The Difference Between Seeking Refuge and Taking Refuge – Ibnul al-Qayyim
The Difference Between Seeking Refuge and Taking Refuge
Imam Ibnul-Qayyim (rahimahullaah) gave a beautiful explanation of taking refuge (a’oodhu), and from that long explanation, he said: “Its essential meaning is to flee from that which you fear will harm you to that which will safeguard you from it.” …The meaning of a’oodhu is: “I take refuge, guard myself and take precaution.”
Also, Ibnul-Qayyim explained the difference between seeking refuge (asta’idhu) and taking refuge (a’oodhu):
“If it is asked: When one is commanded to take refuge with Allaah, why does the form of the command carry a “seen” and “ta”? For example in His saying:…Seek refuge with Allaah from Shaitaan (Satan), the outcast (the cursed one). (An-Nahl, ayah 98)Yet one says: I take refuge (a’oodhu) and ‘I took refuge’ (ta’awwadhtu) without including the “seen” and “ta”?
The reply is: The “seen” and “ta” are grammatically used to denote a person’s seeking something. Therefore when one says, ‘Asta’idhu with Allaah,’ he is saying, ‘I seek refuge with Him.’ When he says, ‘Astaghfirullaah,’ he is saying, ”I seek the forgiveness of Allaah.”
However, when the person says, ‘I take refuge (a’oodhu) with Allaah,’ he is actually implementing and realizing what he seeks, because he sought refuge and protection with Allaah. There is a clear difference between actually taking refuge and seeking refuge. Therefore, because the one who is taking refuge is actually recoursing to Allaah, and holding firmly to Him, he says the verb that denotes this rather than saying the verb that denotes that he only seeks this.
The opposite is true for the saying, ‘Astaghfirullaah’ (I seek the forgiveness of Allaah), for in this case the person is asking Allaah to forgive him. Therefore, when he says, ‘Astaghfirullaah,’ he is implementing what he desires because the meaning of this statement is, ‘I ask Allaah that He forgive me.’
This then is the best way of seeking refuge, and it was for this reason that the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to say: “I take refuge with Allaah from the accursed Shaytaan,” and “I take refuge with Allaah’s perfect words,” and ‘”I take refuge with the Might and Power of Allaah,’ saying, ‘a’oodhu’ rather than ‘asta’idhu.’ Indeed, this is what Allaah taught him to say with His words:
Say: “I take refuge with (Allaah) the Lord of the daybreak, (Al-Falaq, ayah 1)
Say: “I take refuge with (Allaah) the Lord of mankind, (An-Nas, ayah 1)
Employing the word ‘a’oodhu’ rather than ‘asta’idhu.’
(Ibnul al-Qayyim, Bada`i al-Fawa`id, vol. 1, pg. 439-441; Tafsir al-Qayyim, pp. 538-541)