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Has there ever been an era in history where such a wide variety of sinful content could be accessed on demand like it can be today?
Has any generation suffered the consequences of instant fame, a provision of social media, like ours does today?
Has humanity ever experienced a time when artificiality, insincerity and boasting rose to such high levels?
Furthermore, despite our unprecedented ability to stay connected to one another, has the human race ever suffered from loneliness to such a huge extent as they do today?
Indeed, our generation is like no other. We experience challenges that can neither be managed, nor converted into valuable Islamic opportunities, without the help of Allah’s Names in one’s life. Two of the most important names for the 21st century Muslim are Al-Samīʿ (The Ever Hearing) and Al-Baṣir (The Ever Seeing).
1: The linguistic meanings of these names
To describe one as sāmiʿ denotes their ability to hear. However, to describe one as samīʿ denotes the mighty nature of their hearing, for the latter is an intensified version of the former. Hence, Allah’s Name is Al-Samīʿ, The Ever Hearing.
Similarly, to describe one as mubṣir denotes their ability to see. However, to describe them as baṣir denotes the mighty nature of their sight, for the latter – again – is an intensified version of the former. Hence, Allah’s Name is Al-Baṣir, The Ever Seer.
Who, then, is Allah – Al-Samīʿ and Al-Baṣir?
He is the One who hears every sound that emanates from every creature, in every language, at every location at every decibel at every moment in time. He hears their screams and whispers, their complaints and thanks, their conspiring and plotting, their speech, thoughts, and intentions. He is the Hearer of what is more silent than silence.
He is also the One who sees what happens in the deepest parts of the earth, just as He sees what is happening beyond the seventh heaven. At the cosmos level, He sees the orbits of each and every planet, whilst at the atomic level, He sees the movement of each electron around its nucleus. He sees the water that flows through every branch of every tree, the nutrients within every grain of soil, and the blood that flows through every vein of every creature.
Unlike man, who cannot hold multiple conversations nor observe multiple events at the same time, for Al-Samīʿ Al-Baṣir, no two simultaneous events impair His vision. Similarly, no two simultaneous voices muffle each other’s sound, let alone the trillions which He hears, understands and responds to around the clock. To Him, secrets are exposed, private matters are public, distant matters are near and the invisible is clear.
It is important to note that the samʿ (hearing) of Allah encompasses two meanings:
1- The One who hears all sounds, and
2- The One who answers every duʿā’.
This is why Ibrāhim (ʿalayhi al-Salām) said, after making duʿā’ for a son which Allah later granted him:
إِنَّ رَبِّي لَسَمِيعُ الدُّعَاءِ
“Surely my Lord is the Hearer of duʿā’ .” 
In this context, Hearer means answerer.
Similarly, when we rise from the bowing position in prayer, we are taught to say: سمِعَ اللهُ لِمَن حمِدَه “Allah hears those who praise him.” Again, in this context, “hears” means He answers and accepts the praise of those who praise Him.
This understanding is key, as man – for example – may be able to hear one complaint but not another. Similarly, he may be able to hear a complaint but find himself unable to address it. As for Allah, not only is He al-Samīʿ in the sense that He hears all -complaints and otherwise – but He is also al-Samīʿ in the sense that He answers everyone.
The baṣar (sight) of Allah also encompasses two meanings:
1- The One who sees all things, and
2- The One who knows their realities.
Again, this understanding is key. Humans may see an event unfold but fail to appreciate its reality, cause, purpose, etc. For example, they may be oblivious to someone concealing hatred behind a smile. As for Allah, He sees every apparent matter as well as the hidden aspects of each and every one of them, and knows their reality and purpose inside out. Thus, Allah sees the movements of bodies and the shifting of hearts.
2: The effects of believing in these names
To call upon Him using these names
A noticeable quality in the life of our righteous predecessors was their close connection with these two particular names of Allah – Al-Samīʿ and Al-Baṣir – when making duʿā’, particularly during times of pressing need.
Speaking about Prophet Ibrāhīm (ʿalayhi al-Salām), Allah said:
وَإِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ الْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ الْبَيْتِ وَإِسْمَاعِيلُ رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
“As Ibrāhīm and Ismāʿīl built up the foundations of the House [they prayed], ‘Our Lord, accept this from us. You are the All Hearing, the All Knowing.”
Similarly, in the duʿā’ of Maryam’s mother, she said:
رَبِّ إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لَكَ مَا فِي بَطْنِي مُحَرَّرًا فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنِّي إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
“My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb, dedicated for your service, so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the All Hearing, the All Knowing.”
The same can be said about the duʿā’ which Prophet Zakarīyyā made. He said:
رَبِّ هَبْ لِي مِنْ لَدُنْكَ ذُرِّيَّةً طَيِّبَةً إِنَّكَ سَمِيعُ الدُّعَاءِ
“My Lord, grant me from Yourself a good offspring. Surely, You are the Hearer of supplication.”
In fact, immediately after Allah instructed Prophet Mūsā to invite Pharaoh, the same person who had issued a death warrant on him, to Islam, Mūsā implored:
رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي . وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي . وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِنْ لِسَانِي . يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي . وَاجْعَلْ لِي وَزِيرًا مِنْ أَهْلِي . هَارُونَ أَخِي . اشْدُدْ بِهِ أَزْرِي . وَأَشْرِكْهُ فِي أَمْرِي . كَيْ نُسَبِّحَكَ كَثِيرًا . وَنَذْكُرَكَ كَثِيرًا . إِنَّكَ كُنْتَ بِنَا بَصِيرًا
“My Lord, uplift my heart for me. And ease for me my task. And untie the knot from my tongue. So that they may understand my speech. And appoint for me a minister from my family; Hārūn, my brother. Increase my strength through him. And let him share my task. So that we may glorify you much. And remember you much. Surely, You are of us ever Seeing.”
His duʿā’ was well-articulated, calling upon Allah using His names while paying special attention to the name Al-Baṣir. The response was, in a similar fashion, eloquently expressed:
قَالَ قَدْ أُوتِيتَ سُؤْلَكَ يَا مُوسَى
“Allah said, ‘You have been granted your request, O Mūsā.’”
We should learn from these supplications and do the same. Raise your hands in duʿā’ and tell Him:
“O Samīʿ, You hear my pleas. O Baṣir, You see my desperate state. Grant me, enrich me, guard me, save me, relieve me…”
The rise of true murāqabah (being watchful) of Allah
The “New York City Black Out” is the name which was later given to the power cut which hit NY during 1977. The city plunged into darkness. Although the lights went out for no more than 24 hours, when they came back on, the extent of the devastation was revealed.
For those brief moments without electricity, violence had erupted across the city: stores were looted, windows were smashed, buildings were set ablaze, and the police stood helplessly. It was an urban crisis, a national emergency, and many companies never recovered from that single night, all because the city’s eye had fallen asleep for a few moments.
On a daily basis, we find ourselves experiencing a similar “black out”: moments of solitude when no one, apparently, can see us. Sadly, many will use these blackout periods to do to their imān what those New Yorkers did to their city. In the absence of surveillance, the inner monster of the self demands to be unleashed.
Every Muslim will theorise “as long as Allah can see me, I am safe”, but contradictory behaviour during times of privacy expresses a different belief: “As long as people cannot see me, I am safe.” On that note, perhaps a small comparison between the eye of man/the law vs the Eye of Al-Samīʿ Al-Baṣir would be refreshing, in the hope of reaching the conclusion that Allah is worthiest of our watchfulness.
Regardless of the number of cameras installed and security officers employed, some areas will inevitably remain unmonitored. As for the Eye of Allah, however, He said:
وَمَا تَكُونُ فِي شَأْنٍ وَمَا تَتْلُو مِنْهُ مِنْ قُرْآَنٍ وَلَا تَعْمَلُونَ مِنْ عَمَلٍ إِلَّا كُنَّا عَلَيْكُمْ شُهُودًا إِذْ تُفِيضُونَ فِيهِ وَمَا يَعْزُبُ عَنْ رَبِّكَ مِنْ مِثْقَالِ ذَرَّةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي السَّمَاءِ وَلَا أَصْغَرَ مِنْ ذَلِكَ وَلَا أَكْبَرَ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مُبِينٍ
“And there is not any matter which you engage in, or any portion of Qur’ān which you recite, nor any deed which you do except that We are Witness of you when you are doing it. And nothing is hidden from your Lord, so much as the weight of an atom on the earth or in the heaven, nor anything less than that nor greater than that except that it is in a Clear Record” 
Furthermore, surveillance personnel need breaks to use the bathroom. They also have to shift their attention when monitoring more than one screen and others will nod off on duty during long night shifts. As for Al-Samīʿ Al-Baṣir, He said about Himself:
اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ
“Allah! There is no god except Him, the Ever-Living, All-Sustaining. Neither drowsiness nor sleep overtakes Him…” 
In the infinite past, long before creation, Allah was awake. Today, as humanity dives into the depths of sleep on a nightly basis, He remains awake. Tomorrow, when the heavens shall be rolled up, as a writer rolls his scrolls, marking the end of life as we know it today, He shall remain awake. Then, on the day of reckoning when the heavens and the earth are reconstructed, and beyond that, in the infinite future, Allah will remain awake. He is not touched by even the lightest slumber, rather He endlessly observes, hears, documents and answers without fail.
Moreover, during daylight hours, a camera may capture a decent shot of a face but when the night draws its curtains, precise facial features are suddenly much harder to distinguish. Likewise, we find picking up loud conversations much easier than whispered ones. For us, these factors make a difference, as for Allah, He said about Himself:
سَوَاءٌ مِنْكُمْ مَنْ أَسَرَّ الْقَوْلَ وَمَنْ جَهَرَ بِهِ وَمَنْ هُوَ مُسْتَخْفٍ بِاللَّيْلِ وَسَارِبٌ بِالنَّهَارِ
“It is the same to Him whether any of you conceals his speech or declares it openly or whether he is hidden by night or goes forth freely by day.” 
No matter how sophisticated the human means of surveillance become, man will only ever be able to see the apparent external matters. After all, what camera can monitor intentions, desires, doubts, or beliefs? Only One authority can and does track this.
قُلْ إِنْ تُخْفُوا مَا فِي صُدُورِكُمْ أَوْ تُبْدُوهُ يَعْلَمْهُ اللَّهُ
“Say to them, ‘Whether you conceal what is in your hearts or reveal it, Allah knows it…’” 
And Allah said:
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ وَنَعْلَمُ مَا تُوَسْوِسُ بِهِ نَفْسُهُ
“And We have created man and We know what his soul whispers to him …” 
And Allah said:
وَإِنْ تَجْهَرْ بِالْقَوْلِ فَإِنَّهُ يَعْلَمُ السِّرَّ وَأَخْفَى
“Whatever you may say aloud, He knows what you keep secret and what is even more hidden.”
This analogy therefore makes it clear that we are constantly live, never truly offline. From the day you became accountable, the record button was pressed. This reality should cause the Muslim to tread very carefully, for above him is a Lord named Al-Samīʿ and Al-Baṣir. Believing in this is to believe that one is perpetually under four dimensions of observation:
The first: That of Allah’s
أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مَا يَكُونُ مِنْ نَجْوَى ثَلَاثَةٍ إِلَّا هُوَ رَابِعُهُمْ وَلَا خَمْسَةٍ إِلَّا هُوَ سَادِسُهُمْ وَلَا أَدْنَى مِنْ ذَلِكَ وَلَا أَكْثَرَ إِلَّا هُوَ مَعَهُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كَانُوا ثُمَّ يُنَبِّئُهُمْ بِمَا عَمِلُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
“Have you not considered that Allah knows what is in the heavens and what is on the earth? There is in no private conversation three but that He is the fourth of them, nor are there five but that He is the sixth of them – and no less than that and no more except that He is with them [in knowledge] wherever they are. Then He will inform them of what they did, on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed Allah is, of all things, Knowing.”
Right when you think you are alone, the family is out, the curtains drawn, and the time is right, this ayah jolts you into remembrance and stops you in your tracks, “Allah is my second”.
The second: That of the angels
مَا يَلْفِظُ مِنْ قَوْلٍ إِلَّا لَدَيْهِ رَقِيبٌ عَتِيدٌ
“Not a word does he utter but there is by him a watcher at hand ready to record.”
The two recording angels are sat by your side at this very moment. When you fatigue, they are active, when you sleep, they are awake, and when you bid the world farewell and arrive on the plain of resurrection, you shall meet them and they will accompany you every inch of the way. They cannot be escaped.
The third: That of the believer’s
Whatever consistent act one hides, whether good or evil, will be made public sooner or later. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:
مَن أَثْنَيْتُمْ عليه خَيْرًا وَجَبَتْ له الجَنَّةُ، وَمَن أَثْنَيْتُمْ عليه شَرًّا وَجَبَتْ له النَّارُ، أَنْتُمْ شُهَدَاءُ اللهِ في الأرْضِ
“Whoever you (Muslims) speak well of, paradise is incumbent for him, and whoever you speak ill of, the hellfire is incumbent for him. You are Allah’s witnesses on earth.”
This concept that Allah will reveal the inner essence of a person sooner or later is one which even the pre-Islamic pagans were familiar with, as Zuhair b. Abū Sulmā (a pre-Islamic poet) said in a line of poetry:
وَمَهْمَا تَكُنْ عِنْدَ امْرِئٍ مَنْ خَلِيقَـةٍ ** وَإِنْ خَالَهَا تَخْفَى عَلَى النَّاسِ تُعْلَـمِ
“No matter what trait one may possess, it will be made public, even if he tries to hide it”
The fourth: That of his own self
بَلِ الْأِنْسَانُ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ بَصِيرَةٌ وَلَوْ أَلْقَى مَعَاذِيرَهُ
“Rather, man is a witness against himself. Even if he presents his excuses.” 
Putting together all of the above, the conclusion is very clear:
There is no such thing as true khalwa (solitude).
Our predecessors understood this reality well, ‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Umar being one of them.
‘Abd Allāh was once circumambulating around the Ka‘bah when he was approached by ‘Urwah b. al-Zubair who asked for the hand of his daughter, Sawdah, in marriage. ‘Abd Allāh did not respond, carrying on as if he had not even heard what was said to him. ‘Urwah promised himself to never repeat the request.
Days later, ‘Abd Allāh approached ‘Urwah and said:
ذَكَرْتَ لِي سَوْدَةَ بِنْتَ عَبْدِ اللهِ وَنَحْنُ فِي الطَّوَافِ نَتَخَايَلُ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ بَيْنَ أَعْيُنِنَا
“You made mention of Sawdah as we were circumambulating, whilst we were envisioning Allah before our very eyes.” 
An example of immense recognition of Allah’s Ever Observing Eye.
Another individual who appreciated this was a shepherd whom ‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Umar once met. Food was presented as a local shepherd had passed way. ‘Abd Allāh called him, “Come and eat with us.” He responded: “I am fasting”. ‘Abd Allāh said: “Fasting on a hot day like this as you walk between mountainous valleys while you tend to sheep?” The young shepherd replied:
أبادر أيامي الخالية
“I am taking advantage of my days that are coming to an end.”
‘Abd Allāh was amazed at his mature and righteous response, so he said to him: “Will you sell us one of your sheep? We will then give you some of its meat to break your fast, so you can benefit from both its price and meat.” The shepherd responded: “They are not mine, they belong to my master.”
‘Abd Allāh wished to test him, so he said to him: “What can your master say if you tell him that a wolf ate one?”. At this, the shepherd walked away from ‘Abd Allāh with his index finger pointing to the heavens as he said: “But what about Allah?”
Upon returning to Medinah, ‘Abd Allāh purchased all of the sheep from his master, freed the shepherd from slavery, and gifted him the sheep.
After this, ‘Abd Allāh would frequently quote the shepherd, saying: “The shepherd said, ‘but what about Allah?’” 
A similar exchange was caught on camera more recently. In 2014, a Sudani shepherd was filmed in the middle of the desert after being stopped by two people driving by in their car. They asked him for a sheep but he told them that they did not belong to him. They told him to tell the owner that he lost a sheep. His response was immediate, emanating from an untarnished fiṭrah: “What about the grave? Inside it there’s no such thing as ‘I lost it’”. The passer-by said to him “I have 200 Riyals for you”. The shepherd’s response was “I would not give it to you for even 200,000 Riyals. My reckoning will not be by you but Him.” At the end of the exchange, they gifted him the 200,000 Riyals. 
Another example is that of Khulaid al-‘Aṣarī who, whenever he would enter his home, 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 Allah! By Allah, you are going to see goodness from me today, take note of this: ‘Bismillāh, SubhānAllāh, Alḥamdulillāh, Lā ilāha illa Allāh, Allāhu Akbar.’”
He would continue doing this until he would fall asleep or make his way to the next prayer.
He did not allow those moments of solitude to get the better of him, reminding himself that the observers are with him even within his home.
Another example is that of a God-fearing woman who was abducted by a soldier. Her neighbours fought in her defence but were unable to fend off the abductor’s guards. The assailant took her into his home and closed every door. He enticed her but she refused his requests. He coerced her until he was on the verge of actualising his intent, when she said to him: “Wait, there’s one more door that you haven’t closed.” He said: “Which one?” She replied: “The door that is between you and Allah.” Her captor stood up and said: “Leave. Allah has saved you.”
Believing in Al-Samīʿ and Al-Baṣir therefore gives rise to intense awareness of Allah and harsh self-accountability in the build up to every action:
“Will this statement of mine be documented by the angels as a sin or a good deed?”
“Will my behavior elicit an answer on the day of reckoning which I will not be able to provide?”
“Will my online post, written or otherwise, be looked at favorably by the Seer and Hearer of all?”
“Does my behavior in the private setting plummet to deplorable levels compared to that in the public domain?”
“Does my ‘joke’ entail an iota of backstabbing which will cost me hard-earned good deeds on the day of reckoning?”
“Am I as sincere as I claim, or does Al-Samīʿ Al-Baṣir see a contaminated reality within me which men do not see?”
A few years ago, one would need to exert considerable effort in order to attain the impermissible. With the advent of technology and mass communication, however, the obscenest scenes can be accessed from one’s home at the click of a button. Furthermore, all one needs are some contact details – an 11 digit number or a social media profile – and behold, one-to-one private communication can be achieved on demand.
On top of this all, social media has given everyone a platform to speak on any topic, reveal any information and access heaps of content at any given time. There is no protection from the unfettered offerings of today other than a true retreat to the names of Allah As-Samīʿ and Al-Baṣir, and living by the self-accountability which belief in them both demands.
Your belief in these two names is a cloud that hovers over your head, an inner voice that never quietens, but rather raises its volume whenever sinful lusts flow through your veins, saying:
O my soul, if you crossed Allah’s limits whilst thinking that He could not see or hear you, then how great was your disbelief in Allah.
O my soul, if you crossed over His limits whilst knowing that He could see and hear you, then how little was your shyness of Allah.
O my soul, how is it that you are an ally of Allah in public but an enemy of His in private?
O my soul, beware of making Al-Samīʿ Al-Baṣir the most insignificant of all observers.
O my soul, remember the words of the poet:
إذا خلوت بريبـةٍ في ظلمة ** والنفس داعـية إلى الطغيان
فاستح من نظر الإله وقل لها ** إن الذي خلق الظلام يراني
“If you ever find yourself alone during moments of darkness, and your soul is urging you to break a limit. Then be ashamed of the looking of Allah upon you, and say to your soul ‘The One who created the night can still see me’” 
To turn wholeheartedly and exclusively to the One who hears, sees and answers
Ten years after he had become a prophet, it became apparent to Prophet Mohammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) just how hostile the people of Mecca had become towards him and his cause. So, he decided to preach elsewhere: the city of al-Ṭā’if. He travelled around 100km by foot to get to there with only one companion along the way. The city, however, received the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) in the most cruel way in which a human being could host another. They insulted him, expelled him, and sent the fools of the society after him to pelt him with stones. Picture the Prophet of Allah (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) running for his life, despite the purpose of his visit being that he may give them life.
He sought refuge in a nearby garden where he caught his breath, attended to his bloodied body, and most importantly, turned to Al-Samīʿ Al-Baṣir to pour his heart out following what he had just endured.
In his desperate plea for help, the Prophet Mohammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:
اللَّهمّ إلَيْكَ أَشْكُو ضَعْفَ قُوَّتِي، وَقِلَّةَ حِيلَتِي، وَهَوَانِي عَلَى النَّاسِ، يَا أَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمِينَ، أَنْتَ رَبُّ الْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ، وَأَنْتَ رَبِّي، إلَى مَنْ تَكِلُنِي؟ إلَى بَعِيدٍ يَتَجَهَّمُنِي؟ أَمْ إلَى عَدُوٍّ مَلَّكْتَهُ أَمْرِي؟ إنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ بِكَ عَلَيَّ غَضَبٌ فَلَا أُبَالِي، وَلَكِنَّ عَافِيَتَكَ هِيَ أَوْسَعُ لِي، أَعُوذُ بِنُورِ وَجْهِكَ الَّذِي أَشْرَقَتْ لَهُ الظُّلُمَاتُ، وَصَلُحَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْرُ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ مِنْ أَنْ تُنْزِلَ بِي غَضَبَكَ، أَوْ يَحِلَّ عَلَيَّ سُخْطُكَ، لَكَ الْعُتْبَى حَتَّى تَرْضَى، وَلَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إلَّا بِكَ
“O Allah. I complain to You of my weakness, my scarcity of resources and the humiliation I have been subjected to by the people. O Most Merciful of those who are merciful, you are the Lord of the weak and my Lord too. To whom have you entrusted me? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy to whom you have granted authority over my affair? However, so long as You are not angry with me, then I do not mind. But Your favour is more relieving for me. I seek refuge in the light of Your Face by which all darkness is dispelled, and by which every affair of this world and the next is set right, lest Your anger or Your displeasure descends upon me. I desire Your pleasure and satisfaction until You are pleased. There is no power and no might except by You.” 
Not long after this, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) found a cloud hovering above him. He looked into it and saw the angel Jibreel who called him:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ سَمِعَ قَوْلَ قَوْمِكَ لَكَ، وَمَا رَدُّوا عَلَيْكَ، وَقَدْ بَعَثَ إِلَيْكَ مَلَكَ الجِبَالِ لِتَأْمُرَهُ بِمَا شِئْتَ فِيهِمْ
“Allah has heard what your people said to you and how they responded. He has sent with me the angel of the mountains so that you can instruct him with whatever you wish.”
The angel of the mountains greeted the Prophet Mohammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and told him that he was on standby, awaiting the Prophet’s command to crush the city of al-Ṭā’if. The city is located between two mountains, hence it was a golden opportunity for the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) to settle his scores with (what was) a vile community. He had the power to cause rivers of blood to flow from their streets just as they had caused blood to flow from his body.
His response, however, was one of wisdom, mercy and altruism. He told the angel that he hoped, one day, believers would emerge from their progenies.  This is precisely what has happened. The point of mentioning the above is to highlight the angel Jibreel’s statement “Allah has heard what your people said to you…”
Surely, accounts like this evict any desire from one’s hearts to plead at the doorsteps of man. At the same time, it saturates the heart with the yearning of turning to the Lord of man, The Hearer and Seer of all.
Similarly, when a woman by the name of Khawlah b. Thaʿlabah came to the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) to complain about her husband, Allah revealed verses in her regard, saying:
قَدْ سَمِعَ اللَّهُ قَوْلَ الَّتِي تُجَادِلُكَ فِي زَوْجِهَا وَتَشْتَكِي إِلَى اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ يَسْمَعُ تَحَاوُرَكُمَا إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ بَصِيرٌ
“Indeed, Allah has heard the argument of the woman who pleaded with you (O Prophet) concerning her husband, and appealed to Allah, and Allah has heard your exchange. Surely Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.”
This amazed our mother ʿĀ’ishah who said:
سبحانَ الذي وسِع سمعُه الأصواتَ ، لقد كانتِ المُجادِلةُ تُناجي رسولَ اللهِ صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلم في جانبِ البيتِ وإنه ليخفَى عليَّ بعضُ كلامِها ، فأنزل اللهُ تعالى قَدْ سَمِعَ اللَّهُ قَوْلَ الَّتِي تُجَادِلُكَ فِي زَوْجِهَا
“Glory be to the One who hears all things! The lady who pleaded with the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was in our house speaking to him, yet I was barely able to make out what they were saying. Then Allah revealed: ‘Certainly Allah has heard the speech of the one who argues with you concerning her husband …”
Despite the few metres which separated them, ʿĀ’ishah was unable to make out what was being said. Allah, however, heard every detail of the conversation from above seven heavens. Is this not a Lord worth retreating to?
The reality of Allah’s Hearing and Seeing is, therefore, a highly consoling one, and it was precisely these two traits which Allah reminded Mūsa and Hārūn of after they had been tasked with the duty of travelling to the Pharaoh and inviting him to Islam. Mūsā and Hārūn expressed their fear, but Allah said to them both:
لَا تَخَافَا إِنَّنِي مَعَكُمَا أَسْمَعُ وَأَرَى
“Do not be afraid, I am with you both, hearing and seeing.” 
The greatest solace to an anxious heart is in its belief in the Lord who is Hearing and Seeing, particularly at times when the eyes of people are blind, and their ears are deaf to our pains.
Pinpoint the nature of your grief:
– Is it a devil-based one, where their endless whisperings are keeping you from where you want to be in your relationship with Allah? Realise that Al-Samīʿ awaits your complaints, so that He may respond with envoys of relief and shield you from the devil’s sinful murmurings.
وَإِمَّا يَنْزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ نَزْغٌ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌا
“And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Satan, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is Hearing and Knowing.” 
– Or is it perhaps a human-based one, with a foe constantly on your case, a relationship which you desperately wish to salvage or terminate, a child who has gone off the rails, or any of their likes? Again, realise that Al-Baṣir awaits your grievances to be raised to Him, to respond to you with the keys of relief for your circumstances.
This was the method Prophet Yūsuf (ʿalayhi al-Salām) used when he found himself subjected to false accusations. He turned to Al-Samīʿ and, as always, he was not disappointed. Allah said:
فَاسْتَجَابَ لَهُ رَبُّهُ فَصَرَفَ عَنْهُ كَيْدَهُنَّ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
“So his Lord responded to him and turned away from him their plot. Surely, He is The Hearing, the Knowing.” 
No words can truly express just how empowering, reassuring and soothing it is to know that an All Hearer, All Seer exists and wants you to turn to Him. Hence, whatever the nature of their grievances and however intense their sorrows may be, the believers’ hearts feel no desire to plea to mortals. Instead, they understand that the reigns of all matters are in the knowledge and hands of Al-Samīʿ and Al-Baṣir.
A development of endurance in the face of tests
Belief in these two names yields tremendous levels of toleration towards the hardships faced in any aspect of worship, Islamic requirements, and life events at large. All of a sudden, the hostilities of men, the insults of the mainstream or the abandonment of family become far more manageable when one truly internalises the fact that his pains are clearly seen and heard by Allah every step of the way and every second of the day.
Allah said to the Prophet Mohammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam):
وَاصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ فَإِنَّكَ بِأَعْيُنِنَا
“And so, wait patiently for the decision of your Lord, for indeed, you are in Our eyes…” 
Knowing that we are in His Eyes fosters patience. Be it the thirst of Ramadan, the fatigue of Ḥajj, the challenge of releasing one’s zakāh, the urge to press the snooze button for the fajr prayer, the restraint of the gaze, the sweltering challenge of a flawless ḥijāb on a summer’s day, the injuries of a just jihād or the loneliness of being a practicing Muslim, when one gazes into the heavens above acknowledging that he is entirely within Allah’s sight and hearing, then pains are eclipsed and grief is minimised.
As a result, the limbs are empowered to pray on time regardless of the circumstances, to speak the word of truth albeit politically incorrect or socially unacceptable, and forbid evil without fear of being accused of being a killjoy. And, man will be content with whatever Allah decrees for him with respect to money, marriage or their likes, for the giver or withholder of these matters is not one who forgets or miscalculates, but One who hears, sees and gives according to what best suits His servants.
وَلَوْ بَسَطَ اللَّهُ الرِّزْقَ لِعِبَادِهِ لَبَغَوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَكِنْ يُنَزِّلُ بِقَدَرٍ مَا يَشَاءُ إِنَّهُ بِعِبَادِهِ خَبِيرٌ بَصِيرٌ
“Had Allah given abundant provisions to all His servants, they would have certainly transgressed throughout the land. But He sends down whatever He wills in perfect measure. He is truly All-Aware, All-Seeing of His servants.” 
Your downfall may be in the very wealth which you beg Allah for, or in your marriage with the one you are besotted with, or in the children you so dearly desire. Hence, in these circumstances, the blessing lies in the prevention of these. How many people ended up losing their happiness, sleep, wealth, sanity, lives and even afterlives because of the very matters which they persistently begged Allah for? This is why the verse above, after establishing the fact that Allah sends down His provisions in perfect measure, says: “He is truly All-Aware, All-Seeing of His servants”.
In short, believing in Al-Samīʿ Al-Baṣir nurtures immense inner strength in the face of every challenge, be it an Islamic obligation or prohibition, or the day to day matters which Allah decrees and those He prevents.
The dawn of true sincerity
Knowing that His Lord is aware of every turning of his heart, the desire to show off simply cannot persist in the heart of one who truly believes in Al-Samīʿ Al-Baṣir.
Abū Ḥafṣ said to Abū ‘Uthmān al-Naysābūrī:
إذا جلست للناس فكن واعظًا لقلبك ونفسك، ولا يغرنك اجتماعهم عليك، فإنهم يراقبون ظاهرك، والله يراقب باطنك
“When you sit to give a reminder to the people, ensure that your reminders are for your own heart and soul, and do not be deceived by the numbers of your attendees, for they are observing your outward state whilst Allah is observing your inward.” 
To feel the inner warmth of Allah’s nearness
When hearts are devoid of Al-Samīʿ and Al-Baṣir, the pursuit for comfort becomes one of lifelong toil and despair. It is sought in social gatherings, vacations, cigarettes, sexual desires, drugs, excessive sleep, or their likes. Even if they provide some relief, what happens when their effects come to pass? The feeling of inner estrangement intensifies until it, in extreme circumstances, leads to suicidal tendencies. Clearly, anchoring one’s self to such transient matters in pursuit for that inner warmth is not a long-term solution let alone, in many cases, permissible.
Compare this with the words of those who, through their connection to He who never parts way with His creation, experienced the joy of His nearness.
Ḥabīb Abū Muḥammad used to say:
من لم تقرعينه بك فلا قرت عينه، ومن لم يأنس بك فلا أنس
“Whoever is not content with You, O Allah, then may he never be content, and whoever does not feel comfort in Allah’s intimate companionship then may he never feel comfort.” 
It was said to Mālik b. Mughaffal whilst he was sat in his home, “Don’t you get lonely?” He replied:
ويستوحش مع الله أحد؟
“Can anyone who is with Allah feel lonely?” 
Muslim b. Yasār said,
ما تلذذ المتلذذون بمثل الخلوة بمناجاة الله -عز وجل
“There can be no joy that is sweeter than calling upon Allah in solitude.” 
Muḥammad b. Munkadir said,
إني لأ دخل في الليل فيهولني فينقضي، وما قضيت منه إربي
“I start my night prayer but those moments seem to pass so quickly, leaving me feeling unfulfilled.” 
Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim said:
فَفِي الْقَلْبِ شَعَثٌ، لَا يَلُمُّهُ إِلَّا الْإِقْبَالُ عَلَى اللَّهِ. وَفِيهِ وَحْشَةٌ، لَا يُزِيلُهَا إِلَّا الْأُنْسُ بِهِ فِي خَلْوَتِهِ. وَفِيهِ حُزْنٌ لَا يُذْهِبُهُ إِلَّا السُّرُورُ بِمَعْرِفَتِهِ وَصِدْقِ مُعَامَلَتِهِ. وَفِيهِ قَلَقٌ لَا يُسَكِّنُهُ إِلَّا الِاجْتِمَاعُ عَلَيْهِ، وَالْفِرَارُ مِنْهُ إِلَيْهِ
“In the heart of every human being, there is a sense of scattering which can only be gathered by turning to Allah. And in the heart there is a sense of loneliness which can only be overcome by feeling the intimate nearness to Allah in solitude. And in the heart there is sadness which can only be removed by the joy of knowing Him and being true in worshipping Him. And in the heart there is anxiety which can only be put at ease by gathering one’s self for Him and escaping from Him to Him.” 
Any periods of solitude therefore – whether caused by travel, illness or even imprisonment – are easily transformed into moments of inner warmth with Allah’s nearness and companionship. People will not be able to take advantage of such a person’s estrangement to break his morale, coerce him out of his values or make concessions. Duʿā’, prostration, and Qur’ān have him connected to Al-Samīʿ Al-Baṣir.
 Al-Qur’ān, 14:39
 Al-Qur’ān, 2:127
 Al-Qur’ān, 3:35
 Al-Qur’ān, 3:38
 Al-Qur’ān, 20:25-35
 Al-Qur’ān, 20:36
 Al-Qur’ān, 10:61
 Al-Qur’ān, 2:255
 Al-Qur’ān, 13:10
 Al-Qur’ān, 3:29
 Al-Qur’ān 50:16
 Al-Qur’ān, 20:7
 Al-Qur’ān, 58:7
 Al-Qur’ān, 50:18
 Muslim, on the authority of Anas
 Al-Qur’ān, 75:14-15
 Ḥilyat al-Awliyā’
 Ṣafwa al-Ṣafwa
 Al-Zuhd, Ahmad b. Hanbal
 Al-Faraj baʿd al-Shiddah by al-Tannūkhī
 Nūniyyah al-Qaḥṭānī al-Andalūsī
 Ibn Isḥāq
 Al-Bukhārī and Muslim
 Al-Qur’ān, 58:1
 Ibn Mājah
 Al-Qur’ān, 20:46
 Al-Qur’ān, 7:200
 Al-Qur’ān, 12:34
 Al-Qur’ān, 52:48
 Al-Qur’ān, 42:27
 Madārij al-Sālikīn
 Tārīkh Dimashq
 Majmūʿ Rasā’il b. Rajab
 Jāmiʿ al-ʿUlūm wa al-Ḥikam
 Siyar Aʿlām al-Nubalā’
 Madārij al-Sālikīn
Shaykh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is Islam21c’s Tarbiya Editor. 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. Shaykh Ali is the author of several books including ‘The Daily Revivals’, ‘The Ten Lanterns’ and ‘The Friday Reminder’. He delivers sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country.