by Imam Ash-Shawkani1 | Translated by Jinan Bastaki
The just caliph Umar ibn AbdelAziz, may Allah have mercy on him, used to say, “O You whose Mercy encompasses everything, I am a thing so let Your mercy encompass me – O Most Merciful of those who show mercy!”
I prefer: “O You who has written mercy upon Himself for His servants, I am Your servant, so have mercy on me, O Most Merciful of those who show mercy.”
When Allah, the Exalted, says “I am with him when he remembers Me”[in a Prophetic tradition, i.e. hadith], it shows that Allah, the Exalted, is with those who remember Him. This means that He looks at them with His mercy, and He extends to them success and sufficiency. However, when we say “He is with all of His creation,” like the verses state “and He is with you wherever you are” (Qur’an, 57:4) and “There is in no private conversation of three but that He is the fourth of them” (Qur’an, 58:7). I believe this is a general “with.” The former is a more personal “with” that is specifically for the one who remembers Allah, which entails more care, honoring and preference.
Other examples of this more specific “with” can be found in Qur’anic verses that state that Allah is with the patient, and with those who are mindful of Him. This appears in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and there is no contradiction between the general “with” and the more specific “with.” This is because mentioning the specific after the general shows that the specific has more favor and advantage only after the person has entered into the realm of the general.
- An excerpt from Imam ash-Shawkani’s Tuhfat ath-Thakireen ↩