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Monday, February 10, 2014

Al-Hawqalah: The Meanings, Virtues and Implications of the Great Phrase "La Hawla Wala Quwwata Illa Billah"

There are far too many narrations that mention the virtue of the Hawqalah. And to fully take benefit from them so that they directly impact our lives and mould our characters, it is essential to understand what exactly this phrase 'La Hawla wa la Quwwata illa Billah' means first and foremost.

The phrase is commonly translated as, "There is no power nor strength except by Allah". 

Imam al-Ghazali, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “Power (hawl) is motion and ability (quwwa) is aptitude.”

In his magnificent book "Al-Hawqalah: Its meanings, virtues and creedal implications" by Sh. Abd Al-Razzaq al-Badr explains:

"Firstly: What is intended by the word ‘Hawqalah? It is a word that is summarised from the statement (La Hawla wa la Quwwata illa Billah). This shortening of a phrase in Arabic is done if it was heard (had a precedent) from the early Arabs. It is realised by taking a few letters from a statement to form a single word...

Secondly: The meaning of the statement (La Hawla wa la Quwwata illa Billah). The meaning of 'Hawl' is movement, while the meaning of Quwwah is strength. Thus the meaning of this statement is that there is no movement from one state to another, and neither any strength for the slave to perform any of his affairs, except by Allah, meaning by His Help and tawfeeq and guidance. Some statements have been narrated from the Salaf and scholars after them, which further clarify the meaning. 

For example, in the statement of Abd-Allah ibn 'Abbas, he explained it as such: "We have no power to act obediently except by Allah, nor do we have strength to leave a sin except by Allah." This was narrated by ibn Abi Hatim.

It was narrated that Abd-Allah ibn Mas'ood, who said in explaining its meaning: "There is no strength to stop sinning against Allah except by His Protection, and no power to obey Him except with His Help."

It was narrated that 'Ali ibn Abi Talib said, "We do not own anything with Allah, or instead of Him, we do not own except what He has allowed us to, and it ultimately belongs to Him."

Zuhayr bin Muhammad was asked about the explanation of 'La Hawla wa la Quwwata illa Billah', so he said: "You do not take what you love except by Allah, and you do not stay away from what you hate except with the Help of Allah." This was narrated by ibn Abi Hatim.

Abu al-Haytham ar-Raazi, an Imam in the Arabic language, was asked about its meaning, so he said: 'Hawl' means movement, it is said: 'haal' if a person moves, so it is as if a person is saying: 'There is no movement or ability except by the Will of Allah.'

It was said that its meaning is: 'There is no strength in keeping evil away nor power to achieve any good except by Allah.'

All of these statements are similar in conveying the intended meanings of this great statement, which is why an-Nawawi said when he related some of these narrations: "They are all quite similar."

Once we know this, it becomes easy to see why it holds such abundant reward for the one uttering it. It contains the meaning of (true) Du'a, which is the soul and essence of worshiping Allah. So the one who makes this statement is affirming and submitting himself and admitting that all of his affairs are in the Hand of his Rabb, Master and Creator. A person has no ability to do anything except by the Will of Allah and His tawfeeq. For this reason he seeks refuge and help from Him alone, and depends on Him in all of his matters.

In another section of the same book, Sh. Abd Al-Razzaq writes:

...It entails a confession of the Ruboobiyyah (Oneness of Lordship) of Allah, that He alone is the Creator of this universe, who controls its affairs, and he Commands what He wills by His Wisdom. Nothing happens in this universe, neither movement nor stillness, or increase or decrease, or honour or disgrace, or giving or withholding, except by His will. He does what he wishes, He cannot be stopped or defeated, rather he has defeated all of His creation, and everything has submitted humbly to Him. As Allah Said: {Verily to him belongs the creation and the command, blessed is Allah , Lord of the worlds.} [Al-A'raaf, 54]"

...This statement entails an affirmation of the Names of Allah and His Attributes, for the one who says it is doubtlessly affirming that the one he is making Du'a to and seeking refuge with is free of needs, while everything else needs Him. He is completely independent and everything else is dependent upon Him. 

...It entails the affirmation of the ‘Uloohiyyahh (Oneness of Divinity) of Allah, that He alone is the one worthy to be worshiped and no one else deserves worship aside from Him. That is the meaning of ‘illa billaah’ (except with Allah.)

This statement shows the importance of the connection with Allah in all matters and aspects of our lives - seeks strength from Allah to fulfill and achieve and conclude our deeds etc. - If we truly implement its meaning, then our yaqeen would become stronger, and our ikhlas and tawwakul in Allah would increase. The concerned Muslim remembers this in all of his affairs. 

It is a statement of seeking help from Allah, so the one who is consistent in saying it is likely to achieve the aid and tawfeeq of Allah.

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