Fear Allah’s Punishment but Hope for His Mercy

Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawzi (in Madarij As-Salikeen) said:

The heart in its journey towards Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) is like a bird; its head is love, and its two wings are hope and fear. When the head and the two wings are sound and healthy, then the bird will fly well. If the head of the bird is cut off, it immediately dies, and when either or both wings are deficient, the bird cannot fly properly and it may become the victim of a hunter that passes by.

From this analogy we learn that without love of Allah we cannot successfully “journey towards Him,” and without hope in Allah’s mercy or fear from His punishment, we may be easy victims for Shaytaan (أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم).

So the Muslim, then, with resolute love for Allah [1] (سبحانه وتعالى), lives between hope and fear. He “call[s] upon Allah out of fear and hope,” [2] and he “forsake[s] [his] bed, to invoke [his] Lord in fear and hope, and [he] spend[s] (charity in Allah’s Cause) out of what We have bestowed on them.” [3]


Imam Ahmad recorded from ‘A’ishah (رضي الله عنها‏): I said: “O Messenger of Allah, ‘And those who give that which they give with their hearts full of fear, because they are sure to return to their Lord,’ [4] are these the ones who steal and commit zina and drink alcohol while fearing Allah?” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: “No, O daughter of As-Siddiq, they are the ones who pray and fast and give in charity, while fearing that it will not be accepted from them,” (i.e. it is these who hasten in the good deeds.) At-Tirmidhi recorded something similar.

‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه‏) said: If an angel had come down and announced that everyone would enter paradise except one person, I would fear that I would be that person. This is ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second khalifa, and one of the ten promised paradise! Subhanallah!

And how do we increase our fear of Allah’s punishment?

Ibn Mas’ood (رضي الله عنه‏) said: “If a person has knowledge, he will fear Allah.” So we should increase our knowledge. And The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said, as narrated by Anas (رضي الله عنه‏): “I swear by The One in Whose Hand my soul is, if you saw what I saw you would laugh little, and cry excessively.” The people said, “O Prophet of Allah! What did you see?” He (صلي الله عليه وسلم) replied, “I saw Paradise and Hell.” [Saheeh Muslim]. So we should reflect on the punishment of “him who ‘tagha’ (transgressed all bounds, in disbelief, oppression and evil deeds of disobedience to Allah), and preferred the life of this world. Verily, his abode will be Hellfire,” [5], the “Fire whose fuel is men and stones.” [6]


Anas reported that the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) entered upon a young boy who was dying. The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) asked: “How are you?” The boy replied: “O Messenger of Allah, I am in-between hoping in Allah and fearing for my sins.” The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: “The like of these two qualities do not unite in the heart of a servant except that Allah gives him what he hopes for and protects him from what he feared.” [a hasan hadith – Collected by at-Tirmidhee and Ibn Maajah, and authenticated by Al-Albaanee in Ahkaamul-Janaa’iz (no. 2).]

‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه‏) also said: and if the angel had come down and announced that everyone will enter Hellfire except for one person, I would hope to be that person.

And Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) says:

وَلاَ تَيْأَسُواْ مِن رَّوْحِ اللّهِ إِنَّهُ لاَ يَيْأَسُ مِن رَّوْحِ اللّهِ إِلاَّ الْقَوْمُ الْكَافِرُونَ

Translation: and never give up hope of Allah’s Mercy. Certainly, no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.” [Surah Yusuf, verse 87]

And so “to your Lord (Alone) turn (all your intentions and hopes and) your invocations.” [7] And ask yourself:

مَّا لَكُمْ لَا تَرْجُونَ لِلَّهِ وَقَارًا

Translation: What is the matter with you, [that you don’t fear Allah (His punishment), and] you don’t hope for reward (from Allah, or you believe not in His Oneness)? [8]

[قُل لاَّ يَسْتَوِي الْخَبِيثُ وَالطَّيِّبُ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكَ كَثْرَةُ الْخَبِيثِ فَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ يَا أُوْلِي الأَلْبَابِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُون [1
Translation: Say (O Muhammad): “Not equal are the filthy things with the wholesome, even though the abundance of evil filth may please you.” So fear Allah much [(abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden) and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)], O men of understanding in order that you may be successful. [Suratul Ma’idah, verse 100]
[2] وَادْعُوهُ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا [Suratul-A’raaf, verse 56]
[3] تَتَجَافَى جُنُوبُهُمْ عَنِ الْمَضَاجِعِ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُمْ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ [Suratus-Sajdah, verse 16]
[4] وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْتُونَ مَا آتَوا وَّقُلُوبُهُمْ وَجِلَةٌ أَنَّهُمْ إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ رَاجِعُونَ [Suratul-Mu’minuun, verse 60]
[5] فَأَمَّا مَن طَغَى وَآثَرَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا فَإِنَّ الْجَحِيمَ هِيَ الْمَأْوَى [Suratun-Nazi’at, verses 37-39]
[6] فَاتَّقُواْ النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ [Suratul-Baqarah, verse 24]
[7] وَإِلَى رَبِّكَ فَارْغَبْ [Surat-Ash-Sharh, verse 8]
[8] مَّا لَكُمْ لَا تَرْجُونَ لِلَّهِ وَقَارًا [Surat-Nuh, verse 13]


Abdul-Bary Yahya. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Purification of the Heart: Love, Fear & Tears. Part 2: The Two Wings of the Believer.

Abu Iyaad As-Salafi. Salafipublications.com. On Eeman, Ibaadah and Tawheed: Their Link and Interrelation. Lesson 3: Love, Hope and Fear.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir


8 thoughts on “Fear Allah’s Punishment but Hope for His Mercy

  1. Dr. Socks

    Just a small piece of advice…

    Try to keep the ilm fruits in bite sized pieces. I think people like that better.

    Also a question…does “fear Allaah’s punishment but hope FOR his mercy” sound better?

    Keep up the excellent work (really) May Allaah lift you higher in the final abode!

  2. Mariam 3.36 Post author

    Jazaak Allah Khayr for the advice. The “in” was intended to indicate that one should put their hope “in” Allah’s mercy because He is the Most Merciful, but your recommendation is probably more fitting.

    Jazaak Allah Khayr for the dua’. Ameen, and you too.

  3. IveGotUrNumber

    Love of Allah (swt)

    Recently I was thinking about the issue of why there are Muslims who do actions half-heartedly. So for example the issue of people praying without khushu, don’t you sometimes reflect back on prayer and think: bloody hell, what the hell was that other than head-banging? Or why some people don’t pray nawafils with their fards of prayer, or why some Muslims may find reading the Qur’an a chore and a drag?

    In the past I have read up on this subject, but now kinda think that maybe I’ve arrived at an understanding, which I thought I’d share with you and iA get some feedback. iA this is advice for me and foremost, for the above easily describes me.

    My initial thoughts are the following:

    The main reason why the above happens is to do with the lack of love of Allah(swt).
    It is because the person does not truly love Allah(swt) that they don’t have khushu etc
    Loving Allah(swt) is not to do with doing as Allah(swt) demands due to the fear of his punishment, for that would mean just doing the fards
    Loving Allah(swt) is not to do with doing actions to just get a higher status in Jannah, for that may mean doing actions of the mandubaat and maybe half-heartedly.
    Rather the Muslim loves Allah(swt) dearly, he loves Allah(swt) unconditionally.
    An example will iA illustrate this concept:
    Generally we associate unconditional love with our mothers. Is it not true that we expect and get unconditional love from out mothers? Even in western societies this is also the case. The bond of motherhood is indeed pristine and unconditional for their child.
    Even in western societies where crime is rampant and individuals completely individualistic, we find that they do expect the mother to have unconditional love for her children and anything other than this still brings an outcry in society and the media.
    The mothers love for her children is not conditional upon ‘did they do this for me?’, did they look after me, did they listen to what I said?
    Rather the mothers love is unconditional even without any expectant reciprocation.
    The mother will do a multitude of actions for her children, she will go without food herself, she will put them first and foremost, she will do many many actions NOT grudgingly, but happily, to look after the children ,to take care of them, for their happiness.
    If this is the mothers love, should then it not be the case that the Muslim who is the slave of Allah(swt) then do actions to please his lord ungrudgingly, do actions to get closer to his lord without apathy, or complaint? Should the Muslim not be the one who sees each mandobat as an opportunity to please his Lord, to make Allah(swt) happy? So would it not be the case that the Muslim would not do any haram at all and even stay away from the makrooh, not because he fears the hellfire, but rather he does not wish to anger his Rab? For he loves his Lord so much.
    Hence the Muslim truly loves Allah(swt) for his sake. He is not the one whose nawafil only increases at the time of hardship, expecting a return for his love in terms of ease only.
    When the Prophet(saw) was asked “Why do you pray all night, even though you know you have been forgiven and will defo enter jannah?” His response was: “Should I not be grateful to my Lord”
    As slaves of Allah(swt) should we not also love Allah(swt) unconditionally?
    May Allah(swt) increase our love. Ameen

  4. ummn&r

    مَّا لَكُمْ لَا تَرْجُونَ لِلَّهِ وَقَارًا

    This verse is not from Surah Tawbah but it is verse 13 in Surah Nuh.

  5. Pingback: Benefits of Tawbah « This is the Life of UmmAslam

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