Guidance is the Foremost Divine Gift
Commentary by Adil Salahi
“My servants, it is but your deeds that I reckon up for you and then recompense you for, so let him who finds good, praise Allah and let him to who finds other than that blame no one but himself.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad and Muslim)
ALLAH makes it clear that He has forbidden Himself injustice and made it also unlawful among human beings. Qudsi Hadith is a divine revelation received by the Prophet and conveyed by him to us in Allah’s words. It is different from the
Quran in the sense that it may not be read in prayer and, unlike the Quran, it may be reported through a chain of single narrators. Before commenting on the remainder of this Qudsi Hadith, it is useful to quote it again in full:
One of the statements the Prophet relates from his Lord (Glorified be He) is that He said: “My servants, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden among you, so do not oppress one another. My servants, all of you are astray except for those I have guided, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you. My servants, all of you are hungry except for those I have fed, so seek food from Me and I shall feed you. My servants, all of you are naked except for those I have clothed, so seek clothing from Me and I shall clothe you. My servants, you sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you.
Although human nature is upright in the first instance, as a human being grows up he is exposed to many influences which are bound to lead him astray unless he is equipped with divine guidance. It is also a natural tendency with a human being to try to fulfil his desires and to prefer a life of leisure to one which imposes duties on him. Allah’s guidance will show him how to fulfil his natural desires in a manner which is acceptable to Allah
“My servants, you will not harm Me, nor will you benefit Me. 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. 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 increase My kingdom in anything. My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request of Me, and were I to give every one what he requested, that would not decrease what I have, any more than a needle decreases the sea if put into it.
“My servants, it is but your deeds that I reckon up for you and then recompense you for, so let him who finds good, praise Allah and let him to who finds other than that blame no one but himself.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad and Muslim).
After the categorical statement which makes all oppression and injustice absolutely forbidden, Allah directs our attentions to the fact that we are in need of His favours at every turn of our lives. Perhaps nothing affects man more fundamentally throughout his life more than following proper guidance or going astray. Hence, Allah’s first address, after the prohibition of injustice, puts us face to face with the fact that without His guidance, we are bound to go astray: “My servants, all of you are astray except for those who I have guided.” What this means is that if we are left to our own devices, it is inevitable that we will go astray.
Even the most grievous sin are pardoned by Allah if we turn to him with repentance
A question may be raised here that every human being is born with an upright human nature. Therefore, he should be able to follow the right course of action. How can we reconcile this fact expressed by the Prophet in an authentic Hadith with the statement made here by Allah that we are all astray? Let me say clearly that there is no contradiction between the two Hadiths. Although human nature is upright in the first instance, as a human being grows up he is exposed to many influences which are bound to lead him astray unless he is equipped with divine guidance. It is also a natural tendency with a human being to try to fulfil his desires and to prefer a life of leisure to one which imposes duties on him. Allah’s guidance will show him how to fulfil his natural desires in a manner which is acceptable to Allah. Thus, he will know that adultery and fornication are forbidden, while marriage is the healthy, clean way of satisfying his natural tendencies and which is acceptable to Allah. When a human being prays Allah to guide him to the right path, he is seeking His support not only to be able to distinguish what leads him astray but also to follow the right path with diligence and contentedness.
This Qudsi Hadith also tells us that even the most basic of our needs are only satisfied by the grace of Allah. Without His provisions, we remain hungry; without the clothing He makes available to us, we remain naked. In order to understand these statements, we have to remember that it is Allah who opens up ways for us to earn our living. It is He who has made human beings mutually dependant on one another so as to give everyone a chance of doing something useful for which he earns what may be sufficient for him to meet his basic needs. This is indeed a manifestation of Allah’s grace, because it ensures that no one remains in want, unless a community suffers from a great imbalance in the distribution of its resources. Nevertheless, the very basic means of earning a living have been provided by Allah. It is He who has given the earth the quality of producing food for man and animal. It is He who has made man able to make use of things that are in his world to make useful advances and to build civilization.
Moreover, when we pray Allah for our basic needs, He may answer our prayers with giving us abundance of them. Since it is in human nature to seek a comfortable and luxurious life, Allah is telling them here that prayer can be a way for them to achieve that.
Next Allah tells us that we are so prone to sin that we do commit sins at all times, by night and by day, and we are liable to bear the consequences of what we do. This is a fact that no one can dispute. We need only to look at what we do, what thoughts we may entertain and how we try to accomplish our ends. If Allah were to give us what we deserve for all that, our punishment would be very severe indeed. However, Allah reminds us here that He forgives all sins and mistakes. No sin is unforgivable with the exception of associating partners with Allah and claiming that Godhead and Lordship in the universe are not His alone. Short of that, even the most grievous of sins may be forgiven if we turn to Allah with sincere repentance and pray Him to forgive us. Again, Allah directs us to seek His forgiveness and promises to grant it if we do. Someone may ask here, why is forgiveness dependant on our praying Allah for it? Why does He not forgive us our sins of His own accord. The answer is that He certainly does. When we follow a bad deed which we may have committed with a good one, the latter is sufficient to ensure the forgiveness of the former. However, when we pray Allah to forgive us, we are actually acknowledging His Lordship and this puts us in a better position towards Him. That makes our forgiveness all the more certain.