The Book of Fear and Hope
It is the third book of the volume on The Means of Salvation of the books of The Revival of the Religious Sciences. In the name of God, The Merciful, the Compassionate.
Praise be to God whose loving kindness and reward are hoped for, whose strategems and punishment are feared; who keeps alive the hearts of His saints with the breath of hope in Him, so that He may urge them on with the kindnesses of His benefits to alight in His courtyard [Margaret Smith, G. 165 translates "to arrive at absorption in Himself". There is, however, an antithetic parallelism in the construction of the preamble and 'courtyard' corresponds to 'house of tribulation'].and to swerve from His house of tribulation which is the abode of His enemies. And with the lashes of threatening and His harsh upbraiding He has driven the faces of those who shun His presence towards the house of His reward and preferment; and he has blocked them from thwarting His leaders and becoming the butt of His wrath and vengeance by leading the different types of His creatures with chains of violence and coercion, and reins of compassion and graciousness, to His Garden. And the blessing be on Muhammad, Master of His prophets and the most elect of His caliphs, and on his family and Companions and relations.
To proceed. Hope and fear are two wings by means of which those who are brought near fly to every commendable station, and two mounts on which every steep ascent of the paths of the next world is traversed. And nothing but the reins of hope will lead to the vicinity of the Merciful and the joy of the Gardens the man who is distant from hoping and heavy with burdens, who is encompassed with what the heart abhors and with toils of members and limbs. And nothing shall avert from the fire of Gehenna and the painful punishment the man who is encompassed with the blandishments of lusts and the marvels of pleasures except the scourges of threatening and the assaults of violence. Consequently there is nothing for it but an exposition of the essence and merits of them both, as well as the way of arriving at a junction between the two of them, in spite of their polarity and mutual antipathy. And we join the mention of them in a single book which is comprised of two parts, the first part concerning hope and the second part fear. As for the first part it is made up of an exposition of the essence of hope and an exposition of its merit; and an exposition of the therapy of hope and the way in which hope is induced by it.
Know that hope is among the sum of the stations of the pilgrims and the states of the seekers. And the description station is given only when it is permanent and endures, and state only when transitoriness is hinted at. Just as yellow is divided into Permanent such as the yellow of gold; transitory such as the yellow of fear; and what comes between these two like the yellow of a sick person. Similarly the attributes of the heart follow these divisions and whatever is not permanent is called a state, because it soon changes, and this is continually happening in any description of the heart.
We are dealing at present with the essence of hope. Hope also comprises state, knowledge and deed. Knowledge is the cause which produces the state and the state decrees the deed. Hope is the comprehensive name of the three. Its exposition is that everything that confronts you is either what is abhorred or what is desired, and is divided into what is existent at the moment, what has existed in the past, and what is expected in the future. When what has existed in the past occurs to your mind, it is called remembering and recollecting; if what occurs to your mind is existent at the moment, it is called finding and tasting and perceiving. It is called finding because it is a state which you find for yourself. And, if the existence of something in the future occurs to your mind and prevails over your heart, it is called expectation and anticipation. If the thing expected is abhorred, with pain in the heart resulting from it, it is called fear and distress. If it is something desired, with pleasure and relief of heart resulting from the expectation of it and the attachment of the heart to it and the occurrence of its existence to your mind, that relief is hope.
Hence hope is the relief of the heart, because of the expectation of what it esteems desirable. But the desirable thing which is anticipated must have a cause, so, if the expectation of it is on account of the obtaining of the majority of the means to it, the name of hope in relation to it is justified. If that expectation is in spite of the defectiveness of the means to it and their disorder, the name of self-deceit and stupidity is more justified in relation to the expectation than that of hope. If the means are not specified either as existent or in mutual contradiction, the name of wishful thinking is more justified in relation to the expectation of it, because it is an expectation which is devoid of a cause. And, in any circumstance, the name of hope and fear does not apply to what is determined. For one does not say: I hope for the rising of the sun at the time of sunrise and I fear its setting at the time of sunset, because that is determined. But one does say: I hope that the rain will fall and I fear lest it should be cut off.
And the Spiritual Directors [Literally:
the masters of hearts] teach that this present world
is the field of the next world, and the heart is as the earth, and faith
is as the seed in it, and obedience is conducive to the turning over
of the earth and the cleansing of it and the digging of channels and
the leading of waters to them; and the heart which is infatuated with
this present world and submerged in it is like swampy ground in which
the seed does not fructify. And the Day of Resurrection is the day of
reaping, and no one reaps except what he has sown, and only he who has
sown the seed of faith grows crops. Rarely is faith profitable in company
with a vicious heart whose moral traits are tainted just as seed does
not fructify in swampy soil. And it is fitting that the hope of the
creature for pardon should equal the hope of the owner of the crops.
For everyone who seeks good ground and casts into it seed of first quality which is neither mouldy nor worm-eaten, who thereafter furnishes it with what is necessary to it, that is, the conducting of water to it at appropriate times; who then clears the ground of thorns and weeds and everything that obstructs the growth of the seed or makes it rot; who then sits down and expects from the bounty of God the warding off of thunderbolts and blights, until his crop is mature and he arrives at his goal - his expectation is called hope. And, if he scatters his seed in ground which is baked hard or swampy, which is so elevated that the water does not flow into it, and does not labour one whit in the preparation of the seed - if he then expects a harvest from it, his expectation is called stupidity and self-deceit, not hope. And, if he scatters seed in ground which is good but without water, and proceeds to wait for the waters of the rains where they neither prevail nor are cut off, his expectation is called wishful thinking and not hope.
Therefore the name of hope is legitimate only in relation to the expectation of a thing desired, all of whose means, which come within the choice of the creature, have been facilitated, and only what does not come within his choice remains, and this is the bounty of God in repelling birds and blights.
So when the creature sows the seed of faith and irrigates it with the water of obedience and cleanses the heart from the thorns of vicious moral traits and expects from the bounty of God his being established in that course until death and the virtue of the Seal that gives access to pardon, such expectation as his is hope in its essence, commendable in itself, and giving him an incentive for perseverance and endurance, in accordance with the means of faith, in perfecting the means of pardon until death. If its preparation with the water of obedience is cut off from the seed of faith, or, if the heart is remiss, filled with moral delinquencies, and obstinately persists in seeking the pleasures of this world, and then expects pardon, its expectation is stupidity and self-deceit. He (Muhammad) said: The fool is he whose soul follows its passions and who desires of God the Garden. And He (God) said: Then there came after them a succession who have wasted the prayer and followed their lusts; so they shall meet error. (Q. xix, 60) And He said: And there came after them a succession who inherited the Book, who lay hold on the chance gain of this present world and say: It will be forgiven us. (Q. vii, 168). And God condemned the owner of the garden, when he entered his garden and said: I do not think that this will ever perish, nor do I think the Hour is coming; and, if I am indeed taken back to my Lord, I shall surely find a better sphere than this. (Q. xviii, 33-34)
Therefore the creature who strives after obedience and recoils from disobedience is right to expect from the bounty of God the completion of blessing (Q. v, 9) and blessing achieves completion only by the entering into the Garden. As for the disobedient person, when he has repented and repaired all that was remiss through shortcoming, it is proper that he should hope to receive repentance. With regard to the reception of repentance, when he has come to abhor disobedience, when sin grieves him and virtue delights him, when he blames himself and reproves it (evil) and desires repentance and yearns after it, it is proper that he should hope from God the advancement towards repentance because of his repugnance for disobedience; and his zeal for repentance is conducive to the cause which may give access to repentance.
And hope is only present after the consolidating of the means and for that reason He said: But those who have believed and emigrated and striven in the way of God have hope of the mercy of God. (Q. ii, 215). His meaning is that these have a right to hope for the mercy of God. He did not intend by it that the existence of hope is exclusive to them, since others also may hope, but he has made exclusive to them the right to hope. As for him who obstinately perseveres in what God abhors, and does not upbraid himself because of it, and does not resolve on repentance and return, his hope of pardon is stupidity, like the hope of the person who has sown seed in swampy ground and made up his mind not to cultivate it by leading water to it and cleansing it of weeds.
Yahya b. Mu'adh [G. 77, S. 61-2, d. 258/871] said: The person who magnifies self-deceit is, in my opinion, the one who prolongs his sins, while he hopes for pardon without repentance and expects to draw near to God without obedience, and expects the crops of the Garden with the seed of the Fire, and seeks after the dwelling-place of obedience with the deeds of disobedience, and expects the reward without the deed, and has wishful thoughts of God in company with remissness.
You hope for salvation and you have not trodden its paths,
But the ship does not progress on dry land.
Since you are acquainted with the essence of hope and its marks, you know that it is a state which knowledge has produced through the setting in motion of the majority of the means, and this state produces zeal to persevere in the remainder of the means in accordance with what is possible. For the man whose seed is fine and whose land is good and who has abundance of water is entitled to his hope, and his legitimate hope will continually urge him towards the oversight of the ground and the cultivation of it and the clearing of all the weeds which grow on it. Thus he will not be remiss in any detail of its cultivation until the time of harvest. This is because hope sets him at the opposite pole from despair, and despair inhibits cultivation. For whoever 'knows' that the ground is swampy and that the water will not flow and the seed will not grow, will, doubtless, as a consequence, neglect the oversight of the land and toil in its cultivation.
Hope is a commendable thing, because it is a source of incentive, and despair is reprehensible and is the antithesis of hope, because it distracts from work. Fear is not the antithesis of hope, rather it is a companion to it, as its exposition will bring out. More, it is another source of incentive, impelling along the path of awe just as hole impels along the path of inclination. Hence the state of hope produces sustained spiritual combat through actions, and perseverance in obedience, however fickle circumstances may be. Among its effects are finding pleasure in unbroken acceptance with God, contentment in private prayer with Him and fondness for deferring to Him. For these states must be manifest to everyone who hopes, whether king or commoner, and so how will that not be manifest to God? If it is not manifest, that will be a pointer to preclusion from the station of hope and descent into the pit of self-delusion and wishful thinking.
This then is the exposition of the state of hope and how knowledge produces it and how action is produced from it. And a tradition of Zayd al-Khayl [I.H., iv, 245 (Guillaume, 637).] is a pointer to its producing these actions; when he said to the Messenger of God: I have come to enquire of you about God's way of identifying the person who aspires and the person who does not aspire. So he (Muhammad) said: How do you go about it? He said: I have made a practice of loving virtue and its people, and, whenever I have the capacity for anything belonging to it, I make haste towards it and I believe firmly in its reward. And, when anything belonging to it eludes me, I am grieved thereby and yearn after it. So he said: This is God's identification mark in respect of the one who aspires, and, if He had desired you for other things, He would have prepared you for them; then He would not be concerned in which of their wadies you perished. So he (Muhammad) has mentioned an identification mark of the person by whom virtue is sought, and, consequently, whoever hopes that there may be the intention of virtue without this mark is self-deluded.
Know that action on account of hope is of a higher order than action on account of fear, because the creatures who are nearest to God are those who love Him most, and love dominates hope. This is expressed by two kings, one of whom is served through fear of his punishment and the other through hope of his reward. For this reason what is desiderated, especially at the time of death, has to do with hope and optimism. He (God) said: Do not despair of the mercy of God. (Q. xxxix, 54). Thus He proscribed the root of despair. And (it is recorded) in the traditions about, Jacob that God revealed to him saying: Do you know why I parted Joseph from you? [Cf. Gen. xxxvii] It was because you said: I am afraid that the wolf will eat him, while you are neglectful of him. (cf. Q. xii, 13). Why did you fear the wolf and not hope in me? And why did you have regard to the negligence of his brothers and did not have regard to my preserving him?
And he (Muhammad) said: Truly, not one of you will die, except he has good expectations of God. And he said: God says: I am in accord with what my creature supposes of me, so let him suppose of me what he will. And he came into the presence of a man who was at the point of death and said: How do you find yourself? So he said: I find that I am fearing my sins and hoping for the mercy of my Lord. So he (Muhammad) said: These two were not united in the heart of a creature in this homeland, but God granted him what he hoped and made him secure from what he feared. And `Ali [d. 66r, H.A. 182] said to a man whom fear had brought to despair because of his sins: O you, your despairing of the mercy of God is a greater fault than your sins.
Sufyan [T.T. iv, III (199), d. 161/777; T. 190; E. 72 f.] said: Whoever commits a sin and knows that God has assigned it against him, and (yet) hopes for His pardon, God will pardon him his sin. He continued: For God upbraided a group of people saying: That then, the supposition which you have entertained with respect to your Lord has caused your destruction. (Q. xli, 22). And He said: And you entertained evil suppositions and you were a people of perdition. (Q. xlviii, 12). And he (Muhammad) said: Truly God will say to His creature on the Day of Resurrection: What obstructed you from loathing the hated thing, when you saw it? So, if God has given him a grasp of his defence, he will say: O Lord, I hoped in You and I feared the people. He (Muhammad) said: So, God will say: I have forgiven you it.
According to a sound tradition there was a man who was lending money to the people, and he was magnanimous to the rich and overlooked the debts of the destitute, and he met God and had not wrought a single good deed. God said: Who has a better right to that than we have? So He pardoned him because of his optimism and his hope that He would pardon him despite his being destitute of obedience. And He said: Surely those who recite the Book of God and perform the prayer, and give alms in secret and openly of what We have provided them with, hope in a merchandize that will not pass away. (Q. xxxv, 26). And, when he (Muhammad) said: If you knew what I know, then you would laugh but little and would weep much, and would go out to the hills beating your breasts and making entreaty to your Lord, Gabriel swooped down and said: Truly your Lord says to you: Why do you induce despair in My creatures, so that their hope and longing rebel against them?
And according to the tradition God revealed to David: Love Me and love whoever loves Me and commends Me to My creatures. So he said: O Lord, how do I commend You to Your creatures? So He said: Mention Me for My gracious goodness and commemorate My bounties and well-doing and their recollection of that, for they know Me only as One who is gracious.
And Aban b. Abi `Ayyash [T.T., I, 97 (174), d. 138/755-6] had a vision in his sleep (he was in the habit of recollecting again and again the categories of hope) and he said: God halted me in front of Him and said: What is it that has spurred you on to this habit? So I said: I desired to commend You to Your creatures. So He said: I have pardoned you. And Yahya b. Aktham [T.T., xi, 179 (311), d. 142/759-60] was seen in a vision after his death and it was said to him: How did God deal with you? So he said: He halted me in front of Him and said: O Shaykh, you have repeatedly committed evil. He continued: Then trembling took hold of me with respect to what God might know. Then I said: O Lord, this is not the report I had of You. So He said: And what was reported to you about Me? So I said: `Abd ar-Razzaq [T.T., vi, 310 (608), d. 211/826-7; T. 331] related to me from Ma'mar [T.T., x, 243 (439), d. c. 153/770; T. 178], from az-Zuhri [T.T., ix, 445 (732), d. 124/742; T. 102], from Anas [T.T., i, 376 (690), d. c. 93/711; T. 42], from Your Prophet, from Gabriel, that You said: I am in accord with what my creature supposes about Me, so let him suppose about Me what he will. So I supposed of You that You would not punish me. God said: Gabriel has spoken the truth, likewise My Prophet and Anas and az-Zuhri and Ma'mar and `Abd ar-Razzaq and yourself. He continued: And I was fitted out with clothes and the two attendants walked before me to the Garden and I exclaimed: What joy! [Wright, ii, 53 d.].
And in the tradition: There was a man of the children of Israel who was inducing despair in men and was being hard on them. So God said to him: The Day of Resurrection will be a day on which I will make you despair of My mercy as you have made My creatures despair of it. And he (Muhammad) said: Truly a man enters the Fire and remains in it one thousand years, calling out: O Gracious One, O Bounteous One. Then God will say to Gabriel: Go and bring my creature to me. He continued: So he brings him and halts him beside his Lord, and God says: How did you find your place? So he says: An evil place. So He says: Take him back to his place. So he walks off and turns round and God says: Why are you turning round? So he says: I had certainly hoped that You would not return me to it, after You had brought me out from it. So God says: Take him to the Garden. And this pointed to his hope being the cause of his salvation. Let us ask for the boon of success through His kindness and favour.
Know that two types of men have need of this therapy; either the man over whom despair has become dominant, so that he has neglected worship; or the man over whom fear has become dominant, and who has been extravagant in his perseverance in worship, so that he has done injury to himself and his family. And these two examples of men incline away from the equilibrium towards the two extremes of neglect and excess, and so they have need of the treatment which will restore them to the equilibrium.
For the person who is disobedient and self-deceived, who has wishful thoughts of God in company with his evasion of worship and his blind plunging into deeds of disobedience-the therapeutic properties of hope are, in his case, turned into lethal poisons, just as is the case with honey which is a cure for the person who is overcome by cold and a lethal poison to the person who is overcome by heat. More, in the case of the self-deluded person, only the therapeutic properties of fear can be employed and the means which excite it, and, for that reason, it is necessary that there should be one to preach to the people; one benevolently disposed who observes the incidence of diseases and treats every disease with its antidote and not, with what it has excess of. For what is sought after is the equilibrium, and the goal with respect to all attributes and moral traits, and the optimum state of affairs, is their mean. And, when the mean transgresses upon one of the two extremes, it is treated with what returns it to the mean, not with what would increase its tendency away from the mean.
And the present time is one in which it is not expedient that the means of hope should be employed with the most of men. Yet an exaggerated employment of threatening, no less, will hardly return them to the highway of truth and the beaten tracks of rectitude. As for the mention of the means of hope it would cause them to perish and would destroy them totally. But when they (i.e. the means of hope) are less burdensome to the heart and more pleasurable to the appetites, the goal of preaching is no more than to sway hearts (sc. to hope) and make people speak in eulogies, whatever be the reason for their inclining to hope, so that the corrupt increase in corruption and the stubborn in their rebellion through procrastination.
'Ali said: The knowledgeable person is simply he who does not make people despair of the mercy of God and does not make them feel secure from the strategems of God.
And we make mention of the means of hope in order that they may be employed in the case of the despairing man or the one who has been overcome by fear, according to the pattern of the Book of God and the Practice [Translating sunna] of His Messenger. For both embrace hope and fear in union, since these two unite the means of healing with respect to different kinds of sick people, in order that the Knowledgeable ['ulama'. I have avoided the translation Scholars here, because alGhazali is very critical of the actual performance of the professional scholars, and `ulama' here means those who are in fact knowledgeable.], who are the heirs of the prophets, may employ one or other of them according to need, just as the discriminating physician would employ them and not the quack who supposes that everything that has therapeutic value will be salutary to every sick person, whatever may be his condition.
The state of hope becomes dominant by means of two things; the one is reflection [I’tibar. I have also translated fikr (a technical Sufi term) a; reflection], and the other the reciting of the verses (i.e. of the Qur’an) and traditions and reports [al Ghazali employs khabr to denote a saying of the Prophet Muhammad. I have translated this tradition. hadith, which is also used of a saying of Muhammad, I have also translated tradition. athr, used of a saying of a Companion or of any other celebrated Muslim, including earlier or contemporary Sufis, I have translated report. On athr see J. Robson, Muslim World, xli, 1951, p. 24]. With respect to reflection man reflects on all that we have mentioned concerning the different kinds of benefits in The Book of Gratitude [Ihya, (1939). iv, P 78 f], until he knows the kindnesses of the blessings of God to His creatures in this world, and the marvels of His wisdom which He has disposed in the constitution of man, so that He has furnished for him in this world all that is necessary to him for the maintenance of existence. For example, the means of sustenance and what is needful to him, such as fingers and nails, and what is adornment to him, such as the arching of the eye-brows and the variegation of the colours of the eyes, and the redness of the lips, and other such things by the loss of which the goal aimed at would not be impaired. Only he would miss thereby the attainment of beauty. Since the Divine Providence has not left His creatures deficient in the instances of these minutiae, so that He was not content for His creatures that accessories and refinements in respect of adornment and necessity should pass them by, how will He take pleasure in driving them to everlasting destruction?
Moreover, when He ran over mankind with the eye of a physician, He knew that the most of men have at their disposal the means of happiness in this world, so that they dislike the translation from this world through death. Even if it were reported that there was never a single instance of a person being chastised after death or that there was no gathering (sc. for Judgement), their distaste would not be non-existent, unless, doubtless, because the means of grace were predominant. The person who wishes for death is simply a rarity, and then he does not wish for it except in a rare circumstance, and an unexpected and unfamiliar contingency.
Since the condition of the most of people in this world is one in which well-being and security prevail, the Practice of God does not find a substitute for them. The probability is that the affair of the next world is likewise, for the Framer of this world and the next is One, and He is forgiving, merciful and kind to His creatures, having compassion on them. So, when due reflection is given to this, the means of hope are strengthened thereby.
And also included in reflection is the scrutiny of the wisdom of the Law and its Practice in respect of this-worldly benefits, and the aspect of mercy to the creatures which is in it, so that one of the gnostics used to consider the verse on incurring a debt in the Sura al-Baqra (Q. ii, 282) as among the most powerful of the means of hope. So it was said to him (i.e. to the gnostic). And what is there of hope in it? So he said: This present world in its entirety is small, and the provision for mankind from it is small, and religion is small separated from His provision. And perceive how God revealed concerning it the longest verse (Q. ii, 282), that He might guide His creature in the way of being encompassed in the keeping of his religion. And how will his religion not keep him who will not give anything in exchange for it?
The second kind is the reciting of the verses and the traditions, and the material which has to do with hope is beyond definition. With regard to the verses, He said: Say: O my creatures who have been profligate against yourselves, do not despair of the mercy of God; surely God pardons sins altogether; He is the Forgiving, the Compassionate (Q. xxxix, 54). And according to the recitation of the Messenger of God: Then do not fret, surely He is the Forgiving, the Compassionate. And He said: And the angels celebrate the praise of their Lord, and ask pardon for those upon the earth. (Q. xlii, 3). And He has recorded that He has prepared the Fire for His enemies and has simply frightened His friends with it. So He said to them: Above them are overshadowings from the Fire and below them are overshadowings; by means of that God threatens His servants. (Q. xxxix, 18). And He said: And fear the Fire prepared for unbelievers. (Q. iii, 126). And He said: And I have warned you of a blazing fire; only the most reprobate who has been perfidious and turned renegade will roast in it. (Q. xcii, 14-16). He said: Surely your Lord is forgiving to the people in spite of their wrong-doing. (Q. xiii, 7).
Someone said: Truly the Prophet was making petition without
ceasing for his people, so that it was said to him: Are you not satisfied, although this verse has been revealed to you: Surely your Lord is forgiving to the people in spite of their wrong-doing? And by way of interpreting His saying: Surely your Lord will bestow upon you and you will be satisfied, (Q. xciii, 5) he (the narrator) said: Muhammad will not rest content, while one of his people is in the Fire.
Abu Ja`far Muhammad b. `Ali [T.T., ix, 350 (580), d. 114/732-3: T. 117] used to say: You people of Iraq are saying: I hope in the verse in the Book of God, namely His saying: Say: O my creatures who have been profligate against yourselves, do not despair of the mercy of God-to the end of the verse. And we, the people of the house [i.e. the Prophet's family], say: I hope in the verse in the Book of God, namely His saying: Surely your Lord will bestow upon you and you will be satisfied.
Coming to the traditions, Abu Musa [T.T., v, 362 (625), d.c. 50/670; T. 22] has related on the authority of the prophet that he said: My people are a people to whom mercy has been shown; they will not suffer chastisement in the next world; God has brought forward their chastisement to this world, earthquakes and factions. And, when the resurrection comes round, He will toss to every man of my people a man of the People of the Book[i.e. Jew and Christians, as is made clear by the variant form of the tradition] and it will be said: This is your ransom from the Fire. And, in another recension: Every manjack of this people will bring to Gehenna a Jew or Christian, and he (the Muslim) will say: This is my ransom from the Fire, and he (the ransom) will be cast into it. And he (Muhammad) said: Heat is from the expanse of Gehenna and it is an amenity to the believer from the Fire. And it is reported as an interpretation of His saying: Upon the day when God will not degrade the prophet and those who believe with him, (Q. lxvi, 8) that God revealed to His Prophet: Truly, I am assigning the adjudication of your people to you. He said: No, my Lord, you will deal with them more mercifully than I. So He said: Then I will not degrade you among them. And it is reported on the authority of Anas that the Messenger of God enquired at his Lord concerning the sins of his people and said: O Lord, assign their adjudication to me, so that no one but myself may scrutinize their evil doings. So God revealed to him: They are your people and they are my creatures, and I am more merciful with them than you. I shall not assign their adjudication to other than myself, so that neither you nor anyone else may scrutinize their evil deeds. And he (Muhammad said: My life is good for you and my death is good for you. My life, because I lay down for you the practice and frame the Law for you; and my death, because your deeds have been open to me, and whatever I have seen of them that was good, I have praised God for it, and I have asked God to pardon you whatever I have seen of evil.
And he (Muhammad) said on a certain day: O generous Pardoner. So Gabriel said: Do you know what the interpretation of generous Pardoner is? It is as follows: Surely He has pardoned evil deeds in mercy; in His generosity He has substituted good deeds for them. And the Prophet heard a man saying: O Lord I ask You for the completion of blessing. So he said: Do you know what the completion of blessing is? He said: No. He said: The entrance into the Garden. The Scholars said: God has completed His blessing for us in His approving Islam for us, when He said: I have completed My blessing for you and have approved Islam as your religion. (Q. v, 5).
And according to the tradition: When the creature commits a sin and asks God for pardon, God says to His angels: Observe my creature, he has committed a sin and he knows that he has a Lord who will pardon and take away his sin; I testify to you that I have pardoned him. And according to the tradition: If a creature were to sin so that his sins reached the clouds of the heavens, I would pardon him them in so far as he asked pardon of Me and hoped in Me. And according to the tradition: If My creature were to meet Me with sins the equal of the earth, I would meet him with pardon the equal of the earth. And according to the tradition: Surely the Angel holds the reed-pen aloft for six hours so as not to make a mark against the creature, when he sins; and, if he repents and asks for pardon, he will not record it against him; and, if not, he will record it as an evil deed. And according to another recension: If he performs a good deed after he has recorded it against him, the Angel of the right hand says to the Angel of the left [Cf. Q. lxxxii, 10-12] (for the former has command over the latter): Cast away the evil deed (so that one multiple of ten is cast away from his good deed) and credit to him nine good deeds. So the evil deed is cast away from him.
And Anas reported in a tradition that the Prophet said: When the creature commits a sin, it is recorded against hum. So a nomadic Arab said: And, if he repents of it? He said: It is erased from him. He said: If he returns to sin? The Prophet said: It is recorded against him. The nomad said: And, if he repents? He said: It is blotted out from his page. He said: For how long? He said: For as long as he begs for pardon and repents towards God. Surely God does not grow weary in pardoning until the creature grows weary of begging for pardon. And, when the creature purposes a good deed, the Master of the right hand writes it down as a good deed before he performs it; and, if he performs it, he records ten good deeds. Then God multiplies it to seven hundred multiples. And, when he meditates a sin, it is not recorded against him; and, when he performs it, one sin is recorded, and beyond it is the goodness of God's act of pardon.
And a man came to the Prophet and said: O Messenger of God, I do not keep any fast except the month of Ramadan without supererogation, and I pray only the five prayers without supererogation, and I give no voluntary alms in respect of my wealth, and there is neither pilgrimage nor obedience beyond what is obligatory [tatawwu, see Lane, in loc] to my credit. Where am I when I die? So the Messenger of God smiled and said: Yes, you are with me; because you have kept your heart from two things, rancour and envy, and your tongue from two things, slander and falsehood, and your eyes from two things, looking at what God has forbidden and contemning a Muslim with them, you will enter the Garden with me, because of my rejoicing at these two things.
And in a lengthy tradition ascribed to Anas (it is reported) that the (above-mentioned) nomad said: O Messenger of God, who will preside over the adjudication of the people? So he said: God. He said: In Person? He said: Yes. So the nomad smiled and he (Muhammad) said: Why did you laugh? So he said: Surely, when the Magnanimous One decrees (punishment) He pardons, and, when He fixes the reckoning, He forgives. So the Prophet said: The nomad has spoken the truth. Assuredly there is no one more magnanimous than God; He is without peer among those who are magnanimous. Then he (Anas) said: The nomad grasped it. And again in it [i.e. the lengthy tradition ascribed to Anas] (the Prophet said): Truly God has ennobled the Ka'ba and made it great, and, if a creature should demolish it stone upon stone, then should set it ablaze, he has not reached the sin of the person who makes sport of one of the friends of God. The nomad said: Who are the friends of God? He said: The believers are all friends of God. Have you not heard the saying of God: God is a friend of those who believe, bringing them out of the shadow into light? (Q. ii, 258).
And according to certain traditions: The believer is preferred more than the Ka'ba. Also: The believer is good and pure. Also: The believer is preferred more than the angels in the sight of God. And according to the tradition: God created Gehenna out of the excess of His mercy as a whip. With it God drives His creatures to the Garden. And in another tradition: God says: I have created men solely that they might exploit me and I have not created them to exploit them. And according to a tradition of Abu Sa’id al-Khudri [T.T., iii, 479 (894), d.c. 65/684; T.41] on the authority of the Messenger of God: God has not created anything but He has matched it with what dominates it, and He has made His mercy to dominate His wrath. And according to the celebrated [mashhur According to A. Guillaume (The Traditions of Islam, 1924, p. 181) a tradition vouched for by more than two Companions] tradition: Truly God inscribed mercy on His Self before He created men; truly, My mercy dominates My anger.
And on the authority of Mu'adh b. Jabal [T.T., x, 186 (347), d. 17/638-9; T. 18] and Anas b. Malik it is reported that he (Muhammad) said: Whoever says: There is no god but God will enter the Garden, and the Fire will not touch him whose last words are: There is no god but God. And, if a man encounters God not having associated anything with Him, the Fire is denied access to him. And the person in whose heart is the weight of an atom of faith will not enter it (the Fire). And according to another tradition: If the unbeliever knew the spaciousness of the mercy of God, not a single one would despair of His Garden. And, when the Messenger of God recited His saying: Surely the earthquake of the Hour is a mighty thing (Q. xxii, I), he said: Do you know which day this is? This is the day on which it will be said to Adam: Arise and dispatch the detachment destined for the Fire from among your seed. So he will say: How many? And it will be said: Out of every thousand nine hundred and ninety nine are for the Fire and one for the Garden. He (the narrator) went on: So he made the people despair and they began to weep and while away their days in idleness and inactivity, and so the messenger of God attacked them and said: What is the matter with you that you will not work? They said: And who would occupy themselves with work after what you have related to us on that point? And he said: How many are you among the nations? Where are Tawil and Tharith and Mansak and Gog and Magog [For Gog and Magog see E2. xxxviii-xxxix and Rev. xx, 8. In Ezekiel Gog is probably to be identified as the king of the Seythians and Magog is the Seythians, but, in the context, as also in the book of Revelation the names are apocalyptic symbols. The other three names which occur here, Tawil, Tharith, and Mansak, I have not been able to identify with certainty. I would suggest, however, that the solution may be in Gen. x, 2 where Magog is one of the sons of Japheth. Among the other sons are Tuhvi of which Tawil may be a corruption; Similarly Meshek = Mansak and Tharith = Tiras.], nations whom only God can count? Among the rest of the nations you are but as the white hair in the coat of the black bull or the white mark in the foreleg of the riding-beast.
So observe how he was driving the people with the whip of fear and leading them with the reins of hope to God. He drove them with the whip of fear at first, and, when that brought them beyond the point of equilibrium to the extreme of despair, he cured them with the therapy of hope and returned them to the equilibrium and the goal. And the latter did not contradict the former, but he made mention in the former of what he considered to be a cause of healing and confined himself to that. And, when they were in need of treatment with hope, he mentioned what completed the matter. And it is the responsibility of the preacher to imitate the Master of Preachers and to be humane in his employment of the traditions of fear and hope in accordance with need, after taking note of the inward defects. And, if he does not take care with that, his preaching will promote more disease than it will health.
And according to the tradition: If you had not sinned, God would have created a people who would and would have pardoned them. And in another recension: He would have dismissed you and produced another creation of sinner, and have pardoned them. Surely, He is the Forgiving, the Compassionate. And according to the tradition: If you had not sinned, I would have feared of you what is more evil than sins. It was said: And what is that? He (Muhammad) said: Pride. And he (Muhammad) said: By the One in whose hand my soul is, God is more merciful with His creature, the believer, than the tender mother with her offspring. And according to the tradition: Assuredly God will pardon on the Day of Resurrection with a pardon that has not occurred to a single heart, so that even the Devil will strain towards it in the hope that it may impinge on him.
And according to the tradition: Truly God possesses a hundred mercies; of these He has stored up ninety nine beside Himself and has revealed one mercy in this present world. By virtue of it men show compassion to each other and the mother is compassionate to her child, and the beast is humane with its offspring. And, when the Day of Resurrection comes, He will join this mercy to the ninety nine; then He will spread them out upon all His creation and every single mercy is the match of the heavens and the earth, and only the child of perdition will perish at the hand of God at that time. And according to the tradition: There is not a single person among you whose work will give him entrance to the Garden or will save him from the Fire. They said: Not you either, O Messenger of God? He said: Not me either except that God should cover me with His mercy. And he said: Labour and be of good courage, and know that no man's works will save him.
And he (Muhammad) said: I have reserved my intercession for the great sinners among my people. Do you think it is for the submissive and the pious? No, it is for the warped and the dissolute. And he said: I am sent with the true religion which is both accommodating and conciliatory. And he said: I desire that the People of the two Books should know that in our religion there is accommodation. And a pointer to the meaning of this is the reply which God gave to the believers when they said: And lay not upon us a burden. (Q. ii, 286). And He said: And He relieves them of their burdens and shackles which were upon them. (Q. vii, 156). And Muhammad b. al-Hanafiya [T.T., ix, 354 (586), d. 80/699; I.S., v, 66 f.] related on the authority of `Ali that he said: When He sent down His saying: Be magnanimous on a handsome scale, (Q. xv, 85) he (Muhammad) said: O Gabriel, and what is a handsome magnanimity? He (Gabriel) said: When you have pardoned whoever has wronged you and do not upbraid him. So he (Muhammad) said: O Gabriel, God is too magnanimous to upbraid the one whom He has forgiven. So Gabriel wept and the Prophet wept, and God sent Michael to them both and he said: Truly, your Lord sends both of you His compliments and says: How would I upbraid the one whom I have pardoned? This would not be like My magnanimity. And the traditions which have to do with the means of hope are more than can be numbered.
Coming now to the reports? [p. 11, n. 2]: `Ali said: If a man commits a sin and God puts a covering over it in this world, He is too magnanimous to withdraw His covering in the next world. If a man commits a sin and is punished for it in this world, God is too equitable to repeat His punishment on His creature in the next world. And ath-Thawri [Sufyan ath-Thawri, p. 7, n. 3] said: I do not desire that He should assign my adjudication to my parents, because I know that God will deal more mercifully with me than they. And one of the Fathers said: When the believer is disobedient, God covers him from the sight of the angels that they should not see him and testify against him. And Muhammad b. Mus'ab [Sa'b in 1939 ed. Mus'ab, which is correct, in 1908 ed. T.T., ix, 458 (740), d. 280/893-4]wrote to Aswad b. Salim in his own hand: Surely, when the creature is profligate and lifts up his hands praying and saying: O Lord, the angels will screen his voice. And thus the second and the third time, until, when he says the fourth time: O my Lord, God says: How long will you screen from Me the voice of My creature? My creature knows that he has no Lord who will pardon sins but Me. I testify to you that I have pardoned him.
And Ibrahim b. Adham [T.T., I, 102 (176), d. 160/777; E. 73; S. 36-8] said: I was performing the circumambulation in solitude on a certain night, and it was a dark rainy night, and I halted at the obligatory place beside the gate and said: O my Lord keep me from sin so that I am never disobedient to You. And the voice of One unseen called out to me from the House [i.e. the Ka’ba]: O Ibrahim, you are asking Me to keep you from sin, and all My believing creatures seek that from Me. But, if I should keep them from sin, upon whom should I bestow My bounty and to whom should I grant pardon?
And al-Hasan [al-Basri. T.T., ii, 263 (488), d. 110/728; E. 68 f; S. 33-5; T. 66] used to say: If the believer had not sinned, he would have been flying in the Kingdoms of the Heavens (cf. Q. vi, 75; vii, 184), but God has held him down by his sins. And al-Junayd [E. 8 f., 27 f.; S. 55-60; d. 298/910-11] said: If a speck of nobility should be visible, it will annex the evildoers to the well-doers. And Malik b. Dinar [T.T., x, 14 (15), d. 130/747; E. 69 f.] met Aban [See p. 8, n. 1] and said to him: For how much longer will you tell the people about the indulgences of God? So he said: O Abu Yahya, truly, I hope that what you see of God's pardon on the Day of Resurrection will make you rend these your clothes for joy.
And in an account [Here hadith is equivalent to athr. cf. p. 11, n. 2] of Rab'i b. Harrash [T.T., iii, 236 (458), d.c. 100/718; T. 65] concerning his brother who was among the most elect of the Followers, and was one of those who conversed after death. He (Rab'i) said: When my brother died, he was wrapped in his shroud and we laid him in his bier. Then he threw back the shroud from his face and sat upright and said: Truly, I encountered my Lord and He greeted me with affability and delight and was anything but angry, and truly, I experienced the affair as something easier than you suppose, so do not flag. And now Muhammad and his Companions are expecting me, so I shall return to them. He (Rab'i) went on: Then he prostrated himself, and it was as if a pebble had fallen into a dish, and so we bore him off and buried him.
And in the account of two men of the children of Israel who were brothers in God, and one of them was profligate and the other a devotee. And the latter used to warn the former and chide him, and so the other would say: Leave me alone. By my Lord, are you delegated to me as a watchman? This went on until he saw him on a certain day in the act of committing a great sin and was angry and said: God will not pardon you. So God will say (to the profligate) on the Day of Resurrection: Is anyone able to debar My mercy from My creatures? Go your way, for I have pardoned you. Then He will say to the devotee: As for you-the Fire is decreed for you. He (the narrator) said: By the One in whose hand my soul is, He has spoken a word which has destroyed his present world and his next world.
And it is also reported that a certain robber was pillaging the highway among the children of Israel for forty years, and Jesus passed by him, and, in his wake, one of the devotees of the children of Israel, numbered among the disciples. So the robber said to himself: The prophet of God is passing and his disciple is accompanying him; if I were to go down, I would be a third with the two of them. So he went down and was moved with the desire to draw near to the disciple, and he demeaned himself and magnified the disciple, saying to himself: One like myself may not walk at the side of this devotee. And the disciple sensed his presence and said to himself: This man is walking at my side. So he braced himself and made up to Jesus and walked at his side, while the robber remained behind him. So God revealed to Jesus: Say to them both: Assuredly the works of both of you are under review, and I have annulled whatever proceeded from your respective works. I have annulled the good works of the disciple because of his pride in himself, and I have annulled the evil works of the other, according to the measure of his disparagement of himself. So tell these tidings to both of them. And the robber joined himself to him (i.e. Jesus) in his itinerary and he made him one of his disciples.
And it is related on the authority of Masruq [T.T., x, 109 (205), d. 63/682-3; T.46] that one of the prophets was prostrating himself and an apostate trod on his neck, so that the pebbles adhered to his forehead. So the prophet raised his head in rage and said: Be off with you and God will certainly not pardon you. So God revealed to him: You are taking My name in vain in respect of My creatures. Surely I have pardoned him. And what is related on the authority of Ibn `Abbas [T.T., v, 276 (474), d.c. 68/687-8; T. 37] approximates to this. That the Messenger of God was inducing despair in the polytheists and was cursing them in his prayer, and His saying was revealed to him: You have no business with the affair - to the end of the verse. (Q. iii, 123). So he desisted from the prayer in which he was imprecating them, and God guided the body of those people to Islam.
And it is related in the report that there were two devotees equal in devotion. When they entered the Garden, one of them was elevated to the Highest Degrees over his companion. So he said: O Lord in what way did this man exceed me in devotion on the earth? Yet, You have elevated him over me in the Highest Heaven. So God says: Truly, while he was on the earth, he was continually asking for the Highest Degrees, while you were asking for salvation from the Fire. So I have given every creature his request. And this is a pointer to the fact that worship which is on account of hope is the more meritorious, because love dominates the person who hopes more than it does the one who fears. And what a distinction is made by kings between the person who serves through fear of their punishment, and the one who serves out of the hope of their favours and magnanimity! On that account God has enjoined optimism, and for that reason he (Muhammad) said: Ask God for the Highest Degrees, for you are asking One who is magnanimous. And he said: When you ask God set the target high and ask for the Highest Paradise, for God will not think anything too great for him who asks.
And Bakr b. Salim as-Sawwaf [T.T., I, 483 (887)] said: We came into the presence of Malik b. Anas [T.T., x, 5 (3), d. 179/795] on the evening on which he was taken away by death, and we said: O Abu `Abdallah, how are you? He said: I do not know what to say to you, except that you will find help from the pardon of God in what was not yours by desert. Then we did not stir until we had closed his eyes. (i.e. in death). And Yahya b. Mu'adh said in his supplication: My hoping in You along with my sins all but overcomes my hoping in You along with my good works, because, with respect to works, I rely on single-mindedness, and how shall I preserve it, since I am known to be with blemish? And I find myself with respect to my sins relying on Your pardon, and how will You not pardon them, since magnanimity is Your attribute?
And it is said: A Zoroastrian asked hospitality from Abraham, the Friend (sc. of God); so he said: If you become a Muslim, I will give you hospitality. So the Zoroastrian passed on, and God revealed to him (Abraham): You would not give him food except with his religion changed, and We have fed him for seventy years, notwithstanding his unbelief. If you had given him hospitality for a night, what responsibility would have fallen on you? So Abraham set off running after the Zoroastrian and brought him back and gave him hospitality. So the Zoroastrian said to him: By what means did it become plain to you? So he mentioned it to him. And the Zoroastrian said to him: Does He deal with me thus? Exhibit Islam to me that I may become a Muslim [Cf. Acts viii, 34 f.].
And the Spiritual Director [ustadh, see L.H.A., 392] Abu Sahl as-Su'luki [K. 272] saw Abu Sahl az-Zajjaji in a dream and he was speaking about the threat of everlasting punishment. So he (as-Su'luki) said to him: How do you feel? He said: I find the affair easier than I had contemplated. And a certain individual saw Abu Sahl as-Su'luki in a dream, indescribably fair in appearance. So he said to him: O Spiritual Director, by what means did you obtain this? So he said: Through supposing the best of my Lord. And it is related that Abu 'l-`Abbas b. Sarij saw in a dream in his mortal illness as if the Resurrection were actualized and behold! the Almighty was saying: Where are the Scholars? So they came. Then He said: What have you accomplished with what you knew? [Cf. p. 10, n. 2] He (Abu '1-`Abbas b. Sarij) went on: So we said: O Lord we have come short and we have done evil. So He repeated the interrogation as if He were not satisfied with the answer and He desired another answer. So I said: As for me, there is no polytheism on my page, and You have promised that You will pardon whatever does not partake of it. And He said: Take him away, for I have pardoned you (all). And he died three nights later.
And it is said: There was a certain tippler who gathered together a party of his cronies and tossed to his boy four dirhams and bade him buy some fruit for his party. And the boy passed by the door of the sitting-room of Mansur b. `Ammar [K. 126-7], while he was begging something for a poor man and saying: Whoever tosses him four dirhams, I shall offer four petitions for him. So the boy tossed the dirhams to him and Mansur said: What is it you desire that I should ask for you? So he said: I have a master from whom I desire to be released. So Mansur prayed. Then he said: Next request. That God would replace my dirhams. So he prayed and then said: Next. He said: That God would bring my master to repentance. So he prayed; then he said: Next. He said: That God would pardon me and my master and you and the multitude. So Mansur prayed and the boy returned and his master said to him: What detained you? So he told the tale to him. He said: And what did he pray about? So he said: I asked freedom for myself. So he said to him: Go your way, for you are a free man. He said: And what was the second prayer? He said: That God would replace the dirhams. He Said: You possess four thousand dirhams. And what was the third prayer? He said: That God would bring you to repentance. He said: I have repented towards God. He said: And what was the fourth prayer? He said: That God would pardon me and you and the multitude, and him who spoke the prayer. He said: This one is not in my power. So, while he was passing that night, he had a vision in sleep, as if someone were speaking to him: You have done what was in your power, do you then think that I shall not do what is in My power? I have pardoned you and the boy and Mansur b. 'Ammar and the crowd which was present, all of them.
And it is related on the authority of 'Abd al-Wahhab b. `Abd al-Hamid ath-Thaqafi [T.T., vi, 449 (931), d. 194/809-10; T. 294. Hamid which appears in both the 1908 and 1939 editions is apparently a mistake for Majid] who said: I saw three men and a woman bearing a bier. So I took the place of the woman and we went off to the cemetery, and we prayed over the corpse and buried it. So I said to the woman: What was the relationship of the deceased man to you? She said: My son. I said: And did you not have any neighbours? She said: Yes, but they despised his condition. I said: And what was it? She Said: He was a mukhannith [A mukhannith is a male who dances so as to simulate a female]. So I had compassion on her and brought her to my house and gave her money and corn and clothes. That night I had a vision. It was as if someone came to me, like to the moon on the night when it is full, wearing white robes. And he began to thank me and I said: Who are you? So he said: The mukhannith whom you buried today. My Lord had compassion on me for that the people contemned me.
And Ibrahim al-Utrush said: We were sitting in Baghdad with Ma'ruf al-Karkhi [L.H.A., 385-6.d. 200/815; e. 17] by the Tigris, when youths passed by in skiffs, beating with the oars and drinking and jesting. So they said to Ma'ruf: Do you not see them disobeying God with obscene jests? Pray to God against them. So he lifted up his hands and said: O God, as 'you have given them joy in this world, give them joy in the next world. So the group said: All we asked of you was to pray against them. So he said: If He brings them joy in the next world, he will have forgiven them. And one of the Fathers used to say in his petitions: O Lord, what people was there ever that did not disobey You? Yet Your favour was bounteous upon them and Your provision lavish. Praise be to You, how clement You are! [Wright, I, 184 b] By Your Might! if disobedience is shown to You, You bestow favour in plenty and are lavish with provision, so that it is as if, O our Lord, You were not angry.
These are the means by which the relief of hope is induced in the hearts of the fearful and despairing. And, as for the foolish and self-deluded, it is not expedient that they should hear anything of that; no, they are to bear what we shall cite of the means of fear. For the most of people are not made healthy except through fear, just as the bad servant and the naughty boy are not reformed except through the whip and the stick and speech with an explicit threat. But the opposite of that would block up against them the door of health with respect to religion and this world.