Lecture by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi | Transcribed by Zara
[The following is the video and transcript of Shaykh Yasir Qadhi’s Ramadan khatirah. The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity.]
So we concluded Sūrat’l-Ḥashr today and, of course, everybody knows the last page of Sūrat’l-Ḥashr. It is the page that has the highest concentration of Allāh’s names in the entire Qurʾān. Nowhere in the Qurʾān does Allāh mention more names on one page than on the final page of Sūrat’l-Ḥashr. And on this last page of it, Allāh ‘azza wa jall begins by saying that, Oh you who believe, be conscious of Allāh and let every person take into account what he or she has prepared for tomorrow, what every person has ready for tomorrow.
Now this is a beautiful verse because every one of us, when we go to sleep at night, we have a plan for tomorrow. We know where our food is, we know we have our clothes ironed, we have our schedule planned out for today. Every one of us, when we go to sleep, we need to make sure there’s breakfast in the morning; we need to make sure there’s going to be lunch for our children. Nobody goes to sleep without having a plan for tomorrow, if it is in their hands to have a plan, right, unless it is beyond their capability.
So Allāh ‘azza wa jall is saying, ‘When you are doing this for your daily life, why don’t you do it for the inevitable tomorrow which is the akhirah?’ What have you stored for tomorrow? Just like every one of us, we have a savings account, we have the money that we’re going to retire on. Nobody works except that they have a long-term plan, unless they don’t really have any vision in life. Every intelligent person has a preparation. So Allāh says, ‘What is your preparation for what is going to happen…’ and that is, of course, death and that is the akhirah.
And then Allāh repeats, Wattaqullah. Have consciousness of Allāh for indeed Allāh is aware of what you do. And do not be like those who forgot about Allāh. Don’t be like those who forgot about Allāh. What happens when you forget about Allāh? Allāh causes them to forget about themselves. This is one of the most profound verses in the whole Qurʾān. When you forget Allāh, Allāh says, “I cause you to forget yourself.” When you neglect Allāh, Allāh says, “I cause you to neglect yourself.” So you don’t harm Allāh ‘azza wa jall , you end up harming yourself. Now how is this that when you neglect Allāh, you neglect yourself? What does this mean? Because if you think about it, when somebody neglects Allāh, let us take the example of those Muslims who are not praying, not practicing, you ask them, “What is your excuse?” The number one excuse is, “This dunya. I’m busy. I’m just amassing wealth. I’m taking care of myself. I don’t have time for religion.” They might not say it so bluntly but, in the end, that is what it is… that I do not prioritize religion. My business, my work, my 9-5 job, my this, my that, means more to me than religiosity. They might not say it so bluntly but that is what it is in the end of the day.
Now Allāh is saying, When you neglect Allāh, you don’t do it because you’re taking care of yourself. You see, this is the excuse of those who neglect Allāh, that “I’m busy for myself.” They say it not in so many words but that is the gist of it. “I’m too busy concerned with my own self. I don’t really have time for Allāh.” What Allāh is saying is when you neglect Allāh, you don’t end up neglecting Allāh, you end up neglecting yourself. Allāh does not get harmed, you end up harming yourself. How so? Because brothers and sisters, when you turn away from religion, from religiosity, from having a relationship with Allāh, you turn away from having a life that has a purpose and a meaning. Your life becomes meaningless. Your life becomes without any purpose. And so, in the end, you end up harming yourself and forgetting about yourself because the ultimate purpose of creation is what? Is the worship of Allāh. The ultimate purpose of creation is the worship of Allāh and when something turns you away from that worship and you end up neglecting that worship, what happens? You don’t have a purpose for living. And when you don’t have a purpose for living, then no matter what you try to do, your life will be meaningless. Your heart will be empty. You’re going to try to fill it with different things but you’re not going to have a feeling of satisfaction, a feeling of fulfillment. And anyone amongst you who has gone through a phase where they are not that religious, they know what I’m talking about. You may have the best job and the best pay check and the best house in the world, but when you don’t have religion, you find a big emptiness in your life. You find a big gaping hole in your heart. You feel useless. And this is what Allāh is referencing here. That when you neglect Allāh, you end up neglecting yourself.
And then Allāh (swt) then says, He begins all of the names and attributes of Allāh which means, and this is another profound point here, when Allāh says, Don’t neglect Me, this means we need to remember Allāh. How do we remember Allāh? There are many things that can be done. But in Surahtal Hashr we learn one of the primary ways of remembering Allāh is to learn His names and attributes. HuwwAllāhul adhi laa illaha illa hu ‘alimul ghabi washadah huwarahmanur raheem. HuwAllāhul adhi laa illaha illa hu Al Malik Al Qudoos As Salam Al Mu’min Al Muhaymin Al Azeez Al Jabbar Al Mutakabbir Al Khaliq Al Bari Al Musawwir Al Azeez Al Hakeem. So many nouns, and what was the verse right before these nouns begin? “Don’t be like those who forgot about Allāh.” So then what does Allāh do? He reminds you: Who am I. This is who I am, so know my names and attributes so you will not forget who I am.
And this leads us to a very important fact that is oft neglected when we recite the Qurʾān, brothers and sisters, and that is the names and attributes of Allāh. We all know when we open up the Qurʾān, every second ayah ends with a name or attribute. Every third verse ends with a name or attribute. And for the most of us, we simply gloss over “Wa hual Azeezul Hakeem” “Wa huas Samee’ul Baseer” “Wa hual Ghafurattawwab”. We just gloss over it, as if brothers and sisters, Allāh had no wisdom in putting those names other than to make the verses rhyme, SubhanAllāh. We just gloss over and many times the profundity of those names is more than the message we can derive from the verse itself. Allāh’s names and attributes, there’s hardly a page in the Qurʾān except that you will find at least a dozen or half a dozen of Allāh’s names and attributes. Think about it, there’s hardly a page in the Qurʾān. Why do you think Allāh has filled His book with His names and attributes except because when you study Allāh’s names and attributes, your iman in Allāh, your love in Allāh, your hubb, your khashya, your taqwa, all of it skyrockets.
In fact, our scholars say nothing increases one’s iman in Allāh ‘azza wa jall than studying Allāh’s names and attributes. There is no secondary element, because think about it: when you love somebody or something, you want to know as much as you can about that being. This is the case of love. So when we love Allāh ‘azza wa jall , we would want to know everything that there is to know about Him, and what is the only source of information we have? His names and attributes. And Allāh ‘azza wa jall therefore has filled the Qurʾān and sunnah with His names and attributes. And Allāh says in four verses in the Qurʾān, Allāh describes His names as being, what is the description? His names are Husna. And husna… Wa lilahil asma ul husna. WAllāhul asmaa-ul husna… husna is the feminine of ahsan, and ahsan means not just beautiful, not just good, but the very best. The most beautiful. It’s not good… it is the best. It’s not beautiful… it is the most beautiful. Ahsan. There can be nothing more beautiful than Allāh’s names.
Wa lilahil asma ul husna. To Allāh belong the most beautiful names, the most perfect names, the most majestic names. Every name of Allāh is the most beautiful name and the most majestic name. And therefore Allāh has filled the Qurʾān with His names and attributes so that we can know who is Allāh. And you know, brothers and sisters, when you study these names and attributes, automatically your ibadah becomes different. Your life becomes different. When you start embodying those names and attributes in your daily life, when you’re conscious that Allāh is Sam’ee no matter what you say, Allāh’s gonna hear it, you start being careful what you say. When you’re conscious Allāh is Baseer, you start thinking of your actions and what you’re doing. When you’re conscious Allāh is ‘Alaamul Ghuyoob, when you’re conscious Allāh knows what is in your heart, the more you study Allāh’s names and attributes, the better person you become. Why? Because nothing increases one’s religiosity like studying Allāh’s names and attributes. And therefore, the Qurʾān and sunnah has encouraged us to memorize these names and attributes, to study them.
In that famous hadith, the Prophet said, To Allāh ‘azza wa jall belongs 99 names (and then to emphasize he said “100 minus 1”). Whoever ahsaa haa (he didn’t say hafidha haa) Ahsaa haa is deeper. Hafidha means a 5 year old can memorize it. Ahsaa haa means you not just understand, you act upon them. You live, you embody those names. Ahsaa haa means to be conscious of those names, to use them when you make ibadah to Allāh. Two days ago we talked about making duaa using Allāh’s names. This is one of the things of ahsaa haa, that you use those names appropriately. Whoever memorizes them shall enter jannah.
Now a common misconception brothers and sisters, that many people misunderstand this hadith, Al Hafidh Ibn Hajar said, One of the biggest misconceptions of this hadith that the common Muslims have is that Allāh only has 99 names. And this is a big mistake, he said. And all of our scholars agree, all of the scholars of Islam agree, it is a big mistake to say that Allāh only has 99 names. Rather, Allāh has an infinite number of names, unlimited. You cannot stop them, you cannot count them. Unlimited number of names. And of these unlimited names, there are 99 that are extra special. They are all special. They’re all beautiful. But, of those, there are 99 that are extra special, and this is proven even in the wording of the hadith… there are (out of the many names of Allāh) 99 that are, whoever memorizes them, shall enter jannah. And this is also proven in the hadith that the duaa that we say in witr a lot of times, that the prophet taught this duaa and he said, Say this duaa… and of the phrases, Oh Allāh I ask you by every name that is Yours, that you called Yourself by, or that You taught one of Your servants, or that You revealed in one of Your books, or that you have kept hidden in ‘ilmal ghayb. Notice, how many are the names? Infinite. Some of them have been revealed to books. Some of them have been taught to some creation, perhaps some angels know names that others don’t. Perhaps some of the prophets have been told names that others have not been taught. And then some of them have been kept in ‘ilmal ghayb, and how much is ‘ilmal ghayb? Infinite. And therefore, Allāh’s names are not 99, they are infinite, but of these are 99 that if you understand them and memorize them and act upon them and make duaa with them, then you shall enter jannah and this is the biggest incentive for us to study all of those names and attributes of Allāh.
Then, the final hadith that really shows us a love of these names and attributes of Allāh… that whoever is a true Muslim who loves Allāh will love to study Allāh’s names and attributes. A hadith that summarizes the essence of studying Allāh’s names and attributes, hadith in Sahih Bukhari, where in one of the masaajid of the prophet’s time, and there were many masaajid in Madinah, the imam that was appointed by the local congregation, would in every single salah recite Surahtal Ikhlas after Fatihah and then move onto a longer surah.
So he made it a habit to always recite Surahtal Ikhlas before moving onto the second surah. Fatihah, Ikhlas, and then another surah. He would do this in every single rakah. So one time the congregation complained and said, why do you recite Ikhlas in every single rakah? He didn’t want to answer them so he said, “Look, if you want me to be your imam, this is my habit, otherwise go find another imam.” He was not too happy to be prodded. And so, eventually the complaint reached the prophet and they went and they told him, Ya Rasul Allāh, this imam that we appointed, he recites Ikhlas in every single rakah. So the prophet said, Go ask him that I am asking why does he do this? So now the prophet is asking. So when the message came, he cannot say no to that.
So when they said the prophet is asking why do you recite Surahtal Ikhlas, he said, that Surah al Ikhlas describes my Lord… it describes Ar Rahman, and I love to read His descriptions. I love to read about Allāh’s descriptions and recite Allāh’s descriptions. So when they went back and they told the prophet , he said, Go back and tell him that his hubb, his love for this surah, has caused him to enter jannah.
I can comment here many of us also love Surahtal Ikhlas, but not for the same reason that person loved Surahtal Ikhlas. So we should think about the meaning of Surahtal Ikhlas. Why was it that sahabi loved Surahtal Ikhlas and it caused him to enter jannah? It was because the meaning of Surahtal Ikhlas, all it does, it describes Allāh (swt). So the believer who truly loves Allāh ‘azza wa jall will want to study, what does Ar Rahman mean? What is As Sam’ee? What is Al Aziz, Al Muhaymin, Al Jabbar? What is all of these names, Al Khaliq, Al Bari, Al Musawwir? What is the difference between Al Ghafoor, Al Ghaffar, Ar Raheem, Ar Rahman? Why does Allāh use the same verb for so many different names sometimes? The one who’s really interested will want to study these things and when you study it, you will see nothing increases your love of Allāh ‘azza wa jall more than this beautiful field.
Once you know the names of Allāh, you can never forget Allāh, and therefore, Allāh says, Don’t be like those who forgot Me. This is who I am. Study who I am, and you will never forget who I am. May Allāh ‘azza wa jall make us of those who know these names and who use these names. May Allāh ‘azza wa jall allow us not just to memorize these names, but to understand them and to act upon them.