Belief & Worship

Fear and Anxiety: The End of Ramadan we near the end of Ramadan and the last 10 nights draw near, I must confess that I am terrified. Will I fail? Did I squander this Ramadan? Were my deeds acceptable to you, O Lord? Will I miss the Night of Power? It may seem odd —please excuse me if this is so out of place— but the words that come to my mind are those of Aragorn in Chapter 1 of The Two Towers: “Alas! An ill fate is on me this day, and all that I do goes amiss!” That’s really how I feel.

Then I came across this in the Qur’an:

(فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ )

“So be cognizant of God to the best of your ability.” [64:16]

I was struck by the language here and suddenly filled with hope. God just wants me to try my best. It’s as if He spoke to me with the Qur’an, and I believe He does.

The scholars of Qur’anic exegesis have mentioned that God had earlier revealed:

(اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ)

“Be cognizant of God with the cognizance He deserves.” [3:102]

Haqqa tuqātihī. “Cognizance He deserves.” Wow. When this was revealed, I imagine the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) and his Companions felt terrified as I did. How on earth can anyone be constantly obedient and cognizant to God as He deserves?

But the great interpreter of the Qur’an from the successors of the Prophet’s Companions, Qatadah ibn Di`amah, explained:

( فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ وَاسْمَعُوا وَأَطِيعُوا – هذه رخصة من الله، والله رحيم بعباده، وكان الله جلّ ثناؤه أنـزل قبل ذلك اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وحقّ تقاته أن يُطاع فلا يعصى، ثم خفَّف الله تعالى ذكره عن عباده، فأنـزل الرخصة بعد ذلك فقال: ( فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ وَاسْمَعُوا وَأَطِيعُوا ) فيما استطعت يا ابن آدم، عليها بايع رسول الله صَلَّى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم على السمع والطاعة فيما استطعتم.)

“{So be cognizant of God to the best of your ability} This is a concession from God, for He is Merciful to His servants. Before this, God had revealed {Be cognizant of God with the cognizance that He deserves} and this means that one would be absolutely obedient and never transgress. However, God lightened His Word upon His servants and later qualified with the more conceding revelation {So be cognizant of God to the best of your ability. Hear and obey.} It is to the best of your ability, O Son of Adam! And upon hearing and obeying to the best of your ability did the Messenger of God ﷺ take covenant.”

And while God commanded us to be cognizant of Him, in His infinite Mercy and understanding, He was —and is— always the most cognizant of us and our disposition.

One can only imagine how the burdens of knowing what they knew of the unseen would overwhelm the Prophets of God. One time the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ told his Companions, “If you knew what I know, you would laugh less and weep more.” After this, Gabriel came to him and admonished him with a direct communication from God:

(لِمَ تُقَنِّطُ عِبَادِي؟)

“Why do you cause My servants to despair?”

Chills just went up my spine. God reprimanded the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ for saying something discouraging to his Companions and, by extension, us! That’s how much God loves you.

He told you to be cognizant of Him with a cognizance He deserves. But, realizing how difficult that is, He qualified that with, “Do the very best you can.” That is motivation!

His most beloved Prophet ﷺ told us a very factual statement that had we known what he knew of the unseen, we would laugh less and cry more. So God reprimanded him asking, “Why do you cause My servants to despair?” That is love!

So the Prophet ﷺ went back to his Companions and said:

(أَبْشِرُوا وَسَدِّدُوا وَقَارِبُوا)

“Rejoice! Set things right. Seek closeness.”

I leave you with the prayer that the Prophet ﷺ said was the master of all repentance. In it, again, we were instructed to tell God we’re doing the best we can.

(اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَنِي وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ وَأَنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ ، أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ ، أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لَا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ)

“Dear God, You are my Lord. There is no god other than You. You created me. I am your servant, and I’m holding on to my covenant with You and my promise to You, the best that I can. I seek refuge in You from whatever evil I have forged. I testify to Your favors upon me, and I testify to You that I have, nonetheless, sinned. So please forgive me, for none can forgive sin other than You.”


About the author

Shibli Zaman

Shibli Zaman

Shibli Zaman was born in Summit, New Jersey and raised in Houston, Texas. Since his childhood, he has frequently traveled throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Later in life, much of this time was spent studying Islamic jurisprudence in the Shafi`i and Hanbali schools of law. He has a deep appreciation for different cultures and is literate in several languages such as Arabic, Persian, Pashto and Urdu. Surprising for a Muslim, he is also adept in Hebrew and Aramaic. Having a proclivity for Semitic linguistics enabled him to study the Biblical texts from a unique perspective. He holds a gold medal in Bible Memory from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has contributed to one of the most significant websites defending Islam's textual sources and traditions from an academic perspective, He was an employee of Shaykh Salman al-`Awdah from whose inspiration he benefited tremendously and assisted in the early phases of his English website,


  • These motivates me a lot. Only a week Ramadhan will over, I should keep fighting. Do my very best. Jazakallah

  • Salaamu alaikum wa Rahmatullaah. I love this brother. May Allaah increase him and his family in taqwaa, ikhlaas, and ihsaan, aameen.

    • Until you breathe your last, there’s always an opportunity to give it your best shot. Even if Ramadan passes, and you know you didn’t give it your best, it’s up to you whether you turn that remorse into something positive or negative.

      Positive: Be inspired to be better. Increasing piety and character doesn’t end in Ramadan.

      Negative: Be immersed in guilt. This is despairing in God’s Mercy and that is not the way of the Muslim.

      The Muslim believes that God is always waiting to forgive you and to give you another chance to the very end. Remember that in the Qur’an, Joseph’s father advised his sons:

      {وَلَا تَيْأَسُوا مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَا يَيْأَسُ مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْكَافِرُونَ}
      “Do not despair in the tender mercy of God. For none despair of his tender mercy except for a people who disbelieve.” [12:87]

  • Interesting Read, is there any evidence I wonder for the dialogue between the angel Gibrael and Our prophet saw? Jzk

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