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Positive Thinking and Its Alignment with Continuous Obedience

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim

A discussion regarding the correct and incorrect forms of positive thinking in Allāh (ḥusn al-ẓan).

From among [the rebellious continuous sinners] are those who put their trust in his [the Prophet’s (ﷺ)] saying in his narration from his Lord: ‘I am congruent with the positive thinking of my slave, so let him think of me what he wills.’ [They take this] to mean truly I will only execute whatever is in the mind of [the slave]. There can be no doubt that positive thinking [in Allāh] is borne only out of the execution of good actions. For the one who busies himself with good, thinks positively with regards to receiving reward from Allāh in return for the goodness he put forward. [He knows that] He will not break his promise and that He will accept true repentance. As for the one who continuously commits major sins, acts of oppression and incongruency; the loneliness that comes from engaging in disobedience, oppression and criminality will prevent such a person from ever thinking positively concerning his Lord. This is clearly observed in practice.

The slave that chooses the life of a convict who, without precedent, wanders away from the obedience of his master will find it impossible to have positive thoughts of Him.

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim

The loneliness that comes from sinning will never be congruent with positive thinking [of the One being disobeyed]. For the sinner has chosen to be an outcast according to the scale of his transgression. The ones who thinks positively [concerning Allāh] are only the ones who are the most obedient to Him. Al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī said: ‘Truly, the believer thinks positively of his Lord and thus he carries out good actions. The criminal harbours evil thoughts of his Lord and thus he involves himself in evil.’ How can the one who has chosen to wander aimlessly away from his Lord think good of Him? He ensconces himself and actively seeks out that which is hateful [to his Lord] and that which incurs His wrath. He has made himself deserving of His curse. For his trivialization of the rights and commands of His Lord has allowed him to abandon [good deeds]. He has chosen to take that which is forbidden as meaningless, so he sins continuously.

Source: Al-Dāʾ wa-al-Dawāʾ: 44-45
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: March 7, 2022
Edited: May 27, 2022

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