“On the authority of Abu al-Abbaas Abdullah ibn Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with both of them) who said: One day I was riding behind the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and he said to me, “O young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice]. Be mindful of Allah and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask Allah. If you seek help, seek help in Allah. Know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you with something, they would not benefit you except with that which Allah has already recorded for you. If they gather to harm you by something, they would not be able to harm you by anything except what Allah has already recorded against you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” (Recorded in al-Tirmindhi)
“Know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you with something, they would not benefit you except with that which Allah has already recorded for you. If they gather to harm you by something, they would not be able to harm you by anything except what Allah has already recorded against you.”
After telling ibn Abbas (r) to ask of Allah and seek help in Him (swt), the Prophet (s) then gave him this piece of advice – know that no one can benefit you or hurt you except by the will of Allah, and whatever happens has already been recorded. This is directly related to to the previous advice about asking and seeking help from Allah (swt) alone. If no one can benefit or harm another person, except by what Allah (swt) has already decreed, then why would you seek help from other than Allah (swt)?
The understanding of this concept is part of the realisation of the reality of faith. The Prophet (s) stated:
“Everything has a reality to it. The servant does not reach the reality of faith until he knows that what reached him was not going to miss him and what missed him was not going to reach him.” (Recorded in Ahmad)
This also means that there is no reason to fear anyone other than Allah (swt). One’s provisions in life are not determined by any employer or government, they are determined only by Allah (swt). When we understand this essential fact, it should lead to peace and tranquility in the heart. If we put our trust in Allah (swt) we know that everything is according to His decree.
“The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.”
This final statement is a clear reference to belief in al-Qadha wa al-Qadar , Divine Decree or ‘preordainment’. Allah (swt) has recorded everything that is going to occur in this existence, and He (swt) knew everything about the creation, before it came into existence. Allah (swt) says in one of the most beautiful verses in the Qur’an:
“And with Him are the keys of the Unseen. None knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is on the earth and in the sea; Not a leaf falls, but He knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, [green or withered], but is written in a Clear Record.” (Surah al-Anaam:59)
We can see here the reference to a ‘Clear Record’. We should understand that not only did Allah (swt) have foreknowledge of the creation, He (swt) also recorded this information in the Preserved Tablet (al-Lauh al-Mahfoodh). Allah (swt) says:
“No calamity occurs on the earth or among yourselves but it is inscribed in the Book [of Decrees] before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah. In order that you may not be sad over matters that you fail to achieve, nor rejoice because of that which has been given to you.” (Surah al-Hadeed:22)
It is here that we see the beauty of belief in al-Qadar and how it liberates the believer. If we experience a calamity, or trial, we should know that it was already written that it would happen and there was nothing we could have done to avoid it. There should be no bitterness or regret because everything that comes to us from Allah (swt) is for the best. The test is how we deal with what comes. With patience, trials and tribulations can be a source of us drawing nearer to Allah (swt). If we are grateful when we receive a blessing, we are rewarded for that also.
Let’s remember this beautiful saying of the Prophet (s):
“Strange are the ways of a believer for there is good in every affair of his. This is not the case of anyone except a believer. If he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (Allah), and there is a good for him in it. If he gets into trouble and shown resignation (and endures it patiently), there is a good for him in it.” (Recorded in Muslim)