Allah, the Source of Perfection and Peace
Understanding the flawless nature of Allah should strengthen the conviction we feel in our hearts as well as imbue us with a sense of peace. This is because Allah is free from any defect in His essence, His attributes, and His actions.15
When we think of Allah’s essence and attributes, we understand that His mercy, His justice, His punishment, His love and all His other names and attributes are perfect, without defect. There are no extremes. This is reassuring when it comes to His names of majesty, such as al-Qahhār (the Dominator), for example, because we understand them holistically. Allah is the Dominator, but He dominates based on His justice, wisdom, as well as mercy. But what does it mean that His attributes of beauty are also free of fault? Is that not self-evident, or can beauty also have failings? We can examine a human being’s seemingly positive characteristics that sometimes result in unfairness, to understand Allah’s flawlessness in His names and attributes.
For example, in a well-known and horrifying case, a man who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman was let off lightly—six months in prison, of which he only served three months. For that man and his family, this leniency from the judge was an act of mercy. Indeed, the judge mentioned one of the reasons for the light sentence was that a harsher sentence would have had a detrimental impact on the perpetrator’s life. But this ‘mercy’ was wholly unjust—and indeed, cruel—to the victim, to other victims of sexual violence, and to the general well-being of society.
’s attributes are far from being tarnished by injustice, extremity, or defect. Regarding justice, Allah tells us in the Qur’an, “Indeed, Allah does not do injustice, [even] as much as an atom's weight; while if there is a good deed, He multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward.”16
This verse illustrates to us the balance between His justice and His generosity—there is never injustice under Him, while for those who do good, their rewards are multiplied. Moreover, His mercy is the most perfect form of mercy that encompasses those who make mistakes, those who slip up, and those who try and falter; it is not, however, mercy that perpetuates transgressions against others. Human love may be tarnished by the ego or the selfish needs of a person, but His love is free from need or want or personal gain; thus, it is the purest form of love for His people. Indeed, this name shows us how all His names are interrelated; we understand His names al-Wadūd
(the Most Affectionate), al-Raḥmān
(the Entirely Merciful), al-Raḥīm
(the Especially Merciful), al-Ḥakam
(the Judge), and so on, through this lens of perfection and lack of deficiency.
His creation is also flawless and exactly as it should be, and reflecting on the creation of God can only lead us to al-Salām
, the Flawless. This includes, for example, the way that we as human beings were created—Allah says, “We have certainly created man in the best of stature”17
—the natural world around us, the beauty of the skies, and so much more. Just reflecting on a single cell in our body, or the composition of one eye, is enough to demonstrate God’s perfection in His creation. Additionally, there is an abundance of research as well as personal anecdotes on the effects of just being in nature without distractions. People go on nature retreats for that tranquility. The Creator of the natural world that is designed to inherently have this effect on people—and even more so when we reflect upon it—endows this sense of peace through the natural beauty of the world He has created. Indeed, He is al-Salām
, Whose creation leads to peace and Who is ultimately the source of that peace.
His actions are also free from fault. This is a crucial point to understand. When things happen in this world that we do not understand or regard as unfair, we need to remember that Allah is al-Salām
, and His actions are flawless. We are told in a ḥadīth qudsī
that Allah says, “O my servants, I have forbidden oppression for myself.”18
What might appear to be bad or evil or unjust on the outside has a wisdom that He knows. In Sūrat al-Kahf, we are told of two incidents where ‘bad things happen to good people.’ The people who helped the Prophet Moses عليه السلام and al-Khaḍir had their boat damaged. For people who were poor and relied on their boat for their sustenance, this was no minor incident. Then, an even more devastating thing occurs. Two righteous parents lose their child. One who does not know Allah might ask, “Why? They did not deserve this. They were good people!” But Allah explains through al-Khaḍir that the minor damage to the boat—which can be fixed, even though it causes harm in the short-term—helped to avert the greater calamity of having their boat completely and permanently confiscated by a tyrant king. Similarly, with the parents, the child was going to grow to be a transgressor, which would have caused more pain for the parents, as the impact of their child’s actions would extend to the next life. While the parents went through the most difficult thing any parent can go through, ultimately it saved them from future pain and gave them ultimate bliss and peace in Paradise, where they will be reunited with their child. Allah’s actions are free of any malice, haste, or injustice; on the contrary, all His actions are from His mercy, His wisdom, His justice, and His knowledge of the seen and the unseen.
Acceptance does not mean complacency. Indeed, as Muslims, we are commanded to stand for justice as an act of devotion to God. We are told,
You who believe, be steadfast in your devotion to God and bear witness impartially: do not let hatred of others lead you away from justice, but adhere to justice, for that is closer to awareness of God. Be mindful of God: God is well aware of all that you do.19
However, knowing Allah’s perfection and freedom from fault in His actions should help us internally to accept the things that have happened and not get stuck in questions of ‘why’ and ‘if only.’ We can look forward and not backward, focusing on the things that we can do, rather than the things that have already happened and cannot be changed.
Moreover, knowing that Allah is al-Salām
also enables us to think well of Allah. Thinking well of Allah is an act of worship of the heart. The Prophet ﷺ told us, “Verily, thinking well about Allah is a part of the excellent worship of Allah.”20
Indeed, he ﷺ also said,
How wonderful is the case of a believer! There is good for him in every situation and this applies only to a believer. If something good happens to him, he thanks [Allah] and this is good for him. When he faces adversity, he endures it patiently and this too is good for him.21
When a calamity befalls us or when we face a difficulty, understanding that God is the Flawless Source of Peace should be enough to know that there are wisdom and benefit decreed in the situation, even if it is not immediately apparent. It also means that we should derive lessons from the matter at hand. Some things may be outside of our control, and this should cause us to turn to Allah sincerely in supplication. Other things may have been caused by our own actions, whether materially or spiritually, and our hearts, while pained initially, should eventually be filled with tranquility knowing that we are meant to learn from the situation, seek forgiveness and help from Allah, and be able to move on. When we understand that everything is purposeful—because it is coming from a source free of defect—this should help us to search for the wisdom in everything and take the lessons that we can. And Allah’s peace—peace for our hearts and minds—is granted in this way.
Indeed, when one lives one’s life thinking well of Allah, viewing hardships and difficulties as purposeful, and using them to return to Allah, one can only hope for good from Him after death. The Prophet ﷺ said, “None of you should court death but only hoping good from Allah.”22
The Giver of Safety and Peace
Since Allah is Flawless, the Source and Giver of Peace, we should turn to Him whenever we feel overburdened with the stresses of this world. We will not find true safety or peace outside of Him, and whatever gives discomfort to our hearts is a reason for us to go back to Him. Much of our heartache lies in the disappointment that comes with expecting more from the things of this world than they can realistically give and the uncertainty that accompanies placing our hopes on what is essentially the unstable and temporary nature of this world.
If we believe that having a lot of money, for example, will give us ultimate security, we set ourselves up for constant anxiety when we do not have ‘a lot.’ Even if we get what we regard as much, the worry may not disappear because there is always fear of losing what we have, since our hopes of security are placed on that money.
If we believe that one person can fulfill all our happiness, we end up burdening that person and potentially failing to take responsibility to change our own shortcomings. No relationship can be truly satisfying because no one person can give the perfection we expect of them—they, too, are human with their own flaws.
Recognizing that He is al-Salām
, the Source and Giver of Peace, reminds us where to seek ultimate peace and safety: in He who will always remain. This enables us to be at peace with people and with things because our expectations are measured. When we understand that security lies with God, wealth becomes a means to us, and not an end. Knowing that money can come and go pushes us to work hard, be grateful for what we have, and at the same time understand that there are things far beyond material wealth. As the Prophet ﷺ taught us: “Whoever among you wakes up secure in his property, healthy in his body, and he has his provisions for the day, it is as if he were given the entire world.”23
Our relationship with people can be more at ease as well because we do not burden others with the unrealistic expectation of tending to our every need. We can recognize the good in others and take comfort in that, and also realize that it is natural for people to have shortcomings. Instead of relying on others to make up for our deficiencies or to fill whatever emptiness we feel inside, we can take responsibility and work on ourselves.
The peace we receive is proportionate to that in which we seek peace. When we seek peace in its source—in al-Salām—we will find it infinite.
This point is crucial. It means that we can utilize the methods of peace that work for us, such as being with friends and family, exercise, a vacation, and so on. God has placed in His creation means of peace and this should lead us to gratitude that He has provided us with them. But it also means that we recognize that these are not replacements for the actual source of peace: God Almighty Himself. Nor can they be considered true means of peace if they go against the commandments of God. We cannot substitute prayer with a different form of meditative practice, even if it makes us feel good, for instance, nor can we engage in an illicit relationship outside of marriage because it fills a void in our heart. While we all know that taking a pain reliever does not address the root cause of an illness, and simply suppresses its symptoms, imagine taking cocaine for heart disease. It might make us ecstatic in the moment, such that we forget about our illness, but it will only worsen the disease we already have and indeed will create other problems. Similarly, the Source of Peace would never put the solution in what He has deemed reprehensible. There is no peace in what has been prohibited; simply an illusion and temporary pleasure that, over time, deepens the hollowness in our hearts.
We have to realize that the modern world influences us to incline towards quick fixes to fill the void in our hearts that can only be filled by al-Salām. We might post something on social media that Allah does not like, in order to get likes from people and obtain momentary joy. But the void remains. Ibn al-Qayyim famously stated,
In the heart are disorders that cannot be remedied except by responding to Allah. In it is a desolate feeling that cannot be removed except by intimacy with Him. In it is sadness which will not leave except by happiness with knowing Him and truthfulness in its dealings. In it is anxiety that is not made tranquil except by gathering for His sake and fleeing to Him from His punishment. In it is a fire of regret which cannot be extinguished except by satisfaction with His commands, prohibitions, and decrees, and embracing patience with that until the time he meets Him. In it is a strong desire that will not cease until He is the only One who is sought. In it is a void that cannot be filled except by His love, turning to Him, always remembering Him, and being sincere to Him. Were a person to be given the entire world and everything in it, that would never fill the void.24
The treatment and the cure for these disturbances of the soul are all with Allah; but this does not mean we will never feel stressed or even overwhelmed by the trials and tribulations of this life. It does not mean we will not or cannot be sad when faced with loss, anxious when faced with uncertainty, heartbroken when dealing with betrayal, or afraid when confronted with danger. The Prophet ﷺ went through the Year of Sorrow due to the loss of both his beloved wife Khadījah (ra), and his uncle Abū Ṭālib. He wept and was deeply pained when his infant son, Ibrahim, died. Similarly, when Mūsá عليه السلام, to whom Allah spoke directly, was initially told to face Pharoah, he and his brother Hārūn عليه السلام said, “Our Lord, indeed we are afraid
that he will hasten [punishment] against us or that he will transgress.”25
When Mūsá عليه السلام was first confronted with the tricks of the magicians, the Qur’an tells us, “And he sensed within himself apprehension
, did Mūsá.”26
This medley of emotions is part of being human and of being in this world. Having faith in Allah helps, no doubt. The same Mūsá, when he was cornered by Pharaoh and his army, said with full conviction to his followers, who thought there was no escape, “No! Indeed, with me is my Lord; He will guide me.”27
Just like Mūsá عليه السلام, our hearts can become strengthened through our reliance upon and closeness to Allah, and this usually happens over time. However, tests in this life are guaranteed. Part of the reason is so that we do not become too attached to this worldly life, and instead find peace in God and His promise. Allah tells us, “Peace be upon the servants He has chosen,”28
“Peace be upon Noah in all the worlds,”29
“Peace be upon Abraham,”30
“Peace be upon Moses and Aaron,”31
“Peace be upon Elias,”32
and “Peace be upon the Messengers.”33
Allah shows us through the above verses that despite all of the prophets facing hardship and tribulation, His bestowing of peace upon them meant that their hearts were filled with contentment and certainty and that they were safeguarded in the next life. Allah bestowed His peace upon them and granted them the strength to face the tribulations of this world.34
And this is not just for the prophets; it is also for those who emulate them. God tells us, “Peace be upon those who follow guidance.”35
Another way that al-Salām gives peace to His servants is through those very acts of worship that He has prescribed upon us.
Prayer, the Qur’an, and Peace
—as we know it today was decreed during the Prophet’s ﷺ miraculous journey from Makkah to Jerusalem, and then from Jerusalem to the Heavens. This event took place during one of the most difficult periods of the Prophet’s ﷺ life, after he had just lost his wife and his uncle. It is almost as if to say when we are facing trials and tribulations the best thing that we can do is turn to God in prayer. Indeed, when it was time for the call to prayer to be given, the Prophet ﷺ used to say, “O Bilal, give the call to establish the prayer and comfort us with it.”36
It was something that the Prophet ﷺ looked forward to, and something he took comfort and rest in. He ﷺ also said, “The delight of my eyes is in prayer.”37
The ritual prayer is our direct communication with God, without barrier. Essentially, in prayer, we leave this world behind and enter into an intimate conversation with Allah. And it behooves us to understand our prayer in order that we can be in a true state of remembrance. During the prayer, in the tashahhud
, we say, “Salām
upon you, O Prophet,” “Salām
upon us,” and “Salām
upon God’s righteous servants,” invoking God’s peace upon our beloved Prophet ﷺ, ourselves, and all the righteous. This is a moment for pause. We are praying for salām
—protection, well-being, safety, and care—for our beloved ﷺ, for ourselves, and for every single righteous servant of God—humans, Jinn, and Angels—past and present. This is a supplication, a sincere request we make, which should truly come from the heart.
There is something else that we seldom pay attention to when it comes to salām
upon the Prophet ﷺ. He said, “No one sends me salām
except that Allah has returned my soul to me so that I can return his salām
Imagine that when you are supplicating for salām
upon the beloved ﷺ, he returns that supplication for peace and well-being for you. That in itself is a source of tranquility for everyone who loves Allah and His Messenger. Many people wait to go to Madina to pray in the Rawḍah
, or ask someone who is going there, to give their salām
to the Prophet ﷺ in his grave, but we do not realize that we already give salām
to him— and he returns this salām
—every day in prayer.
We end the prayer by giving salām
to our right and our left. The intention is to exit the prayer, and give salām
to the persons sitting on our right and left (when we are praying in congregation) as well as the angels to our right and left.39
Finally, after we conclude the prayer, we say, “O Allah, You are Peace and from You is peace. Blessed are You, the Majestic and the Noble.”40
The end of prayer is all peace, for ourselves and others, and this should be the effect of prayer upon our hearts.
Furthermore, Allah tells Mūsá عليه السلام in the Qur’an, “…establish prayer for My remembrance.”41
And what does the remembrance of Allah do? “Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.”42
The whole of prayer is a remembrance that brings assurance to the hearts. If we find it difficult to connect during our prayer, the solution is to never give up on it and find something else to replace it that appears to give us rest. We may not realize it but if we do this, we are essentially replacing the worship of Allah with worship of the self, because we have deemed a ‘feel-good’ activity better than what Allah Himself has prescribed as a healing for our souls. The things of true value in life may require effort, but the end result is truly immeasurable: worldly and otherworldly peace with and through the Source of Peace.
Additionally, part of the secret of the remembrances of the morning and the evening are that they remind us of Allah, of His power, of His being with us and His protection over us, which ultimately gives rest to our hearts. Another form of remembrance that al-Salām has given is the Qur’an for us to ponder over for guidance. He tells us,
…There has come to you from Allah a light and a clear Book through which Allah guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace (subul al-salām), brings them out from darknesses into the light by His permission, and guides them to a straight path.43
Allah guides through His Book those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace. And this should cause us to ask ourselves how much of the Qur’an we have contemplated and followed, and what the effect of the Qur’an is upon our hearts.
These are some of the ways in which God guides us to His peace. Whenever we face any difficulty or stress in this world, our immediate reaction should be to go to the Source who can truly soothe the agitation in our hearts. And even if some difficulties of this word may try us, He has given us something to look forward to.
Peace and Paradise
Through both its beauty and its harshness, this world is designed to turn us to Allah. When the world seems a bit too much for us to bear, Allah reminds us where true eternal peace is to be found. He says,
…We have detailed the verses for a people who remember. For them will be the Home of Peace (dār al-salām) with their Lord. And He will be their Protecting Friend because of [the good] they used to do.44
For those who remember God, and try their best for Him, He has prepared for them the ultimate Home of Peace—Paradise, where there is no sadness nor pain nor grief. Indeed, it is called Dār al-Salām,
first, because Allah is al-Salām
, and Paradise is His home.45
it is the home of peace because whoever enters it is safe—completely and eternally—from misfortunes and calamities.46
Furthermore, all of its different parts and stages are coupled with salām
: it is said in the beginning, “Enter it in peace, safe [and secure],”47
the angels enter from every door saying “salām
the people in it only hear words of peace,49
and their greeting there is peace.50
True and all-encompassing peace can only be found there.
In this world, Allah appreciates our struggles. He appreciates our turning to Him, the Source and Giver of Peace, because we are demonstrating our desire to find the solution with Him. And though the hardships of this world might test us, there is something beyond. We are told:
Those will be awarded the Chamber51 for what they patiently endured, and they will be received therein with greetings and [words of] peace.52
Allah tells us in numerous verses that the people of Paradise will be greeted with words of peace.53
And we should pause to ask ‘Why peace?’ out of all the things we could be greeted with.
We can be granted a measure of internal peace in this world with Allah. But externally, there will be tribulations. In the Abode of Peace, there is true, undisturbed internal and external peace—perfection and flawlessness. Finally, a place where those who dwell in it “will not hear therein ill speech or commission of sin—Only a saying: ‘Peace, peace.’”54
Whenever we feel trepidation in our hearts due to the stresses of this world, we should turn to Allah al-Salām and ask to be of the people who are with Him in the Abode of Salām.