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How To Understand God’s Giving and Depriving?

(Ibn Ata’s Words of Wisdom: Part 17)

“You might think that He is giving you, while in reality He is depriving you.

And you might think that He is depriving you, while in reality He is giving you.

If through your deprivation He opens the doors of understanding for you, then this deprivation is a gift.

You feel bad about your deprivation because you don’t understand. He might open the door of worship for you but doesn’t open the door of acceptance.

And you might be destined to sin, but this becomes a means to ascension towards Him.

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A sin that produces humbleness and need is better than an act of worship that produces arrogance and prejudice.”

When a Blessing is Not a Blessing

In this word of wisdom, that’s rather long, the point here is that to understand Allah Almighty in His giving and His depriving of things.

Not everything that you feel that He is giving you as a blessing is actually a blessing; and not everything that you feel  He is testing your with and difficulty, and so forth is actually a difficulty:

And as for man, when his Lord tries him and [thus] is generous to him and favors him, he says, “My Lord has honored me.”

But when He tries him and restricts his provision, he says, “My Lord has humiliated me.” (89:15-16)

And then Allah said:

Nay! (89:17)

Understanding Giving and Depriving

This means that this is not the right understanding. How can we understand God’s giving and depriving?

It’s not to measure giving and depriving in the material sense; it’s to measure giving and depriving with how much is the giving or depriving taking me closer to Allah.

If the blessing is taking me away from Allah, then it is not a blessing. It’s something I consider a bounty but is not a bounty; it’s something that is harmful to me.

And if the harm is taking me closer to Allah, then it is not a harm, it is actually a gift.

And this is the right understanding of giving and depriving.

If we don’t really put the material sense as the criteria by which we judge what is giving and what is depriving, then we are not really having the right criteria for that.

How To Measure Harm And Good?

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has something very interesting to say about a believer. He is saying:

How wonderful is the affair of the believer! For his affair is always good, and this applies to nobody but the believer. If something good happens to the believer, then he/she is thankful and this is good. And if something harmful happens to the believer, he/she is patient and this is good. (Sahih Muslim)

So, according to the believer, it’s all good. If it is harmful but it takes me towards Allah Almighty because I am patient, then it is good. And if it is something that I feel is a bounty but I am not using it in the right way, and I am losing my faith because of it, then it’s not really a bounty, it’s something that is harmful.

And this is the right criteria by which we should measure harm and good; and not measuring harm and good in the material sense. The material sense is an illusion, it’s really a false sense of measuring bounties and tests.

If we take this as a criteria, then we are advancing in the way of Allah Almighty by understanding His giving and depriving.

We ask Allah to give us this understanding.


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