All praise is due to Allaah, the Lord of all the Worlds and Prayers and Peace upon His
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. Todays lesson is
taken and adapted from a book by Shaikh Ibn Uthaimeen
Qawaaid ul-Muthlaa Fee Sifaat iLlaah wa Asmaaihil-Husnaa -
(roughly, the Perfect Principles Regarding the Attributes of Allaah and His Beatiful
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
"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.
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. Allaahs 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 Allaahs 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.
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 Allaahs mercy encompasses everything i.e. it
covers everything, Allaahsmercy 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. Allaahs 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 Allaahs 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 Quraan 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 [raoof,
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
and there are many others
the point here is that: "resemblance in name, does not mean resemblance in
reality and modality".
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 evidence to.
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.
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
And the same goes for all of the
Names of Allaah. They are names firstly, AND they indicate certain qualities or
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
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 hearing.
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
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 Allaahs 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 around.
NOTE: The people of Bidah 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 Non-Transitive.
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
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.
Thats all I need to say, because to sleep I dont need another object or thing
to do this action.
Can you see the difference? Lets
give plenty of examples to illustrate this.
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
to blush - If I said I
blushed, that is a complete sentence, I dont 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
I cried - If I said I
cried that is a complete sentence, I dont 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
Allaahs Names? This is because some of Allaahs 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 things:
1. The Name itself
2. The attribute or quality it gives
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 two things:
1. The Name itself
2. The attribute or quality it gives
To illustrate this, lets look at
some transitive and non-transitive examples in the following
1. To affirm
2. To affirm
3. Its ruling
Allaah has knowledge
Allaahs knowledge covers every single
thing. Nothing is hidden from Him etc
Ar-Razzaaq (The Provider)
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.
Al-Khaaliq (The Creator)
Allaah is the Creator of everything, He
created the universe and He continues to add to His creation as He
Allaah heals the creation and removes their
ills and diseases, whether they are physical, or related to the soul
and the heart
Al-Musawwir (The Fashioner)
Allaah fashions, forms,
Allaah is the one who forms us in our wombs
and gives us our shape
1. To affirm
2. To affirm
Allaah is unique
Allaah has perfect life
As-Samad (The Self-Sufficient)
Allaah has the quality of being
self-sufficient, independent of everythinig else
Al-Awwal (The First)
Allaah is the first before
Allaah is clear of imperfections and
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 Quraan 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 Quraan 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 Quraan and the Sunnah have not covered.
"Do not pursue that of which
you have no knowledge
"Say: My Lord has forbidden
. and that you
say about Allaah that of which you have no knowledge" [7:33]
THE FIFTH PRINCPLE: There is no specific number for Allaahs Names
The proof for this is the saying of
the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in the well-known dua:
"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
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
daeef, 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 Allaahs Names
"And to Allaah belong the
most-beautiful of Names, therefore call upon Him by them, and leave alone those who
deviate in Allaahs 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 Asharees 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 Allaahs 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 Allaahs
2. Quote the verse in the
Qur;an in which reference is given to Allaahs 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 arent we
likening Him to the creation/
B. If we affirm all these names for
Allaah and the qualities behind them arent we creating lots of different gods?
3. Give some examples to illustrate
how the Names of Allaah consist of two things: the Name, and the quality or characterstic
4. What is the difference between
Allaah being called by something and the creation being called by something? (Hint, end of
5. Explain what is a transitive verb
and a non-transitive verb.
6. Give examples of Allaahs
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
Allaahs names and do we know the exact number? Answer this question with proof from
the Quraan or the Sunnah.
10. Give some examples of how a
person can deviate in the issue of Allaahs Names (there is some link here to Lesson
2, on the Attributes of Allaah).
14th December 1997