“The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on Him by them, but shun those who deviate regarding His names for they will be punished for what they do” (Al.Araaf 7: 180)
A Hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta) states: “Allah has ninety-nine names, i.e., one hundred minus one, and whoever believes in their meanings and acts accordingly, will enter Paradise. And Allah is Witr (one) and He loves Witr (odd numbers).” (Bukhari)
Principles followed regarding the Names of Allah (swt)
Al-Qurtubi’s opinion about the Names of Allah (swt)
This famous Islamic scholar has divided the names into four categories on the basis of their inferences:
- Those which refer to Allah’s (swt) essence e.g. Ar-Rahman, Al-Jalalah.
- Those which refer to Allah’s (swt) characteristics inseparable from His essence e.g. As-Sami, Al-Aleem.
- Those which refer to an act attributed to Him e.g. Al-Khaliq, Ar-Razzaq.
- Those which refer to the negation of something from Him e.g. Al-Quddoos, Al-Ala.
Calling on Allah (swt) is an Ibadah (worship). This should be done according to the Sunnah e.g. Allah (swt) has a name called As-Salam (The one free from defects). After the prayers, Prophet Muhammad (sa) would say:
“Oh Allah you are As-Salam and from you is all peace, blessed are You, Oh Possessor of Majesty and Honour.” (Muslim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim’s opinion about the Names of Allah (swt)
“The reasons which cause Mahabbah (love) of Allah (swt) to develop, are ten out of which the fifth one is: ‘Contemplating and deliberating over the Names and Attributes of Allah’.”
As for the last part of the ayah: “But shun those who deviate regarding His names for they will be punished for what they did,” scholars have many explanations. In general it means one should act according to the names, understand their meaning and believe in them.
Ibn Battal’s opinion about the Names of Allah (swt)
- Those suitable for following should be adapted.
- Those restricted to Allah (swt) should be avoided and confirmed humbly to Allah (swt) alone.
- Those containing promise should produce hope.
- Those containing warning should produce fear.
His Foremost Name ‘Allah (swt)’
Allah (swt) is Al-Ism Al-Azam: It is The Greatest Name, which contains the divine and beautiful attributes, and is the sign of the essence and the cause of all existence. Allah (swt) does not resemble, in any way, any of His creation. Allah (swt) is only Allah’s (swt) name. Nothing else can in any way assume this name nor share it
“Do you know anyone who is His namesake?” (Maryam 19:65)
Allah and His Attributes: In several ayahs where Allah (swt) has mentioned His attributes, He has started of by calling Himself Allah (swt) and then went on to mention His attributes. e.g Ayat Al-Kursi (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:255) or in (Hashr 22:23). He begins with “He is Allah…” and then goes on to mention His attributes.
Allah (swt) is the most appropriate term: No other term can be more suitable than ‘Allah (swt)’ to describe The Creator and the Sustainer. The title Allah (swt) is complete, and any other name will be a poor substitute. It is the ideal name for God. All other titles, including Rabb, are attributes or names of God.
Each object in the universe manifests some power of Allah (swt): His Joy or His Anger, His Love or His Magnificence flow through these objects. That is why, when we look at this world we see beauty, grandeur, sublimity, strength, the power of joy or destruction manifested in it. Accordingly, we are attracted or repelled by things and happenings.
Allah (swt) wants to be worshipped: Allah (swt) does not desire anything from His creation except that He is worshipped. But Allah (swt) cannot be worshipped unless one learns to know Him, and He cannot be known except if He is remembered. Allah (swt) Himself has made this road easy.
“Verily, I am Allah! La Ilaha Illa Ana (none has the right to be worshipped but I), so worship Me, and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-As-Salat) for My Remembrance.” (Ta-Ha 20: 14)