(The All Watchful)

Ar-Raqib / Ar-Raqeeb Meaning:

The Watcher, The observer.

Allah is Ar-Raqib (in Arabic ٱلْرَّقِيبُ) meaning the one who sees what's hidden. He is vigilant witness and acts as a guardian protecting His creation. It also relates to the attribute of knowledge as He is the one who sees the truth in everything. He knows the secrets of every soul and on the day will reward it for what it's earned.

Mentions of Ar-Raqib:
From Quran & Hadith

From the root r-q-b which has the following classical Arabic connotations: to look, watch, be vigilant to expect, anticipate, await. To keep an eye on, detect, observe to be mindful of. To be a spy, scout, observer to regard, hold in consideration, and respect.

There are two connotations as to what it means for Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ to be the all-watchful. The first is obvious. He sees the deeds of all His servants. Nothing is hidden from His sight, so with this knowledge, we should be more aware and be able to mitigate the temptations of how shaitan may try to manipulate us to do some wrong. But this description is more reflective of the name ash-Shaheed meaning "The Observing Witness"

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ ٱتَّقُوا۟ رَبَّكُمُ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍۢ وَٰحِدَةٍۢ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًۭا كَثِيرًۭا وَنِسَآءًۭ ۚ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ ٱلَّذِى تَسَآءَلُونَ بِهِۦ وَٱلْأَرْحَامَ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًۭا

Yaaa aiyuhan naasut taqoo Rabbakumul lazee khalaqakum min nafsinw waahidatinw wa khalaqa minhaa zawjahaa wa bas sa minhumaa rijaalan kaseeranw wa nisaaa’aa; wattaqul laahallazee tasaaa ‘aloona bihee wal arhaam; innal laaha kaana ‘alaikum Raqeeba

English Translation:
"O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer." (Qur'an 4:1)

A more accurate description of ar-Raqib refers to his nature of being "watchful," not in the sense of scrutiny or judgment but just as a parent or guardian would be watchful over their child with love and care. He has not created us aimlessly to wander and become preoccupied elsewhere. Imam al-Ghazali says of ar-Raqeeb, "is one who knows and protects." If we were aware of the constant surveillance or permanence of His gaze, we should feel safe and secure. But also like a child if something was forbidden, we would not dare to touch it.

In Northern Syria, there is a castle called "Qalaat al-Marqab" which translates to "Castle of the Watchtower." This castle was strategically built 1,180 ft above sea level to overlook the Mediterranean Sea. The word Marqab shares the same Arabic root r-q-b. A Marqab refers to something tall, high above and looks down upon. In this case, the castle is a high vantage point to protect from potential intruders or attacks.

مَا قُلْتُ لَهُمْ إِلَّا مَآ أَمَرْتَنِى بِهِۦٓ أَنِ ٱعْبُدُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ رَبِّى وَرَبَّكُمْ ۚ وَكُنتُ عَلَيْهِمْ شَهِيدًۭا مَّا دُمْتُ فِيهِمْ ۖ فَلَمَّا تَوَفَّيْتَنِى كُنتَ أَنتَ ٱلرَّقِيبَ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ وَأَنتَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ شَهِيدٌ

Maa qultu lahum illaa maaa amartanee bihee ani’budul laaha Rabbeee wa Rabbakum; wa kuntu ‘alaihim shaheedam maa dumtu feehim falammaa tawaffaitanee kunta Antar Raqeeba ‘alaihim; wa Anta ‘alaa kulli shai’in Shaheed

English Translation:
"“Never did I say to them aught except what You (Allah) did command me to say: ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.’ And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them, but when You took me up, You were the Watcher over them, and You are a Witness to all things." (Qur'an 5:117 )

In this verse above, Jesus or Isa (as) describes how he was a witness over the people while he was among them. But when he was brought up from Earth to Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ there was no one to watch over His flock except Allah. Like a shepherd, Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ provided food, drink, and shelter. He is the one who protects us from the harm of many dangers we're not even aware of. In the next verse, "If You should punish them – indeed they are Your servants; but if You forgive them – indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise." (Qur'an 5:118 Sometimes sheep will go astray, but Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ provides the signs to be guided back to the straight path. He has all the power and every right to punish, He is the shepherd or master, and we are the sheep, yet Isa (as) says, "but if You forgive them – indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise." Our misbehavings do not affect him in the least as He is "Exalted in Might." His forgiveness is also not a sign of weakness, but a sign of His intelligence and wisdom.

In one hadith, it describes how the companions gathered around the Prophet ﷺ and asked questions about Al-Iman (Faith), Al-Islam, and Al-Ihsan, and the obligations of Al-Iman with affirmation of the Qadr of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ. At some point, it was asked of Prophet ﷺ "Inform me about al-Ihsan (perfection or performance of good deeds). He ﷺ said: That you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, for though you don't see Him, He, verily, sees you. [1]

The believer benefits from this self-monitoring, not just from doing bad acts but asking if they are living up to their potential. Are they using their time in a manner that Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ would be pleased to see? With truly embracing this perspective a person can become more aware of how he or she dispenses with their time. A person sees how they can be more productive and contribute to the well-being of their community or family. However, we must learn to balance, to not live with guilt to take time to enjoy the many blessings Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ has provided all around us. In Surah ar-Rahman verse 13, "So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?"

Imam al-Ghazali also warns, "knowing that his own soul is an enemy to him, and that Satan is his enemy; and that both of them take the opportunity to prompt him to forgetfulness and disobedience." This is similar to the famous African proverb, "if there is no enemy within the enemy outside can do us no harm." If we learn to understand the root of our desires, fears, and insecurities we can neutralize the destructive ways in which they try manifest. If we are watchful over ourselves we can protect ourselves from many shortcomings.

[1] Sahih Muslim 8a & Sahih al-Bukhari 50

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