The Able, The All Capable
Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is Al-Qaadir (in Arabic: الْقَادِرُ), the most powerful with the ability to measure out everything. Whenever He decrees a thing, it is. Nothing can interrupt or disturb the will of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ. He is the most capable without any limitations.
From the root qaf-dal-ra (ق د ر), which has the following classical Arabic connotations: to measure something, to make manifest the measure of something, to distribute or apportion (as though by measure), measure-out to decree, to ordain, to decide a matter (as though measuring it to fit), to exercise thought in preparing something, to make use of reason (measuring out), to have the power, to accomplish, to be rendered able, capable, to be able, to prevail, to be empowered, to have control over.
A name for inspiration:
This name of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is a beautiful name to inspire optimism and fill us with vibrant energy. The belief in this attribute also connects us to all the other names. Al-Qadir is the able one - this refers to His strength and ability to do as He pleases. Sometimes we may want a thing, but as time goes on, we lose faith, it seems too distant or impossible, and we ask of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ less and less. This is wrong. We should continue to ask from Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ for as long as we're alive because only He can give it to us. Why would we stop? Prophet Ibrahim (as) was reportedly eighty-six years old when he was granted his first child. If a thing doesn't benefit you, then Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ may withhold it, and He knows best. But don't ever believe it's not within your fate because you don't know. Believing so becomes self-fulfilling as you'll ask less and not take the necessary action to receive His barakah (blessing). It's as if to say Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ can't or won't do this for me.
The best attitude for a believer is to say neither I can nor can't. The servant of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ operates in a state of surrender to Allah; he works to serve. He does let his ego direct his action through the delusion of superiority and self-control. But the other extreme is the delusion of irresponsibility, that you're incapable of doing anything. Simply be a servant who serves his creator, his family, and his community and lives immensely thankful to His creator. The verses in the Qur'an which mention the name Al-Qadir encourage us to keep asking Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ in this light.
Qulil laahumma Maalikal Mulki tu'til mulka man tashaaa'u wa tanzi'ul mulka mimman tashhaaa'u wa tu'izzu man tashaaa'u wa tuzillu man tashaaa'u biyadikal khairu innaka 'alaa kulli shai'in Qadeer
"Say, 'O Allah, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent.'" — ( Qur'an 3:26)
The story of an unnamed Prophet:
The Qur'an also provides a lesson from an unnamed Prophet (may peace be upon him). He stood looking at a fallen/abandoned town, and He asked out of curiosity (not from a place of doubt), "How will Allah restore life to this town that is now dead?" Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ then revealed to him His ability and what He's capable of. The Prophet, at the end of this, calls upon the name Al-Qadir saying, "I know that Allah is over all things competent." Competent here referring knowledge, skill, or ability to do something successfully.
Aw kallazee marra 'alaa qaryatinw wa hiya khaawiyatun 'alaa 'urooshihaa qaala annaa yuhyee haazihil laahu ba'da mawtihaa fa amaatahul laahu mi'ata 'aamin summa ba'asahoo qaala kam labista qaala labistu yawman aw ba'da yawmin qaala bal labista mi'ata 'aamin fanzur ilaa ta'aamika wa sharaabika lam yatasannah wanzur ilaa himaarika wa linaj'alaka Aayatal linnaasi wanzur ilal'izaami kaifa nunshizuhaa summa naksoohaa lahmaa; falammaa tabayyana lahoo qaala a'lamu annal laaha 'alaa kulli shai'in Qadeer
"Or [consider such an example] as the one who passed by a township which had fallen into ruin. He said, 'How will Allah bring this to life after its death?' So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years; then He revived him. He said, 'How long have you remained?' The man said, 'I have remained a day or part of a day.' He said, 'Rather, you have remained one hundred years. Look at your food and your drink; it has not changed with time. And look at your donkey; and We will make you a sign for the people. And look at the bones [of this donkey] – how We raise them and then We cover them with flesh.' And when it became clear to him, he said, 'I know that Allah is over all things competent.'" — (Qur'an 2:259)
From the life of Prophet Zakariya (as):
The story of Prophet Zakariya (as) and Maryam (May Allah be pleased with her) it perfectly illustrates the quality of how Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is Al-Qadir (though the name is not directly used). Zakariya (as) was Maryam (ra) sponsor and was married to her sister. He used to visit Maryam (ra) in her chambers quite often, and whenever He did, he was surprised by the provisions that seemed to multiply with each visit. Eventually, he just asked," 'O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?' She said, 'It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account.'" ( Qur'an 3:37). Right then Prophet Zakariya (as) made a du'a asking from Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ for a child. For whatever reason, this had not occurred to Zakariya (as). Like Prophet Ibrahim (as) he was in his old age, but his wife was also infertile. The truth was revealed at that moment, and Zakariya (as) made the following du'a:
Hunaaalika da'aa Zakariyyaa Rabbahoo qaala Rabbi hab lee mil ladunka zurriyyatan taiyibatan innaka samee'ud du'aaa
"At that, Zechariah called upon his Lord, saying, 'My Lord, grant me from Yourself a good offspring. Indeed, You are the Hearer of supplication.'" — (Qur'an 3:38)
Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ gives without measure and is able to overcome every obstacle. The believer benefits from knowing Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is Al-Qadir. Just as when you need help moving, you call on friends or family that are able to help. You don't call on people who are not reliable, unavailable, or overseas. Similarly, Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is Al-Qadir - the all-powerful, the all-able, the one who can assist you no matter the circumstance. Sometimes we say Insha-Allah, but we don't believe it. We don't have enough conviction. Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ knows no limitations, but perhaps He may limit us based on the ones we self-impose. By setting the bar too low, He may fulfill our du'a, so we miss out on all the other gifts He could've given us.
Awa lammaaa asaabatkum museebatun qad asabtum mislaihaa qultum annaa haazaa qul huwa min 'indi anfusikum; innal laaha 'alaa kulli shai'in Qadeer
"Why [is it that] when a [single] disaster struck you [on the day of Uhud], although you had struck [the enemy in the battle of Badr] with one twice as great, you said, "From where is this?" Say, "It is from yourselves." Indeed, Allah is over all things competent." — (Qur'an 3:165)
After the battle of Uhud, which was a great loss, the believers weaker in faith had begun questioning how they could lose when Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ and His Messenger ﷺ were on their side. They asked, "From where is this?" and Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ responded, "It is from yourselves." This reminds us that we must move towards certain things we've asked for. We have to take some responsibility in our du'a. Otherwise, we may fall victim to the same tragedy that occurred on the battlefield. The loss of Uhud was due to impatience. They were not disciplined, lured by material wealth, and abandoned their stations. And so, just as Al-Qadir has the power to make them victorious, He also has the power to bring about their defeat. He can do anything He wishes. The implied lesson is if you make du'a for knowledge, Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ may give you the cognitive mental ability. He may make the teachers and books accessible, but if your pride or laziness prevents you from learning from them, "It is from yourselves."