The Divine Names and Attributes

We have already stated above that the second way in which we may know Allah (s.w.t), is through the texts of the Qur’an and ahaadeeth which speak directly about Allah, describing His attributes, names and actions.

This is a safe way which will give guaranteed results, because finding out about Allah through His words and the words of His Messenger leaves no room for doubt or confusion.

We have endeavoured to quote the texts themselves in most cases, because this is the best way to make the matter clear, and is better than quoting what people say. I have also sought not to distort the texts by misinterpreting them, as many previous writers have done in an attempt to make the verses agree with their human opinions and analogies, People must change their opinions and analogies to fit the texts and not the other way round.

1)The Extent to Which the Human Mind can Comprehend the Attributes of Allah

The attributes of Allah which are mentioned in the Qur’an and spoken of in the Sunnah may be divided into two types:

a)            Those which the human mind can never know and comprehend by itself, i.e., contrary to the texts, such as proving a Hand and a face of Allah.

b)            Those which the human mind can deduce, such as His attributes of Power and Wisdom.

We will not be able to discuss all the attributes of Allah here, but we will mention some of them in order to explain what we mean and to give a clear picture. In sha Allah.

2) Summary of the Attributes Which are Mentioned in the Texts

i) Allah has an essence {dhaat)

Allah, the All-Glorified, has an essence characterized by perfection and is far above any faults or shortcomings. Anyone who reads what the Qur’an says about Allah will know for sure that He has a self:

“Allah! Laa ilaaha illa Huwa [none has the right to be worshipped but He], Al-Hayyul-Qayyoom [the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists].Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him…”(Qur’an 2:255)

“Say [O’ Muhammad]: ‘He is Allah, [the] One. Allah- us-Samad [Allah — the Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, (He neither eats nor drinks)]. He begets not, nor was He begotten. And there is none Co­equal or comparable unto Him.” (Qur’an 112: 1-4)

When the disbelievers wanted to kill Khubayb, he composed the following couplet:

“I do not care when I am killed as a Muslim.

It does not matter to me how I die.

That is for the sake (lit. essence) of Allah, the Divine,

And if He wills, may He bless my scattered body.”

The essence of Allah is not like the essence of created beings, just as His attributes are unlike the attributes of any created beings. Allah is the Perfection after Whom there is no perfection, whereas every created being must he imperfect in one way or another, the least of which is that they are all in need of another.

Allah (s.w.t) says, pointing out that there is no resemblance between Him and His creation     

“...There is nothing like Him; and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.”(Qur’an 42:11)

ii) His “Self”

Allah has a “Self” in a manner that befits His Perfection and Majesty, a “Self’ which is nothing like the selves of His creation. Allah has told us of this in His Book. He (s.w.t), says:

“When those who believe in Our Aayaat [proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.] come to you, say: “SalaamunAlaykum” [peace be on you]; your Lord has written [prescribed] Mercy for Himself, so that if any of you does evil in ignorance, and thereafter repents and does righteous good deeds [by obeying Allah], then surely. He is Oft-Forgiving. Most Merciful.”(Qur’an 6:54)

Allah (s.w.t), tells us that He has a Self, and that He has written or prescribed for Himself mercy. Allah states this in another aayah:

“Say [O’ Muhammad]: ‘To whom belongs all that Is in the heavens and the earth?’ Say: ‘To Allah. He has prescribed Mercy for Himself. Indeed He will gather you together on the Day of Resurrection, about which there is no doubt...”                (Qur’an 6: 12)

The Messenger (s.a.w) has explained something about this writing or prescription. According to the hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah (ra), the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“When Allah decreed His creation. He wrote a book which is with Him above the Throne: My Mercy precedes My wrath.” According to another report: “...prevails over My wrath.”

It is the way of all the Messengers to affirm that Allah has a Self, ‘Eesa (Jesus) Peace be upon him, said to the Lord of Might:

“…You know what is in my inner-self though I do not know what is in Yours; truly. You, only You, are the All- Knower of all that is hidden [and unseen].”(Qur’an 5: 116)

And Allah said to His Messenger Moosa (Moses) (a.s):

“…Then you came here according to the fixed term which I ordained [for you]. O’ Moosa [Moses]! And I have chosen you, for Myself.” (Qur’an 20: 40-41)

Allah has warned us against Himself, as He (s.w.t), says:

“…And Allah warns you against Himself [His punishment] and Allah is full of kindness to [His] slaves.”               (Qur’an 3: 30)

Allah reminds His slaves about the slaves who remember Him in their hearts. Bukhari and Muslim narrated in their saheehs from Abu Hurayrah (ra) that the Messenger (s.a.w) said:

“Allah says: I am as My slave thinks I am. I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me to himself,I remember him to Myself. If he remembers Me in an assembly, I remember him in an assembly better than it.”

Remembering Allah pleases the self of our Lord(s.w.t).According to a hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbaas from Juwayriyah (the wife of Prophet), the Prophet (s.a.w) left her apartment one morning after he had prayed subh {Fajr - Dawn), and she was in her prayer-place in her house. At mid-morning he came back, and she was still sitting there. He said, “Are you still as you were when I left you?” She said, “Yes.” The Prophet said:

“After I left you, I said only four words three times, but if they were weighed against what you have said since this morning, they would outweigh it. They are Subhaan Allahl wa bi hamdihi, ‘adada khalqihi wa ridaa nafsihi wazinata ‘arshihi wa midaada kalimaatihi (Glory and praise be to Allah, as many as His creation are, as much as pleases Him, as much as His Throne weighs and as many as His words are).”

iii) The Face of our Lord, the Exalted

Allah (s.w.t) has a Face which is unlike the faces of His creation. We affirm that and believe in it, because Allah has told us of that in His Book and His Messenger has stated that in his ahaadeeth. Allah (s.w.t), says:

“And the Face of your Lord full of Majesty and Honour will remain forever.”(Qur’an 55:27)

Ibn Jareer said in his Tafseer of this aayah: full of Majesty and Honour describes the Face, hence it appears in the nominative form {dhu, i.e. it is in grammatical agreement with the word wajh, meaning Face).

Some earlier writers denied that Allah has a Face, claiming that the phrase translated as “full of Majesty and Honor” refers to the word Lord. So in their view, the phrase translated as “full of Majesty and Honour” refers to the Lord, not to His Face.

This view was refuted by Ibn Khuzaymah, who said; This is the claim of one who is ignorant of the Arabic language, because Allah (s.w.t), says: “And the Face of your Lord full of Majesty and Honour will remain forever.” (Qur’an 55: 27)

The word wajh appears in the nominative form here (i.e. it is the subject), whilst the word Lord appears in a genitive (possessive) form in conjunction with the word wajh. If the phrase translated as “full of Majesty and Honour” referred to the word Lord here, it would appear as Dhi’l-Jalaaali wa’l-Ikraam (genitive) instead of Dhu’l-Jalaali wa’l-Ikraam (nominative).

Another of the texts which affirm that Allah has a Face is the aayah (verse):

“...Everything will perish save His Face…”(Qur’an 28: 88)


a)Seeking the Face Of Allah though righteous deeds

Once we know what Allah has said, we must seek the Face of our Lord through our (righteous) deeds, as Allah has told us in His Book. Any deed which is not done for the purpose of seeking His Face is false: “...Everything will perish save His Face…” (Qur’an 28: 88)

Among these deeds is spending money for the purpose of seeking His Face:

“...But that which you give in Zakah [Sadaqah - charity, etc.] seeking Allah’s Countenance [Face], then those they shall have manifold increase.” (Qur’an 30:39)

He (s.wt), has described His believing slaves as seeking His Face through their deeds, and nothing but His Face:

“[Saying]: ‘We feed you seeking Allah’s Countenance only. We wish for no reward, nor thanks from you.”(Qur’an 76: 9)

“And who has [in mind] no favour from anyone to be paid back, Except to seek the Countenance [Face] of his Lord,the Most High.”(Qur’an 92:19-20)

“And keep yourself [O’ Muhammad] patiently with those who call on their Lord [i.e. your companions who remember their Lord with glorification, praising in prayers, and other righteous deeds] morning and afternoon, seeking His Face;..” (Qur’an 18: 28)

In As-Saheehayn (Bukhari and Musiim) it is reported from ‘Utbaan ibn Maaiik that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

                 “Allah has forbidden to the fire those who say Laa ilaaha illa-Allah,

                                       seeking thereby the Face of Allah.”

b) Seeking refuge by the Face of AJlah, the Exalted

This is what the Messenger (s.a.w) did. Jaabir ibn ‘Abdullah narmted that when this aayah (verse) was revealed —

“Say: ‘He has power to send torment on you from above...”(Qur’an 6:65)

— the Prophet (s.a.w) said: “I seek refuge by Your Face.” Allah (s.w.t) said:

“…or from under your feet,…”                (Qur’an                6:65).

The Prophet (s.a.w)said:”I seek refuge by your face.” Allah (s.w.t) said:

“…Or to cover you with confusion in party strife, and make you to taste the violence of one another...”(Qur’an 6: 65).

The Prophet (s.a.w) said: “That is easier.”

It is reported from ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (ra) that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) used to say, when he lay down:

Allahumma inni a'oodhu bi wajhik al-kareem, wa bi kalimaatik at-taammaat min sharri kulli daabbah anta aakhidh bi naasitayatihaa (O’ Allah! I seek refuge by Your Noble Face and by Your perfect Words, from the evil of every beast whose forelock You have hold of).”

— This is narrated by Abu Dawood.

c)Responding to the one who asks of you for the sake (lit. by the Face) of Allah

It is reported that Ibn ‘Abbaas (ra) stated: the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“Whoever seeks refuge with Allah, protect him, and whoever asks of you for the sake (lit. by the Face) of Allah, give to him.”

d)Hoping to see the Face of Allah

It is reported from ‘Ammaar ibn Yaasir that the Messenger (s.a.w) used to say in his supplication (du'aa’):

Allahummabi ‘ilmikal-ghaybiwaqudratika ‘ala’l-khalq, ahyinima ‘alimta al-hayaata khayran li wa tawaffani idha ‘alimta al-wafaat khayran li. Allahumma wa as’aluka khashiyataka fi’l-ghaybi wa’sh- shahaadah, wa as’aluka kalimat al-haqq wa’l-‘adla fi’l-ghadab wa’r-ridaa, wa as’aluka al-qasad fl’l-faqari wa’l-ghinaa. Wa as’aluka na'eeman laa yabeed, wa as’aluka qurrat ‘aynin laa tanqati wa as ’aluka ar-ridaa ba ‘da al-qadaa wa as ’aluka burd al- ‘eeish ba‘da al-mawt, wa as’aluka ladhdhatan-nazr ila wajhika, wa as’aluka ash-shawqa ila liqaa’ikajighayru daaraa’a mudirrah, wa laa Jitnata mudillah. Allahumma zayyinnaa bi zeenat il-eemaan wa’j ‘alna hudaata muhtadeen (O’ Allah! By Your knowledge of the Unseen and Your Power over Your creation, keep me alive so long as you know that living is good for me, and cause me to die when You know that death is good for me. I ask You to make me fear You in secret and in public. I ask You to make me speak the truth and be fair when angry and when content. I ask You to make me to be economical in poverty and in richness. I ask You for a life of ease that never ends. I ask You for joy that never ceases. I ask You for contentment after You have issued Your decree. I ask You for tranquility after death. I ask You for the joy of looking upon Your Face. I ask You to make me long to meet You without undergoing painful sickness or misguiding fitnah. O’ Allah! adorn us with the beauty of faith and make us guides to others who are also guided.)”

The Prophet (s.a.w) explained the “even more” mentioned in the aayah:

“For those who have done good is the best reward and even more [i.e. having the honour of glancing at the Countenance of Allah].”           (Qur’an 10: 26)

— as meaning looking at the face of our Lord (s.w.t). Similar statement is also narrated from Abu Bakr and Hudhayfah. Then he (the narrator) said: The reports to this effect from the Sahaabah and Taabi'een (may Allah be pleased with them) are many.

Muslim narrated from Suhayb that the Prophet (s.a.w) said:

“When the people of Paradise enter Paradise, Allah will say, ‘Do you want anything more from Me?’ They will say, ‘Have You not made our faces white [honoured us]; have You not admitted us to Paradise; have You not saved us from the Fire?’ Then the veil will be lifted, and they will never be given anything more beloved to them than looking upon the face of their Lord, the Exalted.”

Then he recited the aayah: “For those who have done good is the best reward and even more [i.e. having the honour of glancing at the Countenance of Allah].” (Qur’an 10:26)

Bukhari and Muslim narrated that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“Two gardens of silver, their vessels and all that is in them, and two gardens of gold, their vessels and all that is in them. And all that will stand between the people and their seeing the Lord will be the veil of pride over His Face in the Paradise of ‘Aden.”

The veil of His Face

It is narrated that Abu Moosa reported: the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“Allah, the All-Powerful and All-High, does not sleep and it is not befitting that He should sleep. He lowers the scale and raises it. The deeds of the night are raised up to Him before the day, and the deeds of the day before the night. His veil is Light (according to the report of Abu Bakr: fire); if it were to be uncovered, the splendour of His Countenance would consume His creation as far as His Sight reaches.”

The narrator’s uncertainty as to whether the word was noor(light) or naar (fire) does not matter, because it is like the pure fire through which Allah addressed Moosa (Moses), which may be called noor or naar. Allah called the fire in a lamp light, unlike the dark fire such as the fire of Hell, which cannot be called light.

This veil prevents His slaves from comprehending Allah, just as the clouds and ceilings prevent them from seeing the sun and moon.When the clouds move, the sun and moon appear. This does not mean that they prevent Allah from seeing, for no Muslim would say this. Nothing whatsoever is hidden from Allah, in the heavens or on earth, but His Light conceal Him from His creation, as it says in the hadith: “if it were to be uncovered, the splendour of His Countenance would consume His creation as far as His Sight reaches.” His Sight reaches all of His creation, but the splendour is concealed by the veil of light or fire.


Last modified onSunday, 24 April 2016 07:04
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