Sometimes things happen to us in our lives, and we do not know how to read events. We may suddenly lose all our money, and the first thing that we think of is, “What did I do to deserve this? I was a good Muslim, I tried so hard, why did Allah punish me?” Or perhaps something amazing happens to us, and our reactions range from “Alhamdulilah!” (all praise is to God) to “I just got lucky.”
Our reactions say a lot about us and about our knowledge of and relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). If our best friend does something, because we know them, we know how to read their actions and their dealings with us. Unfortunately, we do not know nearly as much about Allah (swt), even though He is closer to us than our jugular vein, and even though He invites us to call Him by His Names:
“ولله الأسماء الحسنى فادعوهُ بها”
“And to Allah belong the best names, so invoke Him by them.” (Qur’an, 7:180)
How can we call Him by His Names if we do not know them and if we do not understand them? And what is the purpose of Allah (swt) revealing to us 99 of His Names and His Attributes? It is in order for us to know Him, and through knowing Him, we are able to worship Him better and understand the nature of this world. One of the scholars mentioned a saying:
“If one knows the commander, the commands are easy to follow.”
So insha’Allah (God willing) this series will focus on the Names of Allah (swt), and will draw upon research done by Sheikh Ratib an-Nabulsi, Imam al-Ghazali, and Dr. Amr Khaled.
Al-Wahhab: The Constant Bestower of Gifts
Think of the last time someone gave you a gift—how did you feel? A feeling of joy, love, of being special to the person from whom you received the gift, and sometimes a bit of shame if you feel you didn’t deserve it. Because, in essence, a gift isn’t given in return of anything.
One of Allah’s Beautiful Names is al-Wahhab. The root of this word is hiba, which means a gift. And because Allah (swt) is al-Wahhab, it means that He not only gives gifts once or twice, but He constantly does so. Allah (swt) tells us in the Qur’an:
“أَمْ عِنْدَهُمْ خَزَائِنُ رَحْمَةِ رَبِّكَ الْعَزِيزِ الْوَهَّابِ”
“Or do they have the depositories of the mercy of your Lord, the Exalted in Might, the Bestower?” (Qur’an, 38:9)
So how do we know when Allah (swt) has given us a gift? Rizq (sustenance) is written for us, but we have to work for it. So if in the course of our efforts, we earn $1 million, that is rizq that Allah (swt) had ordained for us. Hiba, on the other hand, is just that—a gift that was not conditioned upon your efforts. When you get a phone call from someone you love, that you felt you missed—that is hiba. When without planning, you are fortunate enough to be able to go on `umrah (the minor pilgrimage), that is hiba. When Allah (swt) brings an amazing person into your life and you are able to improve because of them, that is hiba.
The Connection Between Gifts and Love
“يا داود ذكر عبادي بإحساني، فإن القلوب جبلت على حبِّ من أحسن إليها وبغض من أساء إليها”
[ ورد في الأثر ]
It is stated in the traditions:
“O Dawud [David], remind people of my favors upon them, because the hearts are inclined to love those that do good to it and detest those that do bad to it.”
Who do you give gifts to? In general, you give gifts to someone you are thinking about and someone that you love. Sometimes we give gifts to endear people to us. So think about what that means when Allah (swt) gives you a gift.
Some of us may be thinking, “But I am so far from Allah. Why would He give me gifts out of love?” Subhan Allah (Glory to God)—our Lord is greater than we imagine. He gives us gifts so that we know that we have a God who does not forget about His creation—even when they fall astray. He gives us gifts as a reminder so that we can come close to Him.
Do you want to be a recipient of al-Wahhab?
We are all recipients of the many gifts of Allah (swt). Out of the 6 billion people in this world, He chose you to be of the ummah (community) of His Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him). That in itself is a gift that we cannot thank Him enough for. If we all reflect on the many personal blessings in our lives, we cannot help but feel special to Allah (swt). Every little gift and every huge blessing was because al-Wahhab wanted to give you, and you specifically, something.
If you want to be a companion of al-Wahhab, then remember to acknowledge His gifts, even if they seem to be minute, and to thank Him. Allah (swt) says, “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe,” (Qur’an, 14:7). The more we are conscious of Allah’s gifts to us, the more we are able to increase our love for Him, and recognize how blessed we are.
Moreover, we should use His gifts in His way and in His cause. No one likes for their gifts to be cheapened. If Allah (swt) has given you a gift, do not use it for what He dislikes. If we do that, the gift in question becomes a test that we will be held accountable for.
Finally, be a gift giver yourself. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Give gifts, for this will increase your mutual love,” (Muslim).