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There was a realization that came to me when I was young and only just starting my journey towards God subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). It may seem obvious to some, but this one realization changed my outlook and relationship with those around me for the better. On one day, I was very frustrated. I wanted someone to talk to. Actually, I felt like I needed someone to talk to. None of my friends were answering their phones, and my family seemed distracted at home. I was starting to feel irritated.
And then it hit me: people cannot be there for you all the time.
This is not because people are bad. Actually, I believe that most people are good. But all people have their own needs. And because we all have needs, we necessarily all have limits. A person may want to be there for you, but sometimes they just cannot. Sometimes, they are dealing with their own issues. Sometimes they are juggling too many things for you to be their sole focus. Sometimes they may not know how to help.
Not Allah (swt). He is al-Ghani. He is Needless. He is Rich. He is Self-Sufficient. And so, He is Limitless.
What a liberating thought.
Al-Ghani and you
There are two things we have to realize about Allah al-Ghani: the first is that we are human and we have needs, yet our ultimate and true need is Allah (swt). The second is that He does not need us, nor anything for that matter. He is completely independent and self-sufficient. He has no dependency. Allah (swt) tells us in the Qur’an:
“O mankind, you are those in need of Allah, while Allah is the Free of need (al-Ghani), the Praiseworthy.” (Qur’an, 35:15)
In truth, we all need Allah (swt). Some of us may realize it and some may not. If we do not, we may seek to assuage the calling of our soul with quick fixes. But just like we cannot quench our thirst by eating dry foods, we can never fulfill our needs by ignoring the very thing we do need. Quick fixes may provide a temporary distraction, but the need will always remain. As Ibn al-Qayyim said: “In the heart there is a void that cannot be filled except by His love, turning to Him, always remembering Him, and being sincere to Him. Were a person to be given the entire world and everything in it, that would never fill the void.”
And this may be our ultimate problem. We do not realize that we need Him, or how much we need Him. And so we attempt to fill that void with things that were never meant to fill it.
Prophet Moses `alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him), we are told in the Qur’an, helps two women get water from the well. Someone else would feel proud that they just helped someone who was in need. But Moses (as) understood something. He sat down in the shade and said:
“My Lord, indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need.” (Qur’an, 28:24)
He knew that he was impoverished before Allah (swt), even when he had helped someone else in need.
The second part to understanding Allah al-Ghani is to realize that nothing that we do benefits or hurts Allah (swt). Our prayers do not give Him anything, nor do our sins hurt Him. We do these things out of love and reverence; and because He has commanded them of us, we know that they are good for us. He is Needless and yet He understands our needs. So He gives us the antidote to our illness. He teaches us the best way to fulfill the needs of our heart, body and soul. Allah (swt) says in a hadith qudsi (a sacred narration):
“[…] O My servants, you will not attain harming Me so as to harm Me, and you will not attain benefiting Me so as to benefit Me. O My servants, if the first of you and the last of you, and the humans of you and the jinn of you, were all as pious as the most pious heart of any individual amongst you, then this would not increase My Kingdom an iota. O My servants, if the first of you and the last of you, and the humans of you and the jinn of you, were all as wicked as the most wicked heart of any individual amongst you, then this would not decrease My Kingdom an iota. O My servants, if the first of you and the last of you, and the humans of you and the jinn of you, were all to stand together in one place and ask of Me, and I were to give everyone what he requested, then that would not decrease what I Possess, except what is decreased of the ocean when a needle is dipped into it. O My servants, it is but your deeds that I account for you, and then recompense you for. So he who finds good, let him praise Allah, and he who finds other than that, let him blame no one but himself.” (Muslim)
This is why Allah (swt) forgives over and over, because our sins do not harm Him, but they harm us. And this is why He accepts even the smallest of deeds, because how big or small they are does not affect Him positively or negatively. The deeds help us. And Allah (swt) can give us anything and everything because He does not need any of it. Ultimately, we are the ones in need. And so we take our needs to the only One who has none.
You and Others
The realization I spoke about above helped me in my relationship with others. It may seem counterintuitive; how can the realization that people cannot be there for you improve your relationship with them? Because with this realization, we cease to project our unrealistic expectations onto them, and therefore prevent ourselves from being disappointed as a result of those failed expectations. God (swt) gave us people as gifts, but they were not meant to fulfill every need. So when we find that those we love cannot give us something, it is time to direct that need to al-Ghani Himself, and be forgiving and understanding of their situation.
And something amazing happens here. Because He is also al-Mughni (the Enricher), He can enrich you. He enriches you to a point where you can love people while ultimately your dependency is on Him. Al-Ghazali states that a person who has “no neediness save for God the most high, he will be called ‘rich’ [ghani].”
Connect to His Names
1—Realize that you need Him, and cannot do anything without His help
This will enhance your worship. When we understand that, for example, prayer is to fulfill a certain need of our soul, we can make more of a conscious effort to improve and beautify our prayer, and use it to connect to the Most High. Moreover, our du`a’ (supplication) also has more meaning when we realize that we are the ones truly in need.
2—Understand that people have needs, because only He is free of needs.
This will ensure that your ultimate dependency is not on people, and that you will not have unrealistic expectations. When we feel that others have let us down, we can direct ourselves to the One who has no needs.
Sister, indeed God guides you to choose which of His names you write about. God is requiring me to give up the last of what I feel neediness to, in dunya. To love without needing. So this brought tears to me.
I know enough to ask for this very thing “no neediness save for God the most high”. It’s so hard when it comes to the last one. Even though, I know I will certainly never have it while I want it, because Allah is protecting me. Even though, I know that everything else I grew indifferent to, is now supplied to me. It’s still hard for the last one. I needed to change to succeed with the previous one, which was also hard. It seems I must change even further from someone who cannot give this last thing up, to someone who can.
Subhan-Allah. I don’t have words to describe the beauty of this article.
Excellent write-up. May Allah bless you and your family.
Subhan Allah, excellent article and specially the way you explained the concept and also related it to our everyday life
i loved the part of “bettering our relationships with people”.
jzk sis,May Allah swt reward you immensely,
i seem to click on this article and its somehow what i need WHEN i need it. mashaaAllah. keep it coming!
Subhanallah! Baraqallahufeeki ya okhti Jinan – Sister, may Allah bless you in every aspect of your life. Ameen.
It seems Allah, Al-Hadi Al Wadud, has guided me to your article in which it matches my situation in both content and timing!
Just like what guest “S” commented – totally agree :
i seem to click on this article and its somehow what i need WHEN i need it. mashaaAllah. keep it coming! “
masha allah me too. this article is very timely . i expected so much from other people yet there is Allah .alhamdulillah
“The realization I spoke about above helped me in my relationship with others. It may seem counterintuitive; how can the realization that people cannot be there for you improve your relationship with them? Because with this realization, we cease to project our unrealistic expectations onto them, and therefore prevent ourselves from being disappointed as a result of those failed expectations. ”
– Most profound! Thank you.
Beautifully said.May Allah reward you Paradise
[…] us how these Names relate to each other. Al-Hameed is paired with a few Names in the Qur’an: al-Ghani, al-Wali, al-Majeed, and […]
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masha allah . excellent article. May Allah bless you , ameen
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