"O Allah! You are my servant and I am Your Lord!"
Astaghfirullah (May God forgive me)! What a terrible statement! Indeed, if someone deliberately makes such a statement, it would be a grave sin, a blasphemy. Fact of the matter is that Allah is our Lord and we are his servants, and there cannot be an identity or honor for us that is higher than this. God can choose any one, any group, any species to serve him and his cause. But those of us who believe and submit to God have been identified by our Benevolent Rabb (creator, sustainer, nourisher, evolver) as his servants. Then, what is the significance of an otherwise blasphemous statement as mentioned above?
Well, there is a both serious and lighter side to it. The serious side is related to the fact that under extreme and desperate circumstances human beings tend to do extraordinary, exceptional, uncommon - or, put it another way, crazy - things. During moments of shock, suffering, agony, and frustration, we tend to do things that otherwise we generally do not. Quite similarly, at moments of true and profound joy, relief, deliverance, achievement, success, once again, we often lose control of ourselves.
Just look at the reactions people show at extremely profound negative or positive moments. Quite often, this is natural - just like when we cry or moan due to pain or shock, or when we laugh at funny things or show ecstasy at joyous situations.
But, that is human behavior. Happiness and sadness, joy and sorrow, ecstasy and depression - all these are various states of human emotion. What about our Benevolent Rabb - God, who describes himself as ar-Rahmanir Rahim (the Most Kind, the Most Gracious), al-Gafoorur Rahim (the Most Forgiving, the Most Gracious)? Does he care? Is he sensitive? Do we really matter to him?
Developing a proper understanding of this issue requires recognizing an essential dimension of Islam: balance. There are certain verses in the Quran and narrations from the Prophet that seems to give an impression that we hardly matter. "O my servants, you will not attain harming me so as to harm me, and you will not attain benefiting me so as to benefit me. O my servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as pious as the most pious heart of any one man of you, that would not increase my kingdom in anything. O my servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any one man of you, that would not decrease my kingdom in anything. ..." (Forty Hadith Qudsi, #17)
From statements such as the above one might get the feeling that we really are inconsequential to God. But in light of the reality this would be the fitting message for those who with pride and haughtiness deny, reject or ignore the Truth and live according to their whims without recognizing any sense of relationship with or accountability before him.
Then, there is the other side of the story. We do matter to God, and indeed, a great deal. God did not create us as perfect beings so that we won't commit any mistake, error or sin. We should try our best not to do so. However, if we ever err, the remedy is as simple as a sincere repentance - an act that makes God indescribably delighted. How happy God really can be? Well, who can illustrate it better than his messenger himself?
The Prophet said: "God is more pleased with the repentance of a servant as he turns towards him for repentance than this that one amongst you is upon the camel in a waterless desert and there is upon (that camel) his provision of food and drink also and it is lost by him, and he having lost all hope (to get that) lies down in the shadow and is disappointed about his camel and there he finds that camel standing before him. He takes hold of his nose string and then out of boundless joy says: O Allah! You are my servant and I am Your Lord. He commits this mistake out of extreme delight." (Sahih Muslim, Vol. #4, #6618)
Notice that God is "more" pleased than this ecstatic servant. Now, do we matter to God? Does he care about us? You can draw your own conclusion. My feeling is that he does. A great deal!
Now what about the blasphemous statement? People who might not appreciate the context of a statement, they might like to have the head of such person committing blasphemy chopped. Those who understand the context might appreciate that loving relationship is not merely guided by rigid laws and rules. Beyond the appropriate and beneficial realm of laws and rules, there is a realm of love and affection, where sincere mistakes can be natural and parties to it understand each other quite well. Just as the Prophet did and clarified it that the person who made that statement did so out of extreme delight. And, God is more ecstatic at our repentance than that person who out of extreme delight made such an otherwise blasphemous statement. What a beautiful illustration of the fact that we do matter to God and he does care!
It is in this context the Hadith "God said, 'I am to my servant as he THINKS of Me'" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 9: #596) needs to be understood. Does this mean that we should not care about fulfilling our role as his servants? Not at all. This is a two-way relationship. God is still the Master of the Day of Judgment! "When my servants asks you concerning me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the calls (da'wah) of every supplicant when he calls on me: Let them also, with a will, listen to my call, and believe in me, that they may walk in the right path." Quran 2:186
The author, Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq, is Head of Centre for Islamic Finance at Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF).
You can visit his blog at: http://www.globalwebpost.com/farooqm
May Allah protect us from Shaitan and save us from hellfire
I have to admit the first sentence almost gave me a heart attack but then I kept reading and saw where you were going with it. Overall, I'd say well done.
How funny - I came pretty close to actually shouting, "Heresy!" (Astaghfirullah!!)
Jazak Allah wa jazak Allahu khair - now I can see why so many other readers seemed to enjoy the article.
Best be your's & May Allah(SVT) bless you all there!
Thank you so much for this wonderful talk regarding Allah's concern and love for us. Reading your article made me want to weep and give thanks to Allah. Thanks
About the wrong sentence ,I am sure Allah will forgive us due to not our intent to write that in purpose,May God bless us all the Muslim in the world.
Regards, from Indonesia
What if I say I am so ashame to be a muslim, what if I say I can't say it to people's face that I worship Allah? Does that condemn me as a true muslim? Well, all those words or phrase are words that best describe what I really want to say. Is believing in Allah a way of saving one's soul? No, if I am ask cause I have never seen any one that has got as much beleive in Allah to live a low keyed live. Not in terms of Riches or things that glitter but of Life generally.
The beleive people have about Satanic things is far higher than that of God's. I browsed a website where I feel so ashame and was dumb founded cause I have no words to say. I beleive I am remaining as a muslim cause the Christian are stronger in beleive than the muslims. If a pastor could ask the members of the church to stand up on their legs, raise their hands above their head and pray for hours then believe me brothers, he's a god. He's a god cause he control things. How many amongst muslims can sit down and read the think about God that way?...Non!!!. In the Synagogue(I mean the Church), the set people free from their sorrows and help them in terms of needs. But in the Islamdom, how many people can pool their resources together to help another carry on. In the Islamdom, how many people care about the other..All we think about is being strong and always preparing for WAR against body and not soul. My fellow muslims, I will be very grateful and glad if you can visit this site and go through where they said that Islam is the religion of those that worship the moon... Where does Allah generate from? Why is the Quran not translated and why is it not recited in English whenever we perform Salat?
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Jazakum Allah khayran
This was so touching and poetic to my heart.
Thank you so much for this article.
As far as who is the servant in the relationship, I don't care for those who seem to think that God is some kind of santa clause there to meet all their needs no matter what they feel that they are nor do I think that I am wise enought to tell the originator of all things, who sees and knows all things how to run things. That would be the height of conceit.
Peace and blessings,
Thank you for striving so hard to explore the wisdom of Islam for and with the wider community. I and many others, surely, always look forward to receiving your postings. This last mailing, however, may have benefitted from the inclusion of the statement-in-question at its start. Though I consider myself of fair intelligence (al-hamduLillah), it was not until I clicked over to the full version of this article, that I understood what statement was being criticized as being blasphemous in nature. In fact, prior to switching over, I was feeling first, appalled, and then simply puzzled as to how anyone could call the statement, "Astaghfirullah," blaphemous. It was quite an upsetting opening, though ultimately, the point of the article was well understood and well taken. Anyway, just thought I might share, for the purpose of future reference. May Allah, S.W.T., bless you, have mercy on you, and keep you well for your efforts. InShaAllah, keep up the great work.
May Almighty Allah bless you for your words of wisdom so eloquently depicted in your recent article on the Islamic Bulletin entitled: "O Allah! You are my servant and I am Your Lord!": The Language of Love .
The World needs to be enlightened through the Prism of Islam and through the wisdom of gifted scholars like you, so that mankind can appreciate and love God's creation more. After all, every thing that exists in the Universe, including us human beings are God's creation, so there should be Peace, Love and Harmony amongst all, while every particle of our physical and spiritual existence permeates this love in multi directions and serves God Almighty.
Thank you brother for an open-minded approach to the mutual relationship between every man and his god. I enjoyed your article.
I hope we see much articles like this one. Thank you very much.
I look forward to see graduates of Islamic divinity Schools wright in that subject also to Islamicity, not anoly who are majoring in Economics. It is unfortunate that if some one want to speak about that will be lablesd right a way as suffi.
If we want to present our religinon to others, this a very nice start.
Mohamad Bashar Arafat