By Syed Akbar Hassan
The Qur’ān (35:2) says: “Whatever grace Allah opens up to man, none can withhold it; and whatever He withholds, none other than Him can release. He alone is Almighty, Wise.”
With this belief, a person undergoes a complete transformation in his concepts, feelings, values, standards and life generally. It invalidates any thought of any other power having any control over the heavens and earth, and puts us in touch with Allah’s own power. It makes us abandon any thought of receiving grace from anyone else and links all to Allah’s grace. It closes before us every door and way in the universe yet opens for us the door and the way leading to Allah, the Exalted.
Allah’s grace can be reflected in countless aspects. Indeed, we cannot even begin to record these. They are within us and the way we are created; the position of honour we are given; the blessings that are all around us from every side and from above and beneath us. It is also to be found in the favours showered on us.
Allah’s grace is reflected in what man has been denied just as much as it is reflected in what he has been granted. When Allah opens it up to anyone, that person finds it in every situation, thing, condition and place. He even finds it within himself, his feelings, all around him, wherever and however he happens to be, even though he may be deprived of everything people consider important. Conversely, should Allah withhold His grace from anyone, that person will miss it in everything, situation, place and condition, even though he may have at his disposal everything people associate with wealth and happiness.
Whatever favour a person is granted becomes a hardship if it is associated with the withholding of Allah’s grace; and whatever hardship he undergoes becomes a favour once it is coupled with His grace. With Divine Grace the most difficult problem becomes easy and danger becomes safety, but without it, what is normally easy becomes insoluble and seemingly safe paths lead to ruin.
Should we be granted Allah’s grace, we will not feel miserable even though we may be in solitary confinement, enduring torture or facing danger; while misery will be our lot if it is withheld, even though we are in the most luxurious and splendid of surroundings. It is from deep inside that happiness, contentment and reassurance flow by Allah’s grace, and deep inside we feel misery, worry and affliction when it is denied.
Allah may give one plentiful wealth, and that person will find it a source of enjoyment, comfort and a means to a good position in the life to come, provided that it is coupled with Allah’s grace. If that grace is withheld, his wealth becomes a source of worry, envy and hatred. It may also mean deprivation, if the wealthy person is stingy or ill; and it may bring ruin if he is wasteful and careless.
The same can be said about children, health and high position. With Allah’s grace, any of these can be a source of goodness, enjoyment, delight, happiness and joy, as also a means to increase one’s reward in the life to come. Should Allah’s grace be denied, any of these will bring misery, distress, sleepless nights, or expose their owner to other people’s envy, hatred and hostility. Likewise, knowledge, long life and comforts can be associated with either situation of happiness or misery.
One aspect of Allah’s grace is to feel it. Allah’s grace abounds for every one of us, but it is your feeling that it is bestowed on you, your expectation, hope and trust that His Mercy and Grace is coming. By contrast, to doubt or despair of it is pure misery, but this is something that a believer will not suffer: “None but unbelievers can ever despair of Allah’s mercy.” (Surah 12, Ayah 87)
Allah’s grace will not be denied to anyone who seeks it at any place and in any condition. Prophet Abraham found it when he was thrown into the fire; Joseph found it in the well whereinto his brothers threw him and later in prison; Prophet Jonah found it in the whale’s belly, under three covers of darkness; Prophet Moses found it in the river when he was a helpless infant, as also in Pharaoh’s palace when Pharaoh sought to kill him. The young men who retreated to a cave, as told in Surah Al-Kahf, found it there in the cave when it was not to be found at homes and palaces. They said to one another: “Now that you have withdrawn from them and all that they worship instead of Allah, take refuge in the cave. Allah may well spread His grace over you and make fitting arrangements for you in your affairs.” (Surah 18, Ayah 16) The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his Companion, Abu Bakr found it in the cave of Mount Thawr, where they hid from their pursuers. Indeed no one who sought it to the exclusion of everything else, and is aware that only Allah grants strength, power and mercy, has been left lacking.
It is also important to realise that when Allah opens the gates of His grace to anyone, nothing can withhold it; and when He withholds it, nothing can release it. Therefore, no one and nothing should be feared, while hope should never be pinned on anyone or anything. We should never fear to miss out on something, and never trust to any means. It all depends on Allah and what He wills. Whatever He determines will be done. “He alone is Almighty, Wise.” Nothing He determines is without clear purpose.
“Whatever grace Allah opens up to man, none can withhold it.” All that we need to be assured of Allah’s mercy is to request it from Him directly, without intermediaries: “And whatever He withholds, none other than Him can release.”
This single ayah paints a totally different picture of life. It gives a new set of values and standards that are unaffected by any consideration or pressure, be it light or heavy. When this vision is firmly settled in our hearts, we can stand firmly in the face of all events, people, situations, powers and considerations. Even if all people on earth as well as the jinn were to range themselves against us, we would be able to resist them all knowing that they cannot control Allah’s grace.
The lesson this ayah 2 teaches us is that one should not hope any benefit or fear any harm from anyone other than Allah. Instead, one should keep his or her sight trained towards Allah alone. This is the master prescription for a better life in this world as well as in the life to come. This simple antidote delivers one from thousands of anxieties and sorrows.
All of us should read the Qur’ān seriously, implement it fully and live its meanings as though they are a tangible reality. And in all circumstances – whether good or bad – must always remain patient, praise Allah and remain thankful to Allah all the time. Allah make this easy for us, aamin.