(The All-Hearing)

As-Sami Meaning:

The Hearer. His eternal hearing without an ear, instrument or organ.

Allah is As-Sami (in Arabic: ٱلْسَّمِيعُ) the perpetual hearer. He pays attention to every supplication, listening to all who reach out to Him. Whether we speak loudly or in secrecy, English or in French, Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ hears it all.

Mentions of As-Sami:
From Quran & Hadith

Arabic Root:
From the root sin-mim-ayn (س م ع), which has the following classical Arabic connotations: to hear, to listen, to accept, to receive, to be told, to pay attention to, pay regard, to understand the meaning.

The name of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ As-Sami is established in the Qur'an. Thus far, we've discussed attributes about His will, power, knowledge, strength, and ability. Next, we focus on Allah's attributes of hearing and seeing. But note this is not to anthropomorphize Allah's qualities. Rather, we affirm these attributes because He affirmed them. His seeing is not like our seeing. His hearing is far greater than our hearing. Imam Al-Ghazali wrote, "He hears without any auditory organs or ears, as He acts without limbs and speaks without a tongue; and His hearing is free from accidents which could befall it."

قُلْ إِن ضَلَلْتُ فَإِنَّمَآ أَضِلُّ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِى ۖ وَإِنِ ٱهْتَدَيْتُ فَبِمَا يُوحِىٓ إِلَىَّ رَبِّىٓ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ سَمِيعٌۭ قَرِيبٌۭ

Qul in dalaltu fainnamaaa adillu ‘alaa nafsee wa inih-tadaitu fabimaa yoohee ilaiya Rabbee; innahoo Samee’un Qareeb

English Translation:
"Say, 'If I should err, I would only err against myself. But if I am guided, it is by what my Lord reveals to me. Indeed, He is Hearing and near.'" — (Qur'an 34:50)

What does it mean for Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ to hear?
So how do we then conceptualize Allah's hearing? From this ayah, we learn Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is near to all of us, and He is forever listening. There is no deficiency in His perception. He hears all, even if it were hidden. He knows what is felt by the heart. So, whatever it is you want, make du'a and ask of it from Allah the Almighty. There is no limit and nothing He can't fulfill. This attribute is also a reminder if you need someone to talk to, He will always be there to hear from His servant. We don't have to go to His house (Kaabah) just to be close to Him. "And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me" (Qur'an 2:186)

Human desire to be heard:
All humans, on some level, crave to be loved and heard. And sometimes, the people closest to us can hurt us the most because we expect them to reciprocate interest, and when they don't, it feels like a betrayal. We've taken time to listen to them, but they turn around and prioritize their own lives, issues, and problems. It can feel isolating. We should recognize a good friend is someone who will listen not just when we've got good news but when we're down. In the Qur'an, Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ reassures us many times that He is the eternal hearer. The best friend/listener you could ask for. We can always fall back and know He is listening and available for us. Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ also makes this point heard by repeating this name for a total of 45 throughout the Qur'an.

قَدْ سَمِعَ ٱللَّهُ قَوْلَ ٱلَّتِى تُجَـٰدِلُكَ فِى زَوْجِهَا وَتَشْتَكِىٓ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَٱللَّهُ يَسْمَعُ تَحَاوُرَكُمَآ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ سَمِيعٌۢ بَصِيرٌ

Qad sami’al laahu qawlal latee tujaadiluka fee zawjihaa wa tashtakeee ilal laahi wallaahu yasma’u tahaawurakumaa; innal laaha samee’um baseer

English Translation:
"Certainly has Allah heard the speech of the one who argues with you, [O Muhammad], concerning her husband and directs her complaint to Allah. And Allah hears your dialogue; indeed, Allah is Hearing and Seeing." — (Qur'an 58:1)

This ayah also shows a second meaning to the name Sami which is 'hearing the speech' or acceptance. For example, when a person praying comes up from ruku they say, سَمِعَ اللَّهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَهُ Sami Allahu liman hamidah, meaning 'Allah hears the one who praises Him.' [1]

From the Story of Prophet Yaqub (as):
At some low point in our lives, we may have questioned whether Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ has heard our prayers. In a moment of weakness, the shaitan whispers in our ears, tricking us into thinking our supplication went "unheard." This is faulty thinking. Just because we immediately didn't get what we wanted doesn't mean He hasn't heard our prayer. Remember that even Prophet Yaqub (as) spent many years separated from his son Yusuf (as). He grieved as any father would. The Qur'an states Yaqub's (as) vision became impaired from stress, sorrow, and frequent sobbing. But Yaqub (as) never wavered in Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ plan for him. He kept turning to Him, praying, making du'a, asking that he be reunited with his son. He would say, "I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah…" (Qur'an 12:86) and "And Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most of men know not." (Qur'an 12:21) Eventually, His du'a went from being heard to accepted and he was reunited with his son.

The other subtlety that's often missed, which encompasses the name Al-Sami, is Allah's acceptance and/or His response. As Yaqub (as) mentioned, "Allah has full power and control over His affairs." This is why Prophet Ibrahim and Ishamel (may peace be upon them) asked Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ to accept their du'a as He is Samme'ul Aleem. He hears and knows what's best for the believer.

وَإِذۡ يَرۡفَعُ إِبۡرَٰهِـۧمُ ٱلۡقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ ٱلۡبَيۡتِ وَإِسۡمَٰعِيلُ رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلۡ مِنَّآۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلۡعَلِيمُ

Wa iz yarfa’u Ibraaheemul qawaa’ida minal Baitiwa Ismaa’eelu Rabbanaa taqabbal minnaa innaka Antas Samee’ul Aleem

English Translation:
"And [mention] when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and [with him] Ishmael, [saying], “Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing." — (Qur'an 2:127)

Learning about As-Sami is a reminder to ourselves to become better listeners. Just as Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ tells us He listens, can we say the same? How closely have we heard and understood the calling of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ? Could we do better in following what was shown to us for guidance? Go out and seek to hear things that will benefit the mind, body, and soul. Listen and learn from the Qur'an, and seek knowledge that benefits your life, career, marriage, children, and your deen. Set aside a portion of your day, be it 10-20 minutes, to search for these things.

From this, we also understand the importance of being watchful over our words and our actions. If in every moment we realized Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ was watching over us, then we would speak and act in the highest manner. We would be diligent to avoid all that which displeases Him.

Furthermore, it makes us reflect on the importance that good communication plays in our lives. How would you assess or grade your listening skills? It truly is an art form to be mastered. A mother who is upset with her son may not really be upset about the subject matter. If it's a common occurrence, it may be seeking attention in the only way she knows the son will respond. Good communication is picking up on or asking ourselves if we're missing something other than what's being said. This goes back to human desire to be heard and understood.

In the hadith narrated by Abu Musa: We were with the Prophet (ﷺ) on a journey, and whenever we ascended a high place, we used to say, "Allahu Akbar." The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Don't trouble yourselves too much! You are not calling a deaf or an absent person, but you are calling One Who Hears, Sees, and is very near." [2]

Find comfort in knowing we are never truly alone, "you are calling One Who Hears, Sees, and is very near." The world may misunderstand you, but Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ knows the purity and kindness that lives in your heart. He understands what's really being said and what we need.

[1] Sahih (Darussalam) Sunan an-Nasa'i 1062
[2] Sahih al-Bukhari 7386

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