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الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ (The Beautiful Names of Allah) - Introduction & Index

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم 

 

The information on al-Asmaa-ul-Husnaa has been taken from notes made on a course by Ustadhah A. Ahmed  (Zaynab Academy Online) in Ramadhaan of 2017 and 2018

 

Books used:

“The Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God” by Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali رحمه الله - Translated by David B. Burrell and Nazih Daher PDF

“Sharah Asmaul Husna” by Muhammad Hanif Abdul Majid - Jamiatul Uloom-ul-Islamia Binori Town, Karachi (Urdu) Read Online

 

Introduction

The aspect of research and observation is dominant in the nature of human beings and it is this characteristic which motivates him to observe and discover new things.

The greatest Being, Allah جل جلاله Who created and nourished man by taking care of his nature and essential requirements and provided for him all types of blessings and resources, has a much greater right that His Ma’rifat (Gnosis/Knowledge/Recognition) is attained and inscribed on the heart.  

One way of attaining this Ma’rifat is the study of al-Asmaa-ul-Husnaa. The more a person attains Ma’rifat of Allah جل جلالهfrom the Qur’an and Ahadith of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, the stronger and deeper will be his trust in Allah جل جلاله

It is usually observed that when a person is facing some difficulty/anxiety in his worldly affairs, he becomes distressed and exhausts himself running from place to place and person to person. In this situation if someone says, “I know so-and-so person and if I talk to him, he will help you out” the person will feel relief and have hope.

If, instead of running from place to place and from person to person, this  person developed this familiarisation with Allahجل جلاله, his attention will always be focused on Allah جل جلاله at the time of every difficulty and hardship. The servant will become shy to discuss his problems with others and will instead turn to and rely on Allah جل جلاله. He will realise that no matter who he approaches with his problems, that person will also have the means provided by Allah جل جلاله and therefore why then, should he himself not turn to Allahجل جلاله Who is the ultimate and true Nourisher and Provider?   

If this recognition of Allah جل جلاله is attained then Shirk will be eliminated from its base. To attain this Ma’rifat-e-Ilaahi everyone should call on the Almighty with His blessed names. Allahجل جلاله Himself says,

 

 وَلِلَّهِ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ فَادْعُوهُ بِهَا

Allah has the Most Beautiful Names. So call upon Him by them [Surah A’araaf: 180]

 

Index

 Objectives of studying the Asmaa-ul-Husnaa

 Can we know Allah ta'ala?

1 & 2 - الرَّحْمَنُ الرَّحِيمُ - The Lovingly Beneficent & The Most Merciful/ Most Compassionate

3 - الْمَلِكُ - The Absolute Ruler/The True King

4 - الْقُدُّوسُ - The Holiest/The Most Pure

5 - السَّلامُ - The Source of Peace

6 - الْمُؤْمِنُ - The Remover of Fear And The Giver of Tranquility

7 - الْمُهَيْمِنُ - The Protector and The Bestower of Security

8 - الْعَزِيزُ - The Mighty and The Eminent

9 - الْجَبَّارُ - The Restorer and The Repairer / The Compeller

10 -  الْمُتَكَبِّرُ - The Imperious/The Supremely Great

11 & 12 - الْبَارِئُ الْخَالِقُ - The Creator & The Evolver 

 

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Objectives of studying Asma-ul-Husna

"To draw closer to Allah ta’ala through knowing His beautiful names."

When you love someone, you want to know them and Allah ta’ala has given us these 99 names and He wants us to know Him through them to whatever extent we can with our limited understanding.

 

"To try to adorn ourselves with the traits of Allah ta’ala even though the attributes and traits of Allah ta’ala are very high and obviously our level is going to be extremely low."

For a lot of the Asmaa -ul-Husnaa, one is to understand them at an academic level and then to understand them at a spiritual level to connect to Allah ta’ala. A third way is to understand them on an emotional level which is,  “How can I use the names of Allah ta’ala to get myself therapy i.e. to control/manage and eliminate my negative emotions and deal with the different situations of my life."

 

Counsel

At the end of every name, counsel/advise is given. We should make it our objective to adorn ourselves with the Akhlaaq/traits of Allah ta’ala. This means that the traits of Allah ta’ala are perfect and belong only to Him but we can try to learn and benefit from them and emulate the ones we can share in, on a personal level.  

Study of the Asmaa -ul-Husnaa are not just for intellectual understanding but to enact on the knowledge we gain and harmonize our internal and external dimensions.      

 

 

 

Verses in the Qur’an regarding Calling Allah ta’ala by His Beautiful Names

 

وَلِلَّهِ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ فَادْعُوهُ بِهَا

Allah has the most excellent names (over ninety-nine attributes); call on Him by them. [Suratul A’araaf:180]

 

 

قُلِ ادْعُوا اللَّهَ أَوِ ادْعُوا الرَّحْمَٰنَ ۖ أَيًّا مَا تَدْعُوا فَلَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ

O Prophet, say to them: “Whether you call Him Allah or call Him Rahmaan; it is all the same by whichever name you call Him because for Him are all the Finest names.” [Suratul Israa:110]

 

The Hadith Regarding Memorising the Names of Allah ta’ala

 

The Hadith regarding the 99 names of Allah ta’ala has different variations.

لِلَّهِ تِسْعَةٌ وَتِسْعُونَ اسْمًا مَنْ حَفِظَهَا دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ 

 

Abu Huraira RA reported: The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam said,

“Allah has ninety-nine names and whoever preserves them will enter Paradise.” [Muslim]

 

Another variation has the word أَحْصَاهَا which means to count or include.

 

إِنَّ لِلَّهِ تِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ اسْمًا مِائَةً إِلاّ وَاحِدًا مَنْ أَحْصَاهَا دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ

 

What does it mean to حَفِظَهَا“Memorise” or  أَحْصَاهَا“Innumerate”?

Scholars have written that “Memorizing” or “Innumerating” the names of Allah ta’ala means:

  • To use the names in Du’a

 

As mentioned in the verses of the Qur’an: "And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them” [al-A‘raaf 7:180].

So one may say for example, “O Most Gracious, have mercy on me; O Oft-Forgiving, forgive me; O Accepter of repentance, accept my repentance” and so on. 

 

  • To fulfill the rights of the names

 

  • To implement them in ones’ life

It is not just to know the meaning but to know it at a deeper level. Example: We know Ar-Razzaaq means “The Provider” but to know that He gives Rizq to everyone with some more than others.

If a person knows that He is One, he will not associate anything else with Him; if he knows that He is the Provider, he will not seek provision from anyone else; if he knows that He is the Most Merciful, he will do acts of obedience that are a means of attaining this mercy… And so on

 

  • To have intimate knowledge/awareness regarding the names

 

He is Al-Khaaliq (The Creator). What does it mean to be Al-Khaaliq? There are other names with similar meanings i.e.

Al-Musawwir (The Fasioner/Bestower of forms) What is the difference? Some names have a similar meaning however they have subtle differences between them and one should know these subtle differences.

 

  • To act upon them and imbibe them in one’s life

There are certain names which human beings can act upon i.e. Al-Kareem (The Generous), Ar-Raheem (The Merciful)

Some you cannot act upon i.e. showing anger, taking revenge, being proud, etc. which is not permitted for human beings. Example:  “Al-Mutakabbir” (The Majestic) Human beings cannot be proud or claim greatness. This is the sole right of Allah ta’ala. Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Allah the Almighty said: Pride is my cloak and greatness is my garment, so whoever competes with me regarding these two will be thrown into the Hellfire.” [Abu Dawood]

 

Imam An-Nawawi (رحمه الله) said,

“To preserve them is said to mean to enumerate and count them in one’s supplication by them. It is said it means to persevere in them, to respect them in the best manner, to guard what they require, and to affirm their meanings. And it is said the meaning is to act by them and to obey Allah according to the implications of every name.” Source: Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2677

 

Are the Names of Allah ta’ala limited to 99?

Scholars say you cannot limit that Being Who is unlimited. Therefore Allah ta’ala’s attributes are unlimited though the Hadith mentions 99.

Imam Al-Nawawi (رحمه الله) stated in Sharh Saheeh Muslim,

“The scholars are unanimously agreed that this hadeeth does not mean that Allah has only ninety-nine names, or that He does not have any other names apart from these ninety-nine. Rather what the hadeeth means is that whoever learns these ninety-nine will enter Paradise. The point is that one may enter Paradise by learning them, not that the number is limited to these names.”  

 

The Names mentioned in Hadith

إِنَّ لِلَّهِ تَعَالَى تِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ اسْمًا، مِئَةً غَيْرَ وَاحِدَةٍ، مَنْ أَحْصَاهَا دَخَلَ الجَنَّةَ، هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لا إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الرَّحْمَنُ، الرَّحِيمُ، الْمَلِكُ، الْقُدُّوسُ، السَّلامُ، الْمُؤْمِنُ، الْمُهَيْمِنُ، الْعَزِيزُ، الْجَبَّارُ، الْمُتَكَبِّرُ، الْخَالِقُ، الْبَارِئُ، الْمُصَوِّرُ، الْغَفَّارُ، الْقَهَّارُ، الْوَهَّابُ، الرَّزَّاقُ، الْفَتَّاحُ، الْعَلِيمُ، الْقَابِضُ، الْبَاسِطُ، الْخَافِضُ، الرَّافِعُ، الْمُعِزُّ، الْمُذِلُّ، السَّمِيعُ، الْبَصِيرُ، الْحَكَمُ، الْعَدْلُ، اللَّطِيفُ، الْخَبِيرُ، الْحَلِيمُ، الْعَظِيمُ، الْغَفُورُ، الشَّكُورُ، الْعَلِيُّ، الْكَبِيرُ، الْحَفِيظُ، الْمُقِيتُ، الْحَسِيبُ، الْجَلِيلُ، الْكَرِيمُ، الرَّقِيبُ، الْمُجِيبُ، الْوَاسِعُ، الْحَكِيمُ، الْوَدُودُ، الْمَجِيدُ، الْبَاعِثُ، الشَّهِيدُ، الْحَقُّ، الْوَكِيلُ، الْقَوِيُّ، الْمَتِينُ، الْوَلِيُّ، الْحَمِيدُ، الْمُحْصِي، الْمُبْدِئُ، الْمُعِيدُ، الْمُحْيِي، الْمُمِيتُ، الْحَيُّ، الْقَيُّومُ، الْوَاجِدُ، الْمَاجِدُ، الْوَاحِدُ، الصَّمَدُ، الْقَادِرُ، الْمُقْتَدِرُ، الْمُقَدِّمُ، الْمُؤَخِّرُ، الأَوَّلُ، الآخِرُ، الظَّاهِرُ، الْبَاطِنُ، الْوَالِي، الْمُتَعَالِي، الْبَرُّ، التَّوَّابُ، الْمُنْتَقِمُ، الْعَفُوُّ، الرَّءُوفُ، مَالِكُ الْمُلْكِ، ذُو الْجَلالِ وَالإِكْرَامِ، الْمُقْسِطُ، الْجَامِعُ، الْغَنِيُّ، الْمُغْنِي، الْمَانِعُ، الضَّارُّ، النَّافِعُ، النُّورُ، الْهَادِي، الْبَدِيعُ، الْبَاقِي، الْوَارِثُ، الرَّشِيدُ، الصَّبُورُ

 

There are variations of the names mentioned in Hadith. Some Scholars say 1,000 names of Allah ta’ala have been given to human beings, 300 in the Tawrah, 300 in the Injeel, 300 in the Zaboor and 100 in the Qur’an.

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Can we know Allah Ta'ala?

Allah ta’ala says in the Qur’an:

 

لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ ۖ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ 

“There is no one like Him. He Alone hears all and sees all” [Surah Shu’araa:11] meaning there is nothing similar or comparable to Him.

 

There have been theological discussions among Scholars and there are different opinions with some saying, how can we know something that is unlike anything? Therefore they are saying it is not possible to know Allah ta’ala. Junaid Baghdaadi (رحمه الله) says, “Only God knows God.”

 

However we have the well-known concept of “Ma’rifah” (Comes from عرف i.e. deep awareness/knowledge).  Ma’rifat is to recognise the greatness of Allah ta’ala and part of the recognition is recognising one’s own dependency upon Him i.e. how low, humble and dependant we are. There is famous saying of Scholars;

من عرف نفسه فقد عرف ربه -Whosoever knows himself, knows his Lord.

 

Imam Ghazali (رحمه الله) has especially gone to its depth and explains with many examples.

He says if one person says, “I know Allah” and another says “I do not know Allah”, they are both correct as there are different ways of “knowing”. Some knowledge is general and some, specific. For example a person says he knows a writer i.e. in terms of his writings, then that is correct and if a person says he does not know the writer i.e. in terms of who he is, his character etc. then that is also correct.

 

Therefore generally we know Allah ta’ala is there i.e. we know of His existence however we do not have the real, deep, intimate knowledge of Allah ta’ala.

 

Another example he gives is a glass with some liquid in it. If someone asks what it is and the answer given is, “sweet” or “bitter”, it is not really giving an answer as to what the substance is. It is describing the attributes of the substance so in a way it is an answer but not the real answer and that is our knowledge of the Sifaat of Allah ta’ala. We know He is Raheem (Merciful), Ghaffaar (Most Forgiving) etc. but Who is He? We do not have that deep, intimate knowledge of Him.

 

Imam Ghazali (رحمه الله) says the knowledge is there however it is very limited and very inadequate. When we study the names of Allah ta’ala, it opens up different perspectives as there are different ways Allah ta’ala manifests His attributes and we can understand Allah ta’ala through the way He manifests Himself through His attributes.

 

Imam Ghazali (رحمه الله) goes on to give the example of a blind man and colours. His sense of sight will not be able to comprehend the colours. It is like a person who describes the taste of a fruit in different ways however the other person can never fully know what the taste is like. We have five senses however they are very limited and it is like being blind as we cannot really know and understand Allah ta’ala. The only time we will truly realise that sense of knowing Allah ta’ala fully, is in the Aakhirah. Whatever we sense and feel in this world is going to be limited compared to the Aakhirah.

 

We imagine and compare His attributes to those of the world i.e. we imagine His mercy to that of someone of this world. He is Living but not like living things we know. He is Powerful but it is not like those who are powerful in this world etc. Knowing Allah ta’ala has ranks or levels. One is to know Allah ta’ala in general terms i.e. he is Powerful, and a higher level is to see the subtle workings of Allah ta’ala in the world and really know His power even though this knowledge is inadequate. It is similar to knowing your teacher as a teacher however we cannot know her as her own mother would know her. So knowledge of Allah ta’ala has different levels and though they are all inadequate, some levels are more inadequate than others.

 

Therefore even if some Scholars say it is not possible at all to know Allah ta’ala, and we may not understand the in depth philosophical debates of the Scholars and the knowledge we acquire may be limited and inadequate, we should still try to know Allah ta’ala. That is why Allah ta’ala mentions His names and attributes in the Qur’an.

 

The Ultimate Knowledge of Allah ta’ala

The ultimate knowledge according to the Sahaba RA and the Scholars is to realise that one does not really know Him. Abu Bakr Siddique RA said, “To realise I cannot attain Ma’rifat (I cannot know God) is in itself Ma’rifat.”Therefore to realise one can never really know Him, is to know Him. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam said in Du’a: 

 

اللهم إني أعوذ برضاك من سخطك، وبمعافاتك من عقوبتك، وأعوذ بك منك،

لا أحصي ثناء عليك أنت كما أثنيت على نفسك‏

"O Allah! I seek protection against Your Wrath in Your Pleasure. I seek protection in Your Pardon against Your chastisement, I am not capable of enumerating praise of You. You are as You have praised Yourself." 

 

Therefore by studying the names of Allah ta'ala, we will increase our awareness of how little we know.

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