Allah — the Manifest and the Hidden

Updated 18 March 2016

Allah — the Manifest and the Hidden

ALLAH says: “He is the First and the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden, and He is the Knower of all things.” (Qur’an, 57:3)
Addressing Allah in supplication, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “O Allah, Lord of the heavens, the Earth, and the Mighty Throne! Our Lord and the Lord of all things; Who splits the seed and the kernel, Who sent down the Torah, the Gospel, and the Criterion. I seek refuge with You from the evil in everything, all of which you grasp by the forelock. O Allah! You are the First, so nothing precedes You. You are the Last, so nothing comes after You. You are the Manifest, so nothing comes above You. You are the Hidden, so nothing comes below You. Fulfil our debts for us and enrich us so we will not be poor.” (Sahih Muslim, 2713)

Allah is the Manifest

Allah is the Manifest who is transcendent above all things. He is such in His essence and attributes, as well as in His power, might and authority.
Allah declares Himself to be above the Throne in seven places in the Qur’an. For instance, he says: “The Beneficent is established on the Throne.” (Qur’an, 20:5)
And: “Lo! Your Lord is Allah Who created the heavens and the Earth in six days, then mounted He the Throne.” (Qur’an, 7:54)
The angels fear their Lord Who is above them. Likewise, we are instructed to say while prostrating in prayer: “Glory be to Allah, the Most High.” Therefore, when we are in the most humble state of worship, with our foreheads to the ground, we exalt Allah and glorify His transcendence above all deficiency and imperfection.
Another meaning of “the Manifest” is that Allah’s existence is manifest to the human mind with clear proofs and arguments. The signs of Allah’s Lordship are evident in creation.
Yet another meaning of “the Manifest” is that Allah supports His righteous servants with His might and His assistance, and establishes the truth, no matter how much those who are opposed to it strive in enmity. Allah says: “... We strengthened those who believed against their enemies, and they became the ones who prevailed.” (Qur’an, 61:14)
And He says: “He it is Who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, that He might cause it to prevail over all religions.” (Qur’an, 9:33)
Allah’s religion is manifest. Its truth is evident, supported by sound arguments and proofs. It is also manifest by way of Allah’s will and decree, in accordance with His wisdom.
Allah’s support comes in many ways. It also comes when Allah wills it to come. People should not expect instant success for their efforts. They should not grow impatient and hasty. Allah’s support, as well as everything else that unfolds in our worldly experience, has its norms and patterns, though this support can come in ways that are subtle or utterly unexpected.
We should also know that Allah never breaks His promise, so when Allah says: “Most surely We help Our Messengers and those who believe, in this world’s life…,” we know it to be true. A believer can be strong and manifest in the world without necessarily being in a position of prominence.

Allah is the Hidden
Allah is the Hidden Who cannot be perceived by our physical senses. Allah says: “No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is the Knower of Subtleties, the All-Aware.” (Qur’an, 6:103)
Allah cannot be grasped by our imaginations. No matter how impressive we might believe our imaginative powers to be, we cannot imagine Allah. Whatever image we might concoct in our minds will be nothing at all like Allah. Understanding this will free a lot of sincere people from their misgivings, worries, misapprehensions, and doubts which put them ill at ease.
A believer should know that whatever suspicions or images their minds might present to them, they cannot possibly be Allah. Allah cannot be grasped by the imagination nor fully comprehended by the mind. We cannot hope to grasp an image of Him. Any image some of us might have in our minds are the false products of our thoughts. They have no value, no matter how beautiful or dreadful they might be.
Allah’s existence is certainly manifest. This is something our minds can readily grasp and the dictates of reason compel us to accept. Yet, at the same time He is the Hidden when it comes to the true nature of His essence and attributes. He cannot be seen by our eyes, and He is not subject to the laws that govern our material existence and by which we understand our world.
Among the meanings that we understand from this name is that Allah knows all things, no matter how hidden, how subtle, or how obscure they might be. Though Allah is exalted above the Throne, beyond the heavens, He is at the same time ever near to His servants.
Allah says: “Verily, we created the human being and We know what his soul whispers to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.” (Qur’an, 50:16)
Though He is the Most High, He comprehends all of His creation. He is near to everything, intimately aware of all that transpires. Consider how Allah mentions these two meanings together in the following verses: First, He says: “We have not revealed the Qur’an to you (O Muhammad) to distress you, but as a reminder to those who fear (Allah), a revelation from Him who created the Earth and the high heavens. The Beneficent is established on the Throne.” (Qur’an, 20:2-5) This name of Allah also has significance in how Allah relates to the visible world. Everything that we see is Allah’s direct possession and under His power. Wherever we turn our faces, we gaze upon His dominion.
Indeed, these two names, The Manifest and the Hidden, are rich in meaning, though Allah only refers to Himself by these names in one verse of the Qur’an, where He says: “He is the First and the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden, and He is the Knower of all things.” (Qur’an, 57:3)
Allah has revealed to us through His Book and through what He has revealed to His Messenger what inspires us to worship, praise, glorify, and thank Him. Allah has taught us many of His names and attributes by which we can draw ever nearer to Him, without ever falling into the error of likening Him to created things, or falling victim to the caprice of our imaginations.
“There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Seeing, the Hearing.” (Qur’an, 42:11)

— Courtesy: islamtoday

The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016

The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.