What Does the Statement by Allah Most High, “I Am as My Servant Think of Me,” Mean?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch


What does the statement by Allah Most High, “I am as My servant think of Me,” mean?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Allah Most High says: ‘I am according to My slave’s opinion of Me, and I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers me to himself, I mention him to myself. When he remembers me in a gathering, I mention him in a gathering greater than that.’” [Bukhari; Muslim]

The word above “zann” – translated as “opinion” – has various meanings in areas.

The Meaning of Zann

The word “zann” (in the Quran and Prophetic narrations) is a middle point between conviction (yaqin) and doubt (shakk). So if the signs of certainty are apparent, it is understood to me conviction; and if the signs of doubt are apparent, it has the meaning of doubt. [Ali Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih citing al-Tibi]

In other wordings of this narration, there are the following endings:

  • “(…) whether he thinks of Me in goodness or he thinks of Me in evil.”;
  • “(…) so let him think of Me as he wishes.”;
  • “(…) so let him not think of Me except in goodness.”

So we see that people’s opinions and perceptions of Allah Most High may waver between good opinions and evil or bad opinions. Good opinions are a sign of conviction, and bad opinions of doubt. [Ibid.]

As My Slave Thinks of Me

The scholars looked at the statement “(…) as My slave thinks of Me,” and mentioned the following possible valid meanings:

  • “I will deal with My servant in according to what he expects of Me of good or bad, and benefit or harm.” [Ibid.]
    This meaning would indicate the importance of holding good opinions of Allah Most High. This is supported by the following narrations:
    The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Let not one of you die except that he has beautiful opinions of Allah.” [Ibid.]
  • “I am according to My servant’s conviction of Me.”
    In this meaning, when one’s conviction of the Oneness of Allah Most High and His greatness, Allah Most High will remove the veils and answer any supplication the servant makes and give whatever the servant asks for. [Ibid.]

The Quote of Ibn Mas‘ud

Abu Talib al-Makki (Allah have mercy on him) said, “Abdullah Ibn Masud would swear by Allah Most High saying, ‘No servant makes good their opinion of Allah Most High except that Allah will give him just that. This is because all goodness is in His possession, and when Allah grants the servant the ability to have good opinions of Him, then He has given the servant what he thought.’” [Ali Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih]

Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah said, “If you are not able to have good opinions of Allah because of His beautiful attributes, then beautify your opinion of Him because of His beautiful treatment of you. Has He not given you a good time and again? Has He not given you many bounties?” [Ibid.]

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch teaches Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York, where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences.

He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he studied for three years in Dar al-Mustafa under some of the most outstanding scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib.

In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Quran and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Quranic exegesis, Islamic history, and several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.