The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him, said,
“If the whole of creation, in its entirety, was to try and effectuate some benefit for you through something that Allah has not decreed, they would not be able to do so; and if they wished to harm you through something that Allah has not prescribed, they would not be able to do so.”
What is meant is that every harm or benefit that the servant encounters in this world is already decreed for him to face anything that has not been decreed for him even if the whole of creation strove their utmost in bringing it about. The Qur’an also proves this in verses such as:
“Say: ‘Nothing can happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us…” (al-Tawbah 9:51)
“Nothing occurs, either in the earth or in your selves, without its being in a Book before We make it happen…” (al-Hadid 57:22)
“Say: ‘Even if you have been inside your homes, those people for whom killing was decreed would have gone out to their place of death.” (Al-Imran 3:54)
Imam Ahmad records the hadith of Abdul-Darda that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,
“Everything has a reality and the servant will not attain the reality of faith until he knows that what afflicted him would never have missed him would never have afflicted him.” (Ahmad)
Know that this whole advice given to ibn Abbas revolves around this core principles and branches off from it. When the servant realises that he will encounter no good or evil, nor benefit or harm unless Allah has first ordained it for him, when he realises that if the whole of creation strove their utmost in trying to effectuate something other than His decree, their efforts would be wholly ineffectual, he will then recognise that Allah alone is the one who brings about benefit and causes harm, and that He recognition will lead the servant to perfect the Tawhid of his Lord, Mighty and Magnificent. He will ask Him alone for help, he will entreat Him alone, and He will submit and humble himself before Him alone. This is because something is worshipped in the hope that it will promote good or repress harm and it is for this reason that Allah has censured those who worship objects that can promote no benefit and cause no harm, the worship of whom is of no use at all.
Many of those who have not actualised the reality of faith in their heart actually put obedience to creatures before obedience to the Creator in the hope that they can grant them some benefit or repress some harm from them. When the servant truly realises that it is only Allah who can bring about benefit, cause or remove harm, and grant or withhold, this will necessitate his singling Him out for obedience and worship and giving that precedence over obeying any other creature. It will also necessitate singling Him, Glorious is He, out alone when asking for help and for entreaty.
This comprehensive, magnificent legacy makes mention of all of these matters, each one of paramount importance.
A servant’s safeguarding Allah’s, Mighty and Magnificent, is a reference to his safeguarding His limits and carefully fulfilling His rights, this being the reality of worshipping Him. This is what this legacy commences with. This then leads to Allah safeguarding the servant, the fruition of which is every servant’s aim and objective.
Mentioned next is knowing Allah in times of ease and that this leads to Allah knowing His servant in times of difficulty: this is part and parcel of Allah’s safeguarding His servants and completes it. Time of difficulty have been specifically mentioned here because, on such occasions, the servants are in dire need of recoursing to one who knows them and can relieve them. At such times, even the polytheists make their supplication sincerely to Him alone, begging him, imploring Him, knowing that only He, Glorious is He, can remove the harm facing them. However, when relieved, they revert to their polytheism as Allah has mentioned in numerous places in His Book, and censured them for. The Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him, in this advice has effectively ordered us to oppose their practice by knowing Allah in times of ease through sincerely making the religion for Him alone. This will necessitate His knowing them in times of hardship and relieving them of it.
Mentioned next is asking of Allah alone and seeking His Help alone. This subsumes both times of ease and times of hardship.
Next is mentioned the principle upon which all of what has preceded is built: Allah, Most High, being alone in effectuating benefit, causing or repressing harm, granting and withholding, that only what he has decreed and determined will happen, and that the whole of creation is physically incapable of causing any harm or benefit reaching a person that has not already been ordained in the Book.
Actualising this, realising this leads the servant to sever any dependency he may have on creatures, it stops him asking of them, seeking their help and placing his hope in them to grant him benefit or repress harm. (Halimi al-Minhaj fi Shuab al-Iman) It also stops him fearing them thinking that they will cause him benefit or harm. This, in turn, necessitates his singling out Allah alone for obedience and worship. He will place obedience to Allah at the fore, before obedience to creation. He will do his utmost to guard against His displeasure even if it means that, in pursuit of this, he displease the whole of creation…
Know that every creature walking on the earth is merely dust. How then can a person place obeying such a creature before the Lord of lords? How can one please dust by displeasing the King, the Bestower? This is truly perplexing!
In may places, the Qur’an lays the foundation to the tenant that Allah, Glorious is He, alone is the One who gives and withholds:
“Any mercy Allah opens up to people, no one can withhold, and any He withholds, no one can afterwards release.” (Fatir 35:2)
“If Allah afflicts you with harm, no one can remove it except Him. If He desires good for you, no one can avert His favour.” (Yunus 10:107)
“Say: ‘So what do you think? If Allah desires harm for me, can those you call upon besides Allah remove harm? Or if He desires mercy for me, can they withhold His mercy?’ Say: ‘Allah is enough for me. All those who truly trust put their trust in Him.” (al-Zumar 39:38)
He, Most High, relates from His Prophet Nuh, peace be upon him,
“My people, if standing here and reminding you of Allah’s signs has become too much for you to bear, know that I have put my trust in Allah. So decide, you and your gods on what you want to do and be open about it…” (Yunus 10:71)
He, Most High, relates from His Prophet, Hud, peace be upon him,
“I call on Allah to be my witness, and you also bear witness, that I am free of all the gods you have apart from Him. So scheme against me, all of you together, and then grant me no respite. I have put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord…” (Hud 11:54-56)
The Legacy of the Prophet Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali p 100-108