Don’t Say I Have a Big Problem—Say I Have a Big God: Al-Kabeer


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Names of Allah Series:  Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX Part XX Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | Part XXIV | Part XXV | Part XXVI | Part XXVII | Part XXVIII

I was in high school reviewing for exams when I received a text message from my aunt. The text message read, “When you have a problem, don’t ever say ‘O God, I have a big problem.’ Rather say, ‘HEY problem! I have a big God!’ and everything will be ok.” And what immediately came to mind was, “Allahu akbar“(Allah is greater).

Allah’s Name al-Kabeer (the Most Great) is a Name that we all need to get acquainted with. Not only do we refer to this attribute everyday, but, when truly understood, it is a Name that brings tranquility and confidence to every person who is overwhelmed. It is a Name that reminds us of our priorities, of where true greatness lies and who is ultimately in control.

“Kabeer” in regular parlance is used to describe something that is great or big physically. You would say “al-baytu kabeer” (the house is big). But when it comes to Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), as Sheikh Ratib an-Nabulsi states, His greatness is in the fact that He “is far Exalted above being confined by a certain place, space or volume; but He is All-Great from the perspective of mental conception.” Al-Kabeer was mentioned in the Qur’an 3 times, with His Name al-Aliyy (the Most-High). Allah says in the Qur’an:

“That is because Allah is the Truth, and that which they call upon other than Him is falsehood, and because Allah is the Most High, the Grand (al-Kabeer)” (Qur’an 22:62).

Another Name from the same root is al-Akbar (the One who is Greater). Al-Akbar simply calls us to understand that Allah is greater than whatever we can imagine. So it is no coincidence that the words used to call us to prayer are “Allahu akbar“—basically telling us to drop whatever it is we are doing because God is greater. We are told to come to what really gives us success (hayya ala al-falaah). Allahu akbar. The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) tells us that one of the most beloved deeds to God is to pray on time.

Because we are prioritizing: God is greater.

We also start the prayer with those very words: God is bigger. He is greater. So leave the dunya (physical universe) behind. Pour your heart out to Him. Let Him know your worries. God is indeed greater. Every time you get distracted, then know that God is Greater than what you are thinking about.  Sheikh Ratib an-Nabulsi also says that the reason why we say Allahu akbar between every change in prayer is because every time we contemplate on the greatness of God, we have to remember: He is greater even than what we imagine.

Al-Kabeer, al-Akbar and al-Mutakabbir (all from the same root) teach us where to look. We sometimes see things as huge, and impossible to surmount. We feel broken by our worries. We might be oppressed, and viewing our oppressor as great and strong. But we remind ourselves: Anything that seems big or great, Allahu Akbar. He is greater. This should fill us with strength and calm. It should remove any fear we have. The companion Abdullah bin Hathafa truly internalized this. He was captured by the Romans and enticed by the emperor with wealth and power to leave Islam. But he knew that God was greater than the emperor, and what God has is greater than anything anyone could offer him. So he refused. Then the emperor threatened to kill him. And his response? With the utmost calm, he responded that the king could do what he wanted. This is the confidence in the face of pressure that comes with an understanding of al-Kabeer.

So what does it mean to truly live with al-Kabeer?

1—Humble yourself

Allah is al-Mutakabbir. He is the only One who possesses rights and attributes that are above anyone else’s. That’s why this Name is exclusive to Allah (swt), and if used for a human, it has the negative connotation of arrogance. An arrogant person is one who sees that they have rights or attributes above other people, and so they disdain others because of that. If ever you find yourself looking down on others because of your achievements, luck or even things you were born with, remember the ultimate source of those things. And remember that the only One who is above us all is Allah.

Umar bin Al-Khattab radi Allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him) was carrying a heavy water container on his back when he was the caliph. One of the companions saw him and exclaimed that he shouldn’t be carrying that because he was the Caliph. But Umar (ra) replied that a delegation had visited Madina and of course, dealt with him with the respect and subservience that is given to leaders. Because of that, he felt some pride enter his heart, and he wanted to destroy it.

2—Be strong

I always feel a sense of calm when I hear or say “Allahu akbar”. That’s because nothing is too great for God. Nothing is too difficult. He is greater than our circumstances. Work hard, because Allah is greater than the obstacles. Be strong, because with al-Kabeer with you, you can do many, many things.

3—Prioritize

Knowing that Allah is al-Kabeer and that He is Greater should teach us to prioritize. If I have two things to choose from, I remember that God is greater. So I choose that with which He would pleased. If I am messing around on the laptop and I hear the athan (call to prayer), reminding me that Allah (swt) is greater, then I get up and pray.

4—Be devoted in your prayers

Because we pray five times a day, everyday, we sometimes treat it as a chore. But we start the prayer with “Allahu akbar”, remembering that what we are doing now is greater. We should be focused on this now.

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17 Comments

  1. RKhan says:

    Jazak Allah Khair Dear sister Jinan,

    Reading this post has generated a sense of so many overwhelming feelings of Reverence in my heart to our Creator & I don’t know how to thank you except with prayers that may Allah reward you with His best for your efforts both in this world & the next.

    Thank you sis, I love u for the sake of Allah.

  2. Said Hasan says:

    Maha Allah. JazakAllah Khayr.

  3. StudentOfLife says:

    Allahu Akbar!!

  4. Rachid Insa says:

    Great article as always

  5. Dini says:

    Your article brought me in tears…indeed,Allahu Akbar. May Allah blesses you always,aamiin yaa Rabb.Wassalamu alaykum.

  6. maqsood shaikh says:

    Jazak Allah Khair Sr. Jinan! I came across this article at the exact time when I needed it. All Praises be to Allah! At some places, it felt as if you were writing the thoughts going on in my mind. Subhan Allah! This has helped me get direction on how to seek the Guide.
    It’s an awesome and much-needed series.May Allah reward you tremendously for these beautifully written words.yes Ameen

  7. anthony says:

    A roof installer blessed with the name
    of ” Akbar ” reminds me of a repair during
    which silence rested upon the roof of our home at different times during the installation of new shingles.

    Could the silence within time be the echo of thought
    when the dome of creation coupled with our human dexterity can give so much during the silent times when the hammers of life pause and the beholders vent to give back in prayer and salutation.
    What about the skylights when great becomes greater beyond the talents of man and all creation can rejoice
    with the name ” Allahu akbar “

  8. Green says:

    Mashallah good reminder, I always love reading your names of Allah series. Thank you.

  9. Soad says:

    Jazakallahu khayre, sister Jinan. This series always lightens the load on the heart.

  10. Mirash says:

    Jazakallah Khayr,,,

  11. Anees says:

    Jazak’Allahu Khairan for another great part to the series Sr. Jinan. :)

  12. Brian Cokayne says:

    Anthony is a poet and he sees things with a poet’s eye, even the shingles on a roof he relates to the greatness of Allah,( swt )so that must mean he is conscientious about his work & his treatment of others who are working on the shingles. If we hear the call to prayer whilst working on a rooftop we must not be shocked about the time or the distance, or hurry even for that could be dangerous but like Anthony suggests we can bear in mind the silence for I have heard it said that Allah is very much in the silence as in the words. I think that workpeople and poets can recognise this. “Not got a chainsaw then?” a man says to me today, as I was cutting fallen tree limbs for firewood. ” No Sir” I replied,”for why would I want to make such a noise when this bow-saw blade is sharp,& there are homes nearby ( God is the most great). This took place in Stockport, England on a fine weather day shortly before Christmas. Asalaam Aleykum to the believers

  13. Maira says:

    Alhamdulilah, this was a great reminder. I’m unwell these days and now i can tell my sickness, “Allah-o-Akbar!!”

    JazakAllah khayr for the amazing reminder :)

  14. Mubeen says:

    i agree with this article. what a beautiful topic you choose. this strong belief on the God can bless us with success . in every hard and tough time if stay on believing that this problem is not as big as big is my God then the success will be under your feet. strong will power and belief can give us success. if have trust that there is a God who is able to bless you with success then your success is guaranteed.this article is wonderful and absolutely beautiful.a great is made by the writer . May God give you more time and strength to create such a great articles like this.

  15. Skeena says:

    This is the surety of your religion that you have a strong belief in your religion. this thing shows to world that your religion is great from all other religions. Allah says in Quran Majeed “this book is great from all the other religious books”. i agree with this article and agree with you. Great work is done by you. Whenever i see this article I got a new religious spirit.

  16. tian says:

    I’m not going to say to my God if I have a big problem, but I would say to my problem that I have a big God. Allahuakbar!

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