(4) During Du’aa
The moment you raise your hands in complaints to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), realize that you are now in communication with One of unbreakable might, the Sovereign, the King of kings, the owner of existence, the creator of life and death, and Lord of angels, jinn-kind, and mankind.
Hadhrat Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said:
ادعوا الله وأنتم موقنون بالإجابة
“Make Du’aa whilst you are certain of the response.” (At-Tirmizi)
As one poet said:
وإني لأدعو الله حتى كأنني
أرى بجميل الظن ما الله صانعُه
“I call upon Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), and due to my positive thoughts of Him, it is as if I can see the response.”
(5) During Taubah (Repentance)
As you lower your head in shame and shed that tear of repentance, expect the best in Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), realizing that the tear is already erasing a mountain’s worth of crimes. Think positively of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) as you apologize, and realize that regardless of the size of your sin, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) is greater and His forgiveness is vaster.
رأيت مالك بن دينار رحمه الله في منامي، فقلت: يا أبا يحيى ليت شعري، ماذا قدمت به على الله عز وجل؟ قال: قدمت بذنوب كثيرة، فمحاها عني حسن الظن بالله
Sahl al-Qat’i said that he saw Maalik bin Dinaar in his dream. He said to him: “O Abu Yahyaa! What happened when you met Allah?”
Maalik replied: “I came to him with many sins, and He erased them all through my good expectations of Him.” (Husn az-Zann bi-Allah by Ibne Abi ad-Dunya)
وقفت بجانب أبي سليمان الداراني وهو لا يراني، فسمعته يناجي ربَّه ويقول: “لئن طالبتني بذنوبي لأطالبنك بعفوك، ولئن طالبتني بتوبتي لأطالبنك بسخائك، ولئن أدخلتني النار لأخبرنَّ أهلها أني أحبك”
Ahmad Ibne Abi al-Hawaari said that he stood besides Abu Sulaimaan al-Daaraani whilst he couldn’t see him, and he heard him calling upon Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) saying: “O Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)! If you ask me about my sins, I will ask you about your forgiveness, and if you ask about my repentance, I will ask you for your generosity, and if you take me to hell, I will still tell its people that I love you.” (Shu’ab al-Imaan by Al-Bayhaqi)
Hadhrat Anas reported that the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) quoted Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) that He said:
يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ إِنَّكَ مَا دَعَوْتَنِي وَرَجَوْتَنِي غَفَرْتُ لَكَ عَلَى مَا كَانَ فِيكَ وَلَا أُبَالِي، يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ لَوْ بَلَغَتْ ذُنُوبُكَ عَنَانَ السَّمَاءِ ثُمَّ اسْتَغْفَرْتَنِي غَفَرْتُ لَكَ وَلَا أُبَالِي، يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ إِنَّكَ لَوْ أَتَيْتَنِي بِقُرَابِ الْأَرْضِ خَطَايَا ثُمَّ لَقِيتَنِي لَا تُشْرِكُ بِي شَيْئًا لَأَتَيْتُكَ بِقُرَابِهَا مَغْفِرَة
“O Son of Adam! So long call upon Me and have hopes in Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O Son of Adam! Were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and you then asked forgiveness from Me, I would forgive you, and I shall not mind. O Son of Adam! Were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth, but you came to me ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.” (At-Tirmizi)
(6) During one’s dying moments
سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قبل موته بثلاثة أيام يقول: لا يموتَنَّ أحدكم إلا وهو يحسن الظن بالله عز وجل
Hadhrat Jaabir said that he heard the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) say three days before he passed away: “None of you should die except while expecting the best from Allah.” (Muslim)
After this incident, the spirit of such positive expectations of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) during one’s dying moments was passed down from the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) to those after him.
Hadhrat Waathilah Ibne al-Asqaa’, a Sahaabi (Companion) of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said to Hayyaan:
قد بي إلى يزيد بن الأسود؛ فإنه قد بلغني أنه -يعني نزل به المرض
“Take me to Yazid Ibne al-Aswad, as I have heard that he is going through the pangs of death.”
They entered upon Yazid. He had been faced towards the Qiblah in preparation for death, and at that moment, he fell unconscious. Hadhrat Waathilah said: “Call him.”
Hadhrat Waathilah then himself said: “This is Waathilah, your brother.”
Yazid extended his hand and started patting with it. Hayyaan said: “I immediately knew what he wanted. He wanted to touch the hand of Hadhrat Waathilah, as it was a hand that touched the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam), so I took his hand and the hand of Hadhrat Waathilah and placed them together. Yazid started to pass Hadhrat Waathilah’s hand over his own face, chest, and mouth.
Hadhrat Waathilah then said to him:
ألا تخبرني عن أي شيء أسألك عنه: كيف ظنك بالله؟
“I want to ask you one question: how are your expectations of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)?”
Yazid managed to find the energy to answer:
أغرقتني ذنوبي، وأشفأت على هلكة، لكني أرجو رحمة الله
“My sins have drowned me and I am on the verge of ruins, but I have hope in Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s mercy.”
At this point, Hadhrat Waathilah said: “Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest).”
And then every member of those in attendance said: “Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest).”
Then Hadhrat Waathilah said:
سمعت رسول الله ﷺ يقول: يقول الله عز وجل: أنا عند ظن عبدي بي، فليظن ظان ما شاء
“I heard the Prophet say that Allah said: ‘I will be just as my servant expects of Me, so let him expect what He wishes.”
If, however, you struggle to get this act of worship in gear, failing to find that great expectation in Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) during testing times, remembrance of the following will certainly help:
(a) Remember the book which is placed above Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Throne
Hadhrat Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said:
لما قضى الله الخلق كتب في كتابه -فهو عنده فوق العرش-: إن رحمتي غلبت غضبي
“When Allah completed creation, He wrote in a book which is with Him on top of the Throne, which says: ‘My Mercy prevails over anger.’” (Bukhari and Muslim)
(b) Remember the words of angel Jibril
The Archangel, Hadhrat Jibril came to the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) and described to him the final moments before the Pharaoh of Hadhrat Moosaa (Moses) was drowned. Hadhrat Abdullah Ibne ‘Abbas reported that the Prophet Mohammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said:
لَمَّا أَغْرَقَ اللَّهُ فِرْعَوْنَ قَالَ آمَنْتُ أَنَّهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ الَّذِي آمَنَتْ بِهِ بَنُو إِسْرَائِيلَ فَقَالَ جِبْرِيلُ يَا مُحَمَّدُ فَلَوْ رَأَيْتَنِي وَأَنَا آخُذُ مِنْ حَالِ الْبَحْرِ فَأَدُسُّهُ فِي فِيهِ مَخَافَةَ أَنْ تُدْرِكَهُ الرَّحْمَةُ
“When Allah drowned Fir’awn, he said: ‘I believe that there is no god except the One that the children of Israil believe in.’ So Jibril said: ‘O Muhammad! If only you saw me how I was taking mud from the sea, and filling his mouth out of fear that the mercy would reach him.’” (At-Tirmizi)
He was a man who spent a lifetime challenging Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), opposing prophets and declaring godhood, but nevertheless, angel Jibril thought that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s mercy would encompass him, knowing just how enormous Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s mercy actually is.
(c) Remember the words of Sufyaan al-Thauri
Sufyaan Thauri said:
ما أحبُّ أن حسابي جُعل إلى والدي؛ فربي خيرٌ لي من والدي
“I would never wish that my accountability on the Day of Judgment was in the hands of my parents, as my Lord is better for me than them.” (Shu’ab al-Imaan by Al-Bayhaqi)
(d) Remember the ordeal of Prophet Yousuf
The brothers of Hadhrat Yousuf (Joseph) wanted him dead, but in the end he remained alive. They wanted to erase every trace of him, but his status only rose. They played a role in making him a slave, but he became a king. They wanted to eradicate his love from their father’s heart, but it only deepened, all of which shows beyond doubt that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s will is above the will of man.
Similarly, according to Hadhrat Yousuf’s cellmates, he was the best of them, yet they were released before him. However, one of them ended up becoming a servant whilst the other was executed. Then, when Hadhrat Yousuf was eventually freed, he became a king and was reunited with his family, which shows beyond doubt that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s planning is greater than that of man’s.
When Hadhrat Yousuf’s father, Hadhrat Ya’qoob (Jacob), said: وَأَخَافُ أَن يَأكُلَهُ الذِّئْبُ “I fear that the wolf might eat Yousuf”, Yousuf was taken away from him, misery engulfed him, and he lost his eyesight. But when He relied upon Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) for relief, saying:إِنَّمَا أَشْكُو بَثِّي وَحُزْنِي إِلَى اللَّهِ “I complain of my sorrow and grief to Allah”, Yousuf was returned to him, so was his brother and his eyesight was restored.
Think well of Him and realize: Those who associate partners with Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) or deny His existence under any pretense, be it natural selection or anything else, have expressed the worst of expectations of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Those who believe that the Sahaabah (Companions) of Prophet Mohammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) had, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) forbid, left the religion after his death or competed for worldly positions have shown terrible expectations of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Those who comprise their Hijaab to help with career or marriage prospective have thought badly of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Those who opt for a business venture, whilst knowing that it is prohibited, have shown ill thoughts of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa).
Similarly, those who believe that happiness can only be achieved through sin have displayed some of the worst of thoughts towards Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Those who think that just because the consequences of their sins haven’t bitten them yet, be it something he sells, injects, inhales, consumes, or does on the weekend, will not eventually meet them have shown horrid expectations of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Whoever delays repentance because “it can wait” has thought ill of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Whoever believes that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) will punish a person who has dedicated his whole life to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has shown bad expectations of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Whoever believes that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) does not have a plan for Muslim in Syria, China, or anywhere else has displayed the most evil of thought about Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa).
Think well of Him, and remember that the sea that Prophet Moosaa crossed did not drown him; the whale that consumed Prophet Younus (Jonah) did not digest him; the fire that Prophet Ibrahim was thrown in did not burn him; the knife that was passed over Prophet Ismail’s neck did not harm him:
فَمَا ظَنُّكُمْ بِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ [الصافات: 87]
” Then, what do you think about the Lord of the worlds? (As-Saaffaat 37:87)
And what is even more fascinating is that the Lord Whom they worshipped is the exact same Lord Whom you prostrate to. Think about the above for a moment, and you will realize soon after how you have every reason to smile and be positive, rather to be ecstatic to live another day as a Muslim.
Finally, we should point out that there is a fine line between good expectations in Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and being delusional, and Shaitaan (Satan) has an interest in blurring the line between the two. The difference between the two is that, as Imam Ibne al-Qayyim said, if one is encouraged to do more good deeds, then this is good expectation in Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), whilst if one is encouraged to relax his religious commitment, find shortcuts and justifies sins, then this is delusional thinking.
Al-Hasan al-Basri said:
إن المؤمن أحسن الظن بربه فأحسن العمل، وإن الفاجر أساء الظن بربه فأساء العمل.
“The believer expects the best in Allah and so his actions are excellent, whilst the sinner thinks ill of Allah, and so his actions are just as ill.” (Ahmad)