[Ideally, read Part 1 of this series first, if you haven’t! :) ]
Reading a number of recent blog posts here about how important it is to know Allah, and how much we ignore this crucial piece of knowledge, some of you may start to wonder what the big deal really is. We know Allah already, don’t we? We know He made us and all that is in the heavens and the earth. We know He owns everything. We know He knows everything. We know He controls everything. Many of us memorized the ninety-nine names of Allah when we were little. Well, then, what’s the trouble?
My first point is that memorizing the ninety-nine names of Allah hardly qualifies as knowing Him – or even as really knowing the names, for that matter.
Here’s a quick test: what does it mean to say Allah is al-Jabbar (the Compellor)? What do we really mean when we say Allah is al-Fattaah (the Opener)? What does it mean to say He is al-Latif (the Subtle One)? Why is he ad-Daarr (the Creator of the Harmful)? How many of these names can you and I even translate, let alone truly know the in-depth meaning of?
My second point is that there is a difference between knowing and understanding.
This book (Fiqh ul Quloob) is not merely about ilm (knowledge), although that is the first step, but is about fiqh (understanding). So we may have memorized the names of Allah, but their meaning is not truly, deeply drilled down inside of us. Each time we ask, “why did Allah do this to me”, or “why doesn’t Allah listen to my duas”, we are negating some of His attributes – of His justice and mercy. Each time we criticize the laws of stoning to death or cutting off the thief’s hand for being too brutual, we are negating His attribute of wisdom and His attribute of justice, His wrath and His punishment. Each time we casually commit a sin, each time we lie and think nothing of it, each time we break a promise, leave a salaah, or induge in haram and think it’s okay, we negate His attribute of being wrathful, and of being watchful and all-knowing of our sins. Each time the Muslim-born agnostic questions, “If there’s a God, how come He lets children starve in Africa?”, he is mistaking the meaning of Allah’s love, and ignoring all together His test, His qadr (decree) and again His ultimate justice.
In how many of us, then, has the true meaning of the attributes of Allah been truly drilled? Can we then claim to know Him, and can we claim that there’s no need to study the names and attributes of Allah any more than what we already know?
Explaining what TRUE faith is, the author says,
بل حقيقة الإيمان: أن يعرف العبد الرب الذي يؤمن به، ويبذل جهده في معرفة أسمائه وصفاته، ومعرفة آلائه وإحسانه، حتى يبلغ درجة اليقين
Meaning that the reality of iman is that the slave recognizes Allah and exerts his utmost effort to understand His names and attributes, and to recognize His blessings, حتى يبلغ درجة اليقين – until he reaches the state of yaqeen: unshakeable, deep-rooted belief based on true understanding! Are we at that stage of yaqeen yet? I think not, for most of us! That is why it is such a big deal. Feel free to question or comment!
Worried by this situation? Want to help change it? Read on: On Knowing Allah – Part 3: Call for Volunteers.