In a previous article about God as as-Samad written by Jinan Bastaki, we were reminded that the qualities of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) were often to be linked to other qualities, and that thinking that way unfolded new perspectives. If we praise Allah (swt) by calling him al-Ghafûr, for example, the Concealer of faults, it is implicit that we think of His other attributes, such as al-‘Alîm (The All-Knower) and al-Basîr (The All-Seeing). This notion of Allah as the Concealer of faults as well as the All-Knower and All-Seeing brings a dimension of real intimacy between the Creator and His creatures; Indeed, although He is al-’Alim and He knows everything about us, even the most despicable things, He is also al-Ghafûr and He conceals them, out of generosity, kindness, and mercy, for He is also at-Tawwab (the One who accepts repentance), al-Wadûd (the Loving), and al-Barr (the source of all goodness).
Thinking of Allah (swt) as al-Ghafûr can shed light on important dimensions of our nafs (inner self), pride and insecurity. What does it mean in our relationship with our own self to believe in a God who is at the same time al-Ghafûr and al-Wadûd? As it is often repeated, Islam is the religion of the golden mean (the middle between two extremes). Schematically, we could define pride as forgetting one’s flaws, and we could define insecurity as remembering those flaws too often and letting them haunt us. Thus, thinking of ourselves from the perspective of being seen in every detail by Allah (swt) helps us to stand in this golden mean of the nafs—between pride and low self-esteem—because we are aware that He knows our flaws, yet we also know that we are still always worthy of His love.
And what does it mean in our relationship with people to think of Allah (swt) as the Concealer of our faults? It means remembering the light of Allah even when we manage to keep our weaknesses from the sight of people. Remembering Him as the One who conceals our faults reminds us that those flaws are many and that God is so good to us that He chooses to hide them from other people’s eyes. Even if we manage to give a perfect image of ourselves and even if we feel the love of people for that image that we give, we know that there is always the One looking at us for what we really are, and no one is perfect. Our flaws are always under the light of al-‘Alim.
Beauty, wealth, and success can make us overlook our defects or forget them altogether, but by remembering Allah and remembering His quality of Concealer, we remember that He knows each and every one of our shortcomings, and it can help us keep our nafs under control. So it protects us from hubris and vanity, but also from insecurity because although we know that we have flaws and we know that God knows every one of them – from the greatest to the most invisible – we also know that those flaws can be forgiven by Him easily, and that they are always under the shade of His Mercy. Our flaws are seen by the only One who will always be ready to love us, no matter how bad our flaws are, as soon as we return to Him.
So finally, most importantly, what does it mean in our relationship with God? Understanding that Allah will always love us even though He is aware of every one of our defects creates an amazing bond between us and Him. What a comforting thought, what a relief, how soothing it is to understand that He will always be ready to love us, to accept our repentance and to understand our intention to be better, even though we slip and fall so many times throughout our lives! What a refuge we have here from the judgment of other people, as well as from their praise! Allah (swt) offers us this beautiful gift of being able to stand under His sight, under full light, being fully ourselves and knowing that we are loved for that.
Isn’t it once again the image of a mother, who knows what her child is proficient in and what he is not so good at, who will love and protect him no matter how nasty the child can be at times? It builds such a strong, sincere relationship to Allah (swt) because, very much like a mother, we feel confortable talking to Him, confiding in Him, knowing that He knows us so well and that He still loves us, no matter what, for truly He is al-Wadud.