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One God Many Names | Al-Hafīdh (The Ever Preserver)

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Man, by nature, is inclined to take means for protection from harm, whether it is with non-slip mats for slippery surfaces, seatbelts when driving, or self-isolation during pandemics. These means, however, are entirely futile on their own; they are unable to serve as protection or as repellents of harm if Allāh does not first give them the permission to do so. This is the downfall of many, as reliance is placed upon such measures, whilst one’s Lord – Allāh – is not factored into the equation. This is despite having given Himself the name Al-Hafīdh/The Ever Preserver; a majestic name which every Muslim has a story with.

The name Al-Hafīdh appears in the Qur’ān in at least three places describing what Allāh does. Allāh said:

إِنَّ رَبِّي عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ حَفِيظٌ

“Indeed my Lord is, over all things, Hafīdh (Ever Preserving).”[1]

And He said,

وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ اللَّهُ حَفِيظٌ عَلَيْهِمْ

“And those who take as allies other than Him – Allāh is Hafīdh (Ever Preserving) over them.”[2]

The linguistic origins of the name Al-Hafīdh

Al-Azhari said,

رجلٌ حافظ وقومٌ حُفَّاظٌ، وهم الذين رزقوا حفظ ما سمعوا، وقلّما ينسون شيئًا يعونه

“A person who is “Hafīdh” and a people who are “Huffādh” are those who have been blessed with retentive memories, whereby they rarely forget anything that they come across.”[3]

One of two meanings of Hifdh is to retain something.

As for the second meaning, Al-Jawhari said:

حفظتُ الشيء حفظًا، أي: حرسته

“When you say, ‘Hafidhtu’ a matter, then it means ‘I guarded it.’”[4]

Who, therefore, is Allāh, Al-Hafīdh? The scholars have said:

“Al-Hafīdh is He who guards His slaves from destruction and ruin and protects them from evil ends. Allāh said: “For his sake there are angels following one another, before him and behind him, who guard him by the command of Allāh.”[5] He is the One who guards the deeds of His servants, recording their words, knowing their intentions and all what they hide within them. Nothing is absent from Him and not a secret is hidden. He preserves His allies from falling into sins, and guards them from the plots of the devil so save them from him harm and trial.”[6]

The effects of the name “Al-Hafīdh”

To call upon Him using this name

Whether it is the welfare of one’s children that keeps him up at night, or the prospect of losing health, or even the fear of losing īmān, the name Al-Hafīdh was taught to humanity as solace to their fears and answers to their worries. In his du’ā, the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) would say:

اللَّهُمَّ احْفَظنِي بالإِسْلاَمِ قائِماً، واحْفَظْنِي بالإِسْلاَمِ قاعِداً، واحْفَظنِي بالإِسْلاَمِ راقِداً، ولا تُشْمِتْ بِي عَدُوّاً ولا حاسِداً. اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أسْألُكَ مِنْ كُلِّ خَيْر خزائِنُهُ بِيَدِكَ، وأعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ كُلِّ شَرَ خَزَائِنُهُ بِيَدِكَ

“O Allāh, guard me with Islam as I stand. Guard me with Islam as I sit. Guard me with Islam as I sleep. Do not allow an enemy or an envious one to gloat over me. O Allāh, I ask You from every goodness, the treasures of which are in Your Hands, and I seek refuge in You from every evil, the treasures of which are in Your Hands.”[7]

‘Abdullah b. ‘Umar said, 

لم يَكن رسولُ اللَّهِ صلَّى اللَّهُ عليهِ وسلَّمَ يدعُ هؤلاءِ الكلماتِ حينَ يمسي وحينَ يصبحُ اللَّهمَّ إنِّي أسألُكَ العافيةَ في الدُّنيا والآخرةِ اللَّهمَّ إنِّي أسألُكَ العفوَ والعافيةَ في ديني ودنيايَ وأَهلي ومالي اللَّهمَّ استُر عوراتي وآمِن روعاتي اللَّهمَّ احفَظني من بينِ يديَّ ومن خلفي وعن يميني وعن شمالي ومِن فوقي وأعوذُ بعظمتِك أن أُغتالَ مِن تحتي

“The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) never failed to say these words in the morning and the evening: ‘O Allāh, I ask you for pardon and well-being in my religious and worldly affairs, and my family and my wealth. O Allāh, cover my weaknesses and set at ease my dismay. O Allāh, guard me from the front and from behind and on my right and on my left and from above, and I seek refuge with you lest I be swallowed up from beneath me.’”[8]

In this du’ā, the asker is requesting protection from every direction, a request that cannot be fulfilled by anyone but Al-Hafīdh.

To be watchful of Al-Hafīdh

Allāh said:

وَإِنَّ عَلَيْكُمْ لَحَافِظِينَ (10) كِرَامًا كَاتِبِينَ (11) يَعْلَمُونَ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ (12)

 “And indeed, [appointed] over you are keepers (“Hafīdhīn”). Honorable recorders (angels). They know what you do.”[9]

And Allāh said:

يَوْمَ يَبْعَثُهُمُ اللَّهُ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُهُمْ بِمَا عَمِلُوا أَحْصَاهُ اللَّهُ وَنَسُوهُ

“On the Day when Allāh will resurrect them all and inform them of what they did. Allāh had documented it while they forgot it…”[10]

And Allāh said:

وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ وَنَعْلَمُ مَا تُوَسْوِسُ بِهِ نَفْسُهُ وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيدِ (16) إِذْ يَتَلَقَّى الْمُتَلَقِّيَانِ عَنِ الْيَمِينِ وَعَنِ الشِّمَالِ قَعِيدٌ (17) مَا يَلْفِظُ مِنْ قَوْلٍ إِلَّا لَدَيْهِ رَقِيبٌ عَتِيدٌ (18)

“And certainly We created man, and We know what his soul whispers to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein. When the two receivers receive, sitting on the right and on the left. Man does not utter any word except that with him is an observer ready [to record].”[11]

For this reason, the predecessors, having realised this reality, would ensure that the angels only see them doing what is best, even when no one else was around. Khulaid Al-‘Asri was one of them; whenever he would enter his home, he would announce:

مَرْحَبًا بِمَلَائِكَةِ رَبِّي أَمَا وَاللَّهِ لَأُشْهِدَنَّكُمُ الْيَوْمَ مِنْ نَفْسِي خَيْرًا خُذُوا بِسْمِ اللَّهِ، سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ، وَلَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ، وَاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ

“Welcome O angels of Allāh! By Allāh, you are going to see goodness from me today, say take note of this: ‘Bismillah, SubhaanAllāh, Alhamdulillah, Laa ilaaha ila Allāh, Allāhu Akbar.’”

He would continue doing this till he would fall asleep or make his way to the next prayer.[12]

Not only do the angels record the outward actions that are visible to all, but also the most secret of them all, such as Riyā/showing off, Kibr/arrogance, and Nifāq/hypocrisy. Clearly, their documentation is on a frighteningly different level of precision.

At times, one is sent a parking fine to which he argues a case against it. However, the moment he is shown a picture of his car in that parking space with the time, date, and registration number plate, he suddenly backtracks and decides to pay the fine. What can one say, therefore, if on the Day of Reckoning, his deeds are played out to him audio-visually? The toughest part is that He will be made to read his own doings to Allāh:

وَنُخْرِجُ لَهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كِتَابًا يَلْقَاهُ مَنْشُورًا (13) اقْرَأْ كِتَابَكَ كَفَى بِنَفْسِكَ الْيَوْمَ عَلَيْكَ حَسِيبًا

“On the Day of Judgment We shall bring out for him a scroll, which he will see spread open. Read your book; your own self is sufficient as a reckoner against you on this day”[13]

Al-Hafīdh has recorded every detail of one’s life; hence one is to frequently ask oneself:

“If these details, episodes, and actions were to be compiled as a film, could I bring myself to watch it?” Worse still, “Would I be comfortable to gather my family around it?” Worse still, “Would I be comfortable for it to be broadcasted to the masses?” If the answer is “no”, then it is evident that far more attention is needed towards the production of this film. It is being compiled on a daily basis and man is writing his own script via his sins, habits, dress, business, worship, and relationships. On the Day of Reckoning, it may be aired.

Allāh said:

يَوْمَئِذٍ تُعْرَضُونَ لَا تَخْفَى مِنْكُمْ خَافِيَةٌ 

“That Day, you shall be exhibited, not a secret of yours shall be hidden.”[14]

To love Al-Hafīdh and to think best of Him

The effects of this majestic name continuously impacts humanity, as Al-Hafīdh wards away from them infinite probabilities of harm, most of which pass without our realisation.

Allāh said:

قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَخَذَ اللَّهُ سَمْعَكُمْ وَأَبْصَارَكُمْ وَخَتَمَ عَلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ مَنْ إِلَهٌ غَيْرُ اللَّهِ يَأْتِيكُمْ بِهِ

“Say, ‘Have you considered: if Allāh should take away your hearing and your sight and set a seal upon your hearts, which deity other than Allāh could bring them back to you?’”[15]

Not only does Al-Hafīdh guard man each and every moment, but He does so billions of times within each of those moments. For example, during this very second, Al-Hafīdh is guarding one’s mind from insanity, eyes from blindness, ears from deafness, mouth from mutism, nose from sinus infection, heart from an attack, colon from inflammation, stomach from ulcers, veins from closing, and kidneys from malfunctioning, to mention just a few from the countless flawless processes within man and the conditions around him. All of the above is then repeated for the next second to arrive, and then the second after it, and so on.

Is this not a Lord to be adored? It is, however, due to the ungrateful nature of man that he forgets the billions of simultaneous manifestations of Al-Hafīdh’s preservation of him, and instead focuses on that one isolated moment when Allāh allows harm to make its way to him for wisdoms and benefits known to Him.

Just for man’s sake, Al-Hafīdh has appointed angels to guard his life, protecting him from harm that has not been decreed for him. Allāh said:

لَهُ مُعَقِّبَاتٌ مِنْ بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ يَحْفَظُونَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ

“For his sake there are angels following one another, before him and behind him, who guard him by the command of Allāh…”[16]

Commenting on this, Īmām b. Kathir said:

“This verse means that people have angels guarding them in alternation; guardians during the night and others during the day. They guard from evils and accidents, just as other angels visit them in alternation, angels during the night and others during the day to document their good or evil deeds. So, each has two angels to his right and left. The angel on the right documenting his good deeds, and the angel on the left documenting his sins, as well as two other guarding angels, one from his rear and the other in front of him. Hence, man is in the middle of four angels at any moment during the day and another four at night.”[17]

Whether it was a falling rock, an oncoming car, or an invading germ, only Allāh knows how many times a day the means of pain, misery, or death had made their way to man, only to be repelled by these angels. When the time for death arrives, however, these angels are instructed to rescind their protection.

Allāh said:

وَهُوَ الْقَاهِرُ فَوْقَ عِبَادِهِ وَيُرْسِلُ عَلَيْكُمْ حَفَظَةً حَتَّى إِذَا جَاءَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ تَوَفَّتْهُ رُسُلُنَا وَهُمْ لَا يُفَرِّطُونَ

“And He is the Supreme over His servants, and He sends over you guardian-angels until, when death comes to one of you, Our messengers take him, and they do not fail [in their duties].”[18]

However, one must always remember the most important dimension of the guardianship of Al-Hafīdh – the preservation of one’s love and commitment to Islam. Never must one take for granted his disinterest in the many sins countless people are prey to and suffer at their hands. The guardian from those sins who had repelled their lure and turned one away from their glitter is Al-Hafīdh. Reminding the companions of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) of this favour, Allāh said:

وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ حَبَّبَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْإِيمَانَ وَزَيَّنَهُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَكَرَّهَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكُفْرَ وَالْفُسُوقَ وَالْعِصْيَانَ

“…but Allāh has made īmān beloved to you and has made it pleasing in your hearts, and has made hateful to you disbelief, defiance and disobedience…”[19]

The ability to wear the correct Islamic hijāb, to shield one’s ears from music, to guard finances from the easy but prohibited avenues, and to reject the pull of extra-marital relationships must never be taken for granted. It is an enormous gift from Al-Hafīdh which could be retracted at any moment if abused.[20]

The analogy of this is much like a boulder, which is, by its nature, inclined to fall from top to bottom due to gravity. However, a rock can also be transferred from the bottom to the peak of a mountain through the use of an external force. Should that force disappear, the rock will, again, revert to its default inclination of rolling back down.

This is precisely the analogy of man with His Lord, Al-Hafīdh. Man’s innate tendency is to forget, fall short, and sin. It is, Al-Hafīdh, however, who guards him from those many moments of decline and sin, carrying man along his uphill journey. No sooner that he arrives at the peak of goodness, worship, knowledge, or their likes that he begins to celebrate his “achievements”, overlooking the force that had propelled him the entire way. This is when Al-Hafīdh will, at times, let go of him briefly. This is done so that as he plunders back down and realises that his alleged “successes” had nothing to do with him, but were being backed the entire time by Allāh.

One who is not torn by Islamic doubts, at a time when others who are far more knowledgeable than him are, is enjoying the guardianship of Al-Hafīdh and must love Him for it.

It truly has nothing to do with one’s ability to recite Qur’ān, prepare lectures, or regurgitate information. The decline of īmān is inevitable if Al-Hafīdh chooses to retract his guardianship of it. If and when He does, there are always reasons,[21] for Allāh does not do injustice to anyone. The fact that one continues to bow, prostrate, and believe in Allāh with the fullest of conviction is a sign of being loved by Allāh. He is to be loved back and adored.

Reliance upon Al-Hafīdh

On 1 March 2016, an assassination attempt was made on the life of a leading Saudi Arabian public figure who was shot at six times from point blank range but emerged with minimal injuries.[22] Conversely, when Kennedy was assassinated, it was a single bullet from a distance of 81 meters. All matters are in the Hands of Al-Hafīdh and reliance must be upon Him alone.

The Prophet Lūt’s (ʿalayhi al-Salām) home was attacked by the homosexuals of his community as they sought to make their way to his handsome guests. His grief was enormous, wanting to protect his guests at all costs, not knowing that they were angels from Allāh. At that moment of distress, Prophet Lūt said:

لَوْ أَنَّ لِي بِكُمْ قُوَّةً أَوْ آوِي إِلَى رُكْنٍ شَدِيدٍ

“If only I had against you some power or could take refuge in a strong support.’”[23]

Commenting on this, Prophet Muhammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:

يرحم الله لوطاً .. لقد كان يأوي إلى ركن شديد

“May Allāh have mercym on Lūt. He was indeed at the refuge of a Strong Support (Allāh).”[24]

This was what Prophet Lūt had momentarily overlooked due to the sheer stress of the ordeal; knowing Al-Hafīdh is to rely upon Him during every ordeal and allowing one’s heart to rest at His doorstep. The Prophet Ya’qūb said, after years of separation from his son Yūsuf:

فَاللَّهُ خَيْرٌ حَافِظًا

“Allāh is the best of guardians!”[25]

Every human being has valuables that need taking care of. This has been identified as a business opportunity by man, where safe-stores have opened up across the country. People are willing to pay money in return for the peace of mind that comes with the preservation of their commodities. Some valuables in life however are far too precious and cannot be protected by safe-stores. One’s religion is an example, as is one’s children, spouse, loved ones, health, and the list continues.

The good news is that it is actually possible to entrust Al-Hafīdh to preserve these matters on one’s behalf, providing peace of mind that no human being could ever match.

Ibn ‘Umar – the Companion – once bade farewell to a friend of his and said to him:

سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ: ( قَالَ لُقْمَانُ الْحَكِيمُ : إِنَّ اللهَ إِذَا اسْتُودِعَ شَيْئًا حَفِظَهُ ) ، وَإِنِّي أَسْتَوْدِعُ اللهَ دَيْنَكَ ، وَأَمَانَتَكَ، وَخَوَاتِمَ عَمَلِكَ ” .

“I heard the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) say ‘Luqmān – the wise one – said, ‘If Allāh is entrusted with something, He preserves it.’ And so I entrust Allāh to preserve your Dīn, what you are responsible for and your final deeds.’”[26] 

It is advisable to mention these words to someone who is travelling, as the perpetrating of sins and carelessness towards obligations are usually far easier during travel than they are whilst at home. Furthermore, this du’ā is not limited to those who are travelling, but can also be used to entrust Allāh to preserve anything that is of value to a person.

Umar b. al-Khattāb once saw a father and son, and was amazed at their resemblance. The man said, “O leader of the believers, by Allāh, his mother gave birth to him whilst she was dead.” At once, ‘Umar sat up right and said to him, “Tell me what happened!” The man said, “I was once preparing for travel during his mother’s pregnancy. She said to me ‘How could you leave me all alone in this state of mine?’ and so I said, ‘I entrust Allāh to protect what is in your womb’

Upon my return from travel, I arrived at my house and called for her but was told that she had passed away. I made my way to her grave as I cried. Later that evening, I was sat with a cousin of mine and the graveyard was in front of us, when I saw what seemed to be fire on her grave. I was startled and asked my cousin about this, and he said, ‘We have been seeing this on her grave since the day she died’ I said, ‘By Allāh, she was a righteous and chaste Muslim woman, fasting & praying all of the time.’ I carried my axe and rushed towards her grave.

When I arrived I noticed that her grave was wide open. I looked down and saw that her corpse was in an upright sitting position whilst my son was moving next to her, and then heard a sound from the sky proclaiming,

‘O you who had entrusted his Lord with his valuable, take your valuable.’

And so I knelt down and took my son, and so here he is O leader of the believers.”[27]

One cannot doubt that had he entrusted Allāh to protect his wife as well, the outcome could have been different, but it was a matter that was not decreed. Al-Hafīdh is where valuables are to be preserved, hence these are words to be memorised and offered with full conviction to those whom one worries for.

To qualify one’s self for the guardianship of Al-Hafīdh

Allāh’s guardianship of people varies according to their efforts to qualify themselves for it. Special attention is to be given to the following:

(1) Guarding of Salāh

Allāh said:

حَافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَوَاتِ وَالصَّلَاةِ الْوُسْطَى

Guard your prayers and your middle prayer…”[28]

And Allāh said:

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَى صَلَوَاتِهِمْ يُحَافِظُونَ

“..and those who guard their prayers.”[29]

Guarding one’s prayer includes guarding it from deficiencies in wudū’; to guard it from delay; to guard one’s heart from distractions; and to guard one’s limbs from rushing through it. When prayer is guarded in this manner, Al-Hafīdh’s guardianship is a must, as Imām b. al-Qayyim said:

“Salāh is a reaper of provisions, preserver of health, opposer of harm, repellent of illnesses, strengthener of the heart, illuminator of the face, joy-giver to the soul, remover of laziness, stimulant of the limbs, supplier of strength, provider of happiness, nourisher of the soul, illuminator of the heart, preserver of blessings, repellent of punishments, bringer of blessings, as well as a means of distance from Shaytān and closeness to Al-Rahmān.”

“Generally speaking, it has tremendous effects with respect to both the preservation and strengthening of body and heart, as was as in repelling evil matters from them both. In fact, if there are two individuals who are tested with any impairment, illness, trial, or calamity, the one who prays more from them will suffer less and his outcome will be better…In reality, there is not a more effective way in repelling the evils of life and the afterlife, and in reaping the benefits of them both than Salāh. The secret of this lies in the fact that Salāh is a connection between one and his Lord, and according to how strong one’s connection is with his Lord, the doors of goodness open up for him accordingly and the means of evil are cut off from him.”[30]

(2) Guarding of limbs from the prohibitions

Allāh said:

وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُولًا

 “Do not pursue that which you have no knowledge of. Certainly the hearing, seeing and the heart, all of those shall be asked about.”[31]

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali reports that the famous Shafi’ī scholar of Baghdad, Abū al-Tayyib al-Tabari enjoyed mental alertness and physical strength. One day he jumped off a boat. When gently reproached for doing so, he replied: “We protected these limbs in our youth, so Allāh protects them for us in our old age.”[32]

(3) Guarding the private parts

Allāh said:

قُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ذَلِكَ أَزْكَى لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allāh is aware of what they do.”[33]

(4) Guarding one’s oaths from excessiveness, play and from breaking them

Allāh said:

وَاحْفَظُوا أَيْمَانَكُمْ

“…and guard your oaths”[34]

(5) Guarding one’s commitment to Islam

In short, the greater one guards the commandments of Allāh and His prohibitions, the greater Al-Hafīdh’s guardianship of such a person will be, as Allāh has promised:

وَأَوْفُوا بِعَهْدِي أُوفِ بِعَهْدِكُمْ

“…and fulfil my covenant and I will fulfil yours…”[35]

Perhaps one of the best ways of shedding light on this reality is by using the case study of Prophet Yūnus (ʿalayhi al-Salām). After walking away from his community in despair of them, a whale swallowed him. Yūnus (ʿalayhi al-Salām) found himself within compounded layers of darkness; the darkess of the night, within the darkness of the sea, within the darkness of a whale. And yet, Yūnus made Du’ā saying:

لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ

“None has the right to be worshipped but You, Glory be to You, I have surely been of the wrongdoers.”[36]

His Du’ā was answered by Al-Hafīdh, who relieved him from his trauma soon after and guarded him from what could have easily been a life-ending ordeal. But why was his Du’ā answered in this way? Was it simply an accepted Du’ā, or was there more to the story? Allāh said:

فَلَوْلَا أَنَّهُ كَانَ مِنَ الْمُسَبِّحِينَ (143) لَلَبِثَ فِي بَطْنِهِ إِلَى يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ

And had he not been of those who glorified Allāh, He would have remained inside its belly until the day of resurrection.”[37]

In other words, had it not been for the good deeds he had put forward prior to this trial and how well he had guarded his religion during times of ease, the belly of the whale would have become his grave.

Speaking about this Āyah – “had he not been of those who gloried Allāh” – Qatāda said:

“He used to pray abundantly during times of ease and so Allāh saved him through that. It used to be said ‘Good deeds carry a person when he slips. But should he fall, he will find something to lean on.’”[38]

Speaking about this Āyah as well, Abū al-‘Āliya said:

“He had good deeds prior to this.”[39]

Thus when the trial of Yūnus did eventually arrive, its effects were lessened and the end was relief. Guarding the religion of Allāh during times of ease brings about the guardianship of Al-Hafīdh when one needs it most. Hence, one must not allow his first relationship with Allāh to start with a calamity that befalls him. Instead, be as the Prophet Muhammad (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam), who would teach the youth:

تَعرفْ إلى اللهِ في الرخاءِ يعرفْكَ في الشدةِ

“Know Allāh during times of ease and Allāh will know you during times of hardship.”[40]

Every human being – in the past, present or future – will experience something similar to what Prophet Yūnus experienced. They will be swallowed by a whale, figuratively speaking, and become consumed by the tightness and darkness of their ordeal. How well such a person had guarded his religion during times of ease will determine how soon the guardianship of Al-Hafīdh will come to him during his trial.

Lastly, there may be certain difficulties that – Alhamdulillāh – are not affecting a person at present. Whilst others struggle to make ends meet, his finances may be in place, and whilst others are challenged with ill health, his may be in tact. Allāh may have spared such a person from many trials that others battle, but there are a set number of trials that every human being must inevitably experience.

Death and its hardships; the darkness of the grave; the trial of the underground; the terror of the resurrection; the intensity of the gathering; the long awaiting; the slippery bridge over the hellfire; and the many phases of horror on the Day of Standing. Thus even if one has been spared of many trials today, the above are examples of trials that are individually inescapable. Therefore, the best one can do to earn Al-Hafīdh’s guardianship from their impact tomorrow is by amassing for them many good deeds today. When these Hereafter-based phases do eventually unfold, the difference between a person who had recognised Allāh, guarded His limits, repented when sinning, and worshipped Him in contrast to another who had not prepared will be inconceivable.



[1] Al-Qur’ān, 11:57

[2] Al-Qur’ān, 42:6

[3] Al-Sihāh

[4] Al-Sihāh

[5] Al-Qur’ān, 13:11

[6] Sha’n al-Du’ā

[7] Al-Hākim, on the authority of b. Mas’ūd

[8] Ibn Mājah

[9] Al-Qur’ān, 82:10-12

[10] Al-Qur’ān, 58:6

[11] Al-Qur’ān, 50:16-18

[12] Al-Zuhd, Ahmad b. Hanbal

[13] Al-Qur’ān, 17:13-14

[14] Al-Qur’ān, 69:18

[15] Al-Qur’ān, 6:46

[16] Al-Qur’ān, 13:11

[17] Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr

[18] Al-Qur’ān, 6:61

[19] Al-Qur’ān, 49:7

[20]  Abdullah Al-Qasīmi is a prime contemporary example of what happens when Al-Hafīdh withdraws His support in a person’s life. Al-Qasīmi, resident of Al-Qasīm in KSA, was not an average individual, but was seen as a person of knowledge and a staunch defender of the prophetic way. Some of those who knew him said: “We only ever saw him whilst carrying a book.”

He authored many books refuting misguided ideologies and was a passionate advocate of orthodoxy. One of those books was titled “Al-Sirā’ baynal Islam wal wathaniyya”/“The struggle between Islam and idolatry”, consisting of 2,500 pages over two volumes where he displayed his phenomenal scholastic gifts. He was praised by some who said, “Al-Qasīmi has offered his dowry for paradise through this book” whilst others described how much his works remind them of those of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya’s.

In fact, his fame would reach levels where many of the scholars of world were singing in his praise until he was once praised by the Imām of the Haram in Mecca at the time, Abd al-Dhāhir Abū al-Samh, in couplets of poetry, praising his intelligence, books, and flawless arguments.

However, it seems as if the praise of people affected him adversely as he began to express admiration for himself. At this point, it seems as if the guardianship of Al-Hafīdh began to leave him.

He travelled to Egypt and mixed with people of ill-thought, causing him to author a book wherein he partly renounces some of what he had previously argued. His deviance however only continued to grow until he authored a book titled, “Hāthihi Hiya Al-Aghlāl”/“These are the shackles”, where he argued that religion is nothing but chains, and spoke ill of Allāh.

In fact, he once sat with one of the ministers of Egypt, and Sheikh Muhammad Al-Mutwalli Al-Sha’rāwi was present. They discussed certain matters but Shaykh Muhammad was quick to leave the gathering, shocked at Al-Qasīmi’s blatant mockery of religion. He left the room reciting the Āyah:

إِذَا سَمِعْتُمْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ يُكْفَرُ بِهَا وَيُسْتَهْزَأُ بِهَا فَلَا تَقْعُدُوا مَعَهُمْ حَتَّى يَخُوضُوا فِي حَدِيثٍ غَيْرِهِ

“And it has already come down to you in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allāh [recited], they are denied [by them] and ridiculed; so do not sit with them until they enter into another conversation.”

At this point, Al-Qasīmi’s writing had descended to pure satire of religion, hence King Abdul ‘Azīz instructed his books to be withdrawn. Al-Qasīmi remained in this pitiful state until he passed away at the age of 90 in Jordan.

Looking back at his works during his Islamic days, the indications of this transformation were minimal. He wrote in one of his books:

“O Allāh, we ask You for īmān and tranquillity, and we seek refuge in You from doubts and confusion, and we send our fullest praises to You.”

Even more bewilderingly, he once wrote:

“For whoever has tasted the sweetness of ‘Aqīda (belief), Tawhīd (monotheism), and the core of Ikhlās (sincerity), never will such a person later detest it. In fact, never in my life have I heard of a person who traversed the path of the monotheists, whereby his heart was cleansed from the impurities of Shirk (polytheism) who then turned away from it.”


[23] Al-Qur’ān, 11:80

[24] Muslim, on the authority of Abū Huraira

[25] Al-Qur’ān, 12:64

[26] Ahmad

[27] Hawātif al-Jinān, Ibn Abī Al-Dunyā

[28] Al-Qur’ān, 2:238

[29] Al-Qur’ān, 23:9

[30] Al-Tibb Al-Nabawi, Ibn al-Qayyim,

[31] Al-Qur’ān, 17:36

[32] Majmū’ Rasā’il ibn Rajab

[33] Al-Qur’ān, 24:30

[34] Al-Qur’ān, 5:89

[35] Al-Qur’ān, 2:40

[36] Al-Qur’ān, 21:87

[37] Al-Qur’ān, 37:143-144

[38] Tafsīr AL-Tabari

[39] Ibid

[40] Narrated by Al-Tabarāni

About Shaikh Ali Hammuda

Shaikh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is a UK national of Palestinian origin. He gained bachelors and masters’ degrees in Architecture & Planning from the University of the West of England, before achieving a BA in Shari'ah from al-Azhar University in Egypt. He is currently based in Wales and is a visiting Imām at Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, and also a senior researcher and lecturer for the Muslim Research & Development Foundation in London. Ustādh Ali is the author of several books including 'The Daily Revivals' and 'The Ten Lanterns", and continues to deliver sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country.

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