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Name of Allah: Ash-Shaheed – Ar-Raqeeb

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الشهيد – الرقيب

Ash-Shaheed – Ar-Raqeeb

The name of Allah Ash-Shaheed (The Witness) occurs several times in the Quran

قال الله تعالى: {و الله على كل شيء شهيد}

And Allah is Witness over everything.

Surah Al-Buruj [85: 9]

As for His name Ar Raqeeb (the All Watcher), it appears three times in the Quran. One of these instances is in Surah Al-Maidah, where it is paired with His name Ash-Shaheed. Here Allah tells us about the conversation which will occur between Him and Prophet Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him, on the Day of Resurrection:

قال الله تعالى: {و إذ قال الله يا عيسى  ابن مريم ءأنت قلت للناس اتخذوني و أمي إلهين من دون الله قال سبحانك ما يكون لي أن أقول ما ليس لي بحق إن كنت قلته فقدعلمته تعلم ما في نفسي و لا أعلم ما في نفسك إنك أنت علام الغيوب ، ما قلت لهم إلا ما أمرتني به أن اعبدوا الله ربي و ربكم و كنت عليم شهيدا ما دمت فيهم فلما توفيتني كنت أنت الرقيب عليهم و أنت على كل شىء شهيد}

And remember when Allah will say, “O Isa, son of Maryam! Did you say to men: “Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah? “He will say “Glorified are You! It was  not for me to say what I had no right to say. Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in my inner self, though I do not know what is in Yours, truly You, only You, are The All-Knower of all that is hidden and unseen.

Never did I say to them anything except what You (Allah) did command me to say: ”Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them, but when You took me up, You were the Watcher over them, and You are The Witness of all things (This is a great admonition and warning to the Christians of the whole world.)

Surah al-Maidah [5: 116-117]

Meaning of Ash-Shaheed – The Witness:

Allah knows and witnesses everything in the universe and there is nothing that is hidden from Him. He is witness to every utterance, even the faintest whisper, and every movement. He sees the tiniest of objects as clearly as the biggest ones. His knowledge encompasses everything and He will be the Witness over His slaves and what they put forth by way of actions in this life. He will testify for or against His servants for what they have done (on the Day of Judgement).(1)

Meaning of Ar Raqeeb – The All-Watcher:

Allah observes and sees what is hidden in the hearts. He sees everything and nothing is hidden from Him. He observes and sees every thought which passes through our minds and every single movement we make. He hears everything with His perfect hearing and watches over every creature with His vast knowledge which encompasses everything. (2)

قال الله تعالى: {يعلم خائنة الأعين و ما تخفي الصدور}

Allah knows the fraud of the eyes and all that the breasts conceal.

Surah Al-Ghafir [40: 19]

If the slave knows that Allah witnesses and watches over every thought in his mind, every feeling in his heart, every movement of his body and every saying of his tongue, then this awareness will surely make him guard his inner self from any wrong thought and guard his outer self from any wrong movement or action that displease Allah. This necessitates the performance of a great act of worship: the mindfulness of Allah. This act is one of the greatest actions of the heart, worshipping Allah by His names Ash-Shaheed and Ar-Raqeeb. (3)

This mindfulness of Allah is the true meaning of “ihsan”. According to the hadith when Jibril (Angel Gabriel, peace be upon him) asked Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) about ihsan, he answered:

“أن تعبد الله كأنك تراه فإن لم تكن تراه فهو يراك” (4)

[It is] To worship Allah as if you can see Allah and if you cannot see Him, then [you worship Him knowing that] He sees you.

Accordingly, the one who is mindful of Allah in his words and actions is from the people of ihsan.

To understand the meaning of the awareness and watchfulness of Allah, let’s imagine an exam room in a university. While the student taking the exam is sitting, the invigilator comes and stands right in front of his desk, focusing his gaze upon him. Given the student’s awareness of the invigilator, will this student think to cheat in any way? Will he even try to look at the paper of his colleague? Never! Why? Because the invigilator, the one monitoring the people taking the exam, is watching him.

This is how people react under the observation of a person superior to them: they guard their actions and refrain from violating any rules for fear of punishment.

But the true Muslim is only concerned about the fact that Allah sees him and he will never think of cheating in this life (by committing wrong actions) because he is mindful of the fact that Allah is observing him.

We have an authentic story about one of the Salaf (a person from the first three generations of Muslims) who practised the great act of worship of being aware that Allah is constantly watching us. His name was Al-Mubarak. He used to work as a farmer in an orchard. His employer came one day to the orchard with some of his friends. He asked Al-Mubarak to bring him some sweet pomegranates, but the pomegranates that Al-Mubarak brought for him were sour. So the owner said to him,

“I told you to get me sweet ones and you brought me the sour ones!” He continued,

“don’t you know the difference between them?” Al-Mubarak answered:

“No.” The owner then said, “you have been working in this garden for years now and you have never tasted them?”.

Al-Mubarak replied,“No, I have not tasted even a single fruit, for you did not give me the permission to taste them.” The owner was very impressed with the honesty of Al-Mubarak and, after a few days, he came back to him and said,

“If I want to choose a husband for my daughter, whom shall I choose?” Al-Mubarak replied,

“The Jews choose according to wealth, the Christians choose according to beauty and the Muslims choose according to good religion.” So, his employer said to him,

“And I will choose religion and I offer my daughter in marriage to you”. Al-Mubarak accepted this proposal and from this marriage came one of the greatest scholars of Hadith, the well known Scholar ‘Abdullah Ibn Al-Mubarak. (5)

So can you imagine a man working alone in a garden full of fruits, with no supervision, yet the heart of this man knows that Allah is watching? This knowledge prevented him from tasting even a single fruit without the permission of the owner. Let us also reflect upon the way in which Allah thanked him for this. The blessing of this sincere act of worship resulted in a noble son. Indeed Allah loves the heart that is filled with the remembrance of Him (Allah).

If we also ponder on the authentic hadith:

“سبعة يظلهم الله في ظله يوم لا ظل إلا ظله: الإمام العادل، وشاب نشأ في عبادة الله، ورجل قلبه معلق في المساجد، ورجلان تحابا في الله اجتمعا عليه وتفرقا عليه، ورجل دعته امرأة ذات منصب وجمال، فقال إني أخاف الله، ورجل تصدق بصدقة فأخفاها حتى لا تعلم شماله ما تنفق يمينه، ورجل ذكر الله خاليا ففاضت عيناه” .  (6)

Seven types of Muslims will be shaded by a shade Allah will create for them on the Day of Resurrection, when there will be no shade except His shade. From these types is a man whom a beautiful, honorable, (i.e. a woman of nobility) woman tried to seduce, but he rejected her saying that he feared Allah. Another type is someone who spends in charity, giving it with his right hand and trying to hide his charity even from his own left hand; The third type is someone who remembered Allah while he was alone and this remembrance and love of Allah made his eyes fill with tears.

We will find in this hadith three types of people who worshipped Allah with this great act of worship that is mindfulness of the fact He observes everything.

A Companion called Thawban, may Allah be pleased with him, recited a hadith:

عَنْ ثَوْبَانَ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى االله عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَنَّهُ قَالَ

“لَأَعْلَمَنَّ أَقْوَامًا مِنْ أُمَّتِي يَأْتُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِحَسَنَاتٍ أَمْثَالِ جِبَالِ تِهَامَةَ بِيضًا، فَيَجْعَلُهَا االله عَزَّ وَجَلَّ هَبَاءً مَنْثُورًا، قَالَ ثَوْبَانُ: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ، صِفْهُمْ لَنَا، جَلِّهِمْ لَنَا، أَنْ لَا نَكُونَ مِنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَا نَعْلَمُ، قَالَ: أَمَا إِنَّهُمْ إِخْوَانُكُمْ، وَمِنْ جِلْدَتِكُمْ، وَيَأْخُذُونَ مِنْ اللَّيْلِ كَمَا تَأْخُذُونَ، وَلَكِنَّهُمْ أَقْوَامٌ إِذَا خَلَوْا بِمَحَارِمِ االله انْتَهَكُوهَا”  

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

I know some people from my followers, they will come on the Day of Resurrection with “Hasanat” (rewards) as big as the mountains of Tuhama, yet Allah will make them like scattered dust. So Thawban said: describe them to us, make them clear to us, as we might be one of them while we are not noticing it. He said: they are your brothers, with the same religion, they perform Qiyamul Layl (night prayers), like you do, but they are people who, if they are alone with Allah’s prohibitions, they violate them. (7)

So, beware of the fact that Allah is looking at your heart at all times: Is He going to find it mindful of anyone above Him? or fearing anyone else besides Him?

If you want to evaluate your faith, then look at yourself and see who you watch for when you are alone or amongst the people. In each and every situation in your life, who do you care to please? When you are dealing with your own children, for example, are you conscious of Allah in the way you treat them and in the way you punish them? Yes, they are under your authority, but do you realize that Allah is still witnessing and observing you? When you punish them, do you administer punishment as a sort of revenge because they annoyed you, or do you punish them only with the intention of correcting their behaviour, without any sort of abuse? We need to practise this act of worship of the heart, being mindful of Allah in each and every minute of our life. Our heart should focus its aim on pleasing Allah in every way and in everything we do.

We will not be able to achieve this except with the aid of Allah, so let us start by asking Allah to fill our hearts with love for Him, hope in His mercy and fear of His punishment. Let us ask Him to make our hearts capable to be conscious and mindful only of His observation. On top of asking Him, we also have to show Allah that we are trying to achieve this. It needs practice. We need to keep our hearts alert with the constant remembrance of Allah, without falling into negligence.

Now, what happens if we achieve the level worship of constantly being in the remembrance of Allah and being mindful of Him? This achievement results in a feeling of closeness to Allah which fills our hearts with a joy and happiness that cannot be compared to any worldly joy or happiness.

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim said:

“This happiness and joy of feeling close to Allah and the tranquility it brings to the heart, there is nothing of joy and tranquility in this world that compares to it. It is the state of the people of Paradise. That is why one worshipper said: “It happens to me that at times I say to myself, If the people of Paradise are in this pleasure and joy, then they are living a real good life”. This happiness will always urge and stimulate the heart to keep going on the path of seeking Allah’s pleasure. The heart will never be able to tolerate living without this feeling of closeness and tranquility.”

He also said that he heard Imam Ibn Taymiyyah say,

“If you performed any act of worship and you did not find an instant happiness and cheerfulness in your heart, then blame your act.”

Why? Because our Lord is the All Thankful and, as such, He will definitely reward the doer of good deeds with an immediate sense of tranquility and happiness as a reward in this life. If you did not find this reward and this happiness, go back and look for shortcomings in your act. It might be lack of sincerity or that the act was not performed according to the Sunnah (the way of the Prophet peace be upon him), or any other fault. (8)

I will end this with a saying of one of the Scholars of the past: “May Allah have mercy on a slave who, whenever he is about to do any act, he stops and think: if this act pleases Allah he will go ahead, and if not, he will refrain from doing it.”.


Above is a transcription of a class given by teacher Zaynab El-Kateb, based on the book Fiqh Al-Asmaa Al-Husnaa by Shaikh Abdur-Razzaaq Al-Badr.

1&2- Fiqh Al-Asma Al-Husna – Sheikh Abdur Razzaq Al-Badr

3- Al-Haq Al-Wadih Al-Mubin – Imam Nasir As-Sa’di (with adjustments)

4- Narrated by Muslim

5- Siyar A’lam An-Nubala – Imam Adh-Dhahabi

6- Bukhari & Muslim

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