All praise is due to Allaah, the Lord of all the Worlds and Prayers and Peace
upon His Messenger Muhammad. Continuing with our discussion of Tawheed, we will look at how
to believe in the Names of Allaah. As with the Attributes of Allaah (Lesson 2),
there are certain principles that we have to adhere to in order to believe and
understand the Names of Allaah correctly. - This is because the Names of Allaah
and His Attributes are the basis of our worship of Allaah. We come to know Him
by His Names and Attributes, the more we know, the better our worship.
Today’s lesson is taken and adapted from a book by Shaikh Ibn
Uthaimeen ‘Qawaa’id ul-Muthlaa Fee Sifaat iLlaah wa
Asmaa’ihil-Husnaa’ - (roughly, the Perfect Principles Regarding
the Attributes of Allaah and His Beatiful Names).
THE FIRST PRINCIPLE: All the Names of Allaah are
This means that the Names of Allaah reach the extreme of
perfection. They are perfect and complete in every single aspect. As Allaah
"And to Allaah belong the most-beautiful/excellent of
This is because these names represent the
qualities/characteristics that Allaah has and in which there is absolutely no
deficiency or shortcoming whatsoever.
An example: ‘Al-Hayy’ the EverLiving - is a name of
Allaah, and this gives evidence to the perfect life of Allaah, a life which was
not preceded by death or non-existence and which will not be followed by death
or non-existence.This is unlike the ‘life’ of created things, who
are born and die and then no longer exist. Also their life depends on other
created things such as food and water etc. But the life of Allaah is free and
independent of all of these things. Therefore His life is the most perfect and
Another example: ‘Al-Aleem’ - the All Knowing - is
a name of Allaah and this gives evidence to the perfect knowledge of Allaah,
knowledge which was not preceded by ignorance and which will not be followed by
forgetfulness. Allaah’s knowledge is free from all of that. As Moses said
"The Knowledge of of it (i.e. the state of the people of
past) is with My Lord in a Book. My Lord does not err, nor is He forgetful"
So Allaah’s knowledge encompasses everything. He knows
what the hearts contain and what the wombs contain. He knows what is in the
depths of the oceans and what is in the heights of the heavens. Nothing is
hidden from him, not even the weight of an atom or what is less than that. So
the Name of Allaah ‘al-Aleem’ gives evidence to perfect and complete
Another example: ‘ar-Rahmaan’ - the One Full of
Mercy - is a name of Allaah and this gives evidence to the overflowing mercy of
Allaah, which is perfect and complete and about which the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"Allaah is more merciful to His servants than this (i.e. a female animal)
to her child". And Allaah’s mercy encompasses everything i.e. it
covers everything, Allaahs’mercy reaches everything.
"And My mercy encompasses every single thing"
NOTE: There are some names which are common between Allaah
and the Creation. But this does not mean that the reality behind them is the
same. For example Allaah has described Himself as ‘hearing, seeing’
[4:58] but He also described man as ‘hearing, seeing’ [76:2].
However, the hearing and seeing of Allaah is one thing, but the hearing and
seeing of mankind is something else. Allaah’s hearing and seeing is the
most-complete and most perfect, without any limitations or restrictions
whatsoever, as opposed to that of humans.
This is an important point because the people of innovation
claim, that just because we affirm these Names and Attributes for Allaah, we are
likening Him to his creation and this is false because of the following
"Agreement in the name does not necessarily mean agreement
of the reality behind them".
So Allaah’s life is different from our life. His is
perfect, ours is not. So there is a big difference. The same can be said about
all those Names or attributes that seem to be common between the creation and
Allaah. Ibn Taymiyyah in ‘at-Tadmuriyyah’ gives a list of all those
attributes/names that He has named Himself with and also with which He has named
the creation. By this Ibn Taymiyyah says that this is proof that although the
names are the same, the realities are different. Some of the names that Allaah
mentions about the creation in the Qur’aan and which are common between
the creation and Allaah are:
knowing [aleem] 37:101 - so the knowledge of the creation
is not like that of Allaah
hearing, seeing [samee, baseer] 76:2 - the hearing and
sight of the creation is not like that of Allaah
kind, merciful [ra’oof, raheem] 7:128 - the kindness
and mercy of the creation is not like that of Allaah
proud, arrogant [mutakabbir, jabbaar] 40:35 - so the pride
and arrogance of the creation is not like that of Allaah’s
and there are many others…so the point here is that:
"resemblance in name, does not mean resemblance in reality and
THE SECOND PRINCIPLE: The Names of Allaah are both
Names/Identities and also Descriptions.
What this actually means is that when we have a Name of Allaah.
It actually consists of:
1. A Name, or something which acts as an identifier. Just
like a person may have a name such as Zaid, or Khaalid or whatever. So we
know that this person is known by this name. And if we were to say
‘Zaid’ everyone would know who we are referring to.
2. The quality or characteristic it indicates or gives
To illustrate, if we take the name ‘Al-Aleem’
(All-Knowing), we know from this that Allaah has the title or name of
‘al-Aleem’ firstly, and secondly that He must therefore have the
quality or characteristic of ‘knowledge’.
Another example: ‘al-Baseer’, (All-Seeing)we know
from this that Allaah has the title or name of ‘al-Baseer’ firstly
and that He must therefore have the quality of ‘sight’.
And the same goes for all of the Names of Allaah. They are
names firstly, AND they indicate certain qualities or charactersitics.
This shows that all the names of Allaah are similar in the
sense that they refer back to Allaah, but they are different in the sense that
they each carry a different meaning. To explain what this last sentence means.
If I said: ‘al-Aleem’, ‘al-Azeez’, al-Qawiyy’ (The
All-knowing, The Mighty, the Strong), then all of them refer back to Allaah, so
they all refer to one thing. The essence of Allaah. However they all carry
different meanings. So the meaning of ‘al-Aleem’ is not the same as
that of ‘al-Azeez’ and so on for all of the other names.
To show this further, we know that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had
different names. Messenger of Allaah, Abul-Qaasim, Muhammad, Ameen (trustworthy)
etc.. So if I said to you, ‘Abul-Qaasim’, you know I am referring to
Muhammad. If I said to you ‘Messenger of Allaah’, you know I am
referring to Muhammad, if I said to you ‘Ameen’ you know I am
referring back to Muhammad. So in this sense the different names and titles all
refer back to the same person. However, they all carry different meanings
because they give evidence to different qualities or attributes.
So Allaah is called al-Aleem (All-Knowing) and He has the
characteristic of knowledge
Allaah is called al-Hakeem (All-Wise) and He has the
characteristic of wisdom.
Allaah is called al-Ghafoor (All-Forgiving) and He has the
characteristic of forgiving.
Allaah is as-Samee (All-Seeing)and He has the characteristic of
And the same for all of the Names of Allaah. They are 1)Names
firstly and 2) they give evidence to the attributes or qualities behind
NOTE: For the creation, they might be given a name but they
might not necessarily have the quality that it indicates. For example someone
might be called ‘Saadiq’ (truthful), yet he could be a liar, or
someone might be called ‘Ameen’ (trustworthy) yet he might not be
trustworthy, or someone could be called ‘Raheem’ (merciful) yet he
could be really harsh and mean. So for humans, they can be called by a name, but
they do not necessarily have the quality which the name indicates.
As for Allaah, then He is called by His Names because He has
the qualities that they indicate in a most perfect and complete way, with no
deficiency whatsoever. So Allaah’s actions arise from His Perfect Names
and Attributes. He forgives because is the All-Forgiving and He has the quality
of forgiveness. With the creation however, we give them names based upon their
actions. What this means that we can only call someone ‘truthful’ if
he really is truthful. We can only call someone ‘generous’ if his
actions prove that he is generous. So people receive these titles and
descriptions when they prove in their actions that they have these qualities. So
the perfection of people lies in their actions. However, for Allaah, His actions
come from His Perfection, from His Names. In other words it is the other way
NOTE: The people of Bid’ah argue that because we
affirm lots of attributes of Allaah we have claimed that there are lots of gods.
This argument is so ridiculous it is not even worth discussing.
THE THIRD PRINCIPLE: The Names of Allaah can be Transitive or
Before we go any further, let us understand what is
‘transitive’ and ‘non-transitive’. This is not difficult
to understand, in fact it is very easy. We know that a language consists mainly
of verbs and nouns. Nouns are objects, like a table, cat, planet, car, a person.
Etc… In school you were probably told that a noun ‘is a place,
person, or thing’. As for verbs, then they are ‘doing words’
as you were probably told in school. In other words, verbs represent actions. It
is verbs that we will discuss in a bit more detail.
Verbs are of two types.
1. Verbs which require another object to complete the
meaning, or to give a meaningful sentence. For example, the verb ‘to
meet’. If I want to use this word I must also mention that thing or
object which my action relates to. If I said ‘I met’ and then
stopped my sentence there, it does not make sense and it does not give a
meaningful sentence. I must add something to the end to complete the
meaning. For example: ‘I met the Sultan of Brunei’, or ‘I
met the local postman’.
2. Verbs which give a complete meaning in themselves. For
example ‘to sleep’. If I said ‘I slept’.
That’s all I need to say, because to sleep I don’t need another
object or thing to do this action.
Can you see the difference? Lets give plenty of examples to
to make - If I said ‘I made’ would that be a
complete sentence? No. Because the verb requires another object to complete
its meaning. ‘I made apple crumble.’ So in other words, my act
of making relates to something else.
to hate - If I said ‘I hate’ would that be
complete, meaningful sentence? No. Because the verb requires another object
to complete its meaning. ‘I hate that lowly and despised innovating
Jahmee, Nuh Ha Mim Keller’. So there must be something that I hate.
Again my act of hating, has to be related to something else.
to sleep - If I said ‘I slept’ would that be a
meaningful sentence? Yes, because this action does not require another
to blush - If I said ‘I blushed’, that is a
complete sentence, I don’t need another object to blush.
to reject - If I said ‘I rejected’ and stopped
there, that would not be a meaningful and complete sentence. I have to say
‘I rejected the offer’, or ‘I rejected the
invitation’ or something like that. In other words there must be
something, an object or thing that I reject.
I cried - If I said ‘I cried’ that is a
complete sentence, I don’t need another object to complete the
So by now you should be able to work out which verb is a
‘transitive’ one (i.e it relates to something, an object or thing,
and needs it to complete the meaning) and a ‘non-transitive’ one (it
does not need anything else and has a complete meaning in itself).
So how does this relate to Allaah’s Names? This is
because some of Allaah’s Names are from verbs which are transitive and
others which are non-transitive. So the third principle then is:
If a Name of Allaah is transitive then we affirm three
1. The Name itself
2. The attribute or quality it gives evidence
3. How this quality or attribute relates to the
creation and its ruling and what it necessitates
And if a Name of Allaah is non-transitive then we only affirm
1. The Name itself
2. The attribute or quality it gives evidence
To illustrate this, lets look at some ‘transitive’
and ‘non-transitive’ examples in the following table.
|1. To affirm the
|2. To affirm the
|3. Its ruling and
|Allaah’s knowledge covers
every single thing. Nothing is hidden from Him
|Allaah provides for and sustains
the whole of creation. He sends the rain, splits the seed and causes
the herbage to grow etc….and by all this, He feeds and
clothes the whole of creation.
|Allaah hears all of the creation,
nothing is hidden from His hearing.
|Allaah responds to His creation
when they call upon Him and when they are in distress and when they
submit their needs to Him.
|Allaah is the Creator of
everything, He created the universe and He continues to add to His
creation as He wills
|Allaah heals the creation and
removes their ills and diseases, whether they are physical, or
related to the soul and the heart….
|Allaah ‘fashions, forms,
|Allaah is the one who forms us in
our wombs and gives us our shape….
1. To affirm the
2. To affirm the
|Al-Ahad (The Unique)
|Allaah has ‘perfect
|Allaah has the quality of being
‘self-sufficient, independent of everythinig
|Allaah is the ‘first’
|Allaah is ‘clear of
imperfections and evil things’
So these are some examples. Notice how the
‘transitive’ ones mostly involve actions whereas the
‘non-transitive’ ones mostly describe states or qualities.
THE FOURTH PRINCIPLE: The Names of Allaah are
‘Tawqeefiyyah’ and there is no place for the intellect regarding
What this means is that the Names of Allaah are restricted to
proof from the Qur’aan and the Sunnah and no one from his own mind and
thinking can start to give names for Allaah. So when we say, such and such is a
name of Allaah, then it must be from the Qur’aan or the Sunnah. No one can
invent a name or think of a name.
This is like the acts of worship. They are restricted to a text
from the Book or the Sunnah. No one is allowed to come up with an act of worship
which the Qur’aan and the Sunnah have not covered.
"Do not pursue that of which you have no
"Say: My Lord has forbidden…. and that you say
about Allaah that of which you have no knowledge" [7:33]
THE FIFTH PRINCIPLE: There is no specific number for Allaah’s Names
The proof for this is the saying of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in the
"I ask you by every Name that you have named Yourself
with, or which You revealed in Your Book, or which you taught to anyone from
amongst Your creation, OR WHICH YOU KEPT TO YOURSELF IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE
UNSEEN" [Ahmad, Ibn Hibbaan and it is saheeh]
So whatever Allaah has kept to Himself of His Names, it is not
possible for anyone to count their exact number.
As for the hadeeth, "To Allaah belong 99 Names, whoever
enumerates them will enter Paradise", then this is not a proof that Allaah
only has 99 names. The hadeeth says that there are 99 specific Names of Allaah
which if enumerated, memorised acted upon etc.. will cause a person to enter
Paradise. It did not say; "The Names of Allaah are 99, whoever enumerates
them will enter Paradise."
To illustrate this, If I said: "I have 100 pounds which I
have kept aside for charity." This does not prevent the fact that I also
have other pounds which I did not keep aside for charity.
It is not established either from the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that he
listed the 99 names mentioned in the above hadeeth. In fact all the hadeeths
which have the above wording, but then go on to list the names are all
da’eef, as explained by Ibn Taymiyyah in Majmoo ul-Fataawaa (vol 6).
THE SIXTH PRINCIPLE: That we do not do Ilhaad (deviate) in the
matter of Allaah’s Names
"And to Allaah belong the most-beautiful of Names,
therefore call upon Him by them, and leave alone those who deviate in
Allaah’s Names. They will soon be recompensed for what they used to
Deviating can take place in a number of different ways:
1. To reject anything that the Names of Allaah indicate or
give evidence to, such as the Attributes or Qualities behind them, as the
Jahmees do, and the Ash’arees and other straying innovators.
2. To claim that the Names of Allaah give evidence to
attributes which are similar to the creation. (This is Tashbeeh that we
covered in Lesson 2)
3. To call Allaah by a name that He did not call Himself
such as ‘Father’ as the Christians do or ‘The First
Cause’ as the philosophers and the People of Kalaam do.
4. To derive other names from the Names of Allaah and then
to name idols with them. For example al-Uzzaa, one of the gods of the pagans
in the time of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was derived from Allaah’s Name,
al-Azeez. Likewise, al-Laat was taken from Allaah. However, these names are
unique for Allaah and no one else deserves them, just as He is unique in
deserving the worship of the whole of creation.
1. Why is the topic of Allaah’s Names important?
2. Quote the verse in the Qur;’an in which reference
is given to Allaah’s Names and give the reference.
3. Answer the following objections:
A. There are some names that are common between
Allaah and the creation and if we affirm them for Him aren’t
we likening Him to the creation/
B. If we affirm all these names for Allaah and the
qualities behind them aren’t we creating lots of different
3. Give some examples to illustrate how the Names of Allaah
consist of two things: the Name, and the quality or characterstic behind
4. What is the difference between Allaah being called by
something and the creation being called by something? (Hint, end of Second
5. Explain what is a transitive verb and a non-transitive
6. Give examples of Allaah’s Names which are
transitive and which are non-transitive.
7. What do we have to affirm for:
A. a Name that is transitive?
B. a Name that is non-transitive?
8. Quote two verses to prove that we cannot speak about
Allaah without knowledge, learn them and memorise their references.
9. Is there is a limit to Allaah’s names and do we
know the exact number? Answer this question with proof from the
Qur’aan or the Sunnah.
10. Give some examples of how a person can deviate in the issue of Allaah’s Names (there is some link here to Lesson 2, on the Attributes of Allaah).
14th December 1997