On the side of hope, there is the sense of immunity from Allah’s punishment and wrath from every evil and disobedience performed by a servant. The servant falls between the descended goodness that he seeks and requests from Allah, and the evil that ascends from him towards Allah – whose punishment he is immune from.
In the supplication of ‘Arafat of Imam Husayn (a), in the valley of ‘Arafat, this phenomenon of goodness descending from Allah to his servants, while evil ascending from his worshippers towards Him has been described beautifully:
O my Master! It is You Who bestowed (upon me). It is You Who conferred favors (upon me). It is You Who did good (to me). It is You Who treated (me) excellently. It is You Who favored (me). It is You Who perfected (Your blessings upon me). It is You Who provided (me) with sustenance. It is You Who led (me) to success. It is You Who gave (me). It is You Who enriched (me). It is You Who gave (me) to hold. It is You Who gave (me) shelter. It is You Who saved (me). It is You Who guided (me). It is You Who protected (me). It is You Who covered my faults. It is You Who forgave (me). It is You Who overlooked my sins. It is You Who established (me). It is You Who consolidated (me). It is You Who helped (me). It is You Who backed (me) up. It is You Who aided (me). It is You Who supported (me). It is You Who restored (me) to health. It is You Who granted (me) wellbeing. It is You Who honored (me). Blessed be You and Exalted be You.1
Then while describing the evil that ascends from the servant towards Allah, the Imam (a) says:
It is I who did badly. It is I who did wrong. It is I who had evil intention. It is I who acted impolitely. It is I who was inadvertent. It is I who was inattentive. It is I who leaned (on something other than You). It is I who did wrong deliberately. It is I who promised. It is I who failed to fulfill it. It is I who breached. It is I who confessed. It is I who testified to Your favors upon and with me, O He Who is not injured by the sins of His servants, and Who can surely do without their obedience.
Knowledge of this line of descent and ascent in the relationship of Allah with His slaves and the relationship of His worshippers to Him is of great importance and necessity. It is through acknowledging and recognizing the nature of this relationship that one will remain within the domain of servitude and feeling of deficiency in fulfilling the rights of servitude. This is to avoid feeling satisfied and content merely by performing a two-unit prayer or giving a few dollars in charity – as if the rights of His servitude have been fulfilled.2
Hope and Immunity
A servant essentially lives between this line of ascent and line of descent, in both hope and immunity. Hope in the Mercy of Allah, His Generosity and His Blessings; and immunity from His Wrath, Punishment and Anger. Hope in Allah’s Mercy, for He is the Most Merciful. His Mercy extends over His servants without interruption. He bestows tranquility and peace upon the faithful ones, giving His servants peace and immunity, allowing His worshippers to feel safe and secure.
O He, Whose Wrath is surpassed by His Mercy.3
[40:7] …Our Lord, You have encompassed all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who have repented…
[7:156] …My mercy encompasses all things…
Allah’s servants are from those things who have been encompassed by His Mercy.
This reality has been wonderfully depicted in the supplication of Imam Sajjad (a) as prescribed to Abu Hamza al-Thumali:
There is not definitely any foolishness that can be uncovered by Your liberality. And there is no period that may be longer than Your tolerance. What value remains for our deeds if compared to Your favors! And how can we ever deem much any deeds if compared to Your generosity! Moreover, how may Your broad mercy be narrow for the guilty? O the Extensive Forgiver, O He Who extends both hands with mercy. By Your Majesty I swear, O my Lord, even if you chide me, I shall never leave Your Door and I shall never stop flattering You. This is because I have full acquaintance with Your (indescribable) generosity and bounty.
Immunity Between Hope and Fear
However, hope is just one dimension of immunity. The other dimension is fear of Allah (swt), because immunity which is not restrained by the fear of Allah will push one towards sinning and disobedience. Hope is a necessary condition in one’s relationship with Allah, and without hope a servant’s relationship with Allah will remain a half-hearted one-sided relationship – one which brings fear of Allah, and does not produce love towards him, rather it creates a sense of worry and anxiety. A person is left with no sense of tranquility without hope in Allah.
The opposite is also true, because if one’s relationship with Allah was built just upon hope and no fear, it will drag a person to disobedience of Allah. One becomes more lenient and careless from protecting themselves from the lures of passion and sedition – allowing Satan to infiltrate them.
In order for man not to slip down this slippery slope, there is no choice but to ensure hope in Allah is not overcome by fear – a balance needs to be struck. Otherwise, a one-sided relationship does not allow a person to be connected to Allah truly and correctly, it does not allow a servant to gain proper knowledge of his Lord. A one-sided relationship will result in a deficient connection to Allah and deficient knowledge of Him.
The integrity and value of a human is based on his relationship with Allah. If his relationship with Allah is weak, this weakness will exhibit itself in his life with a lack of balance, leading to a loss of his own integrity and value.
The integrity of one’s relationship with Allah is through balancing one’s self between hope and fear, ensuring that fear is not overcome by hope and hope is not overcome by fear. Rather there has to be a balance. Balance also does not mean one moves back and forth between fear and hope. It means mixing fear and hope together – fearing Allah while at the same time having hope in Him. Supplicating and seeking, professing their hope in Him while at the same time fearing Him.
In the words attributed to Imam ‘Ali (a), it is said: The perfect jurist of Islam is he who does not let people lose hope from the mercy of Allah, does not make them despondent of Allah’s kindness and does not make them feel safe from Allah’s punishment.4
After this brief introduction, God-willing, in the next post we will begin looking at the first statement of the du’a of Rajab: O He Whom alone I hope for all good things; and I am safe from His displeasure at every instance of evil.
This writeup was extracted from the work of Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi Asifi (d. 2015).
Sayyid Ali studied in the seminary of Qom from 2012 to 2021, while also concurrently obtaining a M.A in Islamic Studies from the Islamic College of London in 2018. In the seminary he engaged in the study of legal theory, jurisprudence and philosophy, eventually attending the advanced kharij of Usul and Fiqh in 2018. He is currently completing his Masters of Education at the University of Toronto and is the head of a private faith-based school in Toronto, as well as an instructor at the Mizan Institute and Mufid Seminary.
- The English translation of supplications has been taken from Duas.org
- For more on this, refer to 4-part series on self-conceit.
- From the supplication of al-Jawshan al-Kabir.
- Nahj al-Balagha, Short Sayings, #90.