Remembering Allah and placing trust in Him
Is this report reliable, and if it is, could you please explain the significance or the intent of the message:
The Prophet (S.A.W) reported that Allah (S.W.T) said: “I (will respond according to) what my servant thinks of Me, and I am with him when he remembers Me. So if he remembers Me in secret, I will remember him in secret and if he remembers me in a group, I will remember him in a better group.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim)
My inclination is, and Allah knows the best, that the first part of this hadith is inviting believers to have trust in Allah Almighty. Obviously, we need to have trust in Him only in a way that is acceptable to the teachings of Islam. What it means is that we should do our part of the job and then trust Him in matters that are legitimate. We should not be unnecessarily overawed by the circumstances if there is an important objective to be achieved. The Almighty would do according to the extent of trust an individual has reposed in Him.
What this hadith doesn’t obviously mean is that an individual should start imagining that the Almighty would do things for him/her which He has already clarified He wouldn’t do. For instance, the Almighty has promised forgiveness to His servants if they seek it through sincere repentance. However, if someone, relying on an erroneous understanding of this hadith, concludes that His God would forgive him anyway, then it would be a very misleading conclusion.
What has been promised to a believer in the second part of the hadith by God Almighty is something special. You see, when you remember someone by mentioning him/her to others, you may or may not be fully involved in truly remembering the person yourself in your heart. When you remember someone in your heart, that person must be very special for you. Remembering here means, to me, not just a casual thought. It is remembering with fondness. Imagine God Almighty fondly remembering you in His Heart! Can there be a greater privilege than that?
I think the mention of a better group is referring to angels. That’s how it has been mentioned in some other ahadith. Allah knows the best. May the Almighty enable us to belong to that category.