Hadith 24: O My Servants

On the authority of Abu Dharr al-Ghifaari, may Allah be pleased with him, from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), from among the sayings he relates from His Lord (may He be glorified) that He said, “O My servants, I have forbidden wrongdoing for Myself and I have made it forbidden for you. Therefore, do not wrong one another. O My servants, all of you are lost except those whom I have guided. Therefore, seek guidance from Me and I will guide you. O My servants, all of you are hungry except those whom I have fed. Therefore, seek food from Me and I will feed you. O My servants, all of you are naked except those whom I have clothed. Therefore seek clothing from Me and I will clothe you. O My servants, you sin by day and by night, and I forgive all sins. Therefore seek forgiveness from Me and I will forgive you. O My servants, you will not be able to harm Me so as to bring any harm to Me and you will be able to benefit Me so as to bring any benefit to Me. O My servants, if the first and the last of you and the human and the jinn of you were as pious as the most pious heart of anyone among you, it would not add anything to My dominion. O My servants, if the first and the last of you and the human and the jinn of you were as wicked as the most wicked heart of anyone among you it would not decrease anything from My dominion. O My servants, if the first and the last of you and the human and the jinn of you were to gather together on [the same sector] of land and all asked Me and if I were to give everyone of them what he asked, that would not decrease what I have any more than a needle decreases what is in the ocean when it is put into it. O My servants, it is but your deeds that I reckon for you. Then I recompense you for them. The one who finds good is to give praises to Allah. The one who finds other than that should not blame anyone but himself.” (Recorded in Muslim)

The Narrator

Abu Dharr al-Ghifaari (r) was one of the earliest Muslims, being perhaps the fifth person to embrace Islam.  He (r) moved to Madinah after the Hijrah, and was present at many of the battles of the Prophet (s). He narrated approximately 281 hadith.

” from among the sayings he relates from His Lord (may He be glorified)”

This statement shows us that this is a qudsi hadith, in which the Prophet (s) directly related words of Allah (swt) that were not to be contained in the Qur’an.

“O My servants”

Allah (swt) begins His statement by calling to humans with the term ‘O My servants’. This is significant for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it highlights for us what our relationship with Allah (swt) is. Allah (swt) is our Lord and Master and we are His servants and slaves. The fact that we are addressed in this way should make us attentive to what is to follow, because the words are coming from our Master.

Secondly, this type of address demonstrates to us that Allah (swt) is not in need of us at all. He (swt) is the Master and Lord of all the creation and He (swt) does with them what He (swt) wills. He (swt) has power over all things, and we are totally dependent on Him (swt).

Finally, we see that the address is made to all of mankind, not just the believers. The statements are not specific to any people, time or place. The prohibition of wrongdoing is for all people for all time. This was the message from Allah (swt) conveyed by all of the Prophets.

So the message is addressed to each and everyone of us, to remind us of our relationship with and total dependence on our Creator, and to guide us to what is best for us in relation to our religion, life and end.

“I have forbidden wrongdoing for Myself and I have made it forbidden for you. Therefore, do not wrong one another.”

There are numerous places in the Qur’an in which Allah (swt) has denied that He (swt) would ever commit any wrongdoing or injustice. He (swt) says:

“Surely, Allah wrongs not [even to the extent] of the weight of an atom.” (Surah al-Nisaa:40)

“And your Lord treats no one with injustice.” (Surah al-Khaf:49)

Even when Allah (swt) punishes somebody, He (swt) does it out of His Justice, based on the deeds of the people. It is not Allah (swt) that wrongs people, they wrong themselves. So it is clear that Allah (swt) has never, and will never, commit any form of wrong doing. Therefore scholars such as Ibn Taymiyah have understood the statement, “I have forbidden wrongdoing for Myself”, to mean that wrongdoing is something that couldtheoretically be possible for Allah, but that He (swt) has had forbidden it from Himself and removed it as a possibility. And Allah knows best.

Allah (swt) has also made wrongdoing or dhulm in Arabic, forbidden for us. Anything that is forbidden in Islam, is a form of wrongdoing. Alternately, everything that has been ordered is a form of justice. Indeed justice is one of the key goals of the religion of Islam. When we go against the teachings of Islam and commit wrongdoings, injustice is created.

There are three main types of dhulm, or wrongdoing that are committed by people:

1) The dhulm that one commits against themselves by disobedience to Allah (swt). This includes many different sinful acts, the worst of them being ascribing partners to Allah (swt).

2) The dhulm against others. Any type of harm that a person commits against another is a wrongdoing and form of injustice. We may not, as Muslims, harm another persons honour, wealth or life. Backbiting, or saying something about someone that they would not like to hear, is included in this category.

3) The dhulm towards other creatures or towards creation in general. This category includes killing or mutilating animals for sport or play.

There is one type of dhulm or wrongdoing that will not be forgiven by Allah (swt), and that is shirk, ascribing partners with Allah (swt). Dhulm in which one wrongs oneself Allah (swt) may forgive, or He may punish us for. The dhulm that will not be overlooked unless reconciled in this life or the next, is wrongdoing towards other humans. This kind of wrongdoing cannot be left unresolved. One must either seek forgiveness from the wronged person or suffer punishment in this life or the Hereafter. The Prophet (s) said:

“Whoever has wronged another concerning his reputation or anything else should beg him to forgive him before the Day of Resurrection when there will be no money [to compensate for wrong deeds], but, if he has good deeds, those good deeds will be taken from him according to the wrong he has done. And if he has no good deeds, the sins of the oppressed person will be loaded on him.” (Recorded in al-Bukhari)

When we think that even saying something about someone that they would not like to hear is a punishable form of wrongdoing, how many of us can truly say that we have nothing to fear on the Day of Resurrection? Take heed and watch your tongue, for nothing leads us to Hellfire like the sins of the tongue.

We can strive to keep ourselves from committing dhulm against ourselves, Allah (swt) and others, by having taqwa of Allah and remembering His blessings. We should also try to develop humility, which is the opposite of pride and arrogance which lead many people to dhulm. We should strive to be just and righteous, and to free ourselves from envy. And we should turn to Allah (swt) and sincerely ask him to guide us and purify our souls.

“O My servants, all of you are lost except those whom I have guided. Therefore, seek guidance from Me and I will guide you.”

SubhaanAllah, all of us are lost except those whom Allah (swt) has guided. The word lost, or dhilaal in Arabic, implies any kind of straying from the Straight Path. It is the opposite of guidance, and includes mistaken straying as well as straying on purpose. It therefore incorporates those who know the truth as well as those who reject it.

How can we be amongst those whom Allah (swt) guides? By asking Him (swt) to guide us. How simple and yet how fundamental to the whole of our existence. We have no ability to guide ourselves to success in this life or the Hereafter, only Allah (swt) can do this for us. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:

“He whom Allah guides, he is rightly guided. But for him whom He sends astray you will find no guiding friend to lead him [to the Straight Path].” (Surah al-Khaf:17)

No individual can bring about their own benefit. Instead, we must turn to Allah (swt) and beseech Him to guide us.

When we realise that Allah grants us guidance out of His (swt) mercy and grace with no benefit to Himself whatsoever, it should make us realise how much He (swt) is deserving of our worship. This should make us more sincere in our worship of Allah and make us realise our need for Him (swt).

The greatest blessing that Allah (swt) bestows on mankind is the blessing of guidance. There are four different types of guidance that Allah (swt) can provide, as outlined by ibn Taymiyah:

1) The first type of guidance is the type needed for welfare in this worldly life, such as sustaining ourselves and staying away from harm etc. This type of guidance is given to all human beings whether they are believers or not. If a person does not have this type of guidance, which includes metal capacity, then they will not have other types of guidance and will be not be held responsible for their actions.

2) The second type of guidance is showing mankind what benefits them in a religious sense, and thus concerning the Hereafter. For this purpose clear signs have been shown, messenegers sent and books revealed. This type of guidance has also been offered to all of mankind.

3) The third type of guidance occurs when Allah (swt) places faith and guidance in the heart of the individual.

4) The fourth type of guidance is the guidance in the Hereafter or the guidance to the path to Paradise.

We should seek all of these types of guidance from Allah (swt), asking Him for what is best for us in this life and the Hereafter. When we recite Surah al-Fatihah in our daily prayers we should be mindful and sincere of our request to Allah (swt) to guide us on the Straight Path, not the path of those who are lost or astray. We should beseech Allah (swt) sincerely to guide us on that Straight Path to Paradise, for it is only with His (swt) guidance and because of His (swt) infinite mercy that we could ever hope to get there.

“O My servants, all of you are hungry except those whom I have fed. Therefore, seek food from Me and I will feed you.”

After mentioning what is needed for the sustenance of our souls, that is guidance, Allah (swt) mentions what is needed for the sustenance of our physical bodies, namely food. Without food we cannot survive. We are therefore in need of Allah (swt) to provide this vital sustenance for us.

How much do we take for granted that food and water will always be available to us?

We don’t need to look far in the world today to see how quickly Allah (swt) can bring a disaster in which everything we took for granted – a home, food, water, family – could be washed away in seconds. We would be left with no sense of security. At times like this we realise our total and utter dependence on Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) makes it clear in the Qur’an that He (swt) is the one who supplies us with sustenance:

“Then tell Me about the seed you grow in the ground. Is it you who makes it grow or are We the Grower? Were it Our will, We could crumble it into dry pieces, and you would be regretful. [Saying,] ‘We are indeed ruined. Nay but we are deprived’. Then tell Me about the water you drink. Is it you who causes it to come down from the rain clouds or are We the Ones who cause it to come down? If We willed, We verily could make it salt [and undrinkable]. Why the do you not give thanks [to Allah]?” (Surah al-Waaqiah:63-72)

All these blessings should be a source of us giving thanks, and turning to Allah (swt) to ask Him to secure our sustenance for ourselves and our families.

According to ibn Uthaimeen there are two ways of asking Allah (swt) for sustenance. One is to use speech and make dua to Allah, and the other is through action. The first type of action is the performance of pious deeds which is one of the best ways to secure sustenance from Allah (swt). As Allah says:

“And if the people in the towns had believed and had piety, certainly, We would have opened for them blessings from the heavens and the earth. But they belied [the Messengers], so We took them [to punishment] for what they used to earn” (Surah al-Araaf:96)

The second way to seek sustenance from Allah (swt) is through the actions that lead to the production of food. In other words, we ask Allah (swt) to provide for us and then we follow the steps that lead to the production or purchase of food, trusting that it is Allah (swt) who provides for us. We should always believe that if we seek sustenance from Allah (swt), He will provide for us.

Let’s reflect on the miracle that is the production of food and the sustenance for our bodies. Let’s ask ourselves if we are really grateful for what Allah (swt) has provided us with, and for how He (swt) has satisfied our hunger and thirst. Let’s ask Allah (swt) to continue to sustain us with the provision of food, water and shelter. And let’s be grateful for the fact that he has blessed us with this security.

“O My servants, all of you are naked except those whom I have clothed. Therefore seek clothing from Me and I will clothe you.”

When we emerge from the wombs of our mothers, we are completely naked and vulnerable. Allah (swt) in His mercy, provides us with food to sustain us, shelter, people to care for us, and clothing to cover our bodies.

Many people overlook the supreme blessing that is clothing, our outer garments. Clothing protects us from the elements and the weather, covers our private parts, and finally is an adornment for us. In this day and age when there is so much emphasis on clothing as an adornment, we have lost sight of its other qualities. Most tragically, we have lost sight of clothing as a blessing from Allah (swt). Allah (swt) says:

“O Children of Adam! We have bestowed clothing upon you to cover yourselves and as an adornment. And the covering of taqwa (righteousness), that is better. Such are among the signs of Allah, that they may remember” (Surah al-Araaf:26)

Ibn Uthaimeen states that seeking clothing from Allah (swt) should be done in the same way as seeking food from Allah (swt), both through statement and action. We should make dua to Allah (swt) to provide us with clothing, and we should follow this with the actions needed to secure or make clothing, reminding ourselves that it is only Allah (swt) who provides.

SubhaanAllah, the blessing of clothing and how much we take it for granted. Clothes, clothes, clothes, clothes. We have SO many clothes! Our wardrobes are stuffed so full that we barely know what it means to wear anything out any more.

Where clothing used to be valued for its ability to protect one from the elements, it has now become a vehicle for the displaying of beauty. As Muslims, we need to be very aware of these issues when considering how we use the blessings that Allah (swt) has provided us with in the form of clothing. Is our clothing drawing us closer to Allah (swt) by protecting our modesty? Are we beautifying ourselves only for those who are permissible to us? When we are called to account for our wealth and how we spent it, will we be able to justify the amount of clothing we own? Let’s consider clothing and our purchasing of it, the intention with which we wear it, and the source from which it came.

“O My servants, you sin by day and by night, and I forgive all sins. Therefore seek forgiveness from Me and I will forgive you.”

As well as providing us with guidance, food and clothing, Allah (swt) provides us with another great bounty that is as important as all of these put together – the forgiveness of our sins.

It is a fact that mankind will commit sins. As Allah (swt) states in this hadith qudsi, we commit sins by day and by night, and we are therefore in need of Allah’s (swt) forgiveness. What distinguishes some sinners from others, is the admission of wrong in committing the sin, and seeking forgiveness from Allah (swt). Allah (swt) is the Forgiving and the Merciful, and we should never lose faith in His Mercy. If we sin, we should turn to Him and seek His forgiveness, and if we do this sincerely, He (swt) promises to forgive us. The Prophet (s) said:

“All humans are sinners. And the best sinners are those who repent much.” (Recorded in Abu Dawood)

There are numerous stories in the Qur’an and Hadith of people who committed heinous crimes, but were forgiven when they repented and sought forgiveness from Allah (swt). Even those that commit shirk, the greatest sin of all, can be forgiven if they repent to Allah (swt). Sincere repentance wipes away sins, but it entails more than simply saying ‘Oh Allah forgive me’. Sincere repentance has a number of conditions, which are as follows:

1) The act of repentance must be done solely for the sake of Allah (swt). The person cannot repent for the sake of their reputation, or to be seen by others or get closer to them. Purity of intention is one of the preconditions for any deed to be accepted by Allah (swt) including the deed of repentance.

2) The repenting person must feel remorse for the sin that they have committed.

3) The repenting person must stop committing the sin, and try and make recompense if they have wronged anyone.

4) The repenting person must be determined not to commit the sin again.

5) The person must repent before it is too late. When the pangs of death arrive it is too late to repent.

SubhaanAllah, we don’t know when the pangs of death will overcome us, or even if we will have the time or ability to repent at that point. There are people who say, ‘I am young, I can sin now, and when I am older I will repent and be forgiven’. But we may not make it that far. Death could overcome us at any time, including whilst we are committing the sin. Imagine if your final act was one of disobedience to Allah (swt)…

But it is also one of the signs of the mercy of Allah (swt) that He created us to forget and to sin, so that we could turn to Him to ask forgiveness and therefore draw closer to Him. In fact the one who sincerely repents after a sin may end up being closer to Allah (swt) than they were before the sin was committed. We should therefore never despair of the mercy of Allah (swt). As Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:

“Thus did Adam disobey his Lord, so he went astray. Then his Lord chose him, and turned to him with forgiveness, and gave him guidance.” (Surah Taha 121-122)

“O My servants, you will not be able to harm Me so as to bring any harm to Me and you will be able to benefit Me so as to bring any benefit to Me.”

Allah (swt) is not in need of any of His creation. He is self-sufficient and perfect. He (swt) is not in need of any assistant, spouse or son to assist Him (swt) or benefit Him in any way. There is nothing in creation that can either harm or benefit Him. Allah (swt) has said:

“And I [Allah] created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me [alone]. I seek not any provision from them not do I ask that they should feed Me. Verily, Allah is the All-Provider, Owner of Power, the Most Strong” (Surah al-Dhaariyaat: 56)

All of the creation belongs to Allah (swt) and yet, He is not in need of any of it. Allah (swt) says:

“And to Allah belongs all that is in the earth. And verily, We have recommended to the people of the Scripture before you to to you [Muslims] that you (all) fear Allah. But of you disbelieve, then unto Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth. And Allah is Ever Rich [Free of all wants], Worthy of praise.” (Surah al-Nisaa:131)

Allah (swt) loves for His slaves to be pious and repent, but He (swt) is not in need of their repentance in any way, it is only for their own good. Similarily He (swt) hates for his slaves to disbelieve and commit sins, but He is not harmed by their actions in any way, they harm only themselves.

It is only out of Allah’s mercy, kindness and goodness to the creation that He (swt) loves what is beneficial for them and dislikes what is harmful for them. It is by His (swt) grace and mercy that He guides people to the Straight Path, while He does not benefit at all from that. SubhaanAllah, the mercy of Allah (swt) is all-encompassing. Let’s ask Him for His Mercy and Forgiveness and to keep us on His Straight Path. Ameen.

“O My servants, if the first and the last of you and the human and the jinn of you were as pious as the most pious heart of anyone among you, it would not add anything to My dominion. O My servants, if the first and the last of you and the human and the jinn of you were as wicked as the most wicked heart of anyone among you it would not decrease anything from My dominion.”

When commenting on this portion of the hadith, Ibn Taymiyah explained that the wordmulk or ‘dominion’ could mean either the power to administer and manage affairs; the actual administering and arranging of the affairs of creation; or the objects (in this case human and jinn) of the dominion. Equally, the meaning could encompass all of these things.

If all of mankind and jinn were as pious as the Prophet Muhammad (swt), this would not add anything to Allah’s dominion and kingdom. Allah’s dominion is not made richer or greater by the obedience of the creation within it.

Similarly, if all of mankind and jinn were as evil as Shaitan, this would not diminish Allah’s kingdom and dominion in any way. The disobedience of the creation does not affect Allah (swt) in any way.

This illustrates to us how different Allah’s (swt) kingdom is from that of man. The weak human ‘kings’ of the world need the obedience of their servants and citizens to provide support. The more citizens a king has, the greater his kingdom, without them, he is nothing.

This is not the case for Allah (swt) because Allah (swt) is the true king with the true dominion. He (swt) has power over all things. Nothing escapes His (swt) rule, and He is not in need of anything to assist Him (swt). He (swt) is Perfect, Complete and Self-Sufficient. All glory be to Him (swt). Ameen.

“O My servants, if the first and the last of you and the human and the jinn of you were to gather together on [the same sector] of land and all asked Me and if I were to give everyone of them what he asked, that would not decrease what I have any more than a needle decreases what is in the ocean when it is put into it.”

SubhaanAllah, the Glory of Allah. Let’s try and imagine for a moment the vastness of the ocean. No land in sight as far as the eye can see, depths so deep that no sunlight can reach them, and they remain uncharted by human beings. Only Allah (swt) knows the vastness of the ocean and its depths. Then let’s imagine the fineness of a single needle, its tip so tiny it can barely been seen. If it were dipped into the ocean and lifted out, how much water would have been decreased from the ocean? A drop? A single drop compared to the vastness of the ocean. We can hardly imagine something more vast compared to something so small.

Such is the vastness of what Allah’s has with Him (swt), that if all the human beings and all the jinns were to think of everything that they could desire, and to ask Allah (swt) for it, and He (swt) were to give it to them, it would not decrease from what He (swt) has but the tiniest drop.

SubhaanAllah.

Which of these things is more confronting – the magnitude of Allah (swt), or the insignificance of the desires of all the creation?

Allah (swt) is the Most Generous, Free from all want, and able to give anything He (swt) desires. This portion of the hadith demonstrates this to us, through this magnificent similitude. Allah (swt) is able to give endlessly, without it detracting from His (swt) dominion. When the believer realises this, it should encourage them to turn to Allah (swt) and ask Him for what they desire, for Allah (swt) is able to grant all things.

Let’s call on Allah (swt) by His Beautiful Names – Ar-Razzaq the Provider, Al-Akram the Most Generous, and Al-Mujib the Answerer, to give us the best of this life and the best of the Hereafter.

Rabbana aatina fid dunyah hasanataun wa fil aakhirati hasanataun wa qina adhaaban naar.

Our Lord, grant us the good things of this world, and the good things of the next, and save is from the Fire.

“O My servants, it is but your deeds that I reckon for you. Then I recompense you for them. The one who finds good is to give praises to Allah.The one who finds other than that should not blame anyone but himself.”

This hadith began with Allah (swt) stating that He does not commit any dhulm or wrongdoing. Here, at the end of the hadith, He (swt) demonstrates His justice to us by showing that He (swt) is preserving the deeds that mankind is performing. Everyone’s deeds will be presented and weighed on the Day of Judgement, and all of mankind will be recompensed according to their deeds. No one will be wronged in any way. Allah (swt) says:

“So whoever does good equal to the weight of an atom shall see it. And whoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom shall see it” (Surah al-Zalzalah:7-8)

Allah (swt) tells us that on the Day of Resurrection  all our deeds will be recompensed in full. Many Ahaadeeth tell us that the weighing takes place on a real scale, with two plates, and that good deeds will be weighed on one side and evil deeds on the other. It is important to note that the reward that Allah (swt) gives to His servants is an act of His mercy, however His (swt) punishment is out of His justice and He does not punish anyone more than he deserves. He (swt) will deliver His ultimate justice, and will shower His mercy and grace on the believers by giving those who did good deeds ten times the reward. Allah (swt) says:

“Whoever brings a good deeds shall have ten times the like thereof to his credit, and whoever brings an evil deed shall have only the recompense of the like thereof, and they will not be wronged.” (Surah al-Anaam:160)

Those who did bad deeds will recompensed only for what they have done, so they any punishment they receive can be blamed on no-one but themselves. People who do wrong things sometimes try to blame other for their sins. They claim that they were led astray by their leaders, Shaitan, society, or their friends and family. But in reality, as this hadith shows, they have no-one to blame but themselves. They could have chosen the path of good deeds, of worship of Allah (swt) and the religion of Islam, but they chose not to take that path, and the consequences will come.

On the Day of Judgement, the one who did wrong will be alone with their book of deeds, faced with the reality of the life they lived, and they will feel regret and remorse. Allah (swt) tells us:

“But as for him who is given his Record in his left hand, he will say, ‘Woe to me, I wish that I had not been given my record and that I had never known how my account was. Would that it [death] had been my end. My wealth has not availed me. My power has gone from me.’ [It will be said] ‘Seize him and fetter him. Then throw him in the blazing Fire.” (Surah al-Haaqah:25-31)

May Allah (swt) protect us from performing bad deeds and meeting a horrid end such as this, and may He (swt) make us of those who perform good deeds and find a beautiful everlasting reward. Ameen. Let’s also remember that if we do perform a bad deed, we should follow it up with a good one that will outweigh it on the Day of Judgement. And Allah (swt) is the best of all Judges.

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