Belief in Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala)


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xvii) Seeing Allah

No one can see Allah (The Exalted), in this world. Moosa (Peace be upon him) hoped to see Allah, but his Lord told him that he would not and could not see Him in this world; even the strong and solid mountain could not bear that:

And when Moosa came at the time and place appointed by Us, and his Lord (Allah) spoke to him; he said: ‘O’ my Lord! Show me (Yourself), that I may look upon You.’ Allah said: ‘You cannot see Me, but look upon the mountain; if it stands still in its place then you shall see Me.’ So when his Lord appeared to the mountain, He made it collapse to dust, and Moosa fell down unconscious...

(Qur’aan 7: 143)

The scholars differed as to whether the Messenger :saw: saw his Lord when he was taken up into heavens (the Mi’raaj). The correct view is that he did not see his Lord during the Mi’raaj. It is narrated in a saheeh (sound) report that ‘Aa’ishah said:

“Whoever claims that Muhammad :saw: saw his Lord has invented a great lie against Allah.”

(Muslim, 1/159, hadith no. 177)

This is the case in this world. But in the Hereafter it will be different, People will be created anew. Do you not see that the sun will be brought clost to people’s heads on the Day of Resurrection, until there is no more than one mile between it and them, yet they will not melt! Do you not see that after people are resurrected and brought forth from their graves, they will not be susceptible to death any more! When the disbelievers (kuffaar) enter the Fire, every time their skins are roasted through, Allah, the All-Powerful, will change them for other skins so that they can (continue to) taste the torment, but they will not die.

One the Day of Resurrection, the believers will be able to see their Lord. The greatest delight that they will be given in Paradise will be looking upon the face of the Mighty and Generous Lord, Exalted be He.

This greatest blessing will be denied to the disbelievers:

Nay! Surely, they (evil doers) will be veiled from seeing their Lord that

(Qur’aan 83: 15)

But those whom Allah (The Exalted), has chosen and made their faces beautiful, they will not be veiled or deprived:

Some faces that Day shall Naadirah (shining and radiant). Looking at their Lord (Allah).

(Qur’an 75: 22-23)

There are the Abraar (righteous):

Verily, Al-Abraar (the pious believers of Islamic Monotheism) will be in Delight (Paradise). On throns, looking (at all things).

(Qur'aan 83: 22-23)

This looking at His Noble Face is the ziyaadah (“even more,” additional) which is promised to the believers:

For those who have done good is the best reward and even more (i.e. having the honour of glancing at the Countenance of Allah)...

(Qur’aan 10: 26)

And it is the mazeed (more) referred to in the aayah (verse):

There they will have all that they desire and We have more (for them, i.e. a glance at the All-Mighty, All-Majesty)

(Qur’aan 50: 35)

There are mutawaatir ahaadeeth which clearly state this. It is reported from Abu Hurayrah that some people said to the Messenger of Allah :saw:

“O’ Messenger of Allah, will we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?”

The Messenger of Allah :saw: said:

“Do you doubt that you can see the moon on the night when it is full?”

They said,

“No, O’ Messenger of Allah.”

He said,

“Do you doubt that you can see the sun when there are no clouds in the way?”

They said,

“No, O’ Messenger of Allah.”

He said:

“Verily you will see Him likewise.”

(Bukhari, 13/419, hadith no. 7437; Muslim, 1/163, hadith no. 183. This version is narrated by Muslim)

Bukhari has narrated that Jareer ibn ‘Abdullah said:

“We were sitting with the Prophet when he looked at the full moon and said:

“You will see your Lord just as you are seeing this moon, do not doubt this. And if you can avoid missing a prayer before the sun rises and before the sun sets, then do that (i.e. strive not to miss Fajr and ‘Asr prayers).”

(Bukhari, 13:419, hadith no. 7434)

In Saheeh Muslim it is narrated from Suhayb that the Prophet :saw: said:

“When the people of Paradise enter Paradise, Allah will say, ‘Do you want anything else from Me?

They will say,

‘Have You not made our faces white? Have You not granted us admittance to Paradise and saved us from Hell?’ Then the veil will be lifted and they will never be given anything more beloved to them than looking at their Lord, the All-Glory.”

Then he recited the aayaah:

For those who have done good is the best reward and even more (i.e. having the honour of glancing at the Coutenance of Allah)...

(Qur'aan 10: 26)

Saheehayn (Bukhari and Muslim) narrated from Abu Moosa that the Prophet :saw: said:

“Two gardens of silver, their vessels and everything in them, and two gardens of gold, their vessels and everything in them. And there will be nothing between people and seeing their Lord except the veil of pride over His face in the Paradise of ‘Aden.”

(Bukhari, 13/423, hadith no. 7444; Muslim 1/163, hadith no. 180)


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xviii) The Knowledge of Allah

We know that Allah (The Exalted), bears the attribute of knowledge, and that He has called Himself by a number of Names which reflect this attribute, such as Al-‘Aleem (All-Knowing):

Verily, He only He, is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.

(Qur’aan 26: 220)

Another of these Names is Al-Khabeer (the All-Aware), which means that He knows what will be before it happens; Al-Hakeem (the Wise), which means that He knows the details of things; Ash-Shaheed (the Witness), which that He knows what is unseen and what is seen, i.e. that nothing is unknown to Him; Al-Haafiz (the Protector), meaning that He does not forget what He knows; Al-Muhsiy (the Reckoner), which means that the fact that He knows so much does not distract Him from knowing the tiniest of details, such as the light of the day and how strong the wind is, and when the leaves fall. He knows the numbers and the movements of each leaf.


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His Knowledge encompasses generalities and minor details

Philosophers claim that Allah knows things in general terms, but He does not know minor details – but this is a lie. The Knowledge of Allah is comprehensive and all-encompassing, and nothing whatsoever is hidden from Him on earth or in the heavens. He knows every movement on land and sea, and there is no leaf that falls from a tree or a seed that is planted in the ground, or a small plant that cleaves the earth, or dries out or dies, but the Knowledge of Allah encompasses it:

...And He knows whatever there is in the land and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but He know it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record.

(Qur’aan 6: 59)

Nothing of these innumerable animals is hidden from Allah:

And no moving (living) creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah. And He knows its dwelling place and its deposit (in the uterus or grave). All is in a Clear Book (Al-Lawh al-Mahfooz – the Book of Decrees with Allah.)

(Qur’aan 11: 6)

There is nothing that goes down into the earth, or ascends from the earth to the heavens, but Allah encompasses it with His knowledge

He knows that which goes into the earth and that which comes forth from it, and that which descends from the heaven and that which ascends to it. And He is the Most Merciful, the Oft-Forgiving.

(Qur’aan 34: 2)

Nothing of man is hidden from Allah (The Exalted), whatsoever. Allah’s knowledge of man is comprehensive, encompassing his apparent and visible actions, but He also knows what is hidden in the depths of his soul:

Say [O’ Muhammad]: ‘Whatever you hide what is in your breasts or reveal it, Allah knows it...

(Qur’aan 3: 29)

And He is Allah [to be worshipped Alone] in the heavens and on the earth; He knows what you conceal and what you reveal...

(Qur’aan 6: 3)

This is knowledge which encompasses all the minor details of man’s life:

Neither you (O’ Muhammad) do any deed nor recite any portion of the Qur’an, nor you (O’ mankind) do any deed (good or evil), but We are Witness thereof, when you are doing it...

(Qur’an 10: 61)

Look at the Knowledge, from which nothing is hidden, not even the smallest grain:

O’ my son! If it be (anything) equal to the weight of a grain of mustard seed, and though it be in a rock, or in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Verily, Allah is Subtle (in bringing out that grain), Well-Aware (of its place).

(Qur’aan 31: 16)

In the knowledge of Allah secret and open, small and great, unseen and seen, are all the same:

Allah knows what every female bears, and by how much the wombs fall short (of their time or number) or exceed. Everything with Him is in (due) proportion. All-Knower of the unseen and the seen, the Most Great, the Most High. It is the same (to Him) whether any of you conceals his speech or declares it openly, whether he be hid by night or goes forth freely by day.

(Qur’aan 13: 8-10)

Allah (The Exalted), indeed spoke the truth when He said:

...And nothing is hidden from your Lord (so much as) the weight of an atom (or small ant) on the earth or in the heaven. Not what is less that that or what is greater than that but is (written) in a Clear Record.

(Qur’aan 10: 61)


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xix), xx) His Life, Sustainment and Eternity

Allah (The Exalted), is Alive and His Life is eternal:

He is the Ever Living, Laa ilaaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He);...

(Qur’aan 40: 65)

His life is different from the lives of His creation, all of whom die and cease to exist; nothing will remain except Allah (The Exalted):

Whatsoever is on it (the earth) will perish. And the Face of your Lord full of Majesty and Honour will remain forever.

(Qur'aan 55: 26-27)

Bukhari has narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas that the Prophet :saw: used to say:

I seek refuge in Your Glory, there is no god except You, Who never dies, whilst the jinn and mankind will die.

(Bukhari, 13/368, hadith no. 7383)

Whoever is like this is the One Who deserves to have trust placed in Him:

And put your trust (O’ Muhammad) in the Ever Living One Who dies not...

(Qur’aan 25: 58)

He is Al-Qayyoom, the Self-Sustaining who sustains all that exists. All created beings are in need of Him, and they have no other maintainer except Him:

And among His Signs is that the heaven and the earth stand by His Command...

(Qur’aan 30: 25)


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Allah, the Exalted, mentions these two Names together

The All-Exalted, mentions these two names together in more than one aayah of His Book:

Allah! Laa ilaaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), Al-Hayy Al-Qayyoom (the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists).

(Qur’aan 3: 2)


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The perfection of His Life and Sustainment

One of the aspects of the perfection of His Life and Sustainment is that He (The Exalted), does not sleep:

Allah! Laa ilaaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), Al-Hayy al-Qayoom (the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists). Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him...

(Qur’aan 2: 255)

“Slumber” refers to the beginning of sleep. Slumber and sleep are shortcomings, and the Creator is far above having these shortcomings. Muslim has narrated that Abu Moosa said: The Messenger of Allah :saw: stood up among us and told us five things, He said:

“Allah, the All-Glory and All-Exalted, does not sleep, and it is not befitting that He should sleep; He lowers and raises the scale; the deeds of the night ascend to Him before the deeds of the day, and the deeds of the day before the deeds of the night.”

(Muslim, 1/162, hadith no. 179)


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Glorifying Allah by mentioning His Life and Sustainment

Allah praises Himself by describing Himself as being Alive, the Self-Sustaining Who sustains all that exists, as can be seen in the texts quoted above. The Messenger :saw: used to praise his Lord by mentioning these attributes. It is narrated that Ibn Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

When the Prophet :saw: used to get up at night to pray tahajjud, he would say:

“O’ Allah, to You be praise, You are the Sustainer of the heavens and the earth and all that are in them. To You be praise, to You belong the heavens and the earth and all that are in them. To You be praise, You are the Sovereign of the heavens and the earth)...”

(Bukhari, 3/3, hadith no. 1120; Muslim, 1/532, hadith no. 799. This version is narrated by Bukhari)


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xxi), xxii) His hearing and sight

These two attributes are confirmed by the text of the Qur’an:

...There is nothing like Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.

(Qur’aan 42: 11)

That is because Allah merges the night into the day, and He merges the day into the night. And verily, Allah if All-Hearer, All-Seer.

(Qur’aan 22: 61)

And Allah (The Exalted), said to Moosa and Haaroon (may peace be upon them):

Fear not, verily, I am with you both, hearing and seeing.

(Qur’aan 20: 46)


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The Greatness of Allah’s hearing and sight

Allah (The Exalted), says:

Say: Allah knows best how long they stayed. With Him is [the knowledge of] the Unseen of the heavens and the earth. How clearly He sees, and hears [everything]!...

(Qur’aan 18: 26)

Ibn Jareer said:

The meaning here is very emphatic, praising Allah. It is as if it is saying, How well He sees and hears. The interpretation is: how well Allah sees all that exists, and how well He hears all that is to be heard; nothing whatsoever of that is hidden from Him.

(Tafseer ibn Jareer, 15/232)

Allah (The Exalted), hears and sees the righteous, and reward them:

Who sees you (O’ Muhammad) when you stand up (along at night for Tahajjud prayers). And your movements among those who fall prostrate (to Allah in the five compulsory congregational prayers). Verily, He, only He, is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.

(Qur’aan 26: 218-220)

Allah (The Exalted), sees the evildoers and punishes them:

Indeed, Allah has heard the statement of those (Jews) who say: ‘Truly, Allah is poor and we are rich!’ We shall record what they have said and their killing of the Prophets unjustly, and We shall say: ‘Taste you the torment of the burning (Fire).’

‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said, explaining the vastness of Allah’s hearing:

“Praise be to Allah Whose hearing encompasses all sounds.”

(Bukhari, 13/372. Ibn Hajar said in Fath al-Baari (13/373): Ahmad, Nasaai and Ibn Majah narrated this, with the same wording.)

When the woman who disputed (Al-Mujaadilah – Khawlah bint Tha’labah) came to speak to the Prophet :saw: in a corner of his house, I could not hear her, but Allah revealed the words:

Indeed Allah has heard the statement of her (Khawlah bint Tha’labah) that disputes with you (O’ Muhammad) concerning her husband *Aus ibn As-Saamit), and complains to Allah. And Allah hears the argument between you both. Verily, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Seer.

(Qur’aan 58: 1)

(This conversations is narrated by Ahmad, Nasaai and Ibn Majah, as stated by Al-Haafiz in Fath al-Baari, 13/374)

Bukhari narrated that Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari (may Allah be pleased with him) said: We were with the Prophet :saw: on a journey, and whenever we climbed up we would shout Allahu Akbar (Allah is All-Great). He said:

“Take it easy! You are not calling the One Who is deaf or absent, you are calling the One Who is All-Hearing, All-Seeing and Who is near.”

(Bukhari, 13/372, hadith no. 7386)


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The mushrikeen’s ignorance of how far the hearing of Allah extends

Bukhari narrated that ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

Two Thaqafis and a Qurayshi (or two Qurayshis and a Thaqafi) gathered by the House (the Ka’bah). They had fat bellies and little understanding in their hearts. One of them said: Do you think that Allah can hear what we say? The other said, He can hear if we raise our voices, but not if we lower them. The other said: If He can hear us when we raise our voices, the He can hear us when we lower them.

Than Allah (The Exalted), revealed the words:

And you have not been hiding yourselves [in the world], lest your ears and your eyes and your skins should testify against you; but you thought that Allah knew not much of what you were doing.

(Qur’aan 41: 22)

(Ibid, 8/562, hadith no. 4817)


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3 – The Beautiful Names of Allah

All the Names of Allah are beautiful:

And [all] the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them...

(Qur’an 7: 180)

Among these names are those that He has mentioned in Soorah al-Hashr:

He is Allah, beside Whom Laa ilaaha illa Huwa [none has the right to be worshipped but He] the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. He is Allah, beside Whom Laa ilaaha illa Huwa [none has the right to be worshipped but He], the King, the Holy, the One Free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures, the All-Mighty, the Compeller, the Supreme, Glory be to Allah! [High is He] above all that they associate as partners with Him. He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor of all things, the Bestower of forms. To Him belong the Best Names...

(Qur’an 59: 22-24)


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1) The Number of His Names

Bukhari and Muslim narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet :saw: said:

“Allah has ninety-nine Names, one hundred less one. Whoever counts them will enter Paradise. Allah is Witr (odd-numbered) and loves Al-Witr (that which is odd-numbered).”

(Bukhari, 11/214, hadith no. 6410; Muslim, 4/2062m hadith no, 2677. This version is narrated by Muslim.)

This hadith indicates that Allah has a limited number of Names, and states that they are ninety-nine.

But this conflicts with the report narrated by Ibn Mas’ood, according to which the Prophet :saw: said:

“No slave is ever afflicted with distress of grief, and says: O’ Allah, I am Your slave, son of Your slave, son of Your female slave. My forelock is in Your Hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every Name belonging to You which You have named Yourself with, or taught to any of Your creation, or revealed in Your Book, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the unseen with You, to make the Qur’an the life of my heart and the light of my breast, a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety)’ – but Allah will take away his distress and grief, and replace them with joy.”

(Ahmad, 1/391; Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Baari attributed it to Ahmad and Ibn Hibaan. Fath al-Baari, 11/220)

And it is narrated that the Messenger praised his Lord as follows:

“I cannot praise You sufficiently; You are as You have praised Yourself.”

[Muslim, 1/353, hadith no. 486]

The confusion that stems from this hadith is that it indicates that among the Names of Allah are Names which He has not revealed in His Book, but which he has told only to certain ones among His creation, or He has kept them to Himself and has not told them to any of His creation. The hadith of Abu Hurayrah, on the other hand, indicates that the Names of Allah number ninety-nine, all of which have been revealed and are known, as indicated by the phrase man ahsaahaa (whoever counts them) – this counting is impossible unless they are revealed and known. This implies that the Names which Allah has kept to Himself or revealed only to certain ones among His creation are other than these ninety-nine.

The truth which should be noted is that the number of Names which Allah has taught us in His Book, or His Messenger has mentioned, is ninety-nine and no more, because the Messenger :saw: stated this number, and because he said “whoever counts them.” Any additional names are something which we do not know, because they are part of the concealed Knowledge of Allah or have been revealed exclusively to certain ones among His creation. Otherwise it does not make sense to limit the number of the names of Allah to ninety-nine.


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2) Defining the Names of Allah

The Messenger :saw; told us that the Names of Allah which have been revealed and that we can know and count are ninety-nine names.
There is no saheeh hadith which lists these Names in such a way as to leave no room for debate concerning them. These names have been narrated here and there in the Book of Allah and in the Sunnah of the Messenger :saw:. An aayah (verse) may mention one or two names, or more, or an aayah may end with one or more Names, or list a group of these Names.

The scholars endeavoured to compile the Names of Allah from the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger :saw: and they endeavoured to interpret and explain them.

Qurtubi wrote a book called Ma’aani Asmaa’ Allah il-Husnaa (The Meanings of the Most Beautiful Names of Allah). The Names were also listed by Ibn Jareer at-Tabaro, Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi, Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqallaani and others. The scholars agreed on a large number of the names in the list, and disagreed over a few, which some regarded as being among the Names of Allah whilst others did not.

(Talkhees al-Habeer, 4/172)

The reason for these differences is that some scholars thought that everything that the Qur’an said about Allah could be counted as one of His Names and could be used on its own as a Name of Allah. Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi counted among His Names Raabi’-thalaathah (the Fourth of three) and Saadis khamsah (the Sixth of five), on the basis of the aayah:

Have you not seen that Allah knows whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth? There is no Najwaa [secret counsel] of three but He is their fourth [with His Knowledge, while He Himself is over the Throne, over the seventh heaven], - nor of five but He is their sixth [with His Knowledge],...

(Qur’an 58: 7)

He also counted Al-Faa’il (the Doer) and Az-Zaari’ (the Grower) as Names of Allah, on the basis of the aayaat (verses):

And [remember] the Day when We shall roll up the heaven like a scroll rolled up for books. As We began the first creation, We shall repeat it. [It is] a promise binding upon Us. Truly, We shall do it.

(Qur’an 21: 104])

- and:

Then tell Me about the seed that you sow in the ground. Is it you that make it grow, or are We the Grower?

(Qur'an 56: 63-64)

The truth is that these names are not Names of Allah, in the sense that Allah cannot be called or addressed as Raabi’ thalaathah (the Fourth of three), Saadis khamsah (the Sixth of five), Al-Faa’il (the Doer) or Az-Zaari’ (the Grower).

(Ma’aarij al-Qubool, 1/77)

These are actions mentioned in the Qur’an which Allah (The Exalted), attributes to Himself by way of showing that He punishes, is just and treats like with like, which in their context imply praise of Him and point to His perfection. But it is not permissible to derive Names of Allah from them, or to use them in any context other than the aayaat in which they are mentioned, such as:

Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives

(Qur’an 4: 142)

And they [disbelievers] plotted [to kill ‘Eesa (Jesus)], and Allah planned too...

(Qur’an 3: 54)

...They have forgotten Allah, so He has forgotten them...

(Qur’an 9: 97)

And when they meet those who believe, they say: ‘We believe,’ but when
they are along with their Shayaateen [devils – polytheists, hypocrites], they say: ‘Truly, we are with you; verily, we were but mocking.’ Allah mocks at them...

(Qur’an 2: 14-15)

Allah cannot be called deceiver, plotter, forgetful, mocker, or other things above which He is exalted. It cannot be said that Allah mocks, deceives, plots or forgets in absolute terms, out of the context of these aayaat. Those who counted these as being among His Most Bountiful Names made a serious mistake, because deceit or plotting may imply praise or blame; it is not permissible to use in reference to Allah except in a context where there is no room whatsoever for them to imply blame, as in the context of these aayaat.

[Ma’aarij al-Qubool, 1/76]

For the same reason, there is no mention among His names of Him being Al-Mutakaliim (speaker), Al-Mureed (the One Who wills), Al-Faa’il (The Doer), As-Saani (the Maker), because these words may also imply both praise or blame. If it were permissible to derive from the actions of Allah, such as the Deceiver, the Plotter, because these actions are mentioned in the Qur’an, then it would be permissible to make the Caller, the Comer, the Goer, the Forgetter, the Divider, the Angry, the Wrathful, the Curser, Names of Allah too.. and other actions which the Qur’an attributes to Allah.

Allah (The Exalted), did not describe Himself as plotting and deceiving except to explain how He punishes those do such things without justification. Punishing in kind is counted as something good if it is done by a created being, so how about when the Creator does it?

Among the Names of Allah are some which are not to be attributed to Him except in conjunction with their opposites, because if such a name is used on its own, it may imply imperfection. Example of this include Al-Maani’ (the Witholder), Ad-Daarr (the Causer of Harm), Al-Qaabid (the Seizer), Al-Mudhill (the Dishonourer), Al-Khaafid (the Abaser). These names cannot applied singly to Allah; they must be accompanied by their opposites, so that one says: Al-Mu’ti al-Maani’ (the Giver the Withholder), Ad-Daarr an Naafi’ (the Causer of Harm the Bringer of Benefit), Al-Qaabid al-Baasit (the Seizer the Bestower), Al-Mu’izz al-Mudhill (the Honourer the Dishonourer) Al-Khaafid ar-Raafi’ (the Abaser the Exalter).

Another example is Al-Muntaqim (the Avenger). The idea of vengeance only appears in the Qur’aan in conjunction with the word dhu (owner of):

...And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Able of Retribution (Dhu Intiqaam, lit. Owner of vengeance).

(Qur’aan 5: 95)

Or in the context of dealing with sinners:

...Verily, We shall exact retribution from the Mujrimoon (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners).

(Qur’aan 32: 22)


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3 – The Greatest Name

The Messenger :saw: has told us in more than one hadeeth that Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala), has one greatest Name which is distinguished from His other Names. Among these ahaadeeth are the following:

a –
It is narrated from Buraydah al-Aslami that the Messenger of Allah :saw: heard a man saying:

“O’ Allah, I ask of You by the fact that You are Allah, there is no god except You, the One, the Self-Sufficient Master, who begets not, nor was He begotten, and there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him.”

He (the Prophet) :saw: said:

“He has called upon Allah by His Greatest Name, which if He is asked by it, He gives, and if He is called upon by it, He responds.”

Tirmidhi and Abu Dawood.

(Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 1/703, hadeeth no. 2289; the editor of Al-Mishkaat judged its isnad to be saheeh (sound))

b – It is narrated that Anas (radhiyAllahu anh) said: I was sitting with the Prophet :saw: in the mosque, and a man was praying. He said,

“O’ Allah, I ask You by the fact that all praise is due to You, there is no god except You, Al-Hannaan (the Compassionate) Al-Mannaan (the Gracious), the Originator of the heavens and the earth, O’ Owner of Majesty and Honour, O’ Ever-Living, Self-Sustaining One, I ask of You.”

The Prophet said:

“He has called upon Allah by His greatest Name, which if He is called upon by it, He responds, and if He is asked by it, He gives.”

Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood, Ibn Maajah and Daarimi.

(Ibid, 1/704, no. 2290; the editor of Al-Mishkaat judged its isnad to be saheeh.)

c – Ibn Maajah narrated from Abu Umaamah that the Messenger of Allah :saw: said:

“The greatest Name of Allah is in three soorahs of the Qur’aan, in Al-Baqarah, Aal ‘Imraan and Ta-Ha.”

Ibn Maajah, At-Tahaawi in Mushkil al-Aathaar, and Ibn Mu’een in At-Taareekh wa’l-‘Ilal, and others.

(See its isnad in Silsilat al-Ahaadeeth as-Saheehah by Shaykh Naasiruddeen al-Albaani, 2/382, hadeeth no. 746)

d – The aayaat in Al-Baqarah (The Cow) and Aal ‘Imraan in which the greatest Name of Allah has been mentioned have been described in a report. Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood, Ibn Maajah and Daarimi narrated from Asmaa’ bint Yazeed (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet :saw: said:

The greatest Name of Allah is in these two aayaat:

And your Ilaah (God) is One Ilaah (God – Allah), Laa ilaaha illa Huwa (there is none who has the right to be worshipped but He), the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

(Qur’aan 2: 163)

And in the beginning of Aal ‘Imraan:

Alif-Laam-Meem. (These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur’aan, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings). Allah! Laa ilaaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), Al-Hayyul-Qayyoom (the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists).

(Qur’aan 3: 1-2)

(Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 1/704, hadeeth no. 2291)

By comparing these texts in which the greatest Name of Allah is mentioned, it becomes clear that this name is “Allah,” because this is the only name which is found in all of these texts in which the Messenger :saw: said the greatest Name is mentioned.

What makes it most likely that “Allah” is the greatest Name is the fact that it is repeated in the Qur’aan 2697 times, (two thousand six hundred and ninety seven times, according to the counting in Al-Mu’jam al-Mufahras) and the word Allahumma is repeated five times, at the time when another name which belongs exclusively to Allah, namely Ar-Rahmaan, is repeated only 57 times. This idea (that “Allah” is the greatest Name) is also supported by the fact that it includes so many great meanings.


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4 – The Obligation of Believing in His Names

There is consensus among the righteous predecessors (salaf) that it is obligatory to believe in all the Most Beautiful Names of Allah and the Attributes to which they point, and the (Divine) actions which stem from those Attributes. For example, the Name Al-Qadeer (the Able) implies that we must believe that He is Able to do all things, and that His Ability is perfect, and that from His Ability stem all things that exist.


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5 – How the Muslim Counts the Names of Allah

The ahaadeeth encourage us to count the Names of Allah. The one who counts them is promised admittance to Paradise.

The scholars differed as to what the phrase man ahsaahaa (whoever counts them) means.

Al-Khattaabi said: it may mean several things:

a –
That a person recites them until he says all of them, and does not limit himself to only a few of them. So he calls upon Allah by all of them, and praises Him by all of them, and so he earns the promised reward.

This is the view which was favoured by Bukhari who interpreted ihsaa’ as meaning memorisation, because of the existence of another report in which the words “whoever memorises them” are narrated.

b – That ihsaa’ means being able, i.e., to fulfil his duty towards these Names and act in accordance with their implications, which means that he should ponder their meanings and adhere to the ensuing obligations. So if he says “Ar-Razzaaq (the All-Provider),” he should have the certainty that his provision will come to him, and so on.

c – That it means understanding all their meanings.
And it is said that ihsaa’ means acting according to their meanings, so that if a person says “Al-Hakeem (the All-Wise), He submits to all His commands and decrees, and believes that they are all in accordance with His Wisdom.

Ibn Battaal said: the way of acting in accordance with them is as follows:

i –
What it is appropriate to follow, such as Ar-Raheem (the Most Merciful) and Al-Kareem (the Most Generous), so that a person trains himself to develop these attributes in himself with regard to what he does.

ii – Attributes which belong exclusively to Allah, such as Al-Jabbaar (the Compeller) and Al-‘Azeem (the Most Great). The slave is obliged to affirm these attributes and submit to them, but not to try to develop these attributes in himself.

iii – Attributes which imply a promise, where all the slave should do is hope for and desire that promise.

iv – Attributes which imply a warning, where all the slave should do is fear it and hope to avoid it.

It seems that the meaning of ihsaa’ (counting) is memorisation and performing any acts of worship that this may require, just as there is no benefit in simply memorising Qur’aan if one does not act upon it. It is one of the features of those who have gone beyond the pale of Islam that they read the Qur’aan but it does not go any further than their throats.

(It became clear to us, after studying this topic in our book Asmaa’ Allah wa Sifaatuhu fi Mu’taqada Ahl as-Sunnah, that the correct view is that ihsaa means memorising).


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6 – List of the Names of Allah

It may be that Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqallaani came closest to the truth when he listed ninety-nine Names taken from the Qur’aan, thus complying with the number mentioned in the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah (radhiyAllahu anh). We will quote them as he listed them:

1 - Allah - God

2 - Ar-Rabb - The Lord, Sustainer, Cherisher

3 - Al-Ilaah - The God

4 - Al-Waahid - The One

5 - Ar-Rahmaan - The Most Beneficient

6 - Ar-Raheem - The Most Merciful

7 - Al-Malik - The King, Sovereign

8 - Al-Quddoos - The Holy

9 - As-Salaam - The One Free from all defects, the Author of Safety

10 - Al-Mu'min - The Giver of Security

11 - Al-Muhaymin - The Watcher over His Creatures, the Protector

12 - Al-'Azeez - The All-Mighty

13 - Al-Jabbaar - The Compeller

14 - Al-Mutakabbir - The Supreme, the Majestic

15 - Al-Khaaliq - The Creator

16 - Al-Baari' - The Inventor of all things, the Maker

17 - Al-Musawwir - The Bestower of forms, the Fashioner

18 - Al-Awwal - The First

19 - Al-Aakhir - The Last

20 - Az-Zaahir - The Most High, the Manifest

21 - Al-Baatin - The Most Near, the Hidden

22 - Al-Hayy - The Ever-Living

23 - Al-Qayyoom - The Self-Sufficient, the One Who sustains and protects all

24 - Al-'Aliyy - The Most High, the Sublime

25 - Al-'Azeem - The Most Great

26 - At-Tawwaab - The Acceptor of Repentance

27 - Al-Haleem - The Ever-Forbearing

28 - Al-Waasi' - The All-Sufficient for His creatures' needs

29 - Al-Haakim - The All-Wise

30 - Ash-Shaakir - The All-Appreciative

31 - Al-'Aleem - The All-Knowing

32 - Al-Ghanee - The Rich, Free from all wants and needs; Self-Sufficient

33 - Al-Kareem - The Bountiful, The Generous

34 - Al-'Afuw - The Oft-Pardoning

35 - Al-Qadeer - The All-Powerful

36 - Al-Lateef - The Most Subtle and Courteous

37 - Al-Khabeer - The All-Aware

38 - As-Samee' - The All-Hearing

39 - Al-Baseer - The All-Seer

40 - Al-Mawlaa - The Lord, Protector and Supporter, Patron

41 - An-Naseer - The Helper

42 - Al-Qareeb - The Near (to all, by His Knowledge)

43 - Al-Mujeeb - The Responsive

44 - Ar-Raqeeb - The All-Watcher

45 - Al-Haseeb - The All-Sufficient in taking account; the Reckoner

46 - Al-Qawee - The Most Strong

47 - Ash-Shaheed - The Witness

48 - Al-Hameed - The One Who is Worthy of All Praise

49 - Al-Majeed - The All-Glorious

50 - Al-Muheet - The Encompasser

51 - Al-Hafeez - The Guardian

52 - Al-Haqq - The Truth

53 - Al-Mubeen - The Manifest

54 - Al-Ghaffaar - The Oft-Forgiving

55 - Al-Qahhar - The Irresistible, the Dominant

56 - Al-Khallaaq - The Creator

57 - Al-Fattah - The Judge, the Reliever, the Opener

58 - Al-Wadood - The Most Loving

59 - Al-Ghafoor - The Oft-Forgiving

60 - Ar-Ra'oof - The Full of Kindness

61 - Ash-Shakoor - The Most Ready to Appreciate

62 - Al-Kabeer - The Most Great

63 - Al-Mut'aal - The Most High

64 - Al-Muqeet - The Ever All-Able, All-Witness

65 - Al-Musta'aan - The One Whose Help is to be sought

66 - Al-Wahhaab - The Bestower

67 - Al-Hafi - The Ever Most Gracious

68 - Al-Waarith - The Inheritor

69 - Al-Wali - The Protector of Guardian

70 - Al-Qaa'im - The One Who Takes Charge (Guards, Maintains, Provides)

71 - Al-Qaadir - The Able

72 - Al-Ghaalib - The One Who has Full Power and Control, the Predominant

73 - Al-Qaahir - The Irresistible

74 - Al-Haafiz - The Protector

75 - Al-Barr - The Most Subtle, Kind, Courteous and Generous; The Source of All Goodness

76 - Al-Ahad - The One

77 - As-Samad - The Self-Sufficient Master, the Eternal

78 - Al-Maleek - The King, the Owner, the Proprietor

79 - Al-Muqtadir - The Omnipotent, All-Able to carry out what He wills

80 - Al-Wakeel - The Disposer of Affairs

81 - Al-Haadi - The Guide

82 - Al-Kafeel - The Surety

83 - Al-Kaafi - The Sufficient

84 - Al-Akram - The Most Generous

85 - Al-A'alaa - The Most High

86 - Ar-Razzaaq - The All-Provider

87 - Dhu'l-Quwwatil-Mateen - Owner of Power, the Most Strong

88 - Ghaafir adh-Dhaab - The Forgiver of sin

89 - Qaabil at-Tawb - The Acceptor of repentance

90 - Shadeed al-'Iqaab - The Severe in Punishment

91 - Dhu't-Tawl - The Bestower (of favours)

92 - Rafee' ad-Darajaat - The Owner of High Ranks

93 - Saree' al-Hisaab - The Swift in Reckoning

94 - Faatir as-Samawaati wa'l-Ard - The Orginator of the heavens and the earth

95 - Badee' as-Samawaati wa'l-ard - The Creator of the heavens and the earth

96 - Noor as-Samawaati wa'l-ard - The Light of the heavens and the earth

97 - Maalik al-Mulk - The Possessor of the Kingdom

98, 99 - Dhul-Jalaali wa'l Ikraam - Owner of Majesty and Honour


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8 – The Benefit of Knowing These Names

The real benefits which are to be gained from knowing the Names and Attributes of Allah can be summarised under the following points:

a –
Getting to know Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala), for the Names and Attributes of Allah are the greatest means for us to get to know our Lord. Without them, belief in Allah will remain an ambiguous idea which does not bear good fruits. We have spoken in detail about His Attributes and Names above, praise and blessings be to Allah.

b – Praising Him by His Names and Attributes, Praising Allah by His Names and Attributes is the greatest way of praising Him. This is one of the greatest kinds of dhikr (remembrance) that He has commanded us to say, as in the aayah (verse):

O’ you who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance.

(Qur’aan 33: 41)

c – Calling upon Him by His Names and Attributes, as He (subhaanahu wa ta’aala), says:

And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them...

(Qur’aan 7: 180)

The Messenger :saw: told us on more than one occasion that one of the sahaabah called upon Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala), by His greatest Name, which if He is called upon by it, He will respond.

d – Increasing faith; the more a person learns about Allah and His Attributes, the more his faith increases.

e – Feeling strong and steadfast, because the person is putting his trust in the Most Strong, the All-Able, the One Who has full power and control.

f – Making one’s heart feel attached to Allah. For the person who knows that his provision (rizq) comes from Allah will ask Him for provision; and the one who knows that Allah is the Compeller will fear Him; and the one who knows that Allah is All-Knowing will remember that He is watching... and so on.

g – The great reward which we will attain through this knowledge. Learning these Names and Attributes is the noblest thing that anyone can study, and learning and teaching them is one of the greatest works that anyone can undertake.


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Examples of how the Messenger, glorified and praised his Lord and called upon Him

I would like to quote some of the words – in addition to those mentioned above – with which the Prophet :saw: glorified and praised Allah by His Names and Attributes, and called upon Him.

a –
It is narrated from Abu Hurayrah that Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq (may Allah be pleased with them) said to the Messenger of Allah :saw::

“Teach me something that I can say in the morning and in the evening.”

He :saw: said:


Allahumma ‘Aalim-al-ghaybi wa’sh-shahaadah, Faatir as-samawaati wa’l-ard, Rabba kulli shay’in wa maleekahu, ashhadu an laa ilaaha illa anta, ‘Aoodhu bika min sharri nafsi wa min sharr ish-shaytaan wa sharakihi

(O’ Allah, Knower of the unseen and the seen, Creator of the heavens and the earth, Lord and Sovereign of all things, I bear witness that there is no god except You. I seek refuge in You from the evil of my own self and from the evil and snares of the Shaytaan.”

This is narrated by Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood and Ad-Daarimi.

(Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 1/734, hadeeth no. 2390)

b –
Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri narrated that when the Messenger of Allah :saw: would raise his head from rukoo’, he would say:

“Rabbanaa laka’l-hamd, mil’ us-samawaati wa’l-ard, wa mil’u ma shi’ta min shay’in ba’d, ahl ath-thanaa’i wa’l-majd, ahaqqu ma qaala al-‘abd, wa kullunaa laka ‘abd. Allahumma laa maani’a lima a’tayta wa laa mu’tiya lima mana’ta, wa laa yanfa’u dhaa’l-jaddi minka al-jadd

(Our Lord, to You be praise, filling the heavens and the earth, filling whatever else You wish, Lord of Praise and Majesty. The truest thing a slave has said – and we are all slaves to You – is, O’ Allah, none can withhold what You grant, and none can grant what You withhold, nor can the possessions of an owner benefit him in front of You).”

(Muslim, 1/347, hadeeth no. 477)

c –
It is narrated that Thawbaan (radhiyAllahu anh) said: when the Messenger of Allah :saw: would complete his salaah, he would pray for forgiveness (say astaghfirullah) three times, and then say:

“Allahumma antas-salaam wa minkas-salaam, tabaarakta ya dhaa’l-jalaali wa’l-ikraam

(O’ Allah, You are As-Salaam (The One Free from all defects), and from You comes peace, blessed are You O’ Owner of Majesty and Honour).”

(Muslim, 1/414, hadeeth no. 592)

d –
Ibn ‘Abbaas (radhiyAllahu anh) narrated that the Messenger of Allah :saw: used to say at times of distress:

“Laa ilaaha illa Allah al-‘Azeem al-Haleem, laa ilaaha illa Allah Rabb ul-‘Arsh il-‘Azeem, Laa ilaaha illa Allah Rabb us-samawaati wa Rabb ul-ard, Rabb ul-‘Arsh il-kareem

(There is no god except Allah, the Most Great, the Ever Forbearing, there is no god except Allah, the Lord of the Mighty Throne, there is no god except Allah, the Lord of the heavens and the Lord of the earth, Lord of the Noble Throne.”

(Bukhari, 11/145; Muslim, 4/2093, hadeeth no. 2730)

e –
It is narrated from Sumrah ibn Jundub that the Messenger of Allah :saw: said:

“The most beloved of speech to Allah are four phrases:

SubhaanAllah, wa’l-hamdu Lillaah, wa laa ilaaha illa-Allah, w’ Allahu Akbar

(Glory be to Allah, praise be to Allah, there is no god except Allah, and
Allah is Most Great).

And it does not matter with which of them you start.”

According to another report:

“The best of speech is:

SubhaanAllah, wa’l-hamdu Lillaah, wa laa ilaaha illa Allah, w’ Allahu Akbar.”

(Muslim.See Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 1/706, hadeeth no. 2294)

f –
It is narrated from Abu Hurayrah (radhiyAllahu anh) that the Messenger of Allah :saw: said:

“Two words which light on the tongue but will weigh heavily in the Balance, and are beloved to the Most Merciful:

SubhaanAllahi wa bi hamdihi, SubhaanAllahi il-‘Azeem

(Glory and Praise be to Allah, Glory be to Allah the Most Great).”

(Muslim, 4/2072, hadeeth no. 2694)


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4) The Methodology in the Light of which The Attributes of Allah are to be Understood

(See Manhaj wa Diraasaat li Aayaat al-Asmaa’ wa’s-Sifaat, by Shaykh Muhammad al-Ameen ash-Shanqeeti (may Allah have mercy on him).

Shaykh Muhammad al-Ameen ash-Shanqeeti (may Allah have mercy on him) stated that the Holy Qur’aan indicates that the issue of the Divine Attributes is focused on three principles. Whoever follows all of them has reached the correct view, and attained the belief which the Prophet :saw: and his Companions and the righteous Salaf adhered to. Whoever misses out one of these three principles is misguided.

He stated that each of these three principles is indicated in the Qur’aan: