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The General and Specific Understanding of: Allāh Is “with” His Creation

Imām Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Shawkānī

An explanation on a very important topic that many Muslims fail to comprehend, with evidences from the Qurān and the Sunnah.

The [Prophet] (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: ‘Allāh said: ‘I am as my slave thinks I am [towards him]. I am with him when he remembers me. If he remembers me by himself, I remember him within myself. If he remembers me before an assembly, I remember him in an assembly greater than it.’

Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī Al-Shawkānī [d. 1250 AH] commented:

(I am with him when he remembers me): This explicitly proves that Allāh the Glorified, the High, is with His slaves [in His knowledge] should they remember Him. This necessitates that He specifies them with His Mercy, and supports them with His guidance and that He rights their way.

If one were to reply that He is with all of His creation [in His knowledge] as He, the Glorified, the High has said:

وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُمْ

‘And He is with you wherever you are.’
[Al-Ḥadīd 57:4]

and His, the Exalted in Remembrance saying:

مَا يَكُونُ مِن نَّجْوَىٰ ثَلَاثَةٍ إِلَّا هُوَ رَابِعُهُمْ وَلَا خَمْسَةٍ إِلَّا هُوَ سَادِسُهُمْ وَلَا أَدْنَىٰ مِن ذَٰلِكَ وَلَا أَكْثَرَ إِلَّا هُوَ مَعَهُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كَانُوا ۖ

‘There is no private conversation with three but that He is the fourth of them, nor are there five but that He is the sixth of them – and no less than that and no more except that He is with them [in knowledge] wherever they are.’
[Al-Mujādilah 58:7]

I reply: That is a general form of Him being with His creation and this is a specific form that occurs only for the one who engages in His remembrance while still being encompassed by the general form. For this specific form necessitates an increased level of care and attention, complete honour, and the showering of bounties [from Him]. This type of company has been alluded to in the Great Book [of Allāh] from Him being with the patient [Al-Anfāl 8:46]1 and the ones who have god-consciousness [taqwá] [Al-Naḥl 16:128]2 and the likes of such verses in the Great Book [of Allāh] or in the Sunnah. There is no contradiction between this specific type of companionship and the other general form. For such is the case whenever a subject is specified from among a well-encompassing general postulation; it confirms exceptional merit and value to that which has been specified from the norm.

Endnotes:

[1]

إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ

Indeed, Allah is with the patient.

[2]

إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوا وَّالَّذِينَ هُم مُّحْسِنُونَ

Indeed, Allāh is with those who fear Him and those who are doers of good.

Source: Tuḥfah al-Dhākirīn: 13
Translated by: Riyāḍ Al-Kanadī

Published: August 10, 2023
Edited: August 11, 2023

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