Knowing Allah through His Beautiful Names – Al Khafid and Ar Rafi’

Knowing Allah through His Beautiful Names - Al Khafid and Ar Rafi'

Among the beautiful names of Allah Almighty is Al Khafid, the Abaser, and Ar Rafi’, the Exalter. Literally, khafada in Arabic is to lower something down, while rafa’a is to raise something. The One who abases infidels is Allah Almighty and He is the One who raises up the faithful by salvation, so you can see the reflection of His name in the dunya and you can see definitely the reflection of His name in the Akhirah.

In the Quran Allah Almighty says:

يَرۡفَعِ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ مِنكُمۡ وَٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ ٱلۡعِلۡمَ دَرَجَٰتٖۚ

Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees. [58:11]

Thus imaan will raise you to a higher level. We have different levels – the disbelievers are at the bottom, and then on the ground floor you have believers, and as one’s sincerity, efforts and knowledge increase they go up to higher and levels. Those who have been given knowledge are raised above the average believers, depending on their knowledge and their closeness to Allah Almighty.

Allah Almighty raises His awliyah, meaning that He exalts His holy people by bringing them closer to Him. So if you want to be raised, then come closer to Allah Almighty, and Allah Almighty will elevate your rank. Meanwhile He abases His enemies by sending them far away from Him. Raising and lowering are attributes that relate to Allah’s action.

Imam al Ghazali mentioned something beautiful, saying whoever elevates his vision above tangible and imagined things and his intention above blameworthy desires, Allah Almighty will raise him to the horizon of the angels who are close to Him. He is saying that if you want to be raised, the formula is to raise your determination and your vision, beyond your desires, beyond material things, such as food, drink, money and status. Raise your aim, your bar, your goals beyond the tangible to please Allah Almighty. Make your aim to please Allah Almighty, not to accumulate money in your account, or your property portfolio, or gadgets or titles and positions. Don’t make your aim to fulfil your desires. Make your aim Allah Almighty. Then, only then, will Allah Almighty raise you to the horizon of the angels who are close to Him. This the formula to be close to Allah Almighty. It doesn’t mean you should neglect all your desires. Islam is a religion of balance – between the soul and the body, the mind and the heart. Therefore you may fulfil your desires in a halal way with moderation. Moderation is the key word. Wasata as Allah Almighty stated in the Quran:

‘As such we have made you a balanced ummah’. [2:143]

A moderate ummah is one which does not adopt any extreme but that that does not mean they are unambitious. When you raise your aims to please Allah Almighty, then Allah Almighty will raise you to the horizon of the angels.

Ghazali goes on to say that whoever restricts his vision to tangible things and has no aspiration beyond fulfilling his passions and desires, which we share with the beasts, Allah Almighty will reduce him to the lowest of ranks. Ghazali was an expert in this field. None but Allah Almighty most High can raise or abase someone. Therefore if you set your aims high, this will raise your ranks. And if you don’t, you will be demoted to the lower ranks. 

In the sunnah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to have a camel. No one could race his camel and win, until one day a Bedouin came from the desert and he was riding a young camel, who was 3-4 years old, and he won the race against the Prophet’s camel (peace be upon him). The companions were sad to see their beloved Prophet’s camel defeated. Then Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) looked at them and seeing the sadness in their faces commented that it’s Allah Almighty’s rule that nothing will be raised, but it will come down later. His camel had taken what he deserved by coming first for so many years, and now it was time for a new camel to win.

Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:

The Prophet (SAW) had a she camel called Al Adba which could not be excelled in a race. (Humaid, a sub-narrator said, “Or could hardly be excelled.”) Once a bedouin came riding a camel below six years of age which surpasses it (i.e. Al Adba) in the race. The Muslims felt it so much that the Prophet (SAW) noticed their distress. He then said, “It is incumbent upon Allah (or it is Allah’s Law) that He lowers or brings down whatever rises high in the world.” [Bukhari]

This is the sunnah of Allah Almighty in this world. Nothing goes that doesn’t come back down. No matter how long it takes to go up. The higher it goes the more easily it comes down, because the pinnacle is the beginning of the journey down. You can’t go higher than the pinnacle. Once you’ve reached the pinnacle, prepare yourself to go down.  

The athlete Mo Farrah who won so many races, came ninth in his last marathon, in the slowest time he had every run, overtaken by several younger runners. He was grateful just to have reached the finish line and emotional, as the crowds cheered him on. He had been number one but not any more. This is the sunnah of Allah Almighty. He is the One who lifts and raises people and their ranks and positions and He is the One who brings them down.

How can we reflect these names in our lives?

Man’s share in this consists in exalting the truth and abasing falsehood, supporting those who are right and reproaching those who are wrong. This is how you reflect these two names of Allah Almighty. Take friends who are close to Allah Almighty and take enemies from those who are away from Allah Almighty. The more you are chase the dunya, the lower you will descend lower, the more you pursue the Akhirah, the higher you will go.

Shaykh Haytham Tamim – 12 Sept 2023 Transcribed by S Jawaid

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.