It was a sunnah of the Salaf that, during times of ease, they reminded their fellow companions of the wrath of Allāh Jalla-wa-’Ala and, during times of tribulation, they reminded their companions of rajaa (hope) of Jalla-wa-’Ala. Specifically for ‘ibaadah, fear and hope should go ‘hand in hand’ while the love of Allāh should take precedence over both (fear and hope).
وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْتُونَ مَا آتَوْا وَقُلُوبُهُمْ وَجِلَةٌ أَنَّهُمْ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ رَاجِعُونَ
“And those who give Zakaat which they give with their hearts are waajilah, because they are sure to return to their Rabb.” [Al-Mu’minoon:60].
Here, waajilah refers to a state of absolute fear amidst a trembling heart due to the cognition of whether ones ‘ibada have been accepted or not.
Allāh also says
إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَيَدْعُونَنَا رَغَبًا وَرَهَبًا ۖ وَكَانُوا لَنَا خَاشِعِينَ
“Verily, they used to hasten on to do good deeds, and they used to call on Us with hope and fear, and used to humble themselves before Us.” [Ambiya:90]
The Prophet of Allāh said “Whoever stands up in Ramadan with Emaan and Ihtisab (hope for reward)…” [Bukhari]
So we have here three verses. In the first, Allāh described people in a state of waajilah after completing their ‘ibaada while in the latter (hadith) the Messenger of Allāh described people in a state of ihtisab (i.e., in a state of hope for the reward of Allāh which by necessity implies the hope that ones ibadah is accepted) during their‘ibada. Hence, we say that, during ‘ibaada, a person should hope that Allāh accepts their ‘ibaada and overlooks their faults. Upon completing the ‘ibada, however, the wing of fear should overtake and one should mull over whether their ‘ibaada has accepted. Thus, the wings of hope and fear are balanced.
In Madaarij as-Saalikeen Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah says: “from the stages of ‘Iyyaka na’budu wa iyyaka nasta‘een’ is the stage of Rajaa (hoping).”
أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ يَبْتَغُونَ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِمُ الْوَسِيلَةَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ وَيَرْجُونَ رَحْمَتَهُ وَيَخَافُونَ عَذَابَهُ ۚ إِنَّ عَذَابَ رَبِّكَ كَانَ مَحْذُورًا
“Those whom they call upon do desire (for themselves) means of access to their Rabb, – even those who are nearest: they hope for His Mercy and fear His Wrath: for the Wrath of thy Rabb is something to take heed of.” [Isra;57]
In this verse, Allāh mentions those who worship beings other than Himself Subhanahu-wa-Ta’ala. He disassociates those beings (angels, men and other creations that are being worshiped) from those that are committing the Shirk. Then, He Subhanahu-wa-Ta’ala outlines two fundamental aspects of worship; namely, hoping to get closer to Allāh through His Mercy and fearing His punishment, wrath and displeasure.
Also in this verse, Allāh outlines three stages of Emaan; love, hope and fear. He said ‘means of access to their Rabb’ which indicates to love, because seeking to get closer to Allāh can only emanate from love.
The fruits of worshiping Allāh alone are many. The greatest of these pleasures will be to meet, speak and see the One who brought everything into existence; the One who Originated pleasures; the One who presented the trials, pains and agonies; the One who created the sun and the moon, the night and the day; the One who provided sustenance, shelter and protection; the One who created the intellect; the One that was worshipped for an entire life; Allāh Azza-wa-Jallla, Jalla-wa-’Ala, Subhanahu-wa-Ta’ala. Every creation has this yearning, but only the Muslim will go about it correctly, truly and sincerely. Allāh knows that His creation will long to meet Him and thus He, Subhanahu-wa-Ta’ala, speaks about this:
مَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاءَ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّ أَجَلَ اللَّهِ لَآتٍ ۚ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
“For those whose hopes are in the meeting with Allāh (in the Hereafter, let them strive); verily, the term (appointed) by Allāh is surely coming and He hears and knows (all things).” [Ankabut;5]
For those who hope to meet Allāh , He guarantees it: ‘verily the appointed meeting is coming’ Allāh has honourded and privelaged mankind through this invitation, which is an invitation without any interception, intermediataries, boundries and veils – it is a direct (face to face) meeting between a slave and his Rabb.
In this Aayah (verse), Allāh uses some very important and beautiful words. He says يَرْجُو ‘whoever hopes’. The verb ‘hope’ embeds actions and, therefore, if one hopes he, by necessity, implements the actions which accompany that hope; otherwise he is not hoping, but rather, he is wishing (tamanni).
يُنَادُونَهُمْ أَلَمْ نَكُنْ مَعَكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ وَلَٰكِنَّكُمْ فَتَنْتُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَتَرَبَّصْتُمْ وَارْتَبْتُمْ وَغَرَّتْكُمُ الْأَمَانِيُّ حَتَّىٰ جَاءَ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ وَغَرَّكُمْ بِاللَّهِ الْغَرُورُ
(The hypocrites) will call the believers: “Were we not with you?” The believers will reply: “Yes! But you led yourselves into temptations, you looked forward for our destruction; you doubted (in Faith); and you were deceived by false desires, till the Command of Allâh came to pass. And the chief deceiver (Satan) deceived you in respect of Allâh.” [Hadid;14]
In this verse, Allāh outlines four characteristics of a munaafiq:
1. They lead themselves into temptation – they love the dunya in their hearts, think of the dunya in their minds, and run after the dunya with their limbs.
2. They look forward to the destruction of good– where they see khair (good) they turn away. [Where ever one sees good, he should run to it and aid it. Allāh says ‘hasten to good’ [Baqarah : 148]. Indeed, this is a sign of the believer.
3. They doubt the deen of Allāh Jalla-wa-’Ala. [The believer says sam‘ina wa-at‘ana (we hear and we obey) if it is from Allāh and His Messenger SallAllāhu ‘alyhi wa sallam.
4. They are deceived by false desires (tamanni) They are deceived by wishful thinking.
Wishful thinking is embedded into the hearts of men and, therefore, to avoid its (i.e., the hearts) corruption, one must cleanse the heart of it (wishful thinking). Moreover, one must be determined and sincere in deen. One must strive to accompany the righteous people (upright in morals and character); people who embed the words taqwa and piety; people who fear none but Allāh and rely on none but Him; people who worship only Allāh and do things only for His sake.
The point here is that wishful thinking, which is found in human nature, leads to destruction. Tamanni is never praiseworthy and is always condemned, as is evident from the latter verse. This is an attribute and characteristic of the kaafireen and munafiqeen.
The main cure for this disease of tamanni is the understanding of the belief of the Tawhid of Allāh Jalla-wa-’Ala, in the mind and manifestating this Tawhid in the heart. The one who really believes in Allāh will not wish and then rest (without accomplishing any righteous actions), but rather, the one who really yearns to meet Allāh will attempt to accomplish everything that is necessary to meet Allāh Jalla-wa’ala.
Therefore, Allāh Subhanahu-wa-Ta’ala negates this wishful thinking by saying مَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاءَ اللَّهِ ‘whoever hopes (wants) to meet Allāh Jalla-wa-’Ala’. Additionaly, it is not possible to achive rajaa unless and until one inclines his heart to yearn for what it hopes, one plans (in his mind) how to achieve that goal and literally move his limbs to achieve that objective. That is, one cannot want to meet Allāh and think he can achieve it by doing nothing.
Allāh then says لِقَاءَ اللَّهِ ‘meeting with Allāh.’ In the Hereafter, there will be three meetings with Allāh.121 The meeting that Allāh is referring to in this verse is the third, final and greatest meeting, in Paradise. There is consensus among the ‘ulema that, in this meeting, Allāh will speak to every individual individually and will see Allāh from where they are. This is affimrded by the saying of Prophet SallAllāhu ‘alyhi wa sallam “There will be no difficulty in seeing Allāh Jalla wa ‘Ala”, narrated Jarir Ibn Abdillah al-Badali [Bukhari and Muslim]. Moreover, it is narrated that the Prophet SallAllāhu ‘alyhi wa sallam came out one day while the sahaba were sitting. They saw the full moon and one of the sahabas asked ‘are we goiong to see our Rabb as we see the full moon’. The Prophet SallAllāhu ‘alyhi wa sallam replied, ‘Yes, you will see your Rabb as you see the full moon on the days of Badr, you will not find any difficulty in seeing Him.”122 [Check and reference]
Ibn Al-Qayyim brings the verse:
قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ مِثْلُكُمْ يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَٰهُكُمْ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ فَمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاءَ رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا
“Say: “I am but a man like yourselves, (but) the inspiration has come to me, that your Allāh is one Allāh: whoever (Rajaa) hopes to meet his Rabb, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Rabb, admit no one as partner.” [Kahf;110]
In this verse Allāh reiterates the condition the believers must fulfil in order to to meet their Rabb, and that is to do righteous good deeds.
Ibn Al-Qayyim also quotes another verse:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُوا وَجَاهَدُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أُولَٰئِكَ يَرْجُونَ رَحْمَتَ اللَّهِ ۚ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
“Those who believed and those who suffered exile and fought (and strove and struggled) in the path of Allāh – they have the (true Rajaa) hope of the Mercy of Allāh: And Allāh is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Baqarah:218]
That is, the believers hope for the Mercy of Allāh and they do the deeds of righteousness through which they can hope for the mercy of Allāh Jalla-wa-’Ala.
Additionally, Ibn Al-Qayyim quotes the hadith narrated by Jabir RadiyAllāhu ‘anhu: I heard the Messenger of Allāh SallAllāhu ‘alyhi wa sallam say three days before his death “none of you shall pass away except that he thinks good of his Rabb.” [Muslim]
Also narrated in the Sahih, Allāh says “I am the way My slave thinks of Me, therefore let him think of Me as he wishes and as he wills.”
The point of quoting all of these verses and ahadith is to substantiate that in the hope of Allāh, His mercy should be given precedence.
It was narrated from Anas that the Prophet (ﷺ) entered upon a young man who was dying and said: “How do you feel?” He said: “I have hope in Allah, O Messenger of Allah, but I fear my sins.” The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “These two things (hope and fear) do not coexist in the heart of a person in a situation like this, but Allah will give him that which he hopes for and keep him safe from that which he fears.” [Hasan]
قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنْفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِنْ رَحْمَةِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
“Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allāh: for Allāh forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Zumar:53]
Ibn Al-Qayyim then says ‘Hope is ores/paddle through which the heart rows to the land of the Beloved and that land of the beloved is Allah and the Hereafter, and it beautifies the journey (to Allah Jalla-wa-’Ala).
It is also said it is the feeling of glad tidings of Allah’s generosity and He’s grace and being at ease with the bounties and blessings that He Subhanahu-wa-Ta’Ala bestows.
It is also said that it is full trust and reliance upon the generosity of Allah.
The difference between raja and tamanni is that tamanni is with laziness (ie they don’t plan or prepare and therefore it is taken in the category of wishing). As for raja, it is with striving and taking the means while having good tawakkul with Jalla-wa-’Ala. And for this reason, those who are Ulaama have agreed that hoping is not correct until, with it (hope) there are actions.
Kirmani says ‘The sign that hoping is correct is beautifying in obedience’. Meaning that when one hopes to meet Jalla-wa-’Ala or to do good; he obeys the laws of Jalla-wa-’Ala and beautifies the laws of Jalla-wa-’Ala. Therefore he acts and does what is necessary.
Hope are three types; two types are praiseworthy and one type is blameworthy (and destructive):
1. The hope of a man who obeys Jalla-wa-’Ala through actions through the light from Jalla-wa-’Ala (through ‘ilm). Therefore he is hoping for His reward. – This person is constantly doing righteous good deeds and stays away from major sins and hopes for more favours and bounties.
2. A man who commits a major sin and then he repents from it and therefore he hopes for the forgiveness from Allah Subhanahu-wa-Ta’Ala and His overlooking, ihsan, genorousity, love and care. – This person hopes for the forgiveness and acceptance of Jalla-wa-’Ala and that Jalla-wa-’Ala accepts him as His slave.
3. A man indulges himself in negligence, mistakes and sins, and then hopes for the mercy of Jalla-wa-’Ala without doing any good deeds. This is what is called the destructive tamanni, and the lying hope. – This is not actually hope, as Ibn Al-Qayyim says it is wishful thinking. This person indulges himself in ghafla (heedlessness) and doesn’t take matters seriously.
There are two ways one can attain this hope:
1. A look at his self, his defects, his faults and his slackness in his actions. Then Jalla-wa-’Ala will open for him through the door of fear, the door of wideness of grace, generousity and kindness. – This is key in changing ones heart from wishing to hoping. One has to give real examples (of defects, ie pride, arrogance, lying, love of joking, etc) in real life scenarios and how he reacts to when these scenarios take place. When one does this from the fear of Jalla-wa-’Ala, Allah will open for him the doors of grace, generousity and kindness.
2. A look at the mercy of Jalla-wa-’Ala. The mercy of Allah Jalla-wa-’Ala is of three types:
1. Mercy of Allah’s essence – Jalla-wa-’Ala is Ar-Rahman and therefore in His essence He is merciful and Ar-Rahman embeds this mercy.
2. Mercy in His actions – Because Allah is Ar-Rahman; He gave Himself the name Ar-Raheem. Before Allah does any action (ie before He wills or decrees), there is mercy; even when He Subhanahu-wa-Ta’Ala judges, there is mercy.
3. Mercy in everything that Allah creates – Allah created 100 units of mercy and He Subhanahu-wa-Ta’Ala kept 99 units for the Day of Judgment. Everything in the creation shares this mercy; from the animals to the humans.
In another section, Ibn Al-Qayyim says And the attributes of generousity, and kindness, being beneficient, compassionate, grace, gentleness and making things easy is more specific to the name Ar-Rahman.
All matters of action in the category of Rububiyah, Uluhiyah and Asma was-Sifaat goes into either Ar-Rahman or Ar-Raheem.
And that is why in the definition of ar-raja, is to look at the vastness of Jalla-wa-’Ala, and it was asked to Ahmed Ibn ‘Aasim rahimahumullah, ‘what is the sign of raja in a slave’. He said ‘when ihsan encompasses a person, he is inspired to be greatful; hoping to attain the complete ni’ma from Jalla-wa-’Ala in dunya and in akhira, at the same time, hoping to attain to the complete forgiveness from Jalla-wa-’Ala in the akhira.
Ibn Al Qayyim brings this statement to prove the view of some of the scholars of the salaf that hope is embedded in mercy. The way Ahmed Ibn ‘Aasim described the sign of hope is that all of it is inside the circle of mercy, therefore when one hopes from Allah to give him the favours, he also hopes for Allah to forgive him.
Raja is Built upon Love of Jalla-wa-’Ala
Raja is from the noblest stages of ‘iyya kana’budu wa iyya kanasta’een’, and the most highest of it and the most greatest of it, and through love, fear and hope is the encirclement to the destination of Jalla-wa-’Ala,125as verily Jalla-wa-’Ala repeatedly praised the people who had these three attributes126.
لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا
Indeed in the Messenger of Allâh (Muhammad SallAllāhu ‘alyhi wa sallam) you have a good example to follow for him who (rajaa) hopes in (the Meeting with) Allâh and the Last Day and remembers Allâh much. [Ahzab : 21]
Also in the sahih hadith qudsi from SallAllāhu ‘alyhi wa sallam of what he narrated from his Rabb Jalla-wa-’Ala; ‘O son of Adam, verily as long as you call upon Me and have hope in Me. I will forgive you, whatever has been done from yourself, and I do not care’.
Here Allah is saying that, He will forgive a person no matter what he as done; even if it is kufr and shirk, as long as he calls on Him and begs of Him and has hope in Him Jalla-wa-’Ala.
Also Abu Hurayrah narrates that SallAllāhu ‘alyhi wa sallam said, ‘Allah Jalla-wa-’Ala says, ‘I am with my slave as he thinks of Me, and I am with him if he remembers Me inside himself alone, I will remember him alone (promise from Allah) inside Myself (affirms Allah’s Self) and if he remembers Me in a gathering, I will remember him in a better gathering. And if he comes close to Me a handspan, I will come closer to him an arms length (if a person does his part, then Allah will do extra). If he comes close to me and arms length, I will come to closer to him by two handspan, and if he comes to Me walking, I will come to him hastely’. [Tirmidhi : Hassan]