Along Allah’s names are al-Muqaddim and al-Mu’akhkhir (the Expediter and the Deferrer). These two names go together.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to offer the following supplication to Allah where he called upon Allah with these two names:
O Allah! Forgive me what I do mistakenly and out of ignorance, the excesses in my conduct, and every (shortcoming of mine) which you know about far better than me. O Allah, forgive me what I commit in earnest or in jest, deliberately or inadvertently, all of which occurs.
O Allah, forgive me what I send forward and what I hold back, what I keep secret and what I openly proclaim, and every (shortcoming of mine) which you know about far better than me.
You are the Expediter and the Deferrer, and You have power over all things. [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (6398) and Sahīh Muslim (2719)]
Allah expedites what He wills, and He defers what He wills. This encompasses everything that Allah decrees. It applies to the provisions that He apportions to His creatures. It applies to the events that take place in history.
It likewise applies to the various manifestations of the Divine Law that He had enjoined upon the nations of old. It applies to all of the legal rulings that have appointed times set for them, or that have a precise order to them; for instance, the way that performing ablutions comes before prayer, and also the way that, during Hajj, circumambulating the Sacred House comes before performing the pilgrimage rites at Mount Safā’ and Mount Marwah.
It also encompasses the affairs of people. Allah makes some people to excel others in various ways. No one can challenge Allah’s decree. Allah says: “It is We who portion out between them their livelihood in the life of this world: and We raise some of them above others in rank.” [Sūrah al-Zukhruf: 32]
These names also communicate that Allah sets some people forward through their worship of Him and their seeking His pleasure, as He sets some people behind through their disobedience and by His punishment. This is why Allah says: “To any of you that chooses to press forward or lag behind.” [Sūrah al-Mudaththir: 37]
When we know these to be names of Allah, we appreciate how important it is to give careful consideration to matters. We realize that we need to ensure that we prioritize that which is more important, worthier, and more virtuous when it comes to our actions, our statements, and our observances, as well as when it comes to choosing people for various positions of responsibility.
We can see why these two names of Allah always appear together. Their meanings are complimentary, and are not fully expressed in isolation from one another.