This article is part of a free translation of al-Iftqar ila Allāh, Lubb al-ʿUbudiyyah by Aḥmad al-Suwayan
Following on from a previous article, the central actions of remembrance and seeking forgiveness are highlighted as indicators of a true and real need that one has for Allāh.
The heart of a believing servant should remain affixed to the remembrance and praise of his Patron and Benefactor via mention of His sublime names and majestic attributes in all circumstances. Repenting and seeking forgiveness for sins and shortcomings are actions that the heart should always be engaging in. One’s heart experiences pleasure and intimacy through recitation of the Qur’ān and feels its ease and tranquillity in conversing with the Most Merciful (al-Raḥmān); Allāh says, ‘Those who believe and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allāh, Verily, in the remembrance of Allāh do hearts find rest.’ Allāh depicts those of faith (Īmān) by saying, ‘Is one who is obedient to Allāh, prostrating himself or standing [in prayer] during the hours of the night, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the Mercy of his Lord [like one who disbelieves]? Say, “Are those who know equal to those who know not?”.’ He also says,
‘Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding, who remember Allāh standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the creation of the heavens and the earth, [and conclude], “Our Lord! You have not created all this without purpose, glory to You! Grant us salvation from the torment of the Fire”.’
Allāh commands His Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) to stay engrossed with His remembrance and seeking His forgiveness, ‘So be patient. Verily, the Promise of Allāh is true, and seek forgiveness for your fault, and glorify the praises of your Lord in the evening and morning.’ Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) in turn would say, ‘O people! Turn to your Lord in repentance; indeed I turn to Him in repentance one hundred times in a day.’ He said, ‘By Allāh, I seek forgiveness and repent to Allāh, more than seventy times a day.’ He also said, ‘Verily my heart becomes preoccupied, and verily I seek Allāh’s forgiveness a hundred times a day.
Remaining in a loyal state of remembrance and seeking forgiveness is a manifest representation of being in need of Allāh; the slave exhorts efforts in expressing his poverty, need and powerlessness. His heart is filled with abjectness and lowliness and he raises his hands in all humility and turns back to his Deity. He remembers his Lord at all times, whether resident or travelling, entering or exiting, eating or drinking, awake or retiring, even when approaching one’s spouse. The requirement for Allāh’s help and grace is never-ending. The servant is never heedless for the length of an hour or less to seeking His assistance and turning to Him.
The implication of this is that one should not to be self-reliant, comfortable with one’s own ability and might, or sure about one’s wealth, status and health. For this reason the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) supplicated, ‘O Allāh, do not put them under my care for I would be too weak [to care for them]; do not place them under their own care for they would be incapable of that, and do not put them in the care of people for they would prefer what is best for their own selves before considering them’. Abū Bakr (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) relates the Messenger as saying, ‘The supplication of one who is distressed, “O Allāh, it is Your mercy that I hope for, so do not leave me in charge of my affairs even for a blink of an eye and rectify for me all of my affairs. None has the right to be worshipped except You’.” Anas relates that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said to Fāṭimah, ‘What prevents you from listening to my advice to you? To say on the onset of every morning and evening, “O Ever Living (Ḥayy), O Self-Subsisting and Supporter of all (Qayyum), by Your mercy I seek assistance, rectify for me all of my affairs and do not leave me to myself, even for the blink of an eye”.’
A consideration of the Prophet’s supplication and remembrance uncovers wonders in this regard. In the principal supplication for forgiveness (sayyid al-istighfār) as declared by the Prophet himself, the most supreme meanings of servitude are brought to light just as the most sublime senses of abjection and humility are made manifest, ‘O Allāh, You are my Lord, none has the right to be worshipped except You, You created me and I am You servant and I abide to Your covenant and promise as best I can, I take refuge in You from the evil of which I committed. I acknowledge Your favour upon me and I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me, for verily none can forgive sin except You.’
Ponder the supplication of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and his subservience before Allāh when rising from sleep to perform night prayers and implore and converse with his Lord,
‘O Allāh, to You belongs all praise, You are the Light of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is within them. To You belongs all praise, You are the Sustainer of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is within them. To You belongs all praise. You are Lord of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is within them. To You belongs all praise and the kingdom of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is within them. To You belongs all praise, You are the King of the Heavens and the Earth and to You belongs all praise. You are The Truth, Your promise is true, Your Word is true, and the Day in which we will encounter You is true, the Garden of Paradise is true and the Fire is true, and the Prophets are true, Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) is true and the Final Hour is true. O Allāh, unto You I have submitted, and upon You I have relied, and in You I have believed, and to You I have turned in repentance, and over You I have disputed, and to You I have turned for judgment. So forgive me for what has come to pass, and what I have hidden and what I have made public. You are the one who puts forward and favours (al-Muqaddim) and defers and hold backs (al-Mu’akhhir). None has the right to be worshipped except You, You are my Deity, none has the right to be worshipped except You.’
Praising and thanking Allāh, the Most High, and extolling Him in a manner befitting whilst recognising one’s flaws and frailty infuses the heart with light and grants it tranquillity and happiness. Ibn al-Qayyim’s words are quite exceptional in this regard,
‘There is within the heart a void and poverty that cannot ever be filled but by the remembrance of Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā). If remembrance becomes the temperament of the heart in that it remembers Allāh instinctively and the tongue follows suit, this will for sure be the remembrance that fills that void and replaces that poverty with prosperity; such a person would be rich without wealth, powerful without kinsfolk, and venerable without reign. Being neglectful of Allāh’s remembrance results in the opposite; he will remain poor with the great amount of wealth he possesses, feeble with any authority he commands, and paltry with the many kinsfolk he has.’
In the next article we will examine another indicator: the apprehension we should have, of our actions being accepted by Allāh.
Notes: Al-Qur’ān 13:28  Al-Qur’ān 39:9  Al-Qur’ān 3:190-191  Al-Qur’ān 40:55  Muslim, Book of Remembrance, No. 2702  Al-Bukhāri, Book of Invocations, No. 6307  Muslim, Book of Remembrance, No. 2702  Aḥmad, No. 2487 and Abū Dāwūd, Book of Jihād, No 2535  Aḥmad, No. 20429 and Abu Dāwūd, Book of Manners, No. 5090  Ibn al-Sunni in ʿAmal al-Yawm wa al-Laylah, No. 46  Al-Bukhāri, Book of Invocations, No. 6306  Al-Bukhāri, Book of Jihād, No. 1120 and Muslim, Book of those Traveling, No. 769  Al-Wābil al-Sayyib, pg. 139. A translation of a part of it is available: Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyya (trans. by M. A. Fitzgerald & M. Y. Slitine), ‘The Invocation of God’ (Islamic Texts Society: Cambridge) 2000; pg. 81, sec. 38