One of the common attributes we often learn about Allah (SWT) is that He is always watching us and what we do every second. One of His 99 Names is Ar-Raqeeb – the One that is All-Observant. However, there is more depth to the meaning of this name that we sometimes can easily overlook.
Allah (SWT) is watching us constantly – so should we feel a sense of nervousness or unease? Definitely not. His watchfulness and observation comes from His ultimate care. I imagine it must be similar to how we look out for those we care most about and love. Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali reiterates that the All-Observant “is one who knows and protects. For whoever cares for something to the point of never forgetting it, and observes it with a constant and persistent gaze.” Honestly, what better protector than Allah (SWT)?
I always remember this one story my mom would tell my siblings and me while we drove to Sunday school about how there is no hiding from Allah (SWT). The story was about three children during Ramadan and their mother was testing them in a way and told them that they were allowed to eat during Ramadan if no one was around to see it. One child ended up saying something along the lines of; there is nowhere in this universe we can go that is hidden from Allah (SWT) as He is watching over us and never tires of observing us.
I also think about this one ayah from Surah Ali Imran a lot:
…and you were on the brink of a pit of fire and He saved you from it. [Quran 3:103]
I reflect upon this ayah often in terms of Allah (SWT) guiding us back to His path when we have been so lost in this dunya. I also think about this ayah in relation to my personal affairs. During times where I wanted something so bad and was sure it would be mine and would bring me endless happiness, I was then taken away from it. It was removed from my life entirely, leaving me absolutely shattered, confused, and in a deep moment of sadness. However, then I think about Allah (SWT) and how He is observant over my heart and of others, and He knows what lies in the unseen. Perhaps if I had gone through with continuing relations with someone that I thought was meant for me, I would be in constant turmoil and distress for numerous reasons that I would not be able to see for myself. I would be more miserable and possibly would have lost myself had I gotten “my way.” He saved me when I was at the edge of ruining myself, at the brink of a pit of fire because He is Al-Aleem – All-Knowing, Al-Basir – All-Seeing, Al-Wali – The Protector, and Ar-Raqeeb – All-Observant in ways incomprehensible.
Through this name we can feel immense comfort that we are never truly alone and Allah (SWT) is with us and watching, observing our affairs, and protecting us with His divine protection. Internalizing and reflecting upon this name and the true meaning behind us will bring us closer to ihsan – the highest level of spirituality, true excellence. May Allah (SWT) make us people that achieve excellence. Ameen.