اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ أَعْلَمُ بِى مِنْ نَفْسِى وَ أَنَا أَعْلَمُ بِنَفْسِى مِنْهُمْ اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْنَا خَيْراً مِمَّا يَظُنُّونَ وَ اغْفِرْ لَنَا مَا لَا يَعْلَمُونَ۔
O My God! You know me better than myself, and I know myself better than they do. O My God! Make us better than what they think and forgive us what they do not know.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #100)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.
The provided Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) is a profound supplication to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ). Let us delve into the exegesis of this beautiful supplication and explore its meanings in light of the Quran.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) begins by acknowledging the infinite knowledge of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ). He says,
O My God! You know me better than myself.
This statement reflects the deep understanding and recognition of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) regarding the comprehensive knowledge of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ). It highlights the fact that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) possesses complete knowledge of every individual, including their thoughts, intentions, and innermost secrets. This is supported by the following Quranic verse:
Allah knows what is within the heavens and earth. And Allah is Knowing of all things.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) then continues by saying,
and I know myself better than they do.
Here, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) acknowledges his own self-awareness and understanding of his own thoughts, feelings, and actions. This statement emphasizes the importance of self-reflection and self-awareness, as it enables individuals to recognize their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. The Quran also encourages self-reflection and self-awareness:
And We have certainly created man and We know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) then supplicates to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ), saying,
O My God! Make us better than what they think.
This part of the supplication highlights the desire for Allah's guidance and blessings to surpass the expectations and opinions of others. It demonstrates the aspiration to excel in character, conduct, and righteousness, even if others may have low expectations or negative assumptions. The Quranic verse below resonates with this sentiment:
And those who disbelieved said to those who believed, 'Follow our way, and we will carry your sins.' But they will not carry anything of their sins. Indeed, they are liars. But they will surely carry their [own] burdens and [other] burdens along with their burdens, and they will surely be questioned on the Day of Resurrection about what they used to invent.
Finally, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) seeks forgiveness from Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) for what others do not know. This part of the supplication highlights the recognition of one's own shortcomings and mistakes, even if they remain hidden from others. It emphasizes the importance of seeking forgiveness from Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) for both the apparent and hidden sins. The Quran reminds us of the significance of seeking forgiveness:
And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.
In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) serves as a powerful supplication that encompasses profound reflections on the knowledge of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ), self-awareness, surpassing expectations, and seeking forgiveness. It reminds us of the importance of recognizing Allah's comprehensive knowledge, understanding ourselves, striving to exceed the expectations of others, and seeking forgiveness for both apparent and hidden sins. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the wisdom and guidance to embody the teachings of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and seek His forgiveness.
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