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The Methodology of the Salaf in Aqidah
  General Principles Regarding Allaah's Names
Author: Abu Iyaad as-Salafi
Source: Based upon al-Qawaa'id ul-Muthlaa of Shaikh Ibn Uthaimeen
Article ID : AQD030007  [46203]  
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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 Beautiful/Excellent/Perfect

This means that the Names of Allaah reach the extreme of perfection. They are perfect and complete in every single aspect. As Allaah said:

"And to Allaah belong the most-beautiful/excellent of Names" [7:180]

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 most complete.

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 to Pharoah;

"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" [20;52]

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 knowledge.

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" [7:156]

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 principle:

"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 modality".

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