The saying of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him,
“Safeguard Allah and He will safeguard you,”
means to safeguard the limits of Allah, His rights, His commands and His prohibitions. These are preserved by meeting His commands with compliance. His prohibitions with avoidance, and His limits by not overstepping or transgressing them such that one leaves what has been prescribed and encroaches on the proscribed.
Hence this sentence covers the performance of all obligations and the abandonment of all prohibitions just as is mentioned in the hadith of Abu Tha’labah that the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said,
“Allah had obligated various duties so do not be lax in them, He has prohibited various things so do not encroach on them, and He has set limits so do not transgress them.” (Tabarani)
All of the above is included in the term, ‘preserving the limits of Allah’ and as such is subsumed by the sayings of Allah, “…those who preserve the limits of Allah” (al-Tawbah 9:112) “This is what you were promised; it is for every pertinent and heedful one: those who fear the All-Merciful in the Unseen and come with a contrite heart.” (Qaf 50:32-33)
The term, ‘heedful one’ in this verse has been explained to mean one who safeguards the commandments of Allah and it has also been explained to mean a person whose solicitude for his sins leads him to repent and desist. The verse encompasses both meanings and, moreover, anyone who safeguards the legacy of Allah to His servants and follows it is also included within the scope of the verse. All of these aspects revolve around one and the same fundamental meaning.
Therefore his, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, commanding ibn Abbas to safeguard Allah comprises all that has been mentioned above.
The Legacy of the Prophet ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali p22-24