Knowing Allah through His Beautiful Names: Al Mu’izz and Al Mudhil
Pairs of names
Two of the beautiful names of Allah Almighty are Al-Mu’izz and Al-Mudhill. Al-Mu’izz is the One who gives honour while it’s opposite, Al-Mudhill is the One who humiliates. As we have seen with other names, they sometimes come in pairs such as Ar-Rafi, the One who elevates and Al-Khafid, the One who debases, and puts things down after they have been raised. And Al Sami’ the One who hears and Al-Baseer, the one who Sees. Though Imam Ghazali didn’t elaborate that much on these two names, I will elaborate on how to apply them practically in your life.
In Surat al Imran, Allah Almighty says:
قُلِ ٱللَّهُمَّ مَـٰلِكَ ٱلْمُلْكِ تُؤْتِى ٱلْمُلْكَ مَن تَشَآءُ وَتَنزِعُ ٱلْمُلْكَ مِمَّن تَشَآءُ وَتُعِزُّ مَن تَشَآءُ وَتُذِلُّ مَن تَشَآءُ ۖ بِيَدِكَ ٱلْخَيْرُ ۖ إِنَّكَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ قَدِيرٌۭ ٢٦
Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “O Allah! Lord over all sovereignties! You give soverignty to whoever You please and remove it from who You please; You honour whoever You please and disgrace who You please—all good is in Your Hands. Surely You ˹alone˺ are Most Capable of everything. [3:26]
Allah grants honour and disgrace
We see from this ayah it says that Allah honours whom He wills and humiliates whom He wills. Therefore though people may honour or humiliate you, it is only Allah Almighty who can truly honour or humiliate you. If Allah Almighty has elevated you and honoured you, no one can humiliate you. For instance, the Quraysh tried to humiliate, spread abuse and lies about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), but because as he was honoured by Allah Almighty, no one could succeed in debasing him. Though people threw all sorts of accusations at him, it did not change his status (peace be upon him) or the honour that he has been destined to receive, because he is supported by Allah Almighty. Allah Almighty is Al-Mu’izz, the One who gives honour.
Free of dependence on others and free of greed
In our lives, many aspects are intertwined with these two names. Those whom Allah Almighty has honoured can proudly raise their heads high; what characterises them is that they depend on Allah, knowing that though they may receive their salary, or gifts or help from others, Allah is the source and they seek Him. Moreover they are not greedy for material gain.
True honour is being liberated from the burden of dependence, so there’s no need to rely on others, because seeking help from people and begging them is humiliating. By contrast, seeking help from Allah Almighty is a great honour.
There is a huge distinction between the two. When you connect your needs to Allah Almighty, asking Him for help brings honour while the one who is reliant on others feels humbled. There is a difference between having to ask a colleague for something, and being able to ask the boss direct for what you need, knowing that he will give it to you.
The one who is freed from wants gains contentment, which is qanaa’ in Arabic, but the one who harbours greed, which is tama’ in Arabic, and can be related to financial issues, or social status is degraded and debased, because they can be driven to do things that bring humiliation.
Ghazali is giving a formula here, which I want to dissect: true honour comes from Allah Almighty to those who are free of needs, and control their desire, and free from ignorance – such people achieve ‘izz – veneration and honour. When you are free from relying on people, you only need Allah Almighty. This does not mean you isolate yourself and talk to nobody and sit on top of the mountain. Rather it means you deal with the people, but your heart is connected to Allah Almighty because you know that He is the true source of everything and so you connect your needs to Him, not people. When you are self-sufficient, then you have ‘izz – veneration from Allah Almighty. When you are controlling your ‘shahwa’, your desire, you’re not controlled by your desire then you have veneration and honour. When you have knowledge rather than ignorance you are honoured. Those whom Allah Almighty taught are honoured by Allah Almighty. Those who are ignorant are humiliated.
If you have contentment from Allah Almighty, then you are self-sufficient. You don’t need to turn to anyone but Allah Almighty. When you are connected to Him, and begging Him, then He will provide you with the power and the support. That is why we say ‘iyyaka na’budu wa iyyaka nasta’een’, ‘You alone we worship and from You alone we seek help. Because when you truly connect your heart with Allah Almighty, then He will support you. He knows your intention – whether you are genuine, sincere or faking it. You can fake it for people, but not Allah Almighty. He knows exactly what’s in your heart. If you’re truthful then Allah Almighty will support you, and provide for you.
Purify your intention
When you have control over your ego, you purify your heart, purify your intention and rely on Allah Almighty, then He will provide you the power to do things, and the support you and you will have control over your ego. However if you were to look at what Allah Almighty has given to other people and feel dissatisfied, you want to keep up with the Joneses you go back to needing others and greed slowly creeps into you. It’s the slippery slope to humiliation, which is dhull in Arabic. Then you start doing things which you shouldn’t do and then you go down the route of humiliation due to your greed. If you don’t have contentment, where shaytan will prey on you and put many traps in your way.
Shaytan’s speciality is to hit you on the weakest point which we have. He won’t attack you on your strong points, because he knows he can’t defeat you. However if your weakest point is money, or women, or status, he will exploit that to bring you down, which leads to humiliation rather than veneration and honour.
He is fulling of cunning plans. So if you are full of yourself, you have just fallen into shaytan’s trap. Often you won’t realise this. Even worse, you don’t recognise there is anything wrong, and Ghazali says that is truly the dhull, humiliation from Allah Almighty. Allah Almighty has taken away the honour which He gave him. It’s not without reason, that somebody is humiliated. It can be greed or envy, ego and arrogance, ignorance and other the diseases of the heart which bring you down.
Material wealth and spiritual wealth
Al Qushayri wrote his book on the Beautiful Names of Allah Almighty, At-Tahbir, long before Imam Ghazali’s time. In fact, Imam Ghazali copied paragraphs from Al Qushayri in his book. He mentioned that Allah honours His servant in this dunya in two ways ‘bil maal wal haal’ by either materially or spiritually. In Arabic ‘maal’ literally means money or wealth. So if Allah Almighty has given somebody wealth this is a sign of honouring him, but not always of course. Notably Allah Almighty gave Qaroon a man from the people of Musa (peace be upon him), plenty of wealth but He humiliated Qaroon and made the earth swallow him. So wealth is not always a sign of veneration and honour from Allah Almighty. But nevertheless if it has the right conditions then it’s the sign of honour. Allah Almighty can honour someone in this dunya in wealth or in spiritual status. Spiritual status in Arabic is called haal. Wealth beautifies the outward – such as expensive cars, clothes, property are beautiful whereas spiritual gifts beautify the inward. It is like the camera on your phone, which can look outwards at the world or towards you to take a selfie.
Spiritual status is to have beauty in your heart and wealth makes you free of need. Wealth can be acquired but inner status is a gift from Allah Almighty. When you follow His commands Allah Almighty will give it to you. He will beautify your heart and give you status and tranquillity.
Wealth makes you honoured among people but spiritual status makes you honoured before Allah Almighty. Those who want to be honoured in the dunya focus only on wealth to have a lavish lifestyle and live in luxury. Those who want to be honoured by Allah Almighty, work hard on their hearts, on their intentions.
Allah Almighty honours the people of zuhd, as they do not let material things reside in their hearts. They do not desire the dunya. In the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which is mentioned in the Forty Nawawi, Sahl bin Sa’d As-Sa’idi (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“A man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, show me a deed which, if I do it, Allah will love me and people will love me. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Be indifferent towards this world, and Allah will love you. Be indifferent to what is in people’s hands, and they will love you.” (Ibn Majah)
Look at this beautiful and comprehensive question – the man wanted the dunya and the akhirah. So the believer is not solely focused on the akhirah while neglecting the dunya, and the answer was detach yourself from desiring the dunya and competing with people for the dunya and people will love you. This is the recipe to get Allah Almighty’s love and peoples’ love.
Qushayri then commented that when Allah Almighty wants to honour somebody, He gives them contentment. So if you want to reflect Allah’s name Al Muizz, you should have contentment and then Allah Almighty will elevate your status, and honour you.
When Allah Almighty wants to honour somebody He will make this person close to Him, and how does one become close to Allah Almighty? As Allah Almighty made it clear in the Hadith Qudsi:
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: ” إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ قَالَ: مَنْ عَادَى لِي وَلِيًّا، فَقَدْ آذَنْتُهُ بِالْحَرْبِ، وَمَا تَقَرَّبَ إِلَيَّ عَبْدِي بِشَيْءٍ أَحَبَّ إِلَيَّ مِمَّا افْتَرَضْتُ عَلَيْهِ، وَمَا يَزَالُ عَبْدِي يَتَقَرَّبُ إِلَيَّ بِالنَّوَافِلِ حَتَّى أُحِبَّهُ، فَإِذَا أَحْبَبْتُهُ، كُنْتُ سَمْعَهُ الَّذِي يَسْمَعُ بِهِ، وَبَصَرَهُ الَّذِي يُبْصِرُ بِهِ، وَيَدَهُ الَّتِي يَبْطِشُ بِهَا، وَرِجْلَهُ الَّتِي يَمْشِي بِهَا، وَإِنْ سَأَلَنِي لَأُعْطِيَنَّهُ، وَلَئِنْ اسْتَعَاذَنِي لَأُعِيذَنَّهُ، وَمَا تَرَدَّدْتُ عَنْ شَيْءٍ أَنَا فَاعِلُهُ تَرَدُّدِي عَنْ نَفْسِ عَبْدِي الْمُؤْمِنِ، يَكْرَهُ الْمَوْتَ وَأَنَا أَكْرَهُ مَسَاءَتَهُ”
Allah (mighty and sublime be He) said: Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him. [Bukhari]
Getting close to Allah
This shows that our priority when we want to become close to Allah Almighty is to fulfil the obligations properly – whether it is salah, fasting, zakat etc as these are what bring us closer to Allah Almighty. Thereafter it is by doing voluntary things, as we know from the Sunnah, and thirdly being consistent in your extra ibadah. This continuity and consistency makes you close to Allah Almighty, even when it is in small things. The important thing is to keep it up. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
The most beloved of good deeds to Allah is that in which a person persists, even if it is little. If the family of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) started to do something, they would persist in it.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Of course this is referring to voluntary deeds, not obligatory deeds as they have to be fulfilled without any exceptions.
Also if Allah Almighty wants to honour somebody, He draws him closer to Himself by preparing him to converse with Him. In the hadith, Al-Bayadi reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) came out to the people while they were praying and they were raising their voices in recitation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
عَنِ الْبَيَاضِيِّ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ خَرَجَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَهُمْ يُصَلُّونَ وَقَدْ عَلَتْ أَصْوَاتُهُمْ بِالْقِرَاءَةِ فَقَالَ إِنَّ الْمُصَلِّي يُنَاجِي رَبَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فَلْيَنْظُرْ مَا يُنَاجِيهِ وَلَا يَجْهَرْ بَعْضُكُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ بِالْقُرْآنِ
“Verily, the one in prayer is in an intimate conversation with his Lord Almighty, so let one look at how he converses with Him. Do not raise your voices above each other with the Quran.” [Musnad Ahmed]
When Allah Almighty wants to humiliate a servant, He connects him with his desires. And this will disconnect him from Allah Almighty and conversing with Him. The more we work on our salah, the more it takes us through the levels of ‘izz and honour and veneration from Allah Almighty. The more we are connected to our desires and dunya, the more we are heading towards humiliation.
Reining in desires
Then Qushayri mentioned something beautiful, that hearts that are attached to their desires are veiled from Allah Almighty. So if you want your heart to be connected to Allah Almighty then you have to get your desires under control. This is why Ramadan is a special time, because desires are reined in and you feel the soul is lifted and the heart is tranquil, and the ruh is roaming freely. You feel the lightness of being in your heart and in your body, and a beautiful feeling which you cannot compare with anything. This is because you have broken the chains of the desire and drawn closer to Him. When Allah Almighty lifts the veil from someone’s heart, it is as if he has been given special lenses, through which he can see the true beauty of Allah Almighty through His creation.
Some shuyukh said Allah Almighty will put somebody in this position of humiliation because He wants them to go up to the level of veneration and the level of honour. By putting them in this situation, it gives them a wake up call to bring them back to Him. He’s not just putting them in this position to leave them there and then punish them, He wants them to come back. But sometimes if they didn’t get the message, and are intoxicated with desires, they will not understand.
Calamities and illness
The great mufassir of our time, Shaykh Sharawi mentioned that when someone healthy falls ill has to understand that this is from Allah Almighty and he needs to get ridah, contentment, and not complain about his illness. It could be a calamity Allah Almighty sent Him, if he doesn’t understand that this is from Allah Almighty and Allah wants him to show ridah, contentment, he will not get the benefit of this test.
When you have your health, you are strong and able, you become immersed in dunya. But when you are ill you don’t have the strength or health to engage with the dunya, so you are more focused on Allah Almighty. Thus illness can bring you back to Allah Almighty. In the Hadith Qudsi, Allah Almighty says:
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَقُولُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ مَرِضْتُ فَلَمْ تَعُدْنِي قَالَ يَا رَبِّ كَيْفَ أَعُودُكَ وَأَنْتَ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ قَالَ أَمَا عَلِمْتَ أَنَّ عَبْدِي فُلَانًا مَرِضَ فَلَمْ تَعُدْهُ أَمَا عَلِمْتَ أَنَّكَ لَوْ عُدْتَهُ لَوَجَدْتَنِي عِنْدَهُ يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ اسْتَطْعَمْتُكَ فَلَمْ تُطْعِمْنِي قَالَ يَا رَبِّ وَكَيْفَ أُطْعِمُكَ وَأَنْتَ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ قَالَ أَمَا عَلِمْتَ أَنَّهُ اسْتَطْعَمَكَ عَبْدِي فُلَانٌ فَلَمْ تُطْعِمْهُ أَمَا عَلِمْتَ أَنَّكَ لَوْ أَطْعَمْتَهُ لَوَجَدْتَ ذَلِكَ عِنْدِي يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ اسْتَسْقَيْتُكَ فَلَمْ تَسْقِنِي قَالَ يَا رَبِّ كَيْفَ أَسْقِيكَ وَأَنْتَ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ قَالَ اسْتَسْقَاكَ عَبْدِي فُلَانٌ فَلَمْ تَسْقِهِ أَمَا إِنَّكَ لَوْ سَقَيْتَهُ وَجَدْتَ ذَلِكَ عِنْدِي
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“Allah Almighty will say on the Day of Resurrection: O son of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit Me. He will say: My Lord, how can I visit You when You are the Lord of the worlds? Allah will say: Did you not know that My servant was sick and you did not visit him, and had you visited him you would have found Me with him? O son of Adam, I asked you for food but you did not feed Me. He will say: My Lord, how can I feed You when You are the Lord of the worlds? Allah will say: Did you not know that My servant asked you for food but you did not feed him, and had you fed him you would have found Me with him? O son of Adam, I asked you for drink but you did not provide for Me. He will say: My Lord, how can I give You drink when You are the Lord of the worlds? Allah will say: My servant asked you for a drink but you did not provide for him, and had you given it to him you would have found Me with him.” [Muslim]
It means Allah Almighty’s reward will be there for the person who was ill, and showed ridah / contentment. Contentment does not mean that you don’t seek medicine, it means you don’t complain. Then Allah Almighty will elevate you and take you to a different level. This is a very deep lesson.
If you want to reflect upon and apply the name Al Muizz, so it will shine on your and reflect in your life, connect your heart with Allah Almighty, control your desires, and be content. This is the recipe for ‘izz, veneration and honour. Otherwise, even if you have the wealth of the whole world in your hand, you have greed in your heart, you are humiliated by Allah Almighty.
Allah Almighty will not look at your outward and you will not be accountable for your appearance, but you will be accountable for what is in your heart. So let’s work on our heart because this is our ladder if you want to veneration and honour from Allah Almighty.
I ask Allah Almighty to enable us to live by His names and reflect these names in our practices and be among those who are close to Allah Almighty and prepare to converse with Him and rely on Him fully and make the dunya away from our hearts, make the dunya in our hands, not in our hearts
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – 26 Sept 2023 Transcribed S Jawaid
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