Jâbir b. `Abd Allah al-Ansârî relates that he heard Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said three days before his death: “None of you should ever die except while assuming the best about Allah.” [Sahîh Muslim (5125)]
It is wrong for any Muslim to think ill of Allah. A Muslim should always assume the best about his Lord. As long as the Muslim is striving to engage in good deeds, he should expect the best outcome: that Allah will accept his good deeds; that Allah from His grace will forgive him; and that Allah will bless him to live out his life, until its conclusion, upon faith. This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) say: “None of you should ever die except while assuming the best about Allah.” [Sahîh Muslim (5125)]
Ibn al-Qayyim says:
There can be no doubt that assuming the best about Allah only comes as a result of righteous conduct. It is the righteous person who assumes the best about his Lord, since he knows that Allah will reward him for his good deeds and will never break His promise.
On the other hand, the sinner who persists in wrongdoing, injustice, and disobedience is prevented by his evil deeds from assuming the best about his Lord. We can see a similar situation in how people relate to each other. A runaway slave, for instance, is not going to assume the best of his master. Good assumptions never go hand in hand with the disturbed state of disobedience. A sinner is estranged from his Lord to the extent of his sinfulness. The person who has the best outlook on his Lord is invariably the one who is the most obedient to his Lord.
Al-Hasan al-Basrî said: “The believer assumes the best about his Lord so he does the best deeds. The sinner assumes the worst about his Lord, so he does evil deeds.”
Abû Hurayrah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “I am as My servant thinks of me. I am with him when he remembers Me. If he mentions Me within himself, I mention him within Myself. If he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in a better assembly. If he comes near to me a handspan, I come near to him the distance of a cubit. If he comes near to me the distance of a cubit, I come near to him the distance of two outspread arms. If he comes to me walking, I come to him running.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6856) and Sahîh Muslim (4832)]
Think about these words. The first thing Allah calls us towards is to have a positive outlook about Him under all circumstances, since He will be as His servant thinks of Him. Allah will relate to the person the way the person expects Him to. When the servant assumes the best about his Lord and pins his hopes on his Lord’s providence, his Lord will not disappoint him. Allah will never let his good deeds go unrewarded. When the servant beseeches Allah, he believes that his prayer will be answered. When he sincerely repents for a sin, he trusts that Allah will forgive him. When he performs a virtuous deed, he assumes that Allah will accept it form him and reward him for it. All of this is part of assuming the best about Allah.
This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When you beseech Allah in supplication, be convinced that He will answer you.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (3401)]
Assuming the best about Allah is one aspect of our belief in Allah, since it is based upon our belief in His mercy, His power, His generosity, and His might. It is also a fundamental aspect of our reliance upon Allah, which is essential to or monotheistic belief.
Allah rebukes a group of people who thought ill of Him. Allah shows their bad expectations about Him to be one of the clearest signs of their hypocrisy. He says about the hypocrites who abandoned the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions during the Battle of Uhud: “Another party was stirred to anxiety by their own feelings, moved by wrong suspicions of Allah – suspicions due to ignorance.” [Sûrah Âl `Imrân: 154]
Elsewhere, Allah says about the hypocrites: “…the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women, and the idolatrous men and the idolatrous women, who think an evil thought concerning Allah.” [Sûrah al-Fath: 6]
Our assuming the best about Allah really means pinning our hopes end expectations on Allah. We know that Allah can be severe in punishment as well as most merciful, but we must hope for His mercy and be confident that if we sincerely repent for our sins and strive to do good, we will attain Allah’s mercy. We must never despair. We must never see our sins to be too great for Allah’s forgiveness. That despair itself is a great sin.
Allah says, conveying to us the words of his prophet Jacob (peace be upon him): “Never despair of Allah’s mercy. No one despairs of Allah’s mercy except the unbelieving people.” [Sûrah Yûsuf: 87]