Allah’s Beautiful Name: As-Sitteer


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In order to develop a close relationship with someone, one has to know him or her very well. Many of us feel distant from Allah (swt) at times, and fail to see, in every situation, the manifestations of His Names and Attributes. Sheikh Muhammad Ratib an-Nabulsi, a Syrian scholar, has done extensive research on Allah’s Names, from their linguistic meaning to examples of how these Names are relevant to us and our everyday lives.

I have translated excerpts from his research on Allah’s Name As-Siteer. This name appears in the hadith (narration) of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him): “Verily, Allah the All-Mighty and Majestic is Forbearing, Modest and Concealing (Sitteer); and He loves modesty and concealment. Therefore, when any of you bathe, let him conceal himself (i.e. from the sight of people).”1

Linguistically, As-Sitteer (derived from the root word sitr) is one who conceals something. However, being a hyperbolic form of its root, it means the one who veils a million scandals, as well as the greatest scandals. When a name is in hyperbolic form, it aggrandizes the word qualitatively and quantitatively. A similar example would be Allah’s Name Al-Ghaffar, which indicates that He forgives the greatest of sins and an infinite number of sins.

As-Sitteer has another meaning: the one who prevents and keeps something away. `Aisha radiallahu ‘anha (may Allah be pleased with her) says in an authentic hadith:

‘A lady approached me along with her two daughters asking (for charity), but she found nothing with me except a date. I gave it to her and she divided it between her two daughters, not eating anything herself. Then, she stood up and left. When the Prophet ﷺ came in, I informed him of what happened. He said, “Whoever is entrusted with these daughters and treats them with benevolence, they will act as a shield (sitr) for him from Hell-Fire.’ [Agreed upon]

Thus, whoever raises two daughters (and in some narrations it is sufficient to raise one daughter), and takes care of her, teaches her the mannerisms of Islam, ensures that she wears hijab, and chooses for her a believing husband, it is enough for him to enter Paradise.

Therefore, sitr also means to keep something away, and raising a righteous daughter keeps one away from Hellfire.

A Story on Sitr

I am not in the habit of telling stories based on dreams, but this story, in particular, is striking. About five years ago, one of the khutaba’ (sing. khateeb; one who delivers sermons) of Damascus saw the Prophet ﷺ in a dream. He was very affected by this vision, as Abu Hurayra (ra) said “I heard the Prophet ﷺ say, “Whoever sees me in a dream will see me when he is awake because Shaytan cannot take my form.”2

In his dream, the Prophet ﷺ told him, “Tell your neighbor so-and-so near the mosque that he will be my companion in Paradise.” The khateeb was deeply pained, [thinking]: ‘Was this glad tiding for me or him?’ So he went to his neighbor, who was a humble vendor from among the laymen, and knocked on his door. He entered his house, greeted him, and said, “I have glad tidings for you from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, but I won’t tell you until you tell me what you’ve done for your Lord.” The man refused, and the khateeb persisted, saying, “By Allah, I will not relay the message unless you tell me what you’ve done for your Lord.” The man finally relented and told his story:

“I had proposed to a lady and then married her. In [what was supposedly] her fifth month of pregnancy, she was nine months pregnant. This clearly meant it was not my child. I could have exposed her, divorced her, destroyed her, but I wanted her to repent to Allah (swt) through me. I brought home a midwife, and she gave birth in the darkness of the night. I took the child that was not mine, hid him under my cloak, and entered a mosque in Sanjaq Dar…”

He entered after the imam began praying fajr, put the newborn behind the door, and joined the prayer. No one noticed him. When the prayer was finished, people surrounded the child, all in shock. He came over, as if he didn’t know of the situation, and asked, “What is going on?!” They replied, “Come look.” He said, “I will look after this child. Give him to me.” So he took the child in front of everyone as if he was an abandoned child. He took on his rearing, and returned him to his mother, and indeed she repented to Allah [for her sin].

Allah, the Exalted, says:

إِنَّاللَّهَيَأْمُرُبِالْعَدْلِوَالإِحْسَانِ

“Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct [...]” (Qur’an, 16:90)

Justice [in this case] could have been to divorce her, but Allah (swt) has ordered us to treat others with benevolence. When this man did so, he saved her from humiliation and from going astray. Not every situation is resolved through justice, and more often than not, benevolence is a better alternative.

Allah, the Exalted, is Sitteer, and He loves those who conceal the faults of others. This is why the Prophet ﷺ described the believing woman as sitteera, and a woman who sits and complains about her husband to others as scandalous. Allah (swt) does not look at a woman who constantly complains about her husband, but Allah loves a woman who is sitteera. A woman who is sitteera is a believing woman. 3

Allah (swt) says:

وَلِلَّهِالأَسْمَاءُالْحُسْنَىٰفَادْعُوهُبِهَا

“And to Allah belong the best names, so invoke Him by them [...]” (Qur’an, 7:180]

No doubt, we must pause at the words “so invoke Him by them,” because one of its meanings is to grow closer to Allah (swt) by embodying His Divine attributes. Thus, you can grow closer to the Most Merciful by becoming merciful yourself, and you can grow closer to the Just by becoming fair, and you can grow closer to As-Sitteer by concealing the faults of others.


  1. Reported by Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, al-Baihaqi, Ahmed, and graded as authentic.
  2. Reported by Ahmad, Bukhari, and Tirmidhi
  3. Complaining here does not mean seeking legitimate help from others if the situation calls for it, but is meant in the context of backbiting and revealing secrets and bad habits of one’s spouse.
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11 Comments

  1. sinbad says:

    It spoke to me, may Allah be merciful.

  2. Justin says:

    Ma sha Allah, that is a very beautiful story for a very beautiful name of Allah. I found a beautiful hadith to go with it,

    Chapter: Concealing (as-sitr) faults of a Muslim

    On the authority of Uqbah ibn ‘Amir, may Allah be pleased with him, who narrated that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Whoever sees a fault and conceals it is like the one who brought back to life an infant girl who had been buried alive.”

    [Sunan Abu Dawud, Book of Etiquette, #4891, Hasan-good]

    dailyhadithonline.com

  3. jawad says:

    Masha Allah. Jazaka Allah Imam Webb for sharing this.

  4. Sufism World says:

    This is very good, and I’m happy to have come across this today, thank you for sharing this with us all.

  5. Nicole says:

    I loved the story on Sitr. I was at MCA and heard you speak during the new muslim dinner. I converted last year during Ramadan, and then left due to some confussion and being mislead in the wrong direction by another Muslim who told me I had to do so many things which it scared me cause it felt like a prison to me. I had a near death expeierence in 06 and I went to heaven and came back. There is more to that story though. I keeped asking ALLAH for guidence and I am coming back slowely on my pace. But for some reson I feel like I donnot have time….then I heard you speak a lot about different things, and about not rushing to do and learn about Islam and about being Muslim and it calmed my soul. I am always having dreams about the world ending, and great floods. Always about water and amoung other things. I have seen a lot and I can’t explain them…I have always have faith and at one point in my life I wanted to be a nun. But growing up I have always been curious about Allah, always wanted to be close. I have so much Love for people, and helping people puts a warm feeling on my soul. I had gotten ill after I had my son, and I have been ill since. Have multiple illness one is a rare nerve disease like MS. But with Allah always by my side I keep ging every day with my four children. I ama single mother. I am in remission now and Allah has been blessing me everyday just waking me up. But I am eager to know more, and learn more. Also I want to learn Arabic also. Sorry I have taken so much of your time. I didn’t get a chance to talk to you, but I have so many questions…may Allah always bless you and your family.

  6. Sarah Amena says:

    JazakAllah Khair for sharing this beautiful article! I hope InshAllah that we will all be more conscious of concealing the sins of others! SubanAllah!! Thank you so much for the reminder!

    Brother Suhaib Webb, I just recently started listening to your lectures and you are truly amazing! I pray that Allah swt rewards you for all of your efforts and you continue to enlighten us and bring more brothers and sisters in to our deen! Thank you for being so practical and hopeful!

  7. Allaedin says:

    First of all, jazakum Allahu Khiran sister Jinan for the post. I have some feedback about the Sitr story that I would like to share with you and your respected reader:

    Disclaimer: I am not a fan of stories based on dreams at all, but let’s say the Khateeb truly saw Prophet Mohammed in his dream.

    1. The khateeb did not deliver the message of Prophet Mohammed as he was orders. The message was simply “Tell your neighbor so-and-so near the mosque that he will be my companion in Paradise.” The khateeb gave himself the right to add a condition for delivering the message by telling the man “By Allah, I will not relay the message unless you tell me what you’ve done for your Lord”
    2. It is ironic that the man refused to expose the sin of the women before her repentance and then he exposed her sins to the Khateeb after her repentance!
    3. I need to confirm this with a scholar, but I see a case of “Qadf” (Slander) here since the man is accusing the woman of committing adultery while he did not witness the act by his eyes nor had 4 witnesses.
    4. Sitr is a noble character that cannot be sold cheep just to know what a Khateeb saw in his dream!

    May Allah have sitr on us and help us implement this noble character in our life

    • Kirana says:

      Brother, I think that, supposing the story is true, the issues you listed doesn’t really detract from it. I mean, the story does not need for these people to be perfect, just that they’ve done something really well – in order to see the Prophet in a dream, and to obtain good tidings of a great reward. I don’t think it counts as “accusing” her (as in bringing a legal charge to justify a punishment or divorce claim or paternity rejection), he’s just saying that he married a woman for 5 months yet she was 9 months pregnant – obviously it can’t be his. It is merely a statement of fact.

      I think it’s quite plausible that even though he was just supposed to deliver the message, the khatib might be so curious as to go out on a limb to ask his question. I mean, if you knew what he did, you could maybe do it yourself and be similarly honoured. It is also plausible that the guy’s desire to know what the message from the Prophet was, overrode his keeping the secret. Maybe no one in the community remembers the event any more, maybe the woman has passed away. Maybe she could not be connected to the woman in the story if the identity is kept anonymous.

      It is a strange thing about this life that often the improvement in some is facilitated by the imperfections in others.

  8. Ramon says:

    ma’sha’ALLAH!

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