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Oneness of Allah in His Names and Attributes part 1
written by Omm Rafiq

We believe in all of the attributes which were revealed in the Quran and Sunnah Sahihah and we do not freely interpret them nor do we liken them to attributes of any one of Allah creatures.

This means certain belief in the Names and Attributes which were revealed in the Quran and Sunnah. It is firm conviction that Allah t'ala is described with complete or perfect attributes and a negation of all incomplete or imperfect attributes, and that these perfect attributes are for Him Alone and this is established by what He has described for Himself or as His Messenger has described of Him of His Names and His Attributes as revealed in the Quran or in the Sunnah without corruption of their pronunciation or meaning, without free interpretation that would negate them or negate some of them or add to their meaning and without seeking to establish HOW these Names and Attributes can be by limiting their true nature or by assigning a figurative meaning -- that is we CANNOT say that the Hand of Allah doesn't really mean that He has a hand and that it is a reference to His Generosity or a reference to His Care or Control over things . We CANNOT state that Allah doesn't really have a face, and that it just means that an act was done for the pleasure of Allah. If Allah and His Messenger in Quran or Hadith say that He has a Hand or a Face, then we must accept that Allah, the Most High indeed has Hands or a Face, but we don't know how His Hand is or how His Face appears -- and lastly, without likening any of His Names or Attributes to the names and attributes of any of His creations (e.g. the Bible says that God Created the heavens and the earth in 6 days and on the seventh day He rested. This is what is called "tash-bih" or to ascribe an attribute or quality of one of His creations to Him. Man and animals need to rest, to sleep, to eat; without these things they would perish. Allah does not need to rest, sleep, eat, drink, etc. In His creations, these qualities are considered necessary and normal but they are limitations. When applied to Allah, these same qualities are defects, flaws, shortcomings and we can NEVER ascribe to Him such descriptions. Allah says in Ayatul Kursi that "no slumber can seize Him nor sleep" He has no need for sleep -- To need sleep, or rest or food or drink are flaws, because without them a human or an animal would become very ill or even cease to exist altogether. Allah is the Almighty, the All-Powerful -- so why should he need to rest after creating the heavens and earth? This is a very serious error. Allah has the most complete and perfect Names and Attributes. He must not and cannot be described with imperfect, incomplete descriptions or names. He does not resemble anything whether it be from amongst His creations or not, nor does anything resemble Him from amongst His creations.

Some ayats that reflect upon the names and attributes of Allah are:

1. Ashura:11
"There is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the Hearer and Seer of all."

Qurtoby, in his tafseer (explanation) of this ayat says that whoever believes in this, believes that Allah's Name is exalted in His Greatness and His Grandeur and His Dominion and believes in the Goodness of His Names and in His Attributes, and that none of His creations are to be likened to Him and He is not to be likened to them.

2. Ikhlas: 4
"And there is none like unto Him"

3. An-Nahl:74
"Do not invent similitudes for Allah; for Allah knows and you do not know."

Allah's names are beautiful and He has encouraged us to use them. He says,

(in Al-Araaf:180 )
{And the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them,
and leave the company of those who belie or deny His Names. They will be
requited for what they used to do.}

and (in Al-Isra':110)
{Invoke Allah or invoke the Most Beneficent (Allah), by whatever name you
invoke Him (it is the same), for to Him belongs the Best Names. . .}

In many Sahih narrations the Prophet Muhammed has informed us about various attributes of Allah and His names. For instance, he said, referring to the Day of Resurrection, that "Hell would be continued to be filled and then it would say 'Are there any additions? then the Lord of Might (Al Izza) would put His foot in it (and another narration says His leg) some of them to the other (inhabitants of the Fire) and it will say " (foot). He also said: Our Lord comes down the earth's sky every night during the remaining last 1/3 of the night and He says, 'Who is praying to me, for I will answer him? Who asks of Me, for I will give him? Who asks Me for forgiveness, for I will forgive him? (agreed [this means in both Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim]) Ahadith that reflect upon the Names and Attributes of Allah are:

He the Prophet Muhammed also said of His Lord, Allah is extremely happy with the repentance of one of you ( and the hadith goes on --Muslim). And as he said to the slave girl: Where is Allah? She replied, "In the sky". He said, "Who am I?" She replied, "You are the Messenger of Allah. He said, free her as she is a believer. There are many other hadith that mention various names and attributes.

The Prophet Muhammed said: Whoever likens Allah to His creation disbelieves, and whoever denies what Allah has described Himself as being or what His Messenger has described Him as being. disbelieves. And there are no similitudes in what Allah has described Himself or in what His Messenger has described Him Allah, the Most high does not resemble anything whether it be from among His creation nor does anything resemble Him from amongst His creation. He has not ceased nor will He cease to be.

Allah's Names are described as being Excellent Names and he encourages us to call him by these names and to pray to him using these names.: He has said in Quran: Suratul Hashr: 22-24
{He is Allah, than Whom there is no other God ,
(and none has the right to be worshipped but He)
the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is
the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. He is Allah,
than Whom there is no other God, the King/ Possessor,
the Holy, the One Free from all Defects, the Giver of
security, the Watcher over His creatures, the All-Mighty,
the Compeller, the Supreme. Glory be to Allah (High
is He above all that they associate as partners with Him.
He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor of all things, the
Bestower of Forms. To Him belong the Best Names. All that
is in the heavens and earth glorify Him. And He is the
Al-Mighty, the All-Wise.

The Salaf As-Saleh of the Sahabah and the Tabieen and the Imams of the 4 Schools of Thought agree that the Attributes and Names of Allah in that they are not to be freely translated or negated or taken out of their apparent meaning; it is not reported that any of the Sahaba even translated nor negated any attribute of Allah's nor did they ever say that it's apparent meaning was not what was meant. In fact, they believed in their explicit meanings and took them at face value and they knew that Allah's Attributes were not like the attributes of His creations.

Imam Malik, may Allah have mercy on him, was asked about Allah's saying: "Ar Rahman, alal 'arsh istauwa" He replied in his famous statement that " Al Istiwa is known (understood: meaning to be over something / above) and how was unknown, and to question about it was bida`"

Imam Shafiey, may Allah have mercy on him, said "I believe in Allah and in what He has revealed in the manner in which He meant, and in what the Prophet Muhammed has informed us of in the manner in which He meant."

Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal, may Allah have mercy on him, stated similarly to what the Prophet Muhammed said when he said, "Verily Allah descends to the sky of the earth and Allah will be seen on the Day of Qiyamah, and verily Allah He laughs and He becomes angry, and He becomes pleased, and He hates and loves." He (Ahmed) said "We believe in it and we attest to it, without asking how or the meaning, that is, we believe that verily Allah t'ala descends and will be seen, and He is above His Throne, Superior over His creations, but we do not know how He descends or is seen or is above or the real meaning of that; rather we leave these issues to His knowledge and that of His Messenger and we do not negate the Messenger or Allah, and we do not describe or attribute to Allah anything more than waht He has attributed to Himself or what the Messenger of Allah has attributed to Him without limit or purpose. We know that there is nothing like Allah and He is All Hearing, All Seeing."

1. The early Muslim Scholars agree on the compelling need in believing in all of the Excellent Names of Allah and Attributes which refer to His Person (His self) and His Actions. For example, Allah قدرة --His Power, we must truly believe that because of His power that all things in existence were created. All of the Attributes are intricate parts of the pillars of faith occurring in some form by name. Examples of that are His might, (izza), His power (Qudra), His Knowledge ('Ilm), His Wisdom (Hikmah, His Intent ('Iraadah, and His Will (Maashiyyah). His actions are unrestricted and absolute in nature. For example, He is All-Knowing, He judges whomever and whatever He wants, or His seeing, Hearing, Calling, Discoursing --these are all attributes.

2. The Attributes of Allah mentioned in Quran concerning Him as Creator are of two types:
A. (Siffat Thaatiyyah): - that is Names and Qualities relating to His self or His being, like (Al-Haiy) being alive and (Al-Qudrah) His power, ('Ilm) His Knowledge, (As-Sam'e) His Hearing, (Al-Basr) His Seeing, (Al-Iraadah) His Intent, also His Will (Maashiyyah), His Strength (Al-Quwah), His Might (Al-'Izzah), His Sovereignty or Supreme Authority (Al Mulk), His Gloriousness (Al-Majd), His Loftiness or Majesty (Al-Jalaal).

B. (Siffat F'ailiyyah) - that is Names and Qualities relating to His actions such as (At-tahk liq) His Creating, (Al-tarziq) His Sustaining of all the creation, (Al-Insha') His Producing, (Al-Ibda') His Originating, as well as other attributes which relate to His actions. He has always existed and will never cease to exist. The same is true for His Names and Attributes. That is to say that He is All Knowing by His Knowledge and Knowledge is a quality eternally possessed by Him. He is powerful by His power and His Power (Al - Qudrah) is a quality eternally possessed by Him. He speaks by His Speech and His Speech (Al-Kalaam) is a quality eternally possessed by Him, etc. He is the Doer (Al-Fa'aal) of all these and more.

Allah's actions ARE NOT CREATED and His Qualities are eternal and not something new / not an accident. So whoever says that his actions are created (like saying that the Quran is created and it is (Kalaam Allah) or whoever doubts or denies them, is a disbeliever in Allah, the Most High. So when we read in Quran that Allah spoke to Musa, we must believe that Allah has speech, BUT it is NOT LIKE OUR SPEECH and it is an eternal attribute of His. All of His attributes are different from the attributes of the created things. He Knows but not like our knowing. He has Power, but not like our power. He Sees, but not like our Seeing.

Tauheed Al Asmaa Wa Sifaat

  • This is the convicted belief in the attributes that Allah has described Himself as having or that which His Messenger has described Him as having without corrupting them or changing them or adding to or taking away from their meaning, or without delving into how His attributes exist and without likening them to the attributes of any other thing.

  • Tauheed Al Asmaa Wa Sifaat comprises Tauheed Al Rububiyah and Tauheed Al Uluhiya in that it is based on or it stands upon the unification of Allah t'ala and what is attributed to Him of the Most Beautiful Names and the Highest Descriptions, for of the most important of the descriptions is His being the sole Lord and Creator, having no partners and His being the only God to be worshipped and having the right to be worshipped alone with no partners... So it can be logically said that whoever agrees to the fact that if Allah is the sole Creator of the universe, then He alone deserves to be worshipped and therefore His Names and Attributes that He has revealed or His Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, has informed us of are to be accepted and believed.

  • One final note on the Names & Attributes: THEY ARE NOT LIMITED TO 99 NAMES ONLY. The Prophet Muhammed , used to say this dua' and advised others to say it in times of affliction and distress. He said that no servant of Allah ever said this prayer but Allah took away his grief and granted him ease instead. "Allahumma, inni 'abduka, ibnu 'abduka, ibnu 'ammatuka, naasiyati bi yedik, maadin fi hukmuk, 'adlun fin qada'uk, 'as'aluk bikulli ismin huwa lak samaita bihi nafsik, au 'anzaltahu fil kitaabik, au 'alamtahu 'ahadan min khalqik, au esta'tharta bihi til 'ilmil ghaibi 'indak, an taj'alil Qur'ana rabi'e qalbi wa nour basri, wa jalaa' huzni wa thi-haab hammi."

"O God! I am Your slave, and the son of Your slave and the son of Your slave-girl. My forelock is in Your Hand. The command is in force in me. Just is Your decree about me: I beg of You with every name which is Yours and whereby You have named Yourself or which You have revealed in Your Book or which You have taught anyone of Your creatures, or which You have preferred to keep among Your secret knowledge, to make the Quran the spring of my heart, and the light of my eyes, and (a means of) dispelling my grief and anxiety." (Ibn Mas'oud, Musnad Ahmed ibn Hanbal.) Also in a long hadith regarding the Prophet's Intercession on the Last Day, which we will study in more detail during our discussion about Iman, it is narrated that when the Prophet Muhammed made sajda before his Lord he said that he was inspired to praise Him with praises that he could not remember during the telling of the events of that Day, and he praised Him by these particular names or attributes of praise and then prostrated to Him. This happened four times and each time Allah granted him what he wanted. Three times he said ", after praising Allah and prostrating to Him, "Ummati, ummati" (my people, my people). The fourth time he said after praising Allah with these names or attributes and prostrating to Him, " O Lord, give me permission for those who among us said "La ilaha ila Allah". Allah said, "By my 'Izzah (Might) and Jalaali (Majesty) and Kubriya'iy (Importance) and Uthmati (Greatness), I take out of the fire whoever said "There is no god by Allah." [Al-Bukhari in the Book of Tauheed 19, 24, 36; Muslim in the Book of Iman 322, 327; At-Tirmithi in Tafseer sura 17; ibn Maja in the book of Az-Zuhd 37; Ad-Daarami in the Introduction 8, and Ahmed ibn Hanbal in Al-Musnad 1-5:282]

We have covered one aspect of Tauheed. The others are Tauheed Al-Uluhiyyah and Tauheed Ar-Rububiyyah. The lack of belief in any one of the aspects of Tauheed is called Shirk which means to share / a shareek is a partner = someone who shares .

We say: La ilaha ila Allah wah-dahu la shareeka lahu

Part 2