Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim (in the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Beneficent)
When we study, even very briefly, the Most Beautiful Names of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), we feel our love for Him grow. And when we can recognize His Names during certain moments and experiences in our lives, our sheer awe for Him reaches new heights. It is for this reason that I think it would be beneficial for us to reflect on moments in our life when we appreciated a Most Beautiful Name or Attribute of Allah Ta’ala (Most High).
It was through an unexpected encounter with a cashier that I gained a tiny bit of insight into the Most Beautiful Name of Allah (swt)—al-Shakur, the Appreciative.
Wearing a longer/larger khimar (head and body covering) had been on my mind for a while, and it was something I finally decided to do. Many can identify with the first few days I experienced—I had that “eman (faith) rush” that converted onlookers’ stares into fuel, into enthusiasm. But there came a day, not too long after, when I was sitting in the car and I began to doubt myself. I intended to improve my hijab and stick to it, but I started to doubt if this was something I could commit to, thinking maybe I should just go back to how I was before. Combine my own worries and hesitations with Shaytan’s (the Devil’s) whispers, and I think most of us are familiar with the internal script that follows.
I got out of the car with my dad to get my photo taken for my driver’s license at the post office. I had the photographer telling me I needed to adjust my khimar this way and that for photo requirements, and my dad on the side telling me to just take it off. The photo finally got taken and as my dad was paying at the counter, a clerk told me that my hijab was good and to stay that way, not to change.
Was this actually happening? Yes, it was, by the Mercy of Allah (swt), this was actually happening.
A clerk in a post office is encouraging me to patience, calling me to steadfastness. Sounds random? Not at all, for Al-Hakeem (the Wise), Al-Raheem (the Merciful), Al-Shakur (the Appreciative) had planned this.
I wanted to start crying, I wanted to walk out of the store and just drop into sujood (prostration)—laa ilaaha ill Allah (There is nothing worthy of worship except God)!
Brothers and sisters, Allah (swt) knows what we’re feeling when no one else does:
And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein. (Qur’an 50:16)
And conceal your speech or publicize it; indeed, He is Knowing of that within the breasts. Does He who created not know, while He is the Subtle, the Acquainted? (Qur’an 67:13-14)
He is the First and the Last, the Ascendant and the Intimate. And He is, of all things, Knowing. (Qur’an 57:3)
He (swt) knows our worries, weaknesses, hesitations; He is Al-Khabeer (the Fully Aware), Al-Lateef (the Subtle), Al-`Aleem (the All-Knowing), Al-Qareeb (the One who is near).
It had been decreed for this clerk to tell me these words I desired to hear—“to not give up, to keep going.”
While we shouldn’t need the approval of people, there are times when we might feel weak and need support, a reminder to keep climbing that path to Jannah (Paradise), to not stop our struggle.
And indeed with hardship comes ease (Qur’an 94:5), because there came a point where I couldn’t imagine being wrapped in anything less than my large khimar—and I reached this point not by myself, but by the Mercy and Help of Allah (swt). It wasn’t about if I could do it, for every day in which we get dressed to please Allah (swt), every salah (prayer) in which we stand before Allah (swt), we could not do it without the Assistance and Help of Allah (swt), by His Mercy and Favour.
Just as that clerk reminded me when I so badly needed a reminder (alhamdulillah, all praise be to God), I want to remind myself and every brother and sister to keep going in whatever goodness they are striving to do to please our Rabb (Lord), Allah (swt). He is Appreciative and rewards the good deeds. Dear brother, and dear sister, if you are trying to do something for the sake of Allah (swt), know that regardless of the support (or lack thereof) which you receive from family, friends, or society… Allah (swt) knows.
I’m sure my experience is not unique—we’ve all had experiences which just made us stand (or prostrate!) in awe of Allah (swt) and His Most Beautiful Names and Attributes. If we pay attention closely enough, we can begin to be overwhelmed by all the blessings Allah (swt), As-Samad (The Satisfier of all needs, who is in no need of us), showers down upon us (like the lungs we have to breathe and eyes we have to read at this very moment!). Or, the very fact that we are Muslim (alhamdulillah!) is a manifestation that Allah (swt) is Al-Haqq (the Truth) and Al-Raheem (the Merciful) to have guided us to the Truth. I’d love to hear your experiences and appreciation for the Most Beautiful Names of Allah (swt)!