Call on Him fearfully and eagerly. Allah’s mercy is close to the good-doers. (Surat al-A’raf: 56)
Allah united fear and eagerness so that the slave would be fearful-hopeful, as Allah, exalted is He, said:
“and hoping for His mercy and fearing his punishment” (Surat al-Isra’: 57)
For what necessitates fear is recognition of the seizing of Allah and the severity of His punishment, and what necessitates hope is recognition of the mercy of Allah and the vastness of His reward
He, exalted is He, said:
Tell My slaves that I am the All-Forgiving, the Most Merciful,
but also that My punishment is the Painful Punishment. (Al-Hijr: 49-50)
Whoever recognises the bounty of Allah hopes for Him, and whoever fears His punishment fears Him, and in that sense a hadith has been narrated. If the fear and hope of the mu’min were to be weighed they would be equal except that it is recommended that the slave should be throughout his life dominated by fear so that it will lead him to do acts of obedience and abandon bad deeds, but that he should be dominated by hope at the moment of death, because of his words, may Allah bless him and grant him peace:
“Let none of you die but with a good opinion of Allah, exalted is He.”
Know that fear has three degrees:
- First, that it is weak, it occurs to the heart but does not have any effect on the inward nor in the outward, and so the existence of this is as if it did not exist.
- Second, that it is strong so that it awakens the slave from his neglectfulness and carries him to become upright.
- Third, that it is so strong as to amount to despair and losing hope, and this is not permissible. The best of affairs is the middlemost of them.
And people have three stations with respect to fear:
- So the fear of the generality is of wrong actions.
- The fear of the elite is of the seal [of destiny]
- And the fear of the elite of the elite is of the foreordained decree because the seal of destiny is based on it.
There are three degrees of hope:
- The first is hope of the mercy of Allah along with doing those things which would be a cause of it such as doing acts of obedience and giving up disobedience. And this is the praiseworthy hope.
- The second is hope accompanying going beyond the limits and acts of disobedience, and this is self-deception.
- And the third is that a person’s hope becomes so strong as to amount to a sense of security, and this is haram.
People have three stations with respect to hope:
- The station of the generality is hope for the reward of Allah.
- The station of the elite is hope for the good pleasure of Allah.
- The station of the elite of the elite is hope for the meeting with Allah out of love for Him and longing for Him.