16th Ramadaan, 1432:
فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوهُمْ وَلَـٰكِنَّ اللَّـهَ قَتَلَهُمْ
وَمَا رَمَيْتَ إِذْ رَمَيْتَ وَلَـٰكِنَّ اللَّـهَ رَمَىٰ
IT WAS not you who killed them but Allah who killed them;
and it was not you (o Prophet) who threw (sand at them) rather Allah who threw (in Sura Al-Anfal, 17)
Background and Preamble
In Sura Anfal, describing the events of Ghazwah Badr (the first battle of Prophet Mohammad, salla-Allahu alaihi wa-sallam, and his followers with Mecca’s polytheists) Allah Ta’ala attributes the actions of all muslims (includig the prophet) to Himself. Given it’s context and background, the ayah has many specific and significant interpretations; however, I was struck by the ‘relating’ sense of the meaning of this ayah.
By relating, here I don’t mean the nature of our relationship with God, that of being His creation, His subjects, His dependents and worshipers. To relate also means to connect, to associate with, to concern with, to ally. God is the Sole Creator, Emperor and Controller of the whole universe and we are a tiny part of the vast universe. We are powerless before Him, in essence nothing. And yet, when the same of our kind attempted to follow His path and act out it’s demands, see how that same Omniscient, Omnipotent, All-encompassing God identifies Himself with them and endearingly attributes their actions to His Self.
The backdrop for a relating God
There is abundant evidence in the Qur’an, as well as in hadith, that Allah Ta’ala extends His Love towards all His creation. In Arabic the most common word for love is hubb ( حب ). Other related words also used in the Qur’an are: rahmah ( رحمة ) meaning kindness and benevolence, rabubiyah ( ربوبية ) meaning to care for, ra’fah ( رأفة ) meaning tenderness and gentleness, wuddah ( وده ) meaning to be fond of some one, and wilayah ( ولاية ) means being a friend.
Of these various words, rahma, rabubiyah, and ra’fah have been used to express the more general and all-encompassing love of God for His creatures. Kindness is a virtue that springs from love: you cannot be kind with someone if you have an incapacity to feel love for them. The natural consequence of love and kindness is caring. Caring, as in rabubiyah, involves specific actions such as helping one grow and develop, and providing for one’s sustenance. Of course, God has provided us for our growth in various ways and reminds us of that numerously in the Qur’an. As for His rahmah, He announces:
ۖ وَرَحْمَتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ
MY mercy (or benevolence) embraces all things. (in Al-A’raf, 156)
كَتَبَ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ
… WHO has willed upon Himself the law of grace and mercy. (in Al-An’am, 12)
And how can the One who produced everyone and everything and is responsible for their care, not have a basic attitude of tenderness and gentleness upon those whome He created?
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ
INDEED, Allah is Gentle with people (in Al-Baqara, 143)
These defining attributes of God are amazing enough. Can we think of anybody else, no matter how loving in our eyes, who loves us so thoroughly who is ready to come to us ten steps if we only take one toward him? Who is ready to forgive all our mischief, disobedience, indifference, forgetfulness, or outright stubbornness in exchange for one truthful moment of acknowledgement (of His Sole Godness and of our having done wrong)? Who tenderly arranges for all the elements for our survival in this world, in the physial, psychological, and spiritual paths so that we may arrive soundly at the gate of the Real World to be? Who is not in the example of a self-satisfied pampering mother who spoils her children in the name of her ‘love’, rather who even cares for our being as optimally human as possible, thus even tests us with ordeals and shakes us with hardships so that we do not get lost in the maze of superficial luxuries and comforts?
And yet He remains Supreme, far far above us, the Incomparable, the One and the Sole. His Status is undeniably High and Mighty. So how can we expect the King of the whole universe to relate to us in the fashion of a one-to-one relationship?
God’s special love for His special subjects
The special more relational love of God is a reward of those of His subjects who acknowledge and depend upon His general Loves of Kindness and Tender Care. From the above list of love-related words, those that directly reflect the sense of love and affiliation are hubb, wuddah, and wilayah. Throughout the Qur’an, Allah Ta’ala has used these words as either affirmed fact or promised reward for those who obey Him truly.
And so Allah Ta’ala announces, because we believe in Him, He is our Friend. And not just a friend, rather, a true friend who works as a guide and benefactor (for that is covered in the meaning of the word wali):
اللَّـهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا
ALLAH is the friend of those who believe (in Al-Baqra, 257)
And, as we follow the teacher (Prophet Mohammad s.a.w) He appointed out of His Kindness and Care, He promises us His Love:
إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّـهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّـهُ
Say: ‘If you love God, follow me, and God will love you (in Al-i-Imran, 31)
And when we place our trust in Him, as any proclaimed friend merits, again He loves us:
فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ
… WHEN you decide upon something, rely upon Allah; indeed Allah loves those who trust (Him). (in Al-i-Imran, 159)
And when we, after believing in Him, try to practice all the various meritable attitudes and behaviors that He inspires us to, He promises His most special fond, friendly and affectionate love to us:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ سَيَجْعَلُ لَهُمُ الرَّحْمَـٰنُ وُدًّا
The relational attributes of God
We all know that any real-life one-to-one relationship based on love, friendliness and affection is operational. By that I mean, it is not just in the form of proclamations, rather it expresses itself in specific actions, prerequisites of being a loving friend. God who is already acting as a Kind, Gentle Caregiver for the entirety of His creatures, believing or unbelieving, is indeed acting as a real Friend to us, those who believe and trust and rely on His Friendship, all the time:
And so He is there, close by us, whenever we need to talk to Him:
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ
And just as we remember Him, He does the same:
SO remember me, and I shall remember you. (in Al-Baqara, 152)
And in times of difficulty when we are threatened, like a true friend, He defends us:
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُدَافِعُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا
SURELY Allah defends those who believe. (in Al-Hajj, 38)
And just like we greet each other in our friendliness, so He will greet us (InshaAllah, in Heaven) when finally the time for the meeting arrives:
سَلَامٌ قَوْلًا مِّن رَّبٍّ رَّحِيمٍ
SALAAM! shall be the greeting from the Merciful Lord. (Sura Ya-Sin, 58)
And not only that, He will express His appreciation for whatever little we could do for Him in our earthly lives:
إِنَّ هَـٰذَا كَانَ لَكُمْ جَزَاءً وَكَانَ سَعْيُكُم مَّشْكُورًا
“SEE this is your recompense and your striving has been thanked.” (Sura Al-Insan, 22)
And like a true reciprocating friend, He doesn’t just care for Himself being pleased with our friendship, He cares for our being pleased with His friendship, too…
رَّضِيَ اللَّـهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ
…. only if we were sensible enough to long to and strive to merit it….
Is there anything left to say?