On the authority of Abu Dharr al-Ghifaari, RadhiAllahu Anhu, from the Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, from among the sayings he relates from His Lord (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) that He said,
“O My servants, I have forbidden wrongdoing for Myself and I have made it forbidden for you. Therefore, do not wrong one another. O My servants, all of you are lost except those whom I have guided. Therefore, seek guidance from Me and I will guide you. O My servants, all of you are hungry except those whom I have fed. Therefore, seek food from Me and I will feed you. O My servants, all of you are naked except those whom I have clothed. Therefore seek clothing from Me and I will clothe you. O My servants, you sin by day and by night, and I forgive all sins. Therefore seek forgiveness from Me and I will forgive you. O My servants, you will not be able to harm Me so as to bring any harm to Me and you will be able to benefit Me so as to bring any benefit to Me. O My servants, if the first and the last of you and the human and the jinn of you were as pious as the most pious heart of anyone among you, it would not add anything to My dominion. O My servants, if the first and the last of you and the human and the jinn of you were as wicked as the most wicked heart of anyone among you it would not decrease anything from My dominion. O My servants, if the first and the last of you and the human and the jinn of you were to gather together on [the same sector] of land and all asked Me and if I were to give everyone of them what he asked, that would not decrease what I have any more than a needle decreases what is in the ocean when it is put into it. O My servants, it is but your deeds that I reckon for you. Then I recompense you for them. The one who finds good is to give praises to Allah. The one who finds other than that should not blame anyone but himself.”
[Recorded in Muslim]
“O My servants”
Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) begins His statement by calling to humans with the term ‘O My servants’. This is significant for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it highlights for us what our relationship with Allah (swt) is. Allah (swt) is our Lord and Master and we are His servants and slaves. The fact that we are addressed in this way should make us attentive to what is to follow, because the words are coming from our Master.
Secondly, this type of address demonstrates to us that Allah (swt) is not in need of us at all. He (swt) is the Master and Lord of all the creation and He (swt) does with them what He (swt) wills. He (swt) has power over all things, and we are totally dependent on Him (swt).
Finally, we see that the address is made to all of mankind, not just the believers. The statements are not specific to any people, time or place. The prohibition of wrongdoing is for all people for all time. This was the message from Allah (swt) conveyed by all of the Prophets.
So the message is addressed to each and everyone of us, to remind us of our relationship with and total dependence on our Creator, and to guide us to what is best for us in relation to our religion, life and end.
“I have forbidden wrongdoing for Myself and I have made it forbidden for you. Therefore, do not wrong one another.”
There are numerous places in the Qur’an in which Allah (swt) has denied that He (swt) would ever commit any wrongdoing or injustice. He (swt) says:
“Surely, Allah wrongs not [even to the extent] of the weight of an atom.”
(Surah al-Nisaa:40)
“And your Lord treats no one with injustice.”
(Surah al-Khaf:49)
Even when Allah (swt) punishes somebody, He (swt) does it out of His Justice, based on the deeds of the people. It is not Allah (swt) that wrongs people, they wrong themselves. So it is clear that Allah (swt) has never, and will never, commit any form of wrong doing. Therefore scholars such as Ibn Taymiyah have understood the statement, “I have forbidden wrongdoing for Myself”, to mean that wrongdoing is something that couldtheoretically be possible for Allah, but that He (swt) has had forbidden it from Himself and removed it as a possibility. And Allah knows best.
Allah (swt) has also made wrongdoing or dhulm in Arabic, forbidden for us. Anything that is forbidden in Islam, is a form of wrongdoing. Alternately, everything that has been ordered is a form of justice. Indeed justice is one of the key goals of the religion of Islam. When we go against the teachings of Islam and commit wrongdoings, injustice is created.
There are three main types of dhulm, or wrongdoing that are committed by people:
1) The dhulm that one commits against themselves by disobedience to Allah (swt). This includes many different sinful acts, the worst of them being ascribing partners to Allah (swt).
2) The dhulm against others. Any type of harm that a person commits against another is a wrongdoing and form of injustice. We may not, as Muslims, harm another persons honour, wealth or life. Backbiting, or saying something about someone that they would not like to hear, is included in this category.
3) The dhulm towards other creatures or towards creation in general. This category includes killing or mutilating animals for sport or play.
There is one type of dhulm or wrongdoing that will not be forgiven by Allah (swt), and that is shirk, ascribing partners with Allah (swt). Dhulm in which one wrongs oneself Allah (swt) may forgive, or He may punish us for. The dhulm that will not be overlooked unless reconciled in this life or the next, is wrongdoing towards other humans. This kind of wrongdoing cannot be left unresolved. One must either seek forgiveness from the wronged person or suffer punishment in this life or the Hereafter. The Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said:
“Whoever has wronged another concerning his reputation or anything else should beg him to forgive him before the Day of Resurrection when there will be no money [to compensate for wrong deeds], but, if he has good deeds, those good deeds will be taken from him according to the wrong he has done. And if he has no good deeds, the sins of the oppressed person will be loaded on him.”
[Recorded in al-Bukhari]
When we think that even saying something about someone that they would not like to hear is a punishable form of wrongdoing, how many of us can truly say that we have nothing to fear on the Day of Resurrection? Take heed and watch your tongue, for nothing leads us to Hellfire like the sins of the tongue.
We can strive to keep ourselves from committing dhulm against ourselves, Allah (swt) and others, by having taqwa of Allah and remembering His blessings. We should also try to develop humility, which is the opposite of pride and arrogance which lead many people to dhulm. We should strive to be just and righteous, and to free ourselves from envy. And we should turn to Allah (swt) and sincerely ask him to guide us and purify our souls.