allah’s mercy in relationship, not to His essence but to His actions. So His actions are merciful. Therefore, He can pick and choose to be extra merciful to certain people, to certain beings, and He has done so.
Allah is Ar-Rahim to the believers.
Because Allah is Ar-Rahman, even the kuffar are given sustenance and life. Even though they curse and reject Allah, Allah is Ar-Rahman and will still provide for them.
But He is not Rahim to everyone. He is Rahim to the believers only. So in the hereafter, the kuffar shall be given nothing. Only the believers shall be shown that extra blessing in the hereafter.
Allah is also Al-Malik, The King. There are many who profess to be kings, but Allah is not like any king. Allah is malik-ul-mulk, the King of kings and the Owner of kings. No one else can claim complete submission and obedience such that nothing happens except with his knowledge and will and power. That is the true king.
Allah is maliki yowmid deen, the King and the Master of the Day of Judgment. He is the King before and after the Day of Judgment, but He specified that He is the King on this day alone. This is because the king on that day is the Controller and King of all other days. The One who shall judge the kings and the peasants on the Day of Judgment, He is the real king before and after the Day of Judgment as well.
Al-Quddus. The Blessed and The Holy. He has no partners, no children, no ancestors. He is the Holy, the Pure.
As-Salaam. The One who has no imperfections. The One whom all peace comes from. When we see our Muslim brothers we say, as salaamu alaikum. It means may no harm come from me to you, may peace always be around you, and no evil you shall see from me. This is the meaning of As-Salaam – no evil, no imperfection.
Allah is As-Salaam because no evil is attributed to Him. All peace and good comes from Him. Allah is As-Salaam because He shall greet the believers with the greeting of salaam.
When they enter Jannah Allah will greet them with salaam.
And when Allah sends salaam to anyone, no harm can touch him.
Al-Mumin. Everybody knows this to mean the believer. Allah has called Himself a believer. He believes in Himself and He believes in the prophets and He believes in the books.
Allah Himself testifies to la ilaaha illAllah.
So when we have faith, and we know that Allah also is Al-Mumin, then we do not care who amongst mankind rejects Islam. We shall never feel inferior or overcome because Allah is on our side. Al-Mumin increases our eman because we know He believes in what we believe.
Al-Muhaimin is The One who bares witness and records. He is The Overseer of everything. Nothing occurs except that Al-Muhaiman is aware of it. Allah records the good of those who do good, and he records the evil of those who do evil. So the believer increases in his eman, and he realizes no matter how small of a good deed he does, Al-Muhaiman shall record that deed and reward him for it. And the sinner becomes scared, and he realizes there is not a single thing that he has done except that Al-Muhaimin has recorded it and will bring it out on the Day of Judgment.
The All Powerful, the All Mighty, the Glorious, the Majestic.
Whoever wishes to have honor and glory let him know that all of it belongs to Allah.
This is Al-Aziz. There are many who pretend that they have some honor in this society, but who amongst them has so much ‘izza that they can grant it to others and humiliate others if they want to? Only Al-Aziz.
The Mighty, The Unconquerable. The meaning of Al-Jabaar is The One who fills up any deficiency. When the servant is weak and powerless to do something, Al-Jabaar will give him that capability.
Arrogance. When you call somebody mutakabbir, you are insulting him. When you go to the actual root of this word, it means someone or some being who refuses to submit to another. In the case of Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala, this insult becomes the height of praise; he who does not submit to any other being. Who is there that can claim submission from Allah? Everything submits itself to Allah, but Allah submits Himself to nothing. This is Al-Mutakabbir.
The Khaliq is translated as Creator, but in fact the Arabic has a more precise meaning to it. The actual meaning of khalaqa is to create from nothing without there being any model upon which to base your creation.
Those whom you call out to besides Allah could not even create a fly even if they cooperated together.
They may be able to transform things such as modify some genes, or all of this modern talk about scientists creating a sheep by the name of Dolly. But this is not creation, it is a transformation. They have taken one thing and transformed it into another. But they cannot bring life. They cannot blow life into anything.
Al-Bari is The One who nourishes a being in its infancy, and it is a more specific type of Khaliq. Al-Khaliq is used to describe The Creator of life and non-living things. Allah creates animate as well as inanimate objects. He is The One who causes to grow inside and then for it to become independent outside. This is of the connotations of Al-Bari. There is no word that can translate this in English?
Al-Bari means the one who brings out life from another life. The mother has life in her womb. Al-Bari is the one who brings that life and separates it from the first life so it becomes independent life. Who can claim this besides Allah?
The One who gives us shape, The One who gives us our figure. The One who gave each and every one of us a unique look, and yet that image is the same when compared to other beings. Amongst men we are all the same, we look similar. Yet, amongst ourselves we are so different. Ponder over this name, and the fact that man in his limited finite capabilities cannot even think of the shape of another being, much less bring it into existence, much less bring life to it. Even in the mythological and alien creatures humans portray, there is always a combination of some type of man or some type of being that is known.
To Allah belong the most beautiful Names.
Allah is characterized by names of majesty, perfection, and splendor. There are no names that can be more beautiful than Allah’s names.
To Him everything in the heavens and earth praise, and He is the Aziz.
How many names does Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala have? Ninety-nine? Infinite is the more precise answer. This is a common misconception that many Muslims have. The basis of it is the hadith of the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam that,
“To Allah belong the 99 names. Whoever memorizes them will enter Jannah.”
So the first thing that comes to mind is that Allah has 99 names, but that is not what the hadith says. It says, to Allah belong 99 names, such that when you have memorized these 99 you will enter Jannah. For example, if I say that I have a hundred dollars that I am going to give in charity, does it mean that I only have a hundred dollars? Similarly, to Allah belong the 99 names such that he who memorizes them will enter Jannah. In fact Allah has an infinite number of names, but of those names there are 99 which are extra special. Whoever memorizes them, acts upon them, ponders over them, that is the person who will enter Jannah.
We will conclude with the hadith of a man, an imam, who used to recite Surah Ikhlaas in each and every raka’ that he would pray. His companions complained and asked, “Why do you always recite Surah Ikhlaas?”
He answered, “This is what I want to do. If you do not like it, go find somebody else.”
He continued to recite Surah Ikhlaas. He would recite Surah Al-Fatiha, then he would recite Surah Ikhlaas, and then he would recite another surah. So he would always recite Surah Ikhlaas before reciting another surah.
The people complained to the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam and he told them to ask him again why does he does so. The man said, “This surah describes my Lord and I love to read His descriptions.”
The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Inform him that his love for this surah has caused him to enter Jannah.”
A love of Allah translates as a love of His names and attributes. It is that simple. And to not care about the names and attributes of Allah, translates as not loving Allah.
What is the greatest verse in the Qur’an? It is Aayaat-ul-Kursi. Aayaat-ul-Kursi, which is nothing except Allah’s names and attributes. It has over twenty names and attributes of Allah and that is why it is the greatest verse.
The greatest surah of the Qur'an, Surah Al-Fatiha, is again the names and attributes of Allah.
Your purpose in life is to worship Allah because He is worthy of worship because of who He is. Were Allah not to have created us, none of us, He would still be worthy of worship because of who He is. How much more so when He has created us and given us all that we have? Is He not worthy of worship more because of this?