The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him, said,
“When you ask, ask Allah.”
Allah, Mighty and Magnificent, commanded that He Alone be asked and prohibited asking another. Allah, Most High, has ordered that He be asked,
“…ask Allah for His bounty.” (al-Nisa 4:32)
Tirmidhi records the hadith of ibn Masud that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him, said,
“Ask Allah for His bounty, for Allah loves to be asked.” (Tirmidhi)
He also records the hadith of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said,
“Allah is angry at whoever does not ask of Him.” (Ahmad)
He also records the hadith,
“Allah loves those who are earnest and persistent in supplication.” (Tabarani)
Another hadith mentions,
“Each of you must ask his Lord for all his needs, even the strap of his sandal should it break.” (Tirmidhi)
There are many hadiths having this meaning. There are also many authentic hadiths prohibiting asking the creation.
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, took an oath of allegiance from a group of his Companions not to ask people for anything (Muslim) amongst whom were Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, Abu Dharr and Thawban. If their whip or the muzzle of their camels fell down, they would not ask anyone to retrieve it for them.
Know that asking Allah, Most High, rather than His creation is what is required, both from a rational and legal standpoint.
Asking is a form of sacrificing one’s honour and humbling oneself to the petitioned, and that is only viable for Allah. Humbling is only for Allah through worship and request and is a sign of true love.
Yusuf ibn al-Husayn was asked, ‘What is with the lovers that they take such delight in humbling themselves in love?’ He replied, ‘For love, a person’s humility is nobility, Submissiveness to the beloved is dignity.’
This act of humbling and this love is only valid for Allah Alone, they are the components of true worship which is particular to the True God.
Imam Ahmad, may Allah have mercy on him, would say in his supplication, ‘O Allah! Just as you have prevented my face from prostrating to other than You, prevent it also from asking other than You!’
Abul-Khayr al-Aqta said, ‘I was in Mecca one year and afflicted by harm and need, each time I went out to beg, a voice would cry out, ‘You would offer a face that prostrates to Me to someone else?!’
In this sense, one of them said,
One who offers Him his face, when asking will never accept,
another in His place even if, begging him brings affluence.
Were you to weigh asking, against any gifts conferred,
Asking would preponderate, and every gift secondary.
If you must proffer, your face by begging,
Offer it to One, who is kind and generous.
It is for this reason that one who is given to begging without need will come on the Day of Rising without a morsel of flesh on his face as is established in the Two Sahihs. (Bukhari and Muslim) This is because in this world, he took away the nobility of his face, its sanctity and its honour, so Allah, on the Day of Rising, will take away its physical beauty and grace, leaving a fleshless skeleton in its place. So too will He take away its inner beauty and grace and the person will be left having no status with Allah.
Asking Allah expresses servitude of a profound nature because in doing so, one displays his need of Him and acknowledges His ability of answering that need. To ask a created object is oppressive because that object is unable to procure good for itself, or repress harm from itself, let alone do so for another! To ask of it is to put something that is unable in the place of One who is able.
This meaning is testified to by the hadith in Shaih Muslim on the authority of Abu Dharr that the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said,
“My servants! If the first and the last of you, the man and the jinn of you, stood in one plain and asked of Me, and I granted every one his request, it would not decrease what is with Me except as a needle decreases the (volume) of an ocean when dipped in it.” (Muslim)
Tirmidhi and others recorded an additional wording, “…and that is because I am generous, rich beyond need, glorious. I do what I wish. My gift is a word and My punishment is a word. When I wish a thing to be, I only say, ‘Be! and it is.” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi, ibn Majah)
So how can one who is needy and incapable be asked yet the One who is rich and able be left?! This is truly astonishing!
One of the Salaf said, ‘I am ashamed to ask Allah for anything of this world even though He owns it, so how can I possibly ask someone who does not own it?!’ i.e. an object of creation.
One of the Salaf came upon difficult times and decided to ask one of his brothers for help. He saw a person in a dream saying, ‘Is it acceptable for one who is free, When he finds all he wants with Allah, To incline his heart towards his servants?’ he awoke to find he was, amongst people, the most content of heart.
One of the Salaf said, ‘I read the following in one of the heavenly scriptures: “Allah, Mighty and Magnificent, says, ‘Is someone other than Me hoped for during adversity?! Adversity is in My hand and I am the Ever-Living, the Self-Sustaining. Someone other than Me is hoped for and his door is knocked on in the early hours?! In My hands are the keys to all treasures and My door is open to whoever invokes Me! Who can say that he placed his hope in Me during hardship yet I cut him off? Who can say that he placed his hope in Me during adversity and I cut short his hope? Who can say that he knocked on My door and I did not open it for him? I am the source of hopes, so how can hopes be served before Me? Am I a miser such that the servant finds Me niggardly? Is not the world, the Hereafter, kindness and grace entirely with Me? What prevents the hopers from placing their hope in Me? Were I to gather the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth and grant each and every one of them what I grant all of them together, and were I to fulfil the hope of each one of them, my dominion would not be decreased an atoms weight! How can a dominion decrease, the sustainer of which is Me? Wretched is the state of those who despair of My mercy, wretched is the state of those who disobey Me and boldly encroach My proscriptions!”
Allah loves to be asked and is angry at someone who does not ask Him. He wants His servants to desire Him, to ask Him, to invoke Him and show their need of Him. He loves those who are earnest and persistent in supplication. Creation, generally hates being asked because it is needy and incapable.
Ibn al-Sammak said, ‘Ask not one who will run away from you rather than listen to your request, instead ask One who has ordered you to ask Him.’
Allah is angry if you leave asking Him,
The child of Adam is angry when you ask him.
Direct your request to God since
In our Lord’s blessing to we vacillate.
Yahya ibn Muadth would say, ‘O You who are angry at whoever does not ask of You, do not hold back from someone who does ask you!’
Allah, Most High, requests His servants to ask of Him. Every night He calls out, “Is there one asking of Me that I may give him? Is there one invoking Me that I may respond?” (Bukhari)
Allah, Most High, says,
“If My servants ask you about Me, I am near. I answer the call of the caller when he calls on Me.” (al-Baqarah 2:186)
Regardless of what time the servant supplicated to Him, he will find Him hearing, close and responsive; there will be no screen between the two and sentry at the door. Were he to ask a created being, quickly would he find barriers erected, doors being closed and he will find it very difficult to reach the person most of the time.
Tawus said to Ata, ‘Beware of seeking your needs from one who would shut the door in your face and erect a barrier. Instead, go to One whose door is open till the Day of Judgement, who has ordered you to ask of Him and has promised your to respond.’
Wahb ibn Munabbih said to one of the scholars, ‘Have I not been informed that go to kings and the sons of kings (selling) your knowledge to them? Woe to you! You go to one who would close his door in your face and make out that he is poor, hiding his richness, and leave One who has opened His door for you at midday and midnight and shows His richness to you saying, “Invoke Me and I will respond’?!’
Maymun ibn Mihran saw some people gathering at the door of one of the rulers and remarked, ‘Whoever’s need is not fulfilled by the Sultan should know that the houses of the All-Merciful are always open. Let him go to the Masjid and pray two rakahs and ask Him for his need.’
Bakr al-Muzani would say, ‘Son of Adam, who is there like you! Whenever you wish you can purify yourself and privately discourse with your Lord with no barrier between you and no need for a translator.’
A man asked one of the righteous to intercede for him in getting his request answered by someone. He said, ‘I will not leave a door that is open to go instead to a door that is closed.’
Ibn Abi al-Dunya records the hadith of Abu Ubaydah ibn Abdullah ibn Masud that a man came to the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and said, ‘Messenger of Allah, Banu so-and-so have attacked me and taken my sons and camels.’ The Prophet said, ‘The family of Muhammad live in such and such a place, they do not even possess a mudd or sa of food, so ask Allah, Mighty and Magnificent.’ He returned to his wife and she asked, ‘What did he say to you?’ so he told her. She said, ‘What an excellent response!’ It was not long after that that Allah returned his son to him along with more camels then he had in the first place! He then came to the Prophet and told him what had happened, so the Prophet ascended the pulpit and praised Allah, eulogising Him. Then he ordered the people to ask of Allah, Mighty and Magnificent, and to place their desire in Him. He recited,
“Whoever has taqwa of Allah – He will give him a way out to provide for him from where he does not expect.” (al-Talaq 65:2)
A man asked Thabit al-Bunani to intercede for him with a judge in order that a particular need of his be met. Thabit stood to go with him and each time he passed by a masjid on the way, he entered prayed and supplicated. When they finally reached the court, the Judge had left. The petitioner set about blaming him and he said, ‘All the while, I have only been responding to your need!’ Allah fulfilled his need without his needing to go to the judge.
Once, while Ishaq ibn Ubbad al-Basir was sleeping, he saw a person in dream saying, ‘Relieve one who is overly anxious!’ When he awoke he asked, ‘Is there anyone needy in the neighbourhood?’ They replied ‘We don’t know.’ Then he slept and the same dream occured a second time, and then a third time with the man saying, ‘You are sleeping without relieving him?!’ He awoke and, taking three hundred dirhams with him, rode his mule to Barsa. There he stopped at the door of a Masjid which was holding funeral prayers. He entered and saw a man praying, when the man realised he was there, he completed his prayer and came to him. (Ishaq) said, O servant of Allah! (What are you doing) at this time and place? What do you need?’ He replied, ‘I am a man who possesses only one hundred dirhams which I have lost, and I also have a debt of two hundred dirhams.’ He took out the money and said, ‘Here is three hundred dirhams, take them,’ He took them and then (Ishaq) asked, ‘Do you know me?’ He replied ‘No.’ He said,’ I am Ishaq ibn Ubbad and should you face adversity, come to me, my house in such-and-sauch place.’ He replied May Allah have mercy on you! If adversity afflicts us, we will resort to the One who brought you here to us in the first place!’
‘Abdu’l-Rahman ibn Zayd ibn Aslam said, ‘One morning, my mother said to my father, “By Allah there is no meat in this house of yours!” He stood, performed ablution, put on his usual clothes and prayed in the house. My mother turned to me and said,”Your father will do no more than this, so you go.” I left and friend of ours who sold dates came to mind so I went to his market. When he saw me he called me, took me to his house and fed me. Then, out of this own volition, without me saying anything of our difficulty, he took out a purse containing thirty dinars and said, “Convey my greeting to your father and tell him that we have made him a partner in our business and this is his share.”‘
Ibrahim ibn Adam left for a military expedition with some of his colleagues. They decided to share the expenses and each person gave his share, he started thinking about which of his companions he could take a loan from, then came to himself and wept saying, ‘Woe to me! I seek from the servants and leave their Master?! He says to me, ‘Who is more deserving of your request, them or Me?’ He performed abolition, prayer two rakahs, and when in prostration said, ‘My Lord! You know what I have done and that it was done out of error and ignorance. If You were to punish me, I deserve it, and if You were to pardon me, You can do so. You know well my need so fulfilling it by Your mercy.’ He raised his head to find some four hundred dinars with him from those he took one dinar and left.
Asbagh ibn Zayd said, ‘I and those with me went three days without eating anything. My two young daughters came to me and cried, “O father! We are hungry!” So I went to the basin of water, performed ablution, prayed two rakahs, and I was inspired to say a certain supplication, the last words of which were, ‘O Allah, open the gates of provision for me and let me not be indebted to anyone in its grant, nor make me to responsible to You in the Hereafter, concerning it, by Your mercy, O Most Merciful of the merciful.” I went back to the house and my oldest daughter stood and said, “Father, my uncle just came with this purse containing dirhams, this carrier laden with flour and this carrier laden with everything from the market! He said, ‘Convey my greeting to my brother and tell him that whenever he is need, he should supplicate with that supplication and his need will be met.’ Asbagh then said, ‘By Allah, I do not have a brother and I did not know who the person was, however Allah is omnipotent!’
Hakim ibn Musa said, ‘I woke up one morning and my wife complained about not having any flour or bread. I left knowing that I would be unable to get anything and while walking down the street I said, ‘O Allah! You know that I know that You know that I have no flour or bread or money, so grant them to us!’ A man met me and asked, ‘Do you wish bread or flour?’ I replied, ‘Either’ Then I walked around during the day trying to find means to acquire what I needed but was unable. When I returned home my family had prepared a veritable feast of bread and meat. I asked, ‘Where did you get this?’ They replied, ‘From the person you sent!’ I remained silent.
Awzai said, ‘While performing tawaf, I saw a man clinging onto the sheets of the Kabbah saying, ‘My Lord! You see that I am poor. You see my children naked. You see my camel emaciated. So what see You, O one who sees and is not seen!’ A voice called out behind him saying, ‘Asim, Asim, go to your uncle, he has passed away at Taif and left behind him one thousand ewes, three hundred camels, four hundred dirhams, four slaves and three Yemeni swords. Go and take them for you are his only inheritor!’ I said, ‘Asim, the One who you were invoking was close to you!’ He said, ‘Have you not heard His, Most High, saying,
“If My servants ask you about Me, I am near. I answer the call of the caller when he calls on Me.” (al-Baqarah 2:186)
The narrations and incidents concerning this are many and mentioning them would make this treatise very lengthy.
Shaykh Abul Faraj records in his major works on history, with his chain of narration to Hasan ibn Sufyan al-Fasawi that he was residing in Egypt with a group of his colleagues, writing hadith. They were in need to they sold their possessions to meet them, eventually they had nothing left to sell and were forced to go hungry for three days being unable to find anything to eat. They woke up on the forth day having decided to beg because of dire need. They drew lots to decide who would go and it fell on Hasan. He said, ‘I felt confused and dismayed and could not resolve myself to beg.’ Instead, I went to the prayer area of the Masjid and prayed two long rakahs in which I supplicated to Allah, Mighty and Magnificent, to relieve us of our adversity. I had not yet finished my prayer when a man entered the Masjid with his servant carrying a cloth. He asked, ‘Who here is called Hasan ibn Sufyan?’ I raised my head from prostration and replied, ‘I am’. He said, ‘Amr ibn Tulun conveys his greetings to you and welcomes you. He asks your forgiveness for not keeping up with your affairs and not fulfilling your rights. He has sent you all that you would need to meet your expenses. He himself will visit you tomorrow and asked to be excused by yourselves.’ He placed in the hands of every one of us a purse containing one hundred dirhams. We were astounded and asked him how this happened. He said, ‘He was sleeping today and in his dream saw a knight in the sky saying, ‘Stand and go to Hasan ibn Sufyan and companions in the Masjid of so-and-so for they have gone hungry for the past three days!’ He asked, ‘Who are you?’ He replied, ‘I am Ridwan, the guardian of Paradise!’ Hasan said, ‘We thanked Allah, Mighty and Magnificent, then we made ready our belongings, set things right and left Egypt that same night out of fear that the Amir may actually visit us and, as a result, we gain fame and stars amongst the masses leading to ostentation and pomposity.’
The Legacy of the Prophet Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali p72-86