The Ninety Nine Attributes of Allah
In the Holy Qur’an, we read the following verses:
Allah: There is no god but He; His are the Greatest Names. (20:8)
Say: Call upon Allah or call upon the Beneficent God (al-Rahman); whichever you call upon, He has the Greatest Names." (Qur’an, 17:110)
To Allah belong the Greatest Names; therefore, call on Him thereby, and leave alone those who violate the sanctity of His Names..." (Qur’an, 7:180)
In order to familiarize ourselves with Allah's Attributes, we have to consult the Holy Qur’an, traditions, or even common-sense. On page 220 of his Book of Unity (of Allah), Shaikh Muhammad ibn `Ali ibn Babawayh al-Qummi al-Saduq quotes Imam Ja`fer al-Sadiq quoting his forefathers quoting the Messenger of Allah saying,
"There are ninety-nine Attributes, one hundred minus one, of Allah; whoever counts them will enter Paradise." He is also quoted saying that whoever learns these Attributes by heart and comprehends their meanings (and acts upon it) will enter Paradise. One should be familiar with the meanings and implications of these names, not just with their count. Nobody can sufficiently be acquainted with the Attributes of Allah as He Himself says in 73:20: "He knows that you cannot (sufficiently) count Him (His Attributes)."
A tradition says, "Derive your manners from the Attributes of Allah." Allah has willed to show His servant His Attributes which collectively describe Him without His Name being a separate part thereof, even though He is not identical to them in essence.
On page 112, Vol. 1, the renown scholar al-Kulaini al-Razi cites Hisham ibn al-Hakam saying that when he once asked Imam Ja`fer al-Sadiq about Allah's Attributes and their derivation, as well as the derivation of the word "Allah," the Imam said to him, "O Hisham! The proper noun `Allah' is derived from `ilah;' the Creator requires the existence of creation [to testify to His being its Creator]. This is a noun, not an adjective.
Anyone who worships a name without worshipping what the name stands for is actually committing kufr, apostasy; in reality, he does not worship anything at all. One who worships the name and the meaning is also committing kufr, for he will be worshipping two. Only one who worships the meaning without the name is in line with the concept of Tawhid (Unity of God). Have you understood all of this, O Hisham?"
He answered him in the affirmative, requesting him to provide more explanations, whereupon the Imam said, "There are ninety-nine Attributes of Allah. Had each Attribute been the same as it describes, each one of them would have been a god by itself. But `Allah' is the meaning one deducts once he becomes familiar with all these Attributes. They all, O Hisham, in their collective sense, are not the same as He Himself. Bread is something you eat. Water is something you drink. A garment is something you put on. And fire is something that burns. Do you understand all of this, O Hisham, fully enough so that you would promote it and fight the enemies of Allah for its sake?!"
Hisham answered him in the affirmative, whereupon the Imam added, "May
Allah grant you thereby benefits, and may He keep your feet firm
thereupon, O Hisham!"
Imam al-Sadiq has said,
O son of Adam! If a bird were to eat your heart, it would not have felt satisfied. If the hole of a needle were put before your vision, it would have covered it up. How dare you, using these two, expect to know by them the domain of the heavens and the earth?! Had you been truthful, you would have looked at this sun: it is one object among many of Allah's creations. Had your eyes been able to see all of it, then, and only then, would you have really been truthful. Allah, the Exalted and the Great, says,
"And to your Lord is the [end] goal" (Qur’an, 53:42).
So, when speech reaches the subject of Allah, it is then that you should hold your tongue...
Explanation and derivation of the word "Allah"
Views vary in this regard. One says it is derived from one who ilahs (as a verb) another when the latter seeks refuge with him during the time of fear or calamity, and he would grant him refuge and a safe haven; so, the word would become ilah (as a noun) of people, just as one may be their imam when he leads them in congregational prayers or becomes their undisputed leader, or just as a robe becomes a rid' when it is worn, or lihaf when used as a covering. Since it is an adjective for someone who is great, "There is nothing like unto Him" (Qur’an, 42:11), people desired to glorify Him by giving the word the prefix al, thus it became Al-ilah.
But they found the hamza in the beginning and also in its midst, where it is quite heavily stressed, heavy on the tongue, so they eliminated it and it became just as it is revealed in the Holy Qur’an, that is, "Allah." This viewpoint is supported by al-Harith ibn Asad al-Muhasibi and a group of scholars, and there are dissenters.
Derivation of the Word "Allah"
Some say that the word "Allah" is derived from the verb walaha (past tense), yawlahu (present tense), from the root noun walah. The waw was replaced with a hamza, just as the case with wisad and isad, wisha and isha, wikaf and ikaf. Walah is extreme love. Prophet Yahya (John the Baptist) used to be forlorn most of the time whereas Jesus used to be mostly merry and always wearing a smile on his face. They both sought the judgment of the Almighty in their regard, whereupon Allah inspired them, "The nearest of you to Me is the one who thinks best of Me." And surely Allah knows best.
The Almighty is Endless regarding His essence, perpetuity, eternity, Attributes, qualities and blessings. His creation, on the other hand, are described as reaching the end of their life terms, being limited in their characteristics, thoughts, and spheres. The one who is incapacitated cannot reach the Endless One. No wonder, then, that the minds are forever overcome by the lights of His Independence, and the reasons are too feeble to realize the brightness of His Greatness. He is as He describes Himself when He says in 6:18 and 6:61, "He is the Supreme above His servants."
The Creator is the One Who is adored, and He is worthy of it; hence, He is called ilah. He has made it clear for us that He is the One who bestows His blessings upon those whom He creates in sundry ways. Adoring is the ultimate form of glorifying. Reason testifies that the ultimate end of glorification suits only the One Who is the source of benevolence and bliss. It is to this fact that the Almighty refers when He says,
"How do you deny Allah while you were dead and He gave you Life"? (2:28).
Nobody knows Allah as He deserves to be known except Allah Himself. In sermon 186 in Nahjul Balagha, Imam `Ali says the following:
One who assigns conditions to Him does not believe in His Oneness, nor does one who likens Him to anything grasp the reality about Him. One who illustrates an example for Him does not revere Him. One who points at Him and imagines Him does not know the meaning of His Lordship. Anything known by itself is a created thing, and everything that exists by virtue of other things is the effect thereof. He does things but not with the help of instruments. He assigns measures but not with the faculty of thinking. He is rich but not by acquisition. Time does not keep company with Him, nor does He seek help from any means.
His Being precedes time. His Existence precedes non-existence, and His eternity precedes beginning. By creating the senses, it is known that He does not have the same. By comparing antitheses, it is known that He has no antithesis, and by striking similarities between things, it is known that there is nothing similar to Him. He has made light the contrary of darkness, brightness the opposite of dimness, dryness the opposite of moisture, and heat the opposite of coolness.
He causes harmony among opposites. He fuses together diverse things; He brings closer what is remote and distances what is joined together. He is not confined to limits, nor computed by figures. Matters are attracted to one another, and parts point out to what is similar to them; the word "since" disproves their eternity, and possibility disproves their perpetuity, while certain means keep them distant from perfection.
Through them does the Creator manifest Himself to the intellect, and by them is He veiled from vision. Stillness and motion do not apply to Him; how can anything that He causes to have any effect on Him, and how can anything which He has created revert in its effect unto Him? Or how can anything have an impact upon Him while He Himself brought it to being? Had it not been so, He would have become subject to diversity, His Being would have become divisible (into parts), and His reality would have been prevented from being Eternal.
Had He had a front, He would have had a rear! He would have needed to be completed had there been any shortage in Him. In that case, characteristics of His creatures would have appeared in Him, and He would have become a sign (leading to other objects) instead of the latter leading to Him. Through the might of His effectiveness is He distanced above being affected by things. Neither change nor extinction affect Him. He has not begotten anyone lest He should be said as having been Himself born. He has not been begotten lest He should have been confined to limits. He is too sublime to have sons, too pure to take women.
Imagination cannot reach Him to assess Him. Comprehension cannot conceive Him and fancy a shape for Him. Senses do not perceive Him to probe Him. Hands cannot touch Him to feel Him. He does not change into any condition. He does not pass from one stage to another. Nights and days do not age Him. Light and darkness do not alter Him. It cannot be said that He has a limb or extremity, an end or an expiration, nor do things control Him to raise or lower Him, nor does anything support Him to bend Him or keep Him erect. He is not inside things nor outside them. He conveys news, but not with the tongue or voice. He listens, but not with ear holes or organs of hearing. He speaks but does not utter words.
He remembers but does not memorize. He determines but not by exercising His mind. He loves and approves without sentiments. He hates and feels angry without any painstaking. When He intends to create a thing, He says to it "Be" and it is, but not through a voice that strikes (the ears). His speech is a manifestation of what He has created. His peer never existed before, nor is He regarded as old; otherwise, He would have become a second god. It cannot be said that He came into being after He had not been in existence because in that case the effects of creation would have been reflected on Him, and there would have remained no difference between them and Him, and He would have no distinction over them.
Thus, the Creator and the created would have become equal, and the Initiator and the initiated would have been on the same level. He created creation without any model made by someone else, and He did not secure the assistance of any among His creation for creating. He created the earth and controlled it without having to hold it, retained it without having to support it, making it stand without poles, raising it without pillars, protecting it against bending or curving, defending it against crumbling or fragmenting.
He fixed mountains on it like pegs, solidified its rocks, caused its streams to flow and expanded its valleys. Whatever He made did not suffer any flaw, and whatever He strengthened did not permit any weakness. He manifests Himself over the earth through His authority and greatness. He is aware of what there is inside it through His knowledge and understanding. He has power over everything on earth by virtue of His sublimity and dignity. Nothing on earth that He asks defies Him, nor does it oppose Him to overpower Him.
He is not in need of anyone to feed Him. All things bow down to Him and are humble before His greatness. They cannot flee away from His authority to someone else in order to escape His benefit or harm. There is no parallel for Him who may match Him, and none is like Him to equal Him. He will destroy the earth after its existence, till all that exists on it will become non-existent. But the extinction of the world after its creation is no stranger than its formation and invention the first time. How could it be?
Even if all the beings on earth, be they birds or beasts, cattle or pasture herds, of different origins and species, clever or not so clever nations, all jointly combine efforts to create even a mosquito, they will not be able to bring it into being nor understand the means to its creation. Their wits are bewildered and they are aimlessly wandering. Their powers fall short and they fail, returning disappointed and worn out, realizing that they are defeated, admitting their inability to produce it.
They will also realize that they are too weak (even) to destroy it. Surely, after the extinction of the world, Allah the Glorified will remain alone with nothing else besides Him. He will be, after its extinction, as He was before then: without time or place, a moment or a period. Age and time will not then exist, and years and hours will disappear. There will be nothing except Allah, the One, the Omnipotent. To Him is the return of all matters.
The initial creation of all matters was never within the power of the latter, and the prevention of their own extinction was never within their reach. Had they had the power to prevent such an extinction, they would have existed forever. When He created any part of this world, its making did not cause Him any difficulty, and the creation of anything which He created and formed did not exhaust Him. He did not create it to enhance His authority, nor did He do so for fear of any loss or harm, nor to seek help against an overwhelming foe, nor to guard against any avenging opponent, nor for the extension of His domain, nor for boasting of it before a partner, nor because of His feeling of loneliness and desire to seek company.
Then, after its creation, He will destroy it not because of any worry that overcomes Him in maintaining and administering it, nor for any pleasure that will accrue to Him, nor for the cumbersomeness of anything over Him. The prolongation of its existence does not wear Him out to induce Him to its quick destruction.
But Allah, the Glorified One, has maintained it with His kindness, kept it intact with His command, and perfected it with His might. Then, after its destruction, He will bring it back to being again not for any need of His own for it, nor to seek the assistance of anything in it, nor to change the condition of loneliness to that of company, nor from ignorance to knowledge, nor from want and need to independence and plentitude, nor from disgrace and lowliness to honour and prestige.
In another sermon, wherein he discusses the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth, the Imam says,
Praise is due to Allah Whose worth cannot be described by orators, Whose bounties cannot be counted by those who compute, the obedience to Whom cannot be satisfied by those who strive to do so, Whom the height of intellectual endeavor cannot appreciate, and the depths of understanding cannot reach, for Whose description no limit can ever be set, nor praise satisfies, nor time suffices, and no duration is fixed.
He brought forth creation through His might, dispersed the winds as an act of His mercy, and He firmed the earth with the mountains. The foremost in religious obligation is to acknowledge Him, the perfection of acknowledging Him is to achieve His Pleasure, the perfection of achieving His Pleasure is to believe in His Oneness, the perfection of believing in His Oneness is to regard Him as the Pure, and the perfection of His purity is not to attach adjectives to Him because every adjective is an indication that it is different from that to which it is best named, and everything to which something is best named is different from the Best Name itself.
Thus, whoever attaches adjectives to Allah recognizes a peer like Him, and whoever recognizes His peer regards two gods; and whoever regards Him as One of two associate-partners with Him, and whoever associates partners with Him errs in His regard and does Him injustice, and whoever errs in His regard points out at Him, and whoever points out at Him admits limitations for Him, and whoever admits limitations for Him numbers Him.
Whoever wonders where He is maintains that He is confined to a place, and whoever wonders above what He is maintains that He is not above something else. He is a Being but not through phenomenon of coming into being. He exists but not from non-existence. He is with everything but not in physical proximity. He is different from everything but not in any physical way. He acts but without connotations of movement or means. He sees yet none among His creation can see Him. He is One and Only, so there is none with whom He keeps company or whom He misses when absent.
The Attributes of Allah
Now let us discuss His Attributes in more details:
The proper noun "Allah" solely belongs to The Almighty God, the Truth. Anything succeeding it is regarded as an adjective describing it, while it remains a noun indicative of the True God. It combines all His Attributes, and it needs no introduction from others, whereas the other Attributes attain recognition when added thereto. "Allah" is not given to anyone other than Him, nor should it ever be used for anyone besides Him.
"Allah" is the ever-Existent, the One Who causes existence, Who maintains existence, Who creates everything that exists. Whatever He creates shall perish; He never will: "... say: `Allah!' then leave them sporting in their vain discourses" (Qur’an, 6:91).
Allah has said, "All those in the heavens and the earth will come to the Beneficent God obediently" (Qur’an, 19:93).
"Al-Rahman al-Rahim" are two of the Attributes of Allah which remind people of His mercy, of the fact that His act of affecting goodness and rewards reach whomsoever He pleases, thus warding off evil from them. "Al-Rahman" and "al-Rahim" are two concurrent Attributes of His each conveying more meanings of mercy than the other.
"Al-Rahman" is an Attribute specifically relevant to Allah; none besides Him can be called or referred to as such, whereas "al-rahim" can be applied to people: One may be described as "rahim," merciful or kind, but a human cannot be "rahman".
In the Holy Qur’an, we read:
"In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful" (Qur’an, 1:1); "The beneficent God is firm in power" (Qur’an, 20:5).
It is an Attribute demonstrating that mercy can be possible only through
Him. It means "the One Who grants mercy beyond which there is no other
mercy at all and the like of which does not at all exist."
Though derived from mercy, "al-Rahman" is both a noun and an adjective. Neither contradicts the other.
It is commonly known that mercy means: one's desire or power of will to bring goodness to one who is much less than him in status.
Allah, Praise and Glory to Him, has said,
"Inform My servants that I am the Forgiving, the Merciful" (Qur’an, 15:49).
"Al-Rahim" is derived from "rahmah," mercy or compassion. "Rahmah" implies the salvation of those who receive it from harm and loss, and their being blessed with guidance, forgiveness and sound conviction. Al-Rahim, i.e. the One Who grants rahmah, is a superlative. It is the highest derivative form of rahmah. Allah has said,
"He it is Who sends His blessings on you, and (so do) His angels, so that He may bring you out of utter darkness into the light, and He is Merciful to the believers" (Qur’an, 33:43).
Al-Rahim is the One Who bestows countless blessings. Some say that this word is derived from "Rahim," and we have already come to know that the root word for it is "rahmah," that is, favours from Allah and blessings; surely His blessings cannot be counted, nor can they ever be exhausted.
The Messenger of Allah has said, "One who has no compassion towards people is deprived from Allah's Compassion." He has also said, "One who does not respect the seniors among us, nor shows compassion towards our young, nor safeguards the rights of the scholars among us, is surely none of us." Compassion among the servants of Allah is a sure path to achieving the mercy of Allah. The Messenger of Allah has said, "Be merciful unto those on earth so that those in the heavens may be merciful unto you."
God has said, "So exalted be Allah, the True King" (Qur’an, 23:116).
"Al-Malik" conveys the meaning of "One Who is free, by virtue of His Own merits and characteristics, from depending on anything in existence, while everything in existence depends on Him." Nothing in existence can do without Him, whereas everything that exists derives its existence from Him or because of Him. Everything/everyone is His.
Al-Malik occurs in: "Master of the Day of Judgment" (Qur’an, 1:4). Another method of recitation: Melik, King of the Day of Judgment. Al-Maleek exists in this verse: "In the seat of honour with a most Powerful King" (Qur’an, 54:55). "Malikul-Mulk" exists in: "O Allah, Master of the Kingdom!" (Qur’an, 3:26). "Al-Malakoot" exists in: "Therefore glory to the One in Whose hand is the kingdom of all things" (Qur’an, 36:83).
The Almighty has described Himself as being "Malikul-Mulk," the Owner
of everything, of the whole domain, saying, "Say: O Allah, Master of the
Kingdom!" (Qur’an, 3:26), and "Master of the Day of Judgment"
(Qur’an, 1:4), which is one of the first verses of the Holy Qur’an.
A land's owner is its "malik," one legally bound to obey the king, the "malik," with regard to land-related laws issued by the latter, whereas the opposite is not possible.
Among the Attributes of Allah Almighty, the word "al-Malik" has occurred independently, whereas the word "Malik" is always added to something else, such as "Maliki yawmid-Deen," Master of the Day of Judgment; therefore, the first Attribute has to be more revered.
Allah has said, "Whatever in the heavens and in the earth declares the glory of Allah, the King, the Holy" (Qur’an, 62:1).
"Al-Qudoos" means: the One Whose characteristics cannot be conceived by the senses, nor can He be conceived by imagination, nor can He be realized by any mind or reason or judged by any intellect. Linguistically, it is derived from "quds," purity or cleanness. "Al-bayt al-muqaddas" means the Purified House, the one in which people purify themselves from the filth of sins.
Paradise is also called the place of quds because it is free from the ills of the life of this world. Arch-angel Gabriel is called in Islam "al-ruh al-quds," the Holy Spirit, because he is free from any fault in delivering divine inspiration to the messengers of Allah. Allah has described Himself as "... the King, the Holy" (Qur’an, 59:23), and He has also said, "Whatever in the heavens and in the earth declares the glory of Allah, the King, the Holy" (Qur’an, 62:1).
Al-Qudds is the One Who is above need and Whose Attributes are above being deficient. He is the One Who purifies the souls against sinning, Who takes the wicked by their forelocks, Who is above being limited to space or time.
The Messenger of Allah once sent one of his companions to teach Islam to a group of new converts and to lead them in congregational prayers. That companion used not to recite any chapter of the Holy Qur’an (besides, of course, the Fatiha) other than Surat al-Tawhid (or al-Ikhlas), so those believers went back once to the Prophet and told him about it. The Prophet said to them, "Go back and ask him why he does so." Upon asking him, the companion answered them by saying, "... because it contains the Attribute of al-Rahman, and this is why I love to recite it so often!" When they told the Prophet this answer, he said to them, "Go back and tell him that the Praised and Glorified One loves him too."
Ibn `Abbas spent a night once with his cousin the Messenger of Allah. When the Messenger of Allah woke up and stood up on his bed, he raised his head towards the heavens and thrice repeated the following statement: "Subhanal Malik al-Qudds!" (Glory to the King, the Holy!) Then he recited the last verses of Surat Ali-`Imran starting with the verse: "Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth..., etc."
Allah Almighty has said that He is "... the King, the Holy" (Qur’an, 59:23).
"Al-Salam" means: the One Who is free from defect and shortcoming, Whose qualities are above deficiency, Whose deeds are free from evil. Since He is as such, there can be neither peace nor security in existence without Him.
"Salam" means peace. Allah Almighty has said, "... and Allah invites to the abode of peace" (Qur’an, 10:25), meaning Paradise: anyone who abides therein will have been saved from agony and perdition. Allah has said, "And if he is one of those on the right hand, then peace to you from those on the right hand" (Qur’an, 56:90-91), that is, rest assured that they are enjoying peace and tranquility. "Salam!" is a greeting; if a Muslim tells another Muslim "As-Salamu Alaikum!" he will have assured him of safety and security, granting him immunity against his evil or ill intentions. Allah Almighty praises Yahya, John the Baptist, by saying, "And peace be on him on the day he was born..." (Qur’an, 19:15).
The most precarious situations to which human beings are exposed are three: The time of birth, the time of death, and the time of resurrection. So Allah honoured Yahya in all these three situations, granting him peace, safety and security against their woes. He saved him from the perils of all these three situations and granted him security against fear.
Muslims are repeatedly enjoined by the Holy Qur’an to disseminate peace and to be receptive to those who offer it:
O you who believe! Enter into peace one and all... (2:208)
And if they incline to peace, do incline to it too and trust in Allah. (8:61)
And the servants of al-Rahman are the ones who walk on earth humbly, and when the ignorant ones address them, they say: Salam (Peace)! (25:63)
And when those who believe in Our Signs come to you, say: Peace be on you! Your Lord has ordained mercy on Himself... (6:54)
So turn away from them and say, Peace! For they shall soon come to know. (43:89)
Allah's Salam is His speech. Likewise, the Messenger of Islam used to quite often enjoin the believers to disseminate the greeting of peace among them. There are numerous traditions testifying to this fact; among them are the following:
Assalamu minal Islam: The greeting of peace is an integral part of the
creed of Islam.
Afshu al Salama taslamu: Disseminate the greeting of peace among you so you may achieve peace and security.
Whoever upholds three things will have combined in him the meaning of conviction: 1) fairness to his own self, 2) disseminating of the greeting of peace to everyone, and 3) spending wisely out of what he saves.
Afshu al Salama baynakum: Disseminate the greeting of peace among you.
In one of his supplications, the Messenger of Allah used to say, "Lord! Make us harbingers of peace to Your friends!" The Holy Qur’an tells us that the name of Paradise is "Dar al Salam," the abode of peace; He, Glory and Exaltation to Him, says,
"They shall have the abode of peace with their Lord, and He is their guardian because of what they did" (Qur’an, 6:127).
Allah will make the greeting of the believers, when they meet Him, "Peace!" He says,
"Their salutation on the Day they meet Him shall be: Salam! (Peace!)" (Qur’an, 33:44).
Referring to the believers, He says the following in Surat al-Ra`d, "... the gardens of perpetual abode which they will enter along with those who do good deeds from among their parents and spouses and offspring, and the angels will enter upon them from every gate (saying):
Peace be on you because you were constant! How excellent, then, is the issue of the abode!" (Qur’an, 13:23-24).
Thawban, servant of the Messenger of Allah, has said,
"Whenever the Messenger of Allah finished his prayers, he would seek forgiveness of Allah thrice, saying, `Lord! You are the Peace; from You is the Peace; Glory to You! Greatness and Honour are in You!'"
Allah has described Himself as al-Mu'min:
"... the One Who gives peace, Who grants security" (Qur’an, 59:23).
"Al-Mu'min" means: the One to Whom peace and security are rendered: He provides the means of their attainment, blocking all the avenues of fear. There is no peace nor security in this life against the causes of disease and perdition, nor in the life hereafter against the torment and the Wrath, except that He provides the means to attain it.
"Iman," linguistically speaking, is an infinitive (to believe) derived from two verbs: tasdeeq, testimony for the truth of something or someone as: "... and you will not believe us though we are truthful" (Qur’an, 12:17), and aman, asylum or a peaceful haven as in 106:4: "... and gave them security against fear" (Qur’an, 106:4). Some linguists are of the view that the derivation of iman is from this second verb.
If we say that the Almighty grants His servants security against anything they dread, we must be understood in the light of the circumstances of the life in this world and in the hereafter. As regarding the life in this world, the removal of the cause of fear is not reasonably accepted except when a precarious situation has actually taken place.
Fear cannot be removed when the possibility of loss of life is present, and nobody can remove such a possibility except Allah. Nobody can bring about peace and security other than He. A blind person is apprehensive of perishing on account of his inability to see the area from which death may overtake him. Sound vision grants him security against being annihilated. One whose arm is amputated fears the situation when he cannot defend himself except through the use of his arm. His healthy arm, then, is the cause of his feeling of security. The same can be said about all our senses and bodily parts.
The One Who created all these parts is the same One Who has removed from man the causes of fear by granting him such parts. The One Who has created delicious food for man as well as good medicines and taught him how to make useful tools, thus sparing himself a lot of trouble, is surely the same One Who grants him security against all such dangers. The Messenger of Allah has said, "Anyone who believes in Allah and the Last Day should bring security to his neighbor against his own misdeeds."1
In 59:23, we read: "He is Allah besides Whom there is no other god, the King, the Holy, the One Who grants peace, the One Who grants security, the Guardian over all, the Mighty, the Supreme, the One Who possesses greatness; Glory to Allah from whatever they set up (with Him)."
When applied to the Almighty, "al-Muhaimin" means that He is the One Who oversees His servants' actions, Who provides them with sustenance, and decrees their life-spans. He does so through His knowledge, control, and protection. Anyone who oversees something is its guardian; so he has full power over it. These Attributes can never be present in their absolute meaning except in Allah.
This Attribute describes in 10:61 the One Who testifies for or against His servants who enter into mutual transactions: "... We are witnesses over you when you enter into it." Allah is al-Muhaimin, the One Who witnesses all what His servants do, be it a speech or an action. The meaning of this verse incorporates the meaning of the word "muhaimin" thus: the One Who knows everything and from Whose knowledge nothing at all can escape, not even the weight of an atom in the earth or in the heavens.
Al-Khalil ibn Ahmed al-Farahidi says that "al-Mu'min" means: the One Who ever watches, Who ever protects. It is common in Arabic to describe someone as "muhaimin" if he protects someone else or is his guardian.
Al-Mibrad explains its meaning as: the One Who is most kind and compassionate. Arabs describe the bird that stretches its wings to protect its young as being "muhaimin" over them.
Al-Hassan al-Basri says it means the Guardian Who testifies to one's truth. Applied to the Almighty, it may carry one of two meanings: His testimony by word, hence His testimony informing us about His messengers being truthful, and His empowering those messengers to produce miracles, thus testifying to their truthfulness.
Al-Muhaimin is the One Who encompasses in His knowledge the management of the affairs of all His creation from the smallest atom to the largest planet in the cosmos.
The Almighty has said, "O Moses! Surely I am Allah, the Omnipotent,
the Wise" (Qur’an, 27:9).
The root word of this Attribute is `izz, might, power, strength, victory, elevation, non-submission. Its verb means: to strengthen or to support as in: "We sent them two [messengers] but they called them liars, so We strengthened them with a third," (Qur’an, 36:14) that is, supported them and their argument with a third messenger. Linguistically, its verb means: to overcome, to gain the upper hand, to subdue...
Al-`Aziz is the One Who Alone has all honour; He is never humiliated, nor is He ever wronged; neither imagination nor intellect can ever conceive Him. He is the One Who cannot be overcome or in any way harmed, the One Who has no peer nor a similitude, Who is very much needed, Who is victorious and is never vanquished, the Mighty, the Omnipotent Who can never be reached.
The Almighty has described Himself as al-`Aziz, narrating in His Book, the Holy Qur’an, an anecdote about Jesus pleading to Him thus
"... if You forgive them, surely You are the Mighty, the Wise" (Qur’an, 5:118).
He has also said, "And to Him belongs greatness in the heavens and in the earth, and He is the Mighty, the Wise" (Qur’an, 45:37).
He has proven that He has in Him all the Attributes of Greatness, saying, "To Allah belongs the might, and to His Prophet, and to the believers" (Qur’an, 63:8), and also, "Glory to your Lord, the Lord of Honour, above what they describe" (Qur’an, 37:180).
While discussing Iblis, He quotes him saying,
"... by Your Might I will surely make them live an evil life, all of them" (Qur’an, 38:82).
The Messenger of Allah used to say, "I seek refuge with Your Honour, for You are the One Who is the One and Only God Who never dies, while the jinns and men die."
Allah has said,
"He is Allah besides Whom there is no other god, the Sovereign, the Holy, the Source of peace (and perfection), the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of safety, the One Exalted in Might, the Irresistible, the Supreme; Glory to Allah! (High is He) above the partners they attribute to (Him)" (Qur’an, 59:23).
Linguistically, "al-Jabbar" is derived from jabr, the opposite of breaking. It suggests the forceful mending of something broken, fractured, shattered, crushed..., etc. It is also said that the adjective jabbar means great, huge, inaccessible. Linguists say that al-Jabbar is the Most Great. It is a superlative adjective derived from jabr; He is the One Who not only mends what is broken but also enriches the one who is incapacitated by poverty and want. In short, He is the One Who repairs everything broken or impaired.
Abdullah ibn `Abbas says that al-Jabbar is the Great King, while Ibn al-Anbari says that al-Jabbar is the One Who is beyond anyone's reach. Others have said that "al-Jabbar" means the One Who cannot be harmed by any mighty oppressor, and nobody can dispute with Him about anything. It is said that "al-Jabbar" conveys the same meaning conveyed by the Attribute "al-Mutakabbir," the Proud or the Supreme One.
Pride and Supremacy are commendable Attributes only when applied to Allah. If applied to anyone else, on the other hand, they become abominable qualities. It is also said that the meaning of "al-Jabbar" connotes: the One Who forces His will on others. Nothing can happen in His domain except whatever He pleases, whether His beings like it or not. Or it may mean the One Who repairs, improves, or reforms, as is the analogy with one who mends, say, a broken limb.
One of its derivatives is jabaroot, supremacy or greatness. According to one tradition, the Messenger of Allah has supplicated thus, "Glory to the One Who has all the jabaroot and all the domain." In one of his statements, Imam `Ali ibn Abu Talib has said, "He is the One Whose will has manifested itself on the nature of hearts," that is, He firmed the hearts according to the way He created them and according to their level of knowing Him; those who know Him are the happy ones, while those who do not are the wretches.
"Al-Jabbar" connotes forcefulness and forcibleness. We can find out that all parts of the body have been driven to perform their functions without any will of their own. Cast a look at the sun as it moves in its orbit without deviating from it as little as an inch, whether it likes it or not. Man has no control over the time when Allah chooses his life to begin, or how he is born, or when he dies, or the family in which he is to be born. All these are predestined for him, and he has no control over them. So is the case with all other beings on the face of earth. They all have been created with the ability to adapt to life on earth, and nobody has any choice in this matter:
"It is He Who has spread out the earth for (His) creatures; therein are fruits and date-palms, producing spathes (containing dates)" (Qur’an, 55:10-11).
All of these things are created without the choice of any human being.
Allah has said,
"He is Allah besides Whom there is no other god, the Sovereign, the Holy, the Source of peace (and perfection), the Guardian of the Faith, the Preserver of safety, the One Exalted in Might, the Irresistible, the Supreme; Glory to Allah! (High is He) above the partners they attribute to (Him)" (Qur’an, 59:23).
Understanding "al-Mutakabbir" requires a good deal of reasoning and insight. Its root word "kibriya'" means greatness and sovereignty, and it incorporates the meanings of the perfection of one's self and existence; nobody can be described as such except Allah. Greatness, as far as Allah Almighty is concerned, is the loftiness of status:
"By His command does He send the spirit (of inspiration) to any of His servants He pleases so that it may warn (men) of the Day of mutual meeting" (Qur’an, 40:15).
Al-Mutakabbir is the One Who possesses all greatness, Who is above having any of the qualities of His creatures, Who is above being harmed by the oppressors among His creation, Whose greatness and pride are the super-most. He is too great to be deficient in anything or in need for anyone or anything, the One Who is above having any of the characteristics and attributes of His creatures, the One Who Alone has all greatness and pride. None besides Him is justified to conceive himself as great, or as mighty, or as the sovereign.
He is the One Who is too Holy to be afflicted by any calamity; so, no greatness is justified for anyone besides Him; He is the One Who has all might and kingdom. This Attribute means: the One Who has combined in Him, and Who rightly deserves so, all the attributes of greatness, perfection, pride and glory, all at the same time.
He is too Great to submit to others; rather, submission is due to Him, and only to Him. The Holy Qur’an bestows the Attribute of greatness upon the Almighty in Surat al-Jathiya:
"To Him be Glory throughout the heavens and the earth, and He is Exalted in Power, full of Wisdom" (Qur’an, 45:37).
Pride due to the sense of being great is of two kinds:
One is when actions of such a person are indeed great and better than those of anyone else's; He is
"... the Source of peace (and perfection), the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of security, the One Exalted in Might, the Irresistible, the Supreme" (Qur’an, 59:23).
The other is that one conceives himself artificially to be as such, and this applies to most people:
Thus does Allah set a seal over the heart of everyone who is proud, haughty. (40:35)
Surely evil is the dwelling place of those who are proud. (16:29)
Isn't there in hell an abode for those who are proud? (39:60)
Quoting the Lord of Greatness, the Almighty God, the Messenger of Allah has said, "Pride is My cloak; Greatness is My garment; whoever disputes with Me regarding either, I shall surely hurl him into the fire." Here the Almighty informs and admonishes us that greatness, might and pride are all His prerogatives, that none among His servants is worthy of claiming any of them for himself.
In one of his supplications, the Messenger of Allah says, "I seek refuge with You, Lord, against the evil of pride." He is also quoted as saying that pride is an indication of ingratitude towards the Truth, the Almighty; he has said, "Pride is ingratitude towards the Truth." Imam `Ali has said, "The son of Adam is truly amazing! A wound can end his life, a bug can cause him a pain, his sweat can make him stink, so how can he ever feel proud?"
The Messenger of Allah has warned us against pride and of being proud of ourselves, saying, "Nobody will enter Paradise if he has even the weight of a mustard seed of pride, and nobody will enter the fire if there is a likewise weight of conviction in his heart." As the lucky2 ones enter Paradise, their hearts will be purged of any pride and jealousy:
"And we will root out whatever rancor there is in their hearts" (Qur’an, 15:47).
The Attribute "al-Mutakabbir" is mentioned only once in the text of the Holy Qur’an in 59:23, and Allah knows best.
Allah has said, "He is Allah the Creator..." (Qur’an, 59:24).
"Al-Khaliq" is derived from khalq, creating. Allah, al-Khaliq, the Creator, is the One Who brings things into existence after their non-existence, Who invents and innovates without a prior model. Some scholars say that al-Khaliq is the One Who creates things out of naught then bestows upon them their characteristics of movement and other qualities.
Others say that He is the One Who invents whatever the eyes can see, Who perfects their creation. Still others say that He is the One Who determined the measure of all things when they were enshrouded by void, perfecting them by His bounties and goodness, bringing them into existence according to His will, desire and wisdom. Anyone who thinks that there is anyone else besides Him who creates is indeed one who commits kufr, apostasy, blasphemy, disbelief. Allah Almighty has said the following:
... the Creator of everything; therefore, worship Him. (6:102)... is there any creator besides Allah...? (35:3)
Yea, indeed! For He is the Supreme Creator, of (infinite) skill and knowledge. (36:81)
... so blessed is Allah, the best of creators. (23:14)
Is it not His to create and to govern? Blessed is Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds. (7:54)
Ibn `Abbas is reported as saying that whenever the Messenger of Allah looked in the mirror, he would say, "Praise to Allah Who has made both my creation and my manners good, Who beautified in me what He has not done in others." According to a narration by our master Imam `Ali ibn Abu Talib, the Messenger of Allah used to say the following whenever he looked in the mirror, "Praise is due to Allah! Lord! Just as You have made my form good, I implore You to make my manners, too, good." 3
Allah has said,
"He is Allah the Creator, the Evolver, the One Who bestows forms (or colors) upon what He creates. To Him belong the Attributes" (Qur’an, 59:24).
There are viewpoints regarding the explanation of "al-Bari": One says it refers to the One Who brings about something out of nothing, the One Who creates something which was never there before. It is said that Allah is al-Bari of creation, the One Who brought about all things into existence out of non-existence.
The other meaning conveys the cutting off or severing of something. The root verb of this word means cutting and shaping something such as a twig or a pencil. One may say that illness has parted from him, or that he is free of a claim put forth by another. It can also be applied metaphorically such as one person severing his partnership with another, or a woman separating from her husband. Allah has bara'a, created or initiated, the creation without a model; bariyyah means those whom He has created. Another meaning is curing or healing.
A wise saying states that one who is cured should express gratitude to
the One Who cured him.
Ja`fer ibn Sulayman is quoted as having said that he passed once by a blind old woman grieving over herself and wailing, so he asked her, "What does it take to sustain you?" She answered him saying, "Stop sticking your nose where it does not belong; I have reached this stage of life without needing you or others." Then she added, "Have you not heard the statement made by the Friend of Allah who said, `[Allah] Who created me then showed me the way, and He provides me with food to eat and with water to drink, and when I am sick, He restores my health to me' (26:78-80)?"
One who knows the real meaning of "al-Bari", therefore, is one whose heart is not affected by events, nor can momentous events overtake him by surprise. It is also said that anyone who comes to know Who al-Bari really is will dissociate himself from claiming to have anything to do with his own form or shape, fearing his Creator's Might, knowing that he is not doing Him a favour by worshipping and obeying Him.
It is also said that He is the One Who has dissociated Himself from everyone else, the One Who is never surprised by whatever events take place. It is also said that anyone who recognizes Him as al-Bari will dissociate himself from committing anything prohibitive, seeking refuge with the King, the Most Forgiving One.
Allah has said,
"He is Allah the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of forms (or colors). To Him belong the Attributes" (Qur’an, 59:24).
Al-Musawwir is the One Who fashions, Who gives something its distinctive form and shape. The general human form is distinguished from that of non-humans. Allah says,
"... and He formed you and made your forms good" (Qur’an, 40:64),
"Into whatever form He pleased He shaped you" (Qur’an, 82:8),
"He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He pleases (3:6)."
Al-Musawwir means: the One Who invents the forms and shapes of whatever He creates, Who beautifies them according to His wisdom, giving everything its own distinctive shape and form. He creates humans in different forms and shapes, making some of them different from others in physique, size, complexion, etc. This may be the meaning of the verse saying,
"And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely there are signs in this for those who have knowledge" (Qur’an, 30:22).
"He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He pleases; there is no god but He, the Mighty, the Wise" (Qur’an, 3:6);
"And certainly We created man of an extract of clay, then We made him a small seed in a firm resting-place, then We made the seed a clot, then We made the clot a lump of flesh, then We made in the lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, then We caused it to grow into another creation; so, blessed be Allah, the best of creators" (Qur’an, 23:12-14).
Whenever the Messenger of Allah prostrated, he used to say, "Lord! To You have I prostrated, in You have I believed, and to You have I submitted! My countenance has prostrated to the One Who created it and shaped it, Who created hearing and vision for it; so, blessed is Allah, the best of creators!"
Among the supplications of the Messenger of Allah when he prostrated is this one: "My face has submitted to the One Who created and formed it and Who made its form good." The Holy Qur’an has informed us a good deal about al-Musawwir, Allah. In Surat al-A`raf, for example, we read the following:
"And certainly We created you then fashioned you" (Qur’an, 7:11).
In Surat al-Taghabun, we read,
"He has created the heavens and the earth in just proportions, and He has given you shape and made your shapes beautiful, and to Him is the final resort" (Qur’an, 64:3).
In Surat Ghafir, we read,
"Allah is He Who made the earth a resting-place for you and the heavens a canopy, and He formed you then made your forms good, and He provided you with good things; that is Allah, your Lord; blessed then is Allah, the Lord of the worlds (Qur’an, 40:64).
In Surat Ali-`Imran, we read,
"He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He pleases; there is no god but He, the Mighty, the Wise" (Qur’an, 3:6).
In Surat al-Infitar, we read,
"O man! What has beguiled you from your Lord, the Gracious One Who created you then made you complete, then He made you symmetrical? Into whatever form He pleased He constituted you" (Qur’an, 82:6-8).
And in Surat al-Hashr we read,
"He is Allah the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of forms (or colors). To Him belong the Attributes; all those in the heavens and on earth declare His Praises and Glory, and He is Exalted in Might, Wise" (Qur’an, 59:24).
Allah Almighty has said,
"And He created pairs, the male and the female, from the small seed when it is adapted, and upon Him is its bringing forth a second time" (Qur’an, 53:45-47).
Allah has said,
"Surely I am most Forgiving to whoever repents and believes and does good deeds" (Qur’an, 20:82). ‘
Al-Ghaffar is one of Allah's Attributes derived from ghufr and ghufran, both nouns which convey the meaning of: veiling, hiding, concealing. Allah's maghifra, forgiveness, is His veiling of one's sins, and His forgiveness by granting him His favour and mercy. Al-Ghaffar is the One Who has manifested what is beautiful and veiled what is ugly in the life of this world and Who does not inflict His penalty on him in the life hereafter.
He is the One Who forgives sins, veils the shortcomings, wipes out the sins by accepting one's repentance. He accepts His servants' repentance and is pleased thereby, and the One Who forgives the sins and turns them into good deeds by His great favour. He is the One Who forgives the sins though they may be great, and He veils them though they may be numerous.
The words derived from forgiveness have mostly been associated with Allah.
One of them is al-Ghafir as in this verse:
"The One Who forgives the sins" (Qur’an, 40:3).
The second is al-Ghafur; He has said,
"... then [if he] asks forgiveness of Allah, he shall find Allah Forgiving, Merciful" (Qur’an, 4:110).
A third is al-Ghaffar as in:
"And surely I am most Forgiving to one who repents and believes and does good deeds" (Qur’an, 20:82),
"... seek forgiveness of your Lord; surely He is the most Forgiving" (Qur’an, 71:10),
and "... surely He is the Mighty, the great Forgiver" (Qur’an, 39:5).
It is proven, by making a reference to the Holy Qur’an, that all these Attributes, which are derived from forgiveness, are applied only to Allah, the Most Exalted One. Having killed a Copt, Moses implored his Lord thus:
"Lord! Surely I have harmed my own self; so, forgive me" (Qur’an, 28:16).
He first admitted his sin then sought His forgiveness. Allah also revealed the fault of David then said, "So We forgave him this (lapse)" (Qur’an, 38:25).
He addressed Muhammad saying, "So that Allah may forgive your past and future faults" (Qur’an, 48:2). Has He not in these examples exposed a sin then forgiven it? In one of his supplications, Prophet Muhammad says, "Lord! I implore You to forgive me an apparent forgiveness and a concealed one, and to forgive open and secret sins."
The meanings of maghfira, the root word of al-Ghaffar, al-Ghaafir, and al-Ghafur are clear in the verse saying:
"The One Who forgives the sins and accepts the repentance, the One Who is severe in punishment, the Lord of bounty; there is no god but He; to Him is the eventual return" (Qur’an, 40:3).
Al-Ghaffar is the One Who very often veils [the sins and faults of His servants], so much so that He does not propagate one's sins in the life of this world nor in the life hereafter. One of the companions of the Messenger of Allah was asked once, "What did you hear the Messenger of Allah say with regard to one's silent supplication?"
He answered by saying that he had heard the Messenger of Allah say, "Allah, the most Honoured, the Most Great, will touch His servant who believes in Him with His mercy by veiling his sin from the public in the life of this world, and in the life hereafter He will ask him about each and every sin and fault he had committed. Once he admits all of them and realizes that he is going to perish on their account, the Almighty will say, `I have veiled your sins in the past short life, and in this one I am going to forgive them.' Then he will be handed the book of his good deeds."
All this happens to those who believe in Him; as regarding those who do not, and the hypocrites, He will deal with them quite differently.
Allah has said,
"Say: Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the One, the Supreme" (Qur’an, 13:16).
Linguistically, "al-Qahhar" is derived from qahr, conquest, subduing, vanquishing, winning a victory. It means the overtaking of something or someone with the intention to humiliate him. One who takes another by way of qahr is one who takes him against his will. "Al-Qahhar" is a superlative of "al-Qahir", the Victor or Subduer. Allah, indeed, is the One Who, by His Might, has subdued everything He created to His Authority and Power, using His creatures as He pleases, whether they like it or not. Al-Qahir is the One Who has the upper hand over all creation;
"... and Allah is the master of His affair" (Qur’an, 12:21).
Al-Qahhar is the One Whose vengeance nobody can withstand. He humiliates oppressors, splits the spine of kings and emperors. He is the One besides Whose Might all creation is powerless, without Whose Power all beings are helpless. If we submit to Him, He will satisfy our needs, but if we do not, He will make us suffer as we try to achieve our objectives.
He is the One Who splits the spine of the tyrants and oppressors from among His foes, subduing them by taking their lives away, and by humiliating them, while there is nothing in existence that can escape His Might and Power: everyone and everything is helpless in His grip.
Al-Qahhar effects His will with regard to His creatures, whether they like it or not, whether they are willing or unwilling. He has subdued the souls of the worshippers by instilling in the hearts the fear of His retribution, and the hearts of those who are endowed with knowledge with the Might of nearness to Him, and the souls of those who love Him by unveiling the truth about Him to them.
He has subdued all beings by death, so none is safe from Him, not even an angel who enjoys a special status with Him, nor a prophet, nor a messenger. Allah will make even the angel of death, Israel, taste of death; so, when his soul is taken out, the angel of death will say, "By Your Honour do I swear that had I known the taste of death to be like this, I would never have taken away anyone's soul at all!"
It is to such a meaning that the word qahr, upon the taking of the souls of all beings, conveys as implied in the verse saying,
"To whom does the kingdom belong this day? To Allah, the One, the Subduer (of all)" (Qur’an, 40:16).
If one who believes in Allah desires to personify within him the meanings embedded in this Attribute, he has to subdue his own self, his nafs, and control his evil desires, by not plotting in cooperation with Satan, and by returning to Allah, submitting to His will in all matters. The path whereby man derives light from the Attribute "al-Qahhar" is that one should view his nafs, which is ever present within him, as the worst of his enemies, so he subdues it and strangles it, doing exactly the opposite of what it tells him to do, so much so that it will have no choice except to submit to divine commandments.
Then he will have to subdue his stubborn opponent, i.e. Satan, staying on his guard against his evil suggestions, blocking his avenues. Then he will have to subdue his carnal desires and insinuations by not following what they inspire him to do.
Allah, the Most Exalted, the Most High, has said,
"Lord! Do not let our hearts deviate after having guided us, but grant us mercy from Your own Presence, for You are the Grantor of bounties without measure" (Qur’an, 3:8).
"Al-Wahhab" is derived from the proper noun hibah the verb of which, yahib, means: to make someone else the owner of what the giver, the first party (the doer), rightfully owns without asking the second party for any compensation in return. It is the gift which is free from any recompense or gain for the giver.
If someone gives out such gifts quite often, he will earn the titles of jawad and wahhab, the generous one, the oft-giving, respectively. Allah Almighty is described as the Most Generous, the Most Giving, i.e. al-Wahhab, simply because He gives everyone according to his means. Among Allah's Attributes are al-Wahhab and al-Wahib. The latter Attribute means: the giver, whereas the first is a superlative of the latter. One who is wahab is one who grants many gifts.
Al-Wahhab is the One Who gives away without a compensation; He bestows His favours upon His servants without a selfish end; He grants even without being asked; He is the One Who initiates giving, and He is the oft-Giver. Allah is surely al-Wahhab because He is the Most Munificent, the Most Giving, the One Who ever tries to get closer to His servants, Who graciously bestows His favours upon them, Who gives them even before they ask Him, the ever-Giver Who gives everyone what he needs. Al-Wahhab bestows His blessings upon His servants, and this indicates His inclusion of everyone as He continuously gives.
He does not give painstakingly, nor does He seek a benefit, or an advantage, for Himself by doing so. Al-Wahhab showers you with His blessings without having to have a reason or a means to do so. Al-Wahhab gives away without being compensated for what He gives, and He causes all beings to die without a particular purpose He seeks to achieve for Himself. According to Surat al-Shura,
"He bestows (children), male or female, according to His Will (and Plan)" (Qur’an, 42:49).
Whenever the Messenger of Allah used to wake up during the night, he would supplicate thus: "Lord! There is no god but You! Glory to You! Lord! I seek Your forgiveness for my sins, and I plead to You, by Your mercy, O Lord, to increase my share of knowledge, not to permit my heart to deviate after having guided it, and to grant me, from You, a mercy, for surely You are al-Wahhab..." 4
"Al-Razzaq" is derived from rizq, sustenance, or anything of any benefit to man, animals, plants, etc., whereby the latter are sustained or are helped in their growth. Rain is also called rizq; it helps sustain every living being on our planet. In 51:58, we read: "Surely Allah is the One Who bestows sustenance, the Lord of Power, the Strong One."
Another verse referring to our sustenance is this: "And in the heavens is your sustenance and what you are threatened with" (Qur’an, 51:22). "In the heavens is your sustenance" may be a reference to the rain that descends from the heavens, the sky5. As to the phrase "and what you are threatened with," this may be a clue that the end of life on this earth will be terminated by a collision of an asteroid or a large size cosmic debri with the earth, but this is not the place to discuss such interpretations or speculations.
If Allah so wills, I intend to write a complete tafsr, an exegesis, of the Holy Qur’an that will contain such interpretations and speculations the like of which has never been written in English before. If the reader wishes to see such a book published, he is requested to pray the Almighty to make it happen. Prayers go a long way, had people only known. Allah listens to each and every supplication no matter who the supplicant is so long as the latter is a true believer in Him.
The word rizq may be used for means of income, livelihood, sustenance, money, wealth..., or for the earning of something good, be it during the life of this world or in the life to come, or it may be applied to one's lot or fortune, or even to anything eaten. "Al-Razzaq" is a superlative of "al-Raziq," the One Who provides rizq. Al-Razzaq is applied to none other than Allah. There are two types of rizq: one sustains the body, such as food and drink, while the other sustains the soul, which is knowledge and true inspiration. The latter is the best type of sustenance simply because what sustains the soul lasts forever, while what sustains the body has a temporary duration.
Al-Razzaq is the One Who creates all types of sustenance, Who extends His favour to cover making such sustenance attainable to His creatures, Who provides means for getting them to attain their sustenance. He sustains all His creation by whatever means needed to keep them alive. He sustains the minds with knowledge, the hearts with understanding, the souls with manifestations, the bodies with food, and so on. Only He can do so. Anyone who realizes this fact will recognize the fact that his own sustenance, and that of everyone and everything else, is controlled by none other than Allah.
References to rizq have been made in several Qur’anic verses such as these:
... Allah provides means of subsistence to whomsoever He pleases without a measure. (2:212)
Allah is Benignant to His servants; He gives sustenance to whomsoever He pleases, and He is the Strong, the Mighty One. (42:19)
... and whoever fears Allah, He will make an outlet for him and give him sustenance from whence he does not expect. (65:2-3)
... these are the believers truly; they shall have forgiveness and an honourable provision. (8:74)
... and the sustenance (provided) by your Lord is better and more abiding. (20:131)
Most surely this is Our sustenance: it shall never deplete. (38:54)
Say: The (blessing) from the presence of Allah is better than any amusement or bargain. (62:11)
... surely the things you worship besides Allah cannot sustain you. (29:17)
There is no creature moving on earth except that its sustenance depends on Allah. (11:6)
One of the Islamic manners inspired by the Attribute "al-Razzaq" is that a servant of Allah becomes convinced that there is no partner with his Lord in providing sustenance, just as He has no partner in creating everything. He, therefore, pleads to Him for anything small or big. He also feels satisfied with what al-Razzaq has allotted for him, just as He has said,
"And they are the ones who, when spending, are neither extravagant nor parsimonious but keep the just means between these [extremes]" (Qur’an, 25:67),
"Those who, when spending, are neither extravagant nor niggardly but hold a just (balance) between these (extremes)" (Qur’an, 17:29).
The abundance of Allah's sustenance is without a limit. He is the One Who says the following in Surat Hud:
"There is no creature moving on earth except that its sustenance depends on Allah: He knows the time and place of its definite abode and its temporary deposit: all is in a clear record" (Qur’an, 11:6).
The Almighty has said,
"Say: Our Lord will gather us together and will in the end decide the matter between us (and you) in truth and justice, and He is the One to decide, the One Who knows everything" (Qur’an, 34:26).
In Arabic, fataha, the verb, means "opened," and muftah means key, whereas fath means victory or conquest. Fath also means flowing water, a creak, or a river. It also means: to arbitrate between two opponents. "Istiftah" means: seeking help or achieving victory. Both al-Fatih and al-Fattah are among the Attributes of Allah.
They exist within the text of the Holy Qur’an. "Al-Fattah" is a superlative of al-fath. To say that Allah is al-Fattah is to say that He is the One Who judges between those whom He creates, His servants, the obedient ones and the rebellious. It is derived from fath which means, in such usage, arbitration or decision-making. It exists in this meaning in the verse saying,
"Lord! Decide between us and our people with truth, and You are the best of those who decide" (Qur’an, 7:89).
It also means: the One Who grants victory as in this verse of Surat al-Anfal:
"If you pray for victory, then indeed victory has come to you" (Qur’an, 8:19).
Al-Fattah is the One Who opens deadlocked matters and issues, Who reveals the truth, Who simplifies whatever seems to be complicated, Who controls the affairs of the heavens and the earth:
"And with Him are the keys of the unseen treasures: none knows them but He, and He knows what is in the land and in the sea" (Qur’an, 6:59).
So He is the One Who opens what is closed and Who has the keys to everything, Who widely opens the gates of sustenance and brings down rain whereby He brings life back to dead lands, Who grants victory and support for His prophets whom He sends to various lands so that the light of the truth may shine therein, and so that He may purge their souls from evil intentions. He opens the closed hearts and fills them with His light, so they become tranquil, and they enjoy the feeling of success.
The Attribute "al-Fattah" inspires good manners which ought to be followed by anyone who correctly grasps the meanings it implies, who deeply contemplates upon it, who sincerely desires to be blessed by it. Among such manners is that one should maintain an attitude of beautiful anticipation of the Grace of Allah, continuously expecting to receive His favours, always looking forward to earning His blessings. He abandons haste, feels satisfied with his lot and with whatever his Lord has decreed for him. "Contentment is a treasure that never depletes," says an Arabic axiom. How true!
Allah has said,
"... and trust in Allah; surely He is the Hearing, the Knowing" (Qur’an, 8:61).
"Al-`Aleem" is derived from `ilm, knowledge, which results from comprehending the truth about something and from the sure conviction which agrees with reality. "Al-`Aleem," when applied to the Almighty, is the One Who is most Knowing; surely His knowledge encompasses everything in existence even before anything begins to exist. Nothing at all can escape His knowledge.
He is the One Whose knowledge is inclusive, be it apparent or hidden, minute or magnanimous. He knows its beginning and its end, what is above or underneath it, and what results therefrom. Al-`Aleem is also the One Who knows what has happened and what will. The knowledge of the unknown is with Him, and so is the knowledge of the Hour; He knows what the wombs bear, when the rain falls, what every soul earns, what evil intentions one harbors, what worldly desires he/she conceals, when and where anyone will die.
Al-`Aleem is the One Who knows the details of all things, the particulars of things, what one's conscience and soul hide. Nothing at all, not even the weight of an atom in the earth or in the heavens, can ever escape His knowledge. From the word `ilm have many other words been derived. Al-`lim is one. It occurs in Surat al-Ma'ida in this verse:
"... surely You are the great One Who knows the unseen" (Qur’an, 5:109).
Another is al-A`lam which occurs in Surat al-Ana`m:
"Allah best knows where He places His message" (Qur’an, 6:124).
Al-`Aleem is a superlative of al-`alim.
The Holy Qur’an contains the following verses which demonstrate the various meanings and types of knowledge:
He knows that there is weakness in you. (8:66)
He knows that there will be sick ones among you. (73:20)
And surely We know that your breast straitens at what they say. (15:97) Allah knows what every female bears. (13:8)
"Al-`Aleem," one of the ninety-nine Attributes of Allah, occurs in many Qur’anic verses such as:
... that is the ordinance of the Mighty, the Knowing. (36:38)
The revelation of the Book is from Allah, the Mighty, the Knowing. (40:2)
... surely He knows what is in the breasts. (11:5)
... We have no knowledge except what You have taught us; surely You are the Knowing, the Wise. (2:32)
And the sun runs [its course] to a term appointed for it; that is the ordinance of the Mighty, the Knowing. (36:38)
This word is coined as a superlative derived from a verb meaning: "to know or to be familiar with." The Messenger of Allah is quoted saying that one who supplicates in the morning by thrice repeating, "In the Name of Allah with Whose Name nothing at all, be it in the earth or in the heavens, can ever harm, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing," will not be afflicted by any sudden calamity till evening time, and if he says so in the evening, he will not be afflicted by any sudden calamity till daybreak.
Allah has said the following in the Holy Qur’an:
"... and Allah straitens and amplifies..." (Qur’an, 2:245).
Linguistically, qabd, root verb of "al-Qabid," means: to take, hold, seize, grip, catch, handle, and the like. It is the holding of something with the hand such as a sword's handle, etc. It is meant as a way to forcefully take control of something or someone. Allah Almighty has said the following in this sense: "... and Allah straitens and amplifies..." (Qur’an, 2:245), meaning He straitens, withholds, His sustenance of some while amplifying it for others.
"Al-Qabid" means: "the One Who takes hold of the souls by subduing them, the spirits by effecting justice in their regard, the means of sustenance by His wisdom, and the hearts by making them fear His Glory." Al-Qabid is the One Who causes the souls to be taken away from their bodies, their temporary homes, at the time of death. The angel who takes the souls away (i.e. the qabid) is called in Islam "Israel."
Al-Qabid is the One Who takes hold of the hearts, Who controls them, Who isolates them through their lack of knowledge, through their own oversights. He takes hold of some hearts, so He unveils to them His Greatness and Glory. He pleases other hearts through the means whereby He gets closer to them out of His own Kindness, Munificence, and Beauty. Al-Qabid is the One Who unveils His Glory to you, so He protects you; He is the One Who makes you dread being distanced from Him.
Al-Qabid is the One Who controls the entire cosmos; in the following verse, He makes a reference to His control over the earth:
"... and the whole earth shall be in His grip on the Day of Resurrection and the heavens rolled up in His right hand" (Qur’an, 39:67).
The Almighty has neither a right nor a left hand; He has no hands at all; this is only a figure of speech denoting His total control over the heavens and the earth and everything in them.
The expansion of the earth is done by Him during the life of this world; says He, "Have We not made the earth an even expanse?" (Qur’an, 78:6) meaning spread like a carpet. On the Day of Judgment, the earth shall also be there, but it will look quite different from its present appearance...; everything about how it will look and what will happen above and underneath it is detailed in books of hadith, in traditions that will, God willing, see the light for the first time in English..., but let us not digress here by borrowing from another book of mine soon, Insha-Allah, to be written!
Al-Qabid receives the knowledge of and appreciates acts of charity; to be charitable is to be a true servant of His, a blessed one. He says, "... Allah accepts repentance from His servants and takes the alms" (Qur’an, 9:104). He straitens the hearts, that is, places heavy burdens on them, burdens of woes and worries, of fears or of aspiration, and He also eases them.
Linguistically, "al-Basit" means: one who stretches his hand, be it as a gesture of good will (in order to shake hands with someone else), or otherwise (to harm someone else, be it by inflicting a physical harm on it, or by causing damage to his property or his own self). It may be applied literally or metaphorically. The Almighty, for example, has quoted Cain son of Adam saying the following to his brother Able:
"If you stretch forth your hand towards me to slay me..., etc." (Qur’an, 5:28).
It also means: to please. According to one tradition, the Messenger of Allah has said, "Fatima is part of me; whatever pleases her pleases me, and whatever displeases her displeases me, too." Literally, it means: to relax the facial muscles in order to express pleasure and happiness, elation or excitement; all other meanings branch out of that. Inbisat, its noun, means, among other things, abandoning modesty. "Al-baseeta" is the outstretched tract of land, and "bast" is: expansion or propagation.
Al-Basit is the One Who pleases the souls by making them happy and delighted. He is the One Who plants the seeds of life in the bodies to signal the beginning of life therein. He, at the advent of resurrection, brings life back to them in order to show people, in the life hereafter, what they used to do during their temporary life in this world.
The Attribute "al-Basit" does not exist in the text of the Holy Qur’an, yet its derivatives certainly do; these are examples where such derivatives exist:
Nay! His hands are spread out; He expends as He pleases. (5:64)
Allah has made for you the earth a wide expanse. (71:19)
Allah is the One Who sends forth the winds, so they raise a cloud, then He spreads it forth in the sky as He pleases, and He breaks it up, so you see rain coming forth from it; when He causes it to pour upon whomsoever He pleases of His servants, lo, they rejoice! (30:48)
The Holy Qur’an speaks of decorating the bodies with strength:
"... and increased you in excellence in respect of physique" (Qur’an, 7:69).
And it speaks of pleasing through both knowledge and excellence of physique when it says,
"... and He has increased him abundantly in knowledge and in physique" (Qur’an, 2:247).
We have to point out here that we ought to mention both divine Attributes of al-Qabid and al-Basit together in order to convey the meanings of might and wisdom. The Almighty is al-Qabid just as He is al-Basit.
Some scholars say that both Attributes al-Khafid and al-Rafi` ought to be used simultaneously. If applied to our Islamic creed, both Attributes connote misguidance and guidance respectively. If applied to knowledge or obedience to Allah, they imply the highest and the lowest of ranks respectively; it is in this sense that they occur in this verse: "Abasing (one party), exalting (the other)" (Qur’an, 56:3), meaning abasing the unbelievers who occupy the lowest ranks of hell while exalting the believers to the highest ranks of Paradise.
Allah has said,
"And be kind to him who follows you from among the believers" (Qur’an, 26:215).
Khafd is the opposite of raf`: the first implies vanquishing, lowering the status of, abasing, insulting, humiliating. The Hour is sometimes described as such in: "Abasing (one party), exalting (the other)" (Qur’an, 56:3), meaning abasing some people because of their transgression, hurling them into the pit of hellfire. In Surat al-Hijr, we read more about the khafd: "... be kind to the believers" (Qur’an, 15:88), and in Surat al-Isra' we read: "Be submissively gentle to them, compassionate" (Qur’an, 17:24).
Al-Khafid is the One Who humiliates the oppressors and tyrants, lowering their ranks and insulting them. He abases at will. Al-Khafid is the One Who lowers, through humiliation, all those who think of themselves as being great, the arrogant and the conceited. He lowers entire nations. He lowers falsehood. Al-Khafid is the One Who lowers the rank of all those who disobey Him, Who humiliates those upon whom His wrath descends, Who lowers the ranks of those who deserve to be treated as such.
He humiliates the unbelievers by exposing them to misery, His foes by distancing them from Him, and by exposing them to perdition.
Al-Khafid is the One Who has lowered the status of those who do not believe in Him, of those who are arrogant, of the liars, and of those who swerve away from His Path, the Path of Islam, His final Word of truth.
The Holy Qur’an states the following: "Allah will exalt those of you who believe, and those who are granted knowledge, to high degrees" (Qur’an, 58:11).
Al-Rafi` is one of the Attributes of Allah whose root word is raf`, lifting, raising, exalting, elevating, and the like. It can be used for objects as in 2:63:
"... and lifted the mountain over you," and in 13:2: "Allah is the One Who raised the heavens without any pillars so that you may see [His might] and He is firm in power." It can also be used for raising the structure of a building as is the case in the verse saying, "And when Abraham and Ishmael raised the foundations of the House..." (Qur’an, 2:127). It is also used for exalting or revering someone's status as in this verse: "... and exalted your esteem" (Qur’an, 94:4).
It is also used to exalt the status or degree of someone honoured as in the verse saying, "... and We have exalted some of them above others in degrees" (Qur’an, 43:32), and also, "... and exalted thrones..." (Qur’an, 56:34), that is, thrones the status of which is exalted by nearness to Him.
Al-Rafi` is Allah Who exalts the status of His friends, granting them victory over their foes and His, and that of the righteous, to the highest degrees. He exalts the truth; He exalts the believers by granting them happiness; He exalts His friends from among the believers by getting closer to them; He exalts the status of His friends by granting them the upper hand, and He exalts the status of those who befriend Him in truth and in equity. Al-Rafi' raised the heavens without pillars, raised the clouds over the winds, raised the birds in the air:
"Have they not seen the birds above them expanding (their wings) and contracting (them)? Who withholds them save the Beneficent God? Surely He sees everything" (Qur’an, 67:19).
Al-Rafi` has raised the status of His friends in the life of this world by making the believers humble themselves before them, and by making people pay homage and respect to them even if they do not wield any power, even if they have no wealth at all:
"Now surely the friends of Allah shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve. Those who believed and guarded (themselves against evil) shall have glad tidings in the life of this world as well as in the life hereafter; there is no alteration to the words of Allah; that is the mighty achievement" (10:62-65).
Al-Rafi` exalts the reputation of those who are regarded as weaklings among their own people, supporting the wronged against those who wrong them.
In Surat al-Baqarah, the Almighty says,
"We have made some prophets excel over others; among them are those to whom Allah spoke, and some of them He exalted by (many degrees of) rank" (Qur’an, 2:253).
In Surat al-Ana`m, He says,
"And this was Our argument which We gave to Abraham against his people; We exalt in dignity whomsoever We please; surely your Lord is Wise, Knowing" (Qur’an, 6:83).
In the same chapter, the Almighty tells us that
"He it is Who has made you successors in the land and raised some of you above others by (various) degrees so that He may try you by what He gives you; surely your Lord is quick to requite (evil), and He is most surely the Forgiving, the Merciful" (Qur’an, 6:165).
Other references occur in the following verses:
Allah said: O Jesus! I am going to terminate the period of your stay (on earth) and cause you to ascend to Me, to purify you from those who disbelieve, and to make those who follow you above those who disbelieve till the Day of Resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, so I will decide among you concerning that in which you differed. (3:55)
And mention Idris (Enoch) in the Book; surely he was a truthful man, a
prophet, and We raised him high in heaven. (19:56-57) And the heavens He
raised and established the balance. (55:7)
One who is granted a blessing through the inspiration of this Attribute of Allah is one who rises above his abominable desires and inclinations; such a person will be exalted by Allah to a status as high as that enjoyed by the angels with Him or even higher...
Allah has said,
Whoever desires honour, to Allah belongs the honour all of it. To Him do the good words ascend, and the good deeds He raises; (as for) those who plan an evil plan, they shall have a severe chastisement, (as for) their plan, it shall surely perish. (35:10)
He has also said in Surat Ali-`Imran:
Say: O Allah, Master of the kingdom! You bestow the kingdom upon whomsoever You please and take the kingdom away from whomsoever You please, and You exalt whomsoever You please and abase whomsoever You please; in Your hand is the good (all of it); surely You have power over all things. (3:26)
Allah has said,
"Those who take the unbelievers for guardians rather than the believers: do they seek honour from them? Surely all honour is Allah's" (Qur’an, 4:139).
"Al-Mu`izz" conveys the meaning of: the One Who honours whomsoever He pleases from among His servants. Linguistically, ma`azza, the noun derived from the verb yu`izz, means power, strength, might. Allah is surely al-`Aziz, the Mighty One Who subdues and is never subdued, Who strengthens His friends by His favour, protecting them against sinning, forgiving their faults, permitting them to reside in Paradise, the abode of His Munificence. Then He honours them by permitting them to witness His manifestations and see His signs.
He is the One Who empowers His prophets by protecting them against erring, granting them victory, protecting them, raising their status among their people. He honours one who obeys Him even if poverty is his lot, and He raises the status of a pious servant of His even if he were an Abyssinian slave. Allah, God, The Truth, Praised and Glorified is His Name, is referred to as such in various verses of His Book, the Holy Qur’an. Among such references are the following:
Do not let their speech grieve you; surely might is wholly Allah's; He is the Hearing, the Knowing. (10:65)
Glory to your Lord, the Lord of Honour, above what they describe. (37:180)
To Allah belongs the might, and to His Prophet, and the believers, but the hypocrites do not know. (63:8)
Imam `Ali ibn al-Husain Zayn al-`abidin is quoted saying, "If one desires to be honoured even though his tribe is not distinguished, or to be held in high esteem even though he has no authority, or to be a man whose wealth does not diminish, he should get out of the humiliation of disobedience and enter into the honour of obeying his Lord."
Essentially, the way how God honours His servants is by making them feel satisfied, contented, for humiliation lies in one being greedy. Had it not been for false hopes, no free man would have ever been enslaved by anything which, in all truth, is insignificant. The Almighty places one who persists in praising His Name in the center of honour, instilling love and respect for him in people's hearts. A servant of Allah who aspires to earn a good share of personifying this Glorified Name has to honour the Messenger of Allah and those who are knowledgeable among his own contemporaries, showing respect and humility to them.
The Almighty has said,
"Those who oppose Allah and His Prophet shall be (herded) among the most abased" (Qur’an, 58:20).
"Al-Muthill" is one of the Attributes of Allah derived from the noun thull, whatever results from subduing, vanquishing, overcoming, conquering, someone. The Almighty says, "... walk in the ways of your Lord submissively," (Qur’an, 16:69), that is, freely. He has also said,
"... its fruits shall be made accessible (to them), always easy to reach" (Qur’an, 76:14).
Al-Muthill is the One Who abases or humiliates whomsoever He pleases, depriving them of all prestige. He is the One Who justly abases His foes when they disobey Him and rebel against His commandments. He insults them and dismisses them, causing them to be hurled into the abode of His chastisement, the inferno of hell. Al-Muthill is the One Who abases His foes by depriving them of knowing Him, enabling them to have their way and to go against His injunctions. He will then have them transported to the abode of His chastisement, insulting them by dismissing and cursing them.
Al-Muthill is the One Who abases the unbelievers through the power of the truth, Who subdues whomsoever He pleases. Allah has not honoured any servant of His more than He has to one who abases his own evil-insinuating self, his nafs, and He has not abased any servant of His more than one who is preoccupied with trying to earn distinction, prominence, and prestige for himself.
In Surat al-A`raf we read the following verse:
"(As for) those who took the calf (for a god), surely wrath from their Lord and disgrace in the life of this world shall overtake them" (Qur’an, 7:152).
Anyone who looks niggardly at people to see how he can take advantage of them, who is never satisfied with what he has had, one who is dragged by his own schemes to elevate himself to prominence while keeping himself in the darkness of ignorance..., is one whom Allah has surely disgraced and deprived. Such an individual is implied in verses such as this:
"But you caused yourselves to fall into temptation, and you waited and doubted, and vain desires deceived you, till the threatened punishment of Allah came while the arch-deceiver [Satan] deceived you about Allah, so today ransom shall not be accepted from you" (Qur’an, 57:14).
This is the lowest degree of humiliation. Thull, or bringing it about, that is, ithll, comes in many types, shapes and sizes. Allah abases an oppressor by making him fall a prey to disease, or to his lust for women, or to his greed for wealth, or by making him in dire need of others. Let us supplicate thus:
"Lord! Take us out of the humiliation of disobedience to the honour of obedience to You, and do not permit any of those whom You created to disgrace us, and crown us with the crown of Your honour." Honour is in needing nobody. The absolutely perfect degree of such honour, to be sure, belongs to none other than Allah Who has said, "Surely all honour is Allah's" (Qur’an, 4:139).
Next in degree of being honoured is one who is closest to the Almighty:
"... to Allah belongs the honour, to His Prophet, and to the believers" (Qur’an, 63:8).
Allah has said, "
And to Him belongs whatever dwells in the night and in the day, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing" (Qur’an, 6:13).
Al-Samee' is the One - and Only One - Who listens to everything in existence without the use of a faculty for hearing or a hearing aid. Allah hears each and every sound and voice even if it is hidden from us. His hearing encompasses everything: He hears the pleas of those who are in distress; He responds to the supplications of those in need; He helps those who are desperate for help; He hears the praising of those who praise Him, so He rewards them for it, and the supplication of those who plead to Him, so He responds to them. He hears the sound of the black ant walking on a solid rock in the darkest night; and He hears what the hearts contemplate and what scruples penetrate the conscience. His response to the supplication of one person does not distract Him from responding to another; He knows where the vision trespasses and what the breasts conceal; He hears every silent plea; He hears you and me. Nothing on earth or in the heavens can ever be hidden from Him.
"Al-Samee`" is derived from "sam`". It conveys the fact that Allah, the Most High, realizes the truth about each and every sound even if it is, to our limited ability, quite silent. He, Glory to Him, realizes and distinguishes sounds as well as colors just as He realizes and distinguishes everything else.
"Sam`" may mean: acceptance of and a favourable response to. It exists, for example, in a tradition wherein the Messenger of Allah says, "Lord! I seek refuge with You against a statement which is not heard," meaning a supplication which does not receive His favourable response. It is also similar to one Muslims pronounce during their obligatory daily prayers: "Sami`a Allahu liman amidah," that is, Allah responds favourably to the pleas of those who praise Him.
The Almighty has said,
Surely I am with you both: I do hear and see. (20:46)
Or do they think that We do not hear what they conceal and their secret discourses? Aye! And Our messengers (angels) are with them writing (everything) down. (43:80)
Allah has indeed heard the plea of the [woman] who pleads to you about her husband. (58:1)
And if they resolve to divorce, Allah is surely Hearing, Knowing. (2:227)
One who comes to realize that Allah knows everything will safeguard his tongue against uttering falsehood. He will always say what is right. One who realizes that Allah hears even our thoughts will adopt the manners of one who watches over his conduct and who always holds himself accountable for what he contemplates, says, or does.
A servant of Allah ought to know that Allah did not create the hearing faculty for him except so that he would listen to the speech of Allah which He revealed unto His Prophet in order to benefit from it and to be guided by it.
If a servant of Allah seeks to be close to his Lord by offering nawafil (optional acts of adoration), he will be loved by Allah Who will then pour over his hearing of His divine light, thus making his insight very sharp, so much so that such a person will be able to see beyond the world of matter. If a servant of Allah remains straightforward in his worship of Allah, continuously seeking to please Him, Allah will surely provide him with goodness from Him and with divine light.
Allah has said, "He is with you wherever you are, and Allah sees whatever you do" (Qur’an, 57:4). In language, seeing is achieved through the faculty of vision; it is the reflection of light on what can be seen and its impression on the eyes. Seeing is also an insight, a discretion, an innermost conviction. One who is baseer is one who sees deeply, who is knowledgeable, who is an expert. Also, to "see" means not to rush, but to contemplate, to be acquainted with things, and to be firm in adhering to the creed.
Al-Baseer sees everything, the apparent and the hidden, without using the faculty of vision. When applied to the Almighty, Glory to Him, vision receives the perfection whereby the qualities of anything that can be seen are realized. Al-Baseer fully knows every visible thing, and to Him the truth in their regard is apparent, evident. He knows where vision trespasses and what the breasts conceal. He sees and oversees; nothing in the high heavens nor in the earth, nor in what is between them both, nor what is under the ground, can ever be concealed from His vision, and He is the ever-Present Who is never absent.
One who realizes that Allah has such an attribute will be disciplined by constantly keeping a vigil on his conduct, by being precise when holding his soul to account. One who safeguards his hearing and vision against incurring the wrath of the Almighty, not committing anything that does not beseem him or is not commendable, is loved by Allah, and he will be blessed with hearing and vision as indicated in sacred traditions.
The Almighty has said,
"The judgment is only Allah's; He relates the truth and He is the best of those who decide" (Qur’an, 6:57).
Both "al-Hakam" and "al-Hakim" convey the same meaning; the origin of the first means the same as that of man`, prohibition, from which a word such as hakama, an iron rein piece used to restrain horses, is derived.
"Al-Hakam" means: the One Whose word is final in determining what is right and what is wrong, in distinguishing between acts of righteousness and those of sinning. He rewards each soul according to what it earns, Who decides between His servants as He pleases, Who distinguishes between the wretch and the lucky, tormenting the first and rewarding the latter. Al-Hakam is the precise Arbitrator, the absolutely correct Judge Whose decision none can overturn, nor can anyone repeal His decree.
Al-Hakam is the One in Whose promise there should be no doubt at all, in Whose action there is no fault at all; He has decreed that the hearts must be contented and pleased with Him, that the souls must be submissive, obedient, to Him. He separates the truth from falsehood. In Surat al-Ana`m, we read:
"Shall I then seek a judge other than Allah? He it is Who has revealed to you the Book (which is) made clear" (Qur’an, 6:114).
In Surat Younus we read:
"Follow what is revealed to you and persevere till Allah gives His judgment, and He is the best of judges" (Qur’an, 10:109).
Other such references are:
Then who calls you a liar with regard to the judgment after this? Is not Allah the best of judges? (95:7-8)
Judgment is only Allah's; on Him do I rely, and on Him let those who are reliant rely. (12:67)
There are many derivations from this word in various places throughout the Holy Qur’an. Among Allah's judgment with regard to His servants is that everyone will receive the rewards of what he earns, and that his endeavor will be witnessed, noted, recorded, preserved; those who do good deeds will receive eternal bliss, whereas those who sin will receive eternal damnation. He makes righteousness the path to heaven and sinning the path to hell.
Shurayh ibn Hani has said that his father Hani ibn Yazid said, "I came to see the Messenger of Allah once and he heard people calling me `Abu [father of] al-Hakam.' He said to them, `Al-Hakam is Allah! Why are you named like that?!' I said to him, `Whenever my people dispute with one another, I judge between them to the satisfaction of both disputing parties.' The Prophet then asked me if I had any sons. `Yes. They are: Shuray, Abdullh and Muslim, sons of Hani.' `Who is their oldest?' the Messenger of Allah asked me. I told him it was Shuray. He then said, `You are Abu Shuray,' then he invoked Allah to bless me and my sons."6
Allah has said,
"Surely Allah enjoins the doing of justice and of good deeds (to others) and the giving to the kindred, and He forbids indecency, evil, and rebellion; He admonishes you so that you may be mindful" (Qur’an, 16:90).
`Adl means moderation; al-`adl is above oppressing or being inequitable to anyone in His decrees and actions. Rather, He grants everyone what is due to him; He puts everything in its right place; nothing ensues from Him except justice. He does whatever He pleases, and His decree regarding His servants is carried out.
In Surat al-Ana`m, the Almighty says,
"And the word of your Lord has been accomplished truly and justly; none can change His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing" (Qur’an, 6:115).
He enjoins justice and equity and says the following in Surat al-Nisa' (Women):
"When you judge between people, you should judge with justice; surely Allah admonishes you with what is excellent; surely Allah is Seeing, Hearing" (Qur’an, 4:58).
There are many traditions narrated about the Messenger of Allah pointing out to `adl and highlighting the status of those who act upon it. One of them is his saying, "There are seven types of people whom Allah will shade on a Day when there will be no shade except His: a just imam, a young man who grows up adoring Allah, a man whose heart is always attached to mosques, two men who love one another for the sake of Allah: they meet and they part only accordingly, a man sought by a woman of prominence and beauty [for illicit sex] and to whom he says, `I fear Allah,' a man who pays charity and hides his action, so much so that his left hand does not know what his right hand gives away, and a man who mentions the Name of Allah for the sake of remembering Him while his tears overflow." This tradition is recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim and is quoted on pp. 164-165, Vol. 3, of Al Targheeb wal tarheeb, and on p. 30 of Qabasat min hadi al nubuwwah.
Allah has said,
"... surely my Lord is benignant to whomsoever He pleases; surely He is the Knowing, the Wise" (Qur’an, 12:100).
"Al-Lateef" is one of Allah's Attributes derived from extreme kindness and compassion in a way which no human faculty can ever fathom. Al-Lateef continuously pours His blessings unto His servants; His actions are good and beautiful. This Attribute also means: the One Who cannot be sensed by human senses or those of all other beings, Who knows hidden and minute matters. Al-Lateef has combined in Him terse and wise compassion as well as minute and detailed knowledge of all affairs and of the means to make them reach whomsoever He pleases from among His creation.
Al-Lateef pleases His servants when He removes the clouds of His wrath away from them, the One Who is compassionate towards His servants even in matters related to His decree; He knows all hidden matters. He is the One Whose knowledge encompasses everything minute regarding all facts. His will is carried out, the will whereby He protects His creatures. He knows the most intricate of details relevant to interests and their obscurities; He gently makes them reach their destinations.
He is Most Kind and Compassionate to His servants even when they are not aware of it; He manages their affairs and wishes everything good for His servants. He desires their ease and makes for them the means of righteousness and goodness attainable. He eases everything difficult, Who joins everything broken. Allah has said,
"Does He not know, being the One Who created (everything and everyone)?! He knows the subtleties, the One Who is ever-Aware (of everything)" (Qur’an, 67:14).
One of the signs of His kindness towards His servants is that He has given them more than enough and required them to do less than what they can, thus making the achievement of eternal happiness attainable by easy endeavor during a short period of time, i.e. one's life-span, which is too short to be compared with the eternity of the hereafter.
Al-Lateef has conceived everything within the framework of its own antithesis. Allah, for example, hid for prophet Joseph the prominence of authority in the garb of slavery till he himself eventually came to say:
"... surely my Lord is benignant to whomsoever He pleases; surely He is the Knowing, the Wise" (Qur’an, 12:100).
A man was taken once to prison although he was innocent of the charge, so he kept repeating Joseph's invocation saying,
"... surely my Lord is benignant to whomsoever He pleases; surely He is the Knowing, the Wise" (Qur’an, 12:100).
A young man came to him during one night and said to him, "Stand up so that I may get you out of your jail." The man asked the youth how he could get out since the doors were all locked, but the youth ordered him for the second time to stand up. He walked with the young man till he got out of town, then he said to him,
"Recite: `Surely my Lord is benignant to whomsoever He pleases; surely He is the Knowing, the Wise" (Qur’an, 12:100).
The Most Exalted One has said,
"Vision does not comprehend Him, while He comprehends all vision, and He knows the subtleties, and He is the Aware" (Qur’an, 6:103).
Al-Khabeer is one of the Attributes of Allah, and it means: the One Who knows everything and from Whose knowledge nothing at all escapes. He knows the essence of everything and is acquainted with the truth in its regard. Al-Khabeer is familiar with the most intricate matters; He knows the ailment and its remedy.
Al-Khabeer knows the innermost of everything; nothing takes place in His domain without His knowledge; no atom moves nor stands still, nor a soul is upset or eased, except that He knows about it. He is the One from Whose knowledge nothing in the earth or in the heavens is hidden; nothing moves in the heavens or in the earth except that He knows about its final resting point or destination.
Scholars have distinguished between al-Khabeer and al-`Aleem. The first connotes knowledge, but when knowledge is applied to hidden matters, it is then called khibra, and the One Who knows it is called al-Khabeer.
The Almighty has said, "What?! Do you think that you will be left alone while Allah has not yet ascertained those of you who have struggled hard and have not taken anyone as an adherent besides Allah and His Prophet and the believers?! Allah is Aware of all what you do" (Qur’an, 9:16). Anyone who has a certain need about which he likes to ask Allah for something should recite the verse saying "Does He not know, the One Who created?! He knows the subtleties, and He is the Aware" (Qur’an, 67:14) repeatedly till he falls asleep.
Allah has said,
"... certainly Allah has pardoned them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Forbearing" (Qur’an, 3:155).
"Al-Haleem" is an Attribute of the Almighty derived from the root word hilm which means: taking the time to do something. It also means care, attention, and sensibility. Allah's hilm is His postponement of chastising those who deserve to be chastised, so He delays the penalty of some of those who deserve it. After that, He may penalize them or overlook their faults.
Or He may swiftly penalize some of them. He witnesses the transgression of transgressors and the disobedience of those who disobey Him without being provoked by anger or overwhelmed by wrath, and He does not rush to penalize despite His ability to do so. Allah has said,
"Had Allah destroyed men on account of their iniquity, He would not have left on earth a single creature" (Qur’an, 16:61).
Al-Haleem does not bring about a swift vengeance; had He intended to effect revenge at a later time, He would have been called spiteful, vengeful, and if He does not intend to seek revenge at all, then surely He is Forgiving. He can also be called al-Haleem if He does not intend to seek revenge at all provided He does not declare His intention. If He does declare it, He then is called Forgiving. Al-Haleem quite often overlooks sins and covers up shortcomings. He forgives after having covered up. He safeguards His affection for His servants.
His promise is good. He fulfills His promise. Al-Haleem shields those who indulge in sins with His forgiveness, Who pardons those who violate His laws, Who is not slighted by the rebellion of the rebellious, and no oppression of any oppressor can ever provoke Him.
The Holy Qur’an has described some of Allah's messengers as Haleem; for example, Abraham, the Friend of Allah, is described as, "... most surely Abraham was very tender-hearted, forbearing" (Qur’an, 9:114), and in Surat Hud, he is praised likewise: "Most surely Abraham was forbearing, tender-hearted, oft-returning (to Allah)" (Qur’an, 11:75).
The Holy Qur’an states the following in Surat al-Saffat about Ishmael
"So We gave him the glad tidings of a boy [Ishmael] possessing forbearance" (Qur’an, 3:101).
ilm is a gracious and a noble attribute, so much so that one tradition recorded in Al-Athir cites the Messenger of Allah saying, "Hilm is the master of all good conduct." It also records another such tradition saying, "One who is Haleem is almost on the same footing with Allah's prophets." Hilm enjoys a high status and esteem despite the abundance of one's sins and the repetition of one's repentance.
Allah has said,
"Allah does not call you to account for what is vain of your oaths, but He will call you to account for what your hearts have earned, and Allah is Forgiving, Forbearing" (Qur’an, 2:225).
He has also said,
"The seven heavens declare His glory and the earth, too, and those who are in them, and there is not a single thing but glorifies and praises Him, but you do not understand their glorifying; surely He is Forbearing, Forgiving" (Qur’an, 17:44).
A forbearing and munificent person, then, is one who often forgives the sins and conceals the shortcomings.
He is the one who forgives after shielding one's sins, who safeguards his compassion, who is true to his word, who forgives those who break his law, who is not stirred by the rebellion of transgressors, nor is he provoked by oppression. Allah's Munificence regarding the sinners is great:
"... and He is the Most High, the Great" (Qur’an, 2:255).
It is narrated that Abraham saw a man committing a sin, so he prayed Allah to cause him to perish, and so it happened. He saw a second and a third, and he repeated his plea, and they, too, perished. Then he saw a fourth and invoked Allah likewise to annihilate him. It was then that Allah inspired him, "O Abraham! Stop! If We were to annihilate each one of Our servants who commits a sin, then only a small number will survive; but if one sins, We give him a respite; if he repents, We accept his repentance, and if he persists, We postpone his penalty knowing that he cannot escape from Our domain."
It is also narrated that a young man used to commit many sins, and he used to persist in sinning; nay, he even used to repent and immediately go back to sinning. Having done so quite often, he was addressed by Satan thus, "For how long will you keep sinning and repenting?" Satan wished that Allah would cause that man to lose hope in His mercy and become despondent.
When night came, the man performed his ablution and offered two reka`ts, then he raised his eyes to the heavens and said, "O You Who protects the righteous against sinning, Who safeguards those who are protected from sinning, Who makes the righteous what they are! If You neglect me, You will find me losing heart; my forelock is in Your hand; my debts are before You! O You Who changes the hearts! I invoke You to keep my heart firm on following Your creed!" Allah, thereupon, said to His angels, "O angels of Mine! Have you all heard his statement? Bear witness, then, that I have forgiven all his past sins and safeguarded him against sinning for the rest of his life."
The Almighty has said,
"So glorify the Name of your Lord, the Great" (Qur’an, 56:96).
"Al-`Azeem" is a superlative derived from the noun `izam, greatness, magnanimity, dignity, honour, esteem, pride... The Absolute Azeem is the One Whose greatness cannot be grasped by vision; it is beyond all limits, so much so that no human intellect can ever absorb it. Allah has said, "He is the Most High, the Great" (Qur’an, 2:255).
The most prominent person in a town is called its greatest. This is the meaning of what the unbelievers say as the Holy Qur’an quotes them: "... to a man great in both towns..." (Qur’an, 43:31). Allah has said, "... and the great Qur’an" (Qur’an, 15:87).
When the Messenger of Allah wrote a letter to Heraclius (which will be discussed later in this book Insha-Allah), he addressed him as "the azeem man of Rome," that is, the greatest dignitary in Rome. Heraclius, who ruled from 610 - 641 A.D., was a Byzantine emperor, ruler of the Eastern Roman empire. was involved in many wars with the Persians from 634 - 642 A.D. He did not accept Islam; his armies were eventually conquered by Islamic troops, so he lost Syria, Palestine and Mesopotamia (upper Iraq) as well as Egypt, one after the other.
If you consider the greatness of al-Az`eem, you will come to know that anyone besides Him is insignificant. The human being, no matter how knowledgeable, is limited in the scope and content of his knowledge. How can you compare such a limited amount of knowledge with that of the Almighty? An example of His might exists in 31:28:
"Neither your creation nor your raising (bai`th, the reunion between the soul and the recreated body) is only like (that of) a single soul" (Qur’an, 31:28).
To the Almighty, the creation of the entire cosmos is as easy as the creation of one single soul:
"Our word for a thing when We intend it is only to say to it: Be, and it is" (Qur’an, 16:40).
Allah has required us to revere His signs; He says, "That (shall be so), and whoever respects the signs of Allah, it surely is (the sign) of the piety of the hearts" (Qur’an, 22:32).
One who highly regards the signs of Allah, respects religious rites, holds in high esteem anything related to Allah, is surely held in high esteem by both Allah and His servants.
The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, has conveyed the following glad tidings: "One who learns then becomes fully knowledgeable then acts upon what he has learned is called great in the kingdom of the heavens."
Ibn `Abbas quotes the Messenger of Allah saying, "If someone enters a room to visit a sick person on the brink of death and he repeats seven times the saying of: `I plead to Allah the Great, Lord of the Great Throne, to heal you,' that sick person will be healed by the Will of Allah."
Allah has said,
"... surely Allah forgives the faults all of them; surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful" (Qur’an, 39:53).
"Al-Ghafoor" is derived from the root word ghafr, veiling or covering. He is al-Ghafoor because He quite often veils the sins and forgives those who commit them. He does not dispute about them with His servants. Maghfira means the covering and the forgiving of sins. Allah's forgiveness means His protection of a servant of His against His torment. Its verb means: to openly overlook his sins.
Al-Ghafoor is the Master Whose power is perfect; He may unconditionally forgive due to the favours He bestows upon His servants, and to His benevolence.
The Holy Qur’an has referred quite often to forgiveness, and Allah has diversified it so that the hearts of those who disobey Him may not lose hope of His mercy, and so that no criminal will despond of the mercy of Allah. He forgives the sins and accepts the repentance. In Surat Ghfir, we recite this verse:
"The One Who forgives the faults and Who accepts repentance, Who is Severe in punishing, the Lord of bounty" (Qur’an, 40:3).
Other such references are as follows:
... so forgive us and have mercy on us; You are the best of those who forgive. (7:155)
Most surely I am the most Forgiving to one who repents and believes and does good deeds then continues to follow the right guidance. (20:82)
He has created the heavens and the earth with the truth; He makes the night cover the day and the day overtake the night, and He has made the sun and the moon subservient (to His will): each runs to an assigned term; surely He is the Mighty, the oft-Forgiving. (39:5)
As regarding the verse saying, "Inform My servants that I am the Forgiving, the Merciful" (Qur’an, 15:49), some companions of the Prophet were once indulged in laughter as the Messenger of Allah passed by. He greeted them then said to them, "Do you laugh while the fire is before you?" They regretted and felt extremely depressed. He soon went back to them and said, "Gabriel has just come to me and said that Allah asked why I caused some of His servants to lose hope in His mercy," then he repeated 39:5 quoted above.
The lot of one who wishes to personify the Attribute "al-Ghafoor" is that he constantly seeks His forgiveness; he forgives His servants time and over again. This is the key to obtaining the forgiveness of Allah as referred to in 24:22: "Do not let those among you who possess grace and abundance swear against giving to the near of kin and the poor and those who have fled in Allah's way; they should pardon and overlook. Do not you love that Allah would forgive you? Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
Allah has said,
"So that He may pay them back their rewards in full and give them more out of His grace: surely He is the Forgiving, the One Who multiplies the rewards" (Qur’an, 35:30).
Linguistically, "al-Shakoor" is derived from the root word shukr which conveys the meaning of: an increase. Arabs describe a land as such if its plants are abundant.
They describe an animal as such if it is fattened. Plants sustained by a little amount of water are called shakoor. Al-Shakoor thanks quite often, Who appreciates acts of righteousness, charity and kindness. A servant of Allah who is shakoor is one who perseveres to thank his Lord by obeying Him and by carrying out the obligations which He has mandated on him. Shukr is recognition and propagation of goodness.
Al-Shakoor, Allah, appreciates even the few good deeds His servants do, doubling His rewards for them. His way of thanking them is by giving them of His bounties though He was the One Who enabled them to do such good deeds in the first place. He planted in their hearts the desire to do them, then He provided for them all the means to carry them out. He enables His servants to be grateful for the blessings which He bestows upon them, so He rewards them even for small acts of obedience to Him with an abundance of His good things. He grants for a few days' endeavor a bliss in the hereafter that never ends.
Al-Shakoor accepts the little and Who gives a lot. Allah has called Himself al-Shakoor in order to tell us that He rewards His servants for thanking Him; hence, the reward for such gratitude is called shukr, just as the penalty for a bad deed is called bad; He has said,
"And the recompense of evil is a like punishment" (Qur’an, 42:40).
One of the tokens of accepting one's expression of appreciation is that he receives an increase of Allah's blessings according to 14:7: "If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more, and if you are ungrateful, My chastisement is truly severe."
The truth about appreciation is not related to the qualities of Allah: appreciation comes from people; it is simply the expending of the blessings granted by Allah in the way for which He created them.
Linguistically, appreciation is coupled with blessing, grace, gratitude. Nobody can do Allah a favour for which He has to thank him; therefore, His appreciation must be understood metaphorically according to Tafsir al-Manar. Allah's gratitude means that He is capable of rewarding the doers of good, that He does not permit the deeds of such doers to be wasted or unrewarded. It is in this sense that rewarding the doer of good with what he deserves is called appreciation, and Allah has thus called Himself appreciative. Allah has also promised those who appreciate His blessings to increase His blessings upon them; so, such gratitude also falls under the same type of appreciation.
The most Appreciative One has said,
"... and whoever does good spontaneously, surely Allah is Grateful, Knowing" (Qur’an, 2:158).
Thus do we come to know that Allah, Glory to Him, has a conduct which is surely the most perfect one when He called Himself appreciative of the worlds although whatever good they do neither benefits Him nor harms Him in the least; rather, its benefit is surely for our own good. It is, in reality, a sign of His own blessings upon us that He guides and enables us to do it; so, it does not beseem any sensible person to observe the great favour bestowed upon him by Allah without thanking Him for it, or without obeying Him.
Allah also says,
"Therefore remember Me, so I will remember you, too, and be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me" (Qur’an, 2:152).
In this verse, Allah teaches His servants to be appreciative, ordering them to remember the blessings which He has bestowed upon them by their hearts, tongues and senses. Their reward for it is that He reminds them of His permission to continue to enjoy such blessings, and to increase them, ordering them to praise Him by His Attributes, to discuss His countless blessings, to glorify Him openly and secretly, so that He may mention them in His high company and mention His being pleased with them.
In a qudsi tradition, the Messenger of Allah quotes the Almighty saying, "I am as My servant thinks of Me: I am with him; if he mentions Me silently, I shall mention him likewise, and if He mentions My Name before a crowd of people, I shall mention him before a better crowd; if he gets closer to Me as much as a span, I shall get closer to him as much as a yard; if he gets closer to Me as much as a yard, I will get closer to him more than twice that much. If he comes to Me walking, I shall come to him running."
Allah commands His servants to be grateful to Him and not to deny the blessings which He has bestowed upon them. This is a warning for this nation against that wherein previous nations had fallen due to the latter's denial of the blessings which the Almighty had showered upon them. He granted them the powers of reason, emotion, judgment, and other such blessings.
A servant of Allah should never tire of thanking and praising Him, incessantly and unhesitatingly.
In a supplications by the Messenger of Allah, he says, "Lord! I am incapable of praising You enough; You are as You have praised Yourself." Praising Allah and thanking Him as He really deserves is not within the human capacity. A servant of Allah, therefore, must leave it to the One Who can do so:
Allah, Praise is due to Him, and ONLY to Him. How can man acquire perfection in such an area while he contemplates upon some blessings bestowed upon him by Allah and says to himself: "I was mere naught and Allah caused me to be, then He granted me the beautiful outward appearance, and the power of reason which is the very best of my inner qualities, then He granted me hearing and vision and guided me to know Him, then He made His great rewards attainable and even praised me in his Great Book"?
If you move your tongue and say: Alamdu-lillh (Praise to Allah), thinking that mere saying so is sufficient to express gratitude for all the great favours He has bestowed upon you, then you surely have taken leave of absence from your sanity, for you surely will not have thanked Him at all. "Talk is cheap," says an axiom, whereas "actions speak louder than words." Express your gratitude towards your Maker by actions, not only by words. A servant's true expression of gratitude is his own admission that he simply is incapable of sufficiently express his gratitude to His Maker, Sustainer, and Benefactor.
Jabir ibn Abdullah al-Ansari has quoted the Messenger of Allah saying, "If one is given something while being capable of finding a way to likewise give, let him do so, but if he is not, then let him praise the giver, for one who remains silent and says nothing commits kufr, apostasy. And if one were to put on clothes which he was not given, he would then be like one who wears two outfits of forgery."7
Allah has said,
"... what they call upon besides Him is falsehood; Allah is the High, the Great" (Qur’an, 22:61).
"Al-`Aliyy" is one of Allah's Attributes, and it is derived from uluww, height, sublimity, or loftiness versus lowliness. The height referred to here is that of status. Al-`Aliyy is High, so High that He can never be conceived nor visualized. Minds are at a loss regarding His Greatness; intellects are incapable of conceiving His perfection.
According to Al-Mufradat, one who is `aliyy is a prominent person, a man of distinction. When applied to the Almighty, as in 22:61 cited above, the implied meaning is that He is above being described by anyone or truly known by anyone, and He is above what anyone says about Him.
He is the One above Whose status there is none at all, and everything in existence is under His control. Allah has said,
"He is the Most High, the Great" (Qur’an, 2:255),
"... judgment belongs to Allah, the High, the Great" (Qur’an, 40:12)
"... the Great, the Most High" (Qur’an, 13:9).
"High" and "low" may be applied both to tangible as well as intangible things. As regarding the tangible ones, the `Arsh (Throne) is said to be higher than the Kursi (the Seat of Authority), and the heavens is higher than the earth. Such words are applied only to tangible things, things which have dimensions. Since the Almighty is above having dimensions, His being al-`Aliyy is above being as such.
The One Who is al-`Aliyy is above being conceived by any intellect, and Whose Attributes are too great to be described. He is the One in Whose Greatness minds are puzzled, and in trying to realize His Essence the intellects fall short.
Among the good manners adorning a believer are: humbleness and submissiveness before the Glory of the Almighty. It is only then that He exalts his status. Al-Qushayri has reported saying that Allah inspired Moses to go near a mountain so that He would address him. Every mountain there vied with the others in the hope of being the one near which such a divine address would take place.
Mount Sinai thought very humbly of itself saying, "Since when do I deserve the honour of being the site worthy of the status of Moses when addressed by his Lord?" For this reason, Allah inspired Moses to go near Mount Sinai due to the latter's humility.
According to Al-Asma' wal sifat, where a qudsi tradition is quoted, the Messenger of Allah heard during the Night of Isra (the night journey to Jerusalem) a praising in the high heavens saying: Subhan al-`Aliyy al-A`la, Subnahu wa Ta`ala, that is, "Glory to the Most High, Glory to Him and Exaltation." Iyas ibn Salmah has quoted his father saying that he had heard the Messenger of Allah starting every supplication by saying, "Subhana al-A`la al-Wahhab," "Glory to the Most High, the ever-Giving."
We read the following in the Holy Qur’an:
"They shall say: What is it that your Lord said? They shall say: The truth. And He is the Most High, the Great" (Qur’an, 34:23).
Linguistically, one who is kabeer is a great person, a dignitary, a distinguished personality. Allah, Glorified and Exalted is His Name, is greater than everything and everyone, and He is the Absolutely Great One, the One Who is Great on His own merits, in His qualities and Essence, above being in any way like any of His creatures; "There is nothing like Him," the One Who is superior to the praise of any of those who praise, glorify, or attempt to describe Him.
He is the most perfect of anything in existence, the One Who has all the Glory, the Greatness, the Honour and the Sublimity. He is above what the beings He has created conceive Him to be. He is too Great to be described or His actions to be comprehended. The Almighty has said,
He is the High, the Great. (40:12)
Proclaim His greatness magnifying (Him). (17:111)
And your Lord do magnify. (74:3).
To Him belongs greatness in the heavens and the earth. (45:37)
The Almighty has been lauded with characteristics of this sort:
One is al-Kabeer. The other is al-Mutakabbir, the explanation of which has already been dealt with. The third is al-Akbar as in 9:72: "... and best of all is Allah's goodly pleasure" (Qur’an, 9:72), and in 29:45: "... certainly the remembrance of Allah is the greatest."
But it has not been used in the Holy Qur’an as a reference to the Almighty, yet it occurs as an Attribute of His in the Sunnah such as our saying: Allahu Akbar! The fourth is al-Kibriya'; Allah has said,
"And to Him belongs greatness..." (Qur’an, 45:37).
So, let us discuss these Attributes:
As regarding al-Akbar, there are two ways to look at it: First, He is greater than anything else in existence. It is possible to view the "Allahu Akbar!" which Muslims pronounce audibly when saying their prayers in the same light, meaning that Allah is greater than anyone or anything else; hence, one's mind will not be occupied by anyone or anything else besides Him, nor is his heart attached to anyone or anything else besides Him.
"Allahu Akbar!" is a statement derived from "al-Kabeer" and is pronounced to initiate the obligatory prayers, during the time of rukoo`, sujood or qiyam, that is, when bowing, prostrating or standing during the performance of obligatory prayers. It is called takbeer, Glorification of al-Kabeer, the Great One, the Most Great. Takbeer is required on several occasions such as the athan, iqama, prayers, both feasts, funeral prayers, upon seeing the Ka`ba, throwing the stones [during the pilgrimage], and announcing the time for jihad, holy war.
The Messenger of Allah is said to initiate anything of significance with "Allahu Akbar!"
Ibn `Abbas is quoted saying that the Messenger of Allah used to teach his companions a supplication whereby they could shun all ailments and types of fever which said, "In the Name of Allah al-Kabeer; we seek refuge with Allah al-Azeem from the evil of any feverish vein, and from the inferno of hellfire."
The Attribute "al-Kabeer" is repeated five times throughout the text of the Holy Qur’an.
The Almighty has said in the Holy Qur’an,
"And he has no authority over them, but so that We may distinguish the one who believes in the hereafter from the one who is in doubt concerning it, and your Lord preserves all things" (Qur’an, 34:21).
"Al-Hafeez" is derived from the root word if, safeguarding something or someone. Its antithesis is sahu, forgetfulness, negligence, inattentiveness. Women who safeguard the property of their husbands when the latter are absent are described in the Holy Qur’an as fhafizatin lil ghayb. A book is called afee because its contents safeguard records of actions and statements from being lost (from people's memory, etc.).
Al-Hafeez very much maintains the existence of everything that exists, Who safeguards contradictory elements against overwhelming one another such as what is hot and what is cold, what is moist and what is dry, qualities which Allah has created, making them inherent in our creation as well as in that of all animals and plants.
Had He not thus safeguarded them, by neutralizing them once and by increasing the amount of what diminishes thereof another, they would not have coexisted with one another, their mixing would have been annulled, their composition would have diminished, and their ability to be composed or amalgamated would have disappeared. Al-Hafeez carries a stronger meaning than that of al-Hafiz. Al-Hafeez has two meanings: One is the opposite of oversight or forgetfulness, and its meaning is derived from knowing.
When we say that the Almighty safeguards things, we mean that He knows them in all their quantities and intricacies, and that such knowledge is not altered by diminution, oversight, negligence, or forgetfulness. The other is that al-Hafeez safeguards things against loss: He guards them, and all His characteristics and perfection are above extinction.
He has also said: "Attend constantly to prayers and to the middle prayers, and stand up truly obedient to Allah" (Qur’an, 2:238), and, "... the preservation of them both does not tire Him" (Qur’an, 2:255).
He protects His Divine statements, i.e. the Holy Qur’an, hence the verse, "We have revealed the Reminder, and We are its Guardian" (Qur’an, 15:9), meaning Protectors against alteration, distortion, or any tampering with its sacred text, applied here particularly to the text of the Holy Qur’an.
Despite the greatness of his status, the Friend of Allah Abraham supplicated thus: "Lord! Grant me wisdom and join me with the righteous" (Qur’an, 26:83), and, "Lord! Make us both submitting to You" (Qur’an, 2:128). Moses, who spoke to the Almighty, also supplicated saying, "Lord! Expand my breast for me" (Qur’an, 20:25).
The Almighty has said the following to His Prophet and Messenger Muhammad: "... had it not been that We had already established you..." (Qur’an, 17:74), and, "... Allah will protect you from people" (Qur’an, 5:67). He admonished the believers to pray by saying, "Lord! Do not make our hearts deviate after You have guided us aright" (Qur’an, 3:8).
One who contemplates on the meanings of al-Hafeez and eagerly longs for Him with all his heart is one in whose heart the love for His Lord is borne, the Lord Who protects His servant even when the latter is disobedient to Him, falling short of worshipping Him, lagging behind in adoring Him. He reawakens his heart from its inattentiveness. It is then that Allah makes his heart like a preserved treasure of secrets, so he takes courageous stands, safeguarding his senses against committing sins, protecting his heart against spiritually harmful insinuations.
In the Holy Qur’an, we read: "Whoever joins himself (to another) in a good cause shall have a share thereof, and whoever joins himself (to another) in an evil cause shall be responsible for it, and Allah controls all things" (Qur’an, 4:85).
"Al-Muqeet" is derived from the root noun qoot, sustenance, the food that sustains the human body. Ibn `Abbas has said that al-Muqeet is al-Muqtadir, the Omnipotent. Al-Muqeet creates all beings, creating likewise the means for their sustenance. He provides ways for them to have access to such means of sustenance; He has made accessible to them what is necessary and what is a luxury.
He sustains the bodies and the souls. He has taken upon Himself to sustain His creation. Al-Muqeet hears the silent supplication and responds to it and knows the affliction and removes it. "Al-Muqeet" conveys the same meaning as that of "al-Hafeez," the Protector; so, He protects and sustains the living beings.
Reference to qoot exists throughout the Holy Qur’an. For example, Allah has said the following in Surat Fussilat:
"And He made in it mountains above its surface, and He blessed therein and made therein its foods, in four periods: alike for the seekers" (Qur’an, 41:10).
He sustains the hearts through knowledge, so He is al-Razzaq but in a more specific way, for sustenance includes both food and non-food items. Qoot is food sufficient to keep someone's body alive. It may also mean the One Who takes full control over something or someone, Who is Capable of managing his/her affairs.
Al-Muqeet Alone is Capable and Knowledgeable of everything. One of the good manners inspired by this Attribute is that when food is brought to you, you must recognize al-Muqeet Whose sustenance is quite spacious and encompassing, through Whose Grace are you provided with food. Such a recognition will cause the light of this Attribute to lift you spiritually. God will then make you the treasure-house for His servants, enabling you to sustain others, teach them knowledge, and lead them to the ever-Living, the Sustainer.
Do not seek the achievement of all your wishes and desires except from Allah, for He surely holds the keys to the treasures of His sustenance. According to one qudsi tradition, Allah said to Moses, "O Moses! Ask Me with regard to everything, including your shoe strings and the salt for your pot."
Allah has said in the Holy Qur’an,
"... those who deliver the messages of Allah and fear Him and not fear anyone save Allah, and Allah suffices for taking account (of everything)" (Qur’an, 33:39).
Al-Haseeb is one of Allah's Attributes, and it is often explained as the One Who rewards. Its meaning may also be understood as the One Who provides sufficiently, Who grants whatever His servants need; He is the Master upon Whom all rely; there is no haseeb besides Him, and all His creation are in need of His help and support.
It is also said that al-haseeb is the One to Whom everything honourable is referred, and with Him does every glory end. He calls His servants to account for their deeds, Who tries those who obey Him and rewards them for such obedience, Who calls those who disobey Him to account and penalizes them for their disobedience; He, and only He, tries everyone.
Things are connected to one another, and in the end they are connected to Allah Who has said,
"O Prophet! Allah suffices you and the believers who follow you" (Qur’an, 8:64).
If we look at this great cosmos, which is fixed and unaffected by external effects since millions of years, we will conclude that there is a complex accounting system for it which is spontaneous.
It makes cosmic criteria fixed in order to guarantee the preservation of human life on earth in the best way so that man may be able to perform the function for which Allah created him, that is, to worship Him. The number of computations required to run such a tremendous cosmos can never be conceived by any human mind; so, how can one imagine the spontaneous alterations of some while the rest remain the same?!
It is the Great al-haseeb, the computing One, the Great, the most swift of all those who compute. It truly is an Attribute which deserves a close look. If a thinking person were to remain thinking all life, he will never be able to compute except very, very little indeed. Yet I like through these simple statements to give the reader an idea that may provide him with a glimpse of the greatness of this miraculous Attribute:
The verb "hasaba" means: counted, computed, calculated, deducted a total, etc. "hisab" means: counting, computing, calculating, or accounting, and it is accomplished by adding, subtracting, and such related steps. The science of hisab is arithmetics from which more advanced sciences: algebra, mathematics, and calculus, are derived. The Holy Qur’an contains references to al-haseeb and the derivatives of its root word in verses such as these:
... and though there may be the weight of a grain of mustard seed, We will (still) bring it, and sufficient are We to take account. (21:47)
Then are they sent back to Allah, their Master, the True One; now surely His is the judgment, and He is the swiftest in taking account. (6:62)
They shall have (their) portion of what they have earned, and Allah is swift in reckoning. (2:202)
There is none to repeal His decree, and He is swift to take account. (13:41)
... there he finds Allah, so He pays him back his reckoning in full, and Allah is swift in reckoning. (24:39)
In order to be acquainted with the secret of Allah's Power as embedded in His Attribute "al-haseeb", as it manifests itself upon His creation, let us take a look at the chemical, physiological and astronomical balance existing in the cosmos.
We will see that there is a high computing power too great to be conceived, one capable of conducting such computations and controlled by One Who is fully knowledgeable of the cosmos in its entirety, of the smallest atom in it up to the largest planet. Had it not been so, its cosmic computations would not have remained fixed. In order to form an idea about the complexity of such computations, we have to provide an example:
Were we to think for one moment about the number of computations which take place inside our bodies, we will surely be unable to calculate them. So, how can man conceive the number of computations in the whole cosmos from the smallest atom to the largest planet in their various types, orbits, and environments?
The mind, no matter how great, can never do so, and it will definitely recognize Allah and His Absolute Power, and that He is the only capable al-haseeb Who can make such computations; so, let us contemplate on this Attribute so that we may honour and thank Him. Allah has pointed out in the text of the Holy Qur’an the calculation according to which the cosmos is arranged in accordance with places very well computed in their locations, orbits and speeds:
"Surely We have created everything according to a measure. And Our command is but one, as (swift as) the twinkling of an eye" (Qur’an, 54:49-50).
He has also said,
But nay! I swear by the falling of the stars, and most surely it is a very great oath, if you only know... (56:75-76)
The sun and the moon follow a reckoning. (55:5)
(As for) the moon, We have ordained for it stages till it becomes again like an old dry palm branch. (36:39)
... and ordained for it mansions so that you may know the computation of years and the reckoning. (10:5)
He causes the dawn to break, and he has made the night for (you to) rest, and the sun and the moon for reckoning. (6:96)
As a matter of fact, there is hardly any verse which does not contain one indication or more about the computed system of the cosmos or of the human body, but the Holy Qur’an highlights a specific significance for a different type of calculations: the calculations of the sustenance of Allah's servants according to the wisdom of Allah, some of which are according to a measure, and some coming from whence a servant of Allah does not know:
"... and Allah gives means of subsistence to whomsoever He pleases without measure" (Qur’an, 2:212).
Such is usually the sustenance of the righteous whom Allah sustains from whence they do not know or expect:
"... and whoever is careful of (his duty to) Allah, He will make an outlet for him and give him sustenance from whence he does not expect" (Qur’an, 65:2-3).
Also, Allah's giving is great, so great that its true value can never be conceived or computed.
There is still a greater calculation: the calculation of the deeds and the intentions behind them, their recording as well as the rewards for them in the life of this world or in the one to come, or in both, for the Almighty says the following in this regard:
... only the delivery of the message is (incumbent) on you, while calling (them) to account is Ours. (13:40)
So that Allah may requite each soul (according to) what it has earned; surely Allah is swift in reckoning. (14:51)
... so We called it to account severely and We chastised it with a stern chastisement. (65:8)
Surely to Us is their return, then surely upon Us is the taking of their account. (88:25-26)
... surely Allah takes account of all things. (4:86)
"Whoever brings a good deed," says the Almighty in the Holy Qur’an as He refers to the Day of Judgment, "he shall have ten like it, and whoever brings an evil deed, he shall be recompensed only with the like thereof, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly" (Qur’an, 6:160).
People on the Day of Judgment will be simultaneously judged just as they are being judged in the life of this world. Their sustenance will be forwarded to them at once, and Allah is never diverted by anything from another:
"So that Allah may requite each soul (according to) what it has earned; surely Allah is swift in reckoning" (Qur’an, 14:51).
Those who are endowed with understanding know the precision of the Divine computation from their own dealing with Him, for He has said,
"... and whether you manifest what is in your minds or hide it, Allah will call you to account according to it, then He will forgive whomsoever He pleases and chastise whomsoever He pleases, and Allah has power over all things" (Qur’an, 2:284).
God's management of the affairs goes on forever and ever. Our master Muhammad has said, "Call your own selves to account before you yourselves are called upon to account for them."
Allah has said,
"And the person of your Lord will forever endure, the Lord of glory and honour" (Qur’an, 55:27), and also, "Blessed be the Name of your Lord, the Lord of Glory and Honour" (Qur’an, 55:78)!
Linguistically, the verb "yujill" means: to magnify or glorify someone or deem him great. The Attribute "al-Jaleel" is derived from honour, dignity, and greatness. He is too Great to do anything which does not fit His Honour, Who purifies the heart by manifesting the qualities of His Glory to it, Who reveals what is hidden by the attributes of His beauty and what is in the world, all of it, of glory, perfection, goodness and magnificence by the lights of His Essence and the effects of His qualities. Al-Jaleel is worthy of bidding and forbidding; besides Him, every great person is not great at all, and every gigantic thing is dwarfed.
He grants glory to those who approach Him and humiliation to those whom He dismisses from His presence.
The Absolute al-Jaleel is Allah. The Attribute "al-Kabeer" describes the perfection of the Self, whereas "al-Jaleel" describes the perfection of His qualities. "Al-`Azeem" refers to the perfection of the Self. All qualities of His are referred to according to the extent one can conceive; so, He exhausts the mind and is not exhausted; He can never be seen by anyone, yet He sees everyone. When the qualities of glory are attributed to a reasoning mind capable of conceiving them, they are called beauty, and the one they describe is called beautiful.
Originally, the Attribute "al-Jameel" was linguistically applied to a picture which can be discerned by the eyes no matter what it represents, one which suits and agrees with the vision. Then it was applied to an inner picture which may be conceived by the mind such as one may talk about "a beautiful conduct," for it is conceived by the mind rather than the eyesight. Inner pictures, then, if harmonious and combining the qualities of perfection that suit them, just as they ought to be, convey an inner beauty just as they convey to whoever discerns and conceives them a visual pleasure, and their inner beauty is more intense than their outward one.
The share a servant of Allah may derive from the inspiration of this Attribute is that he adorns himself with beauty and bears in mind that it is He Who has bestowed upon him the blessings of beauty, be it the beauty of a visible image or of the inner self. The inner beauty of the soul is surely higher and greater than that of the beauty of the body. The Messenger of Allah used to thus supplicate after his prayers: "Allahomma anta as-Salam wa minka as-salam; tabrakta wa ta`alayta ya thal jalali wal ikram," that is, "Lord! You are the Peace and the source of peace; Glory to You, You are the One with all the Greatness and Honour!"
The Messenger of Allah has also said, "Hold Allah in high esteem so that He may forgive you," that is to say, Glorify Him by obeying Him and by distancing yourselves from committing any disobedience of Him, and seek nearness to Him, Glory to Him, by performing what He has enjoined you to perform.
Allah has said,
"... whoever is grateful, he is grateful only for (the good of) his own soul, and whoever is ungrateful, surely my Lord is self-Sufficient, Honoured" (Qur’an, 27:40).
Scholars say that anything regarded as good, precious, of great importance, is kareem. Linguistically, a person who is out-giving is also called kareem, generous. Anything held in its own category in high esteem is called kareem. Allah is called "al-Kareem," an Attribute that describes His benevolence and beneficence. Allah has always been Generous, and He will always be so. He is high above any lowliness; He gives abundantly, and He gives beautifully.
Al-Kareem forgives though He is capable of inflicting the most severe of punishment; He fulfills His promise; He gives more than what one pleads to Him for; He does not mind how much He gives and to whom; He does not permit anyone who seeks refuge with Him to suffer loss; He does not need means to do what He does. One Who can combine in Him all these qualities is the Absolute al-Kareem; none other than Allah is as such.
The Almighty has said,
"O man! What has beguiled you from your Lord, the Gracious One...?" (Qur’an, 82:6), and, "Read and your Lord is the Most Honourable" (Qur’an, 96:3).
Arabs are used to calling anything kareem if it has a commendable merit or quality.
Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, has said, "Yousuf is the most kareem of people," meaning in lineage and descent. They may describe something the presence of which can be identified by one of the physical senses as kareem. For example, the Egyptian women, upon seeing Yousuf said, "... this is but a noble angel" (Qur’an, 12:31).
Describing Paradise, the Almighty says it is a "... noble place" (Qur’an, 44:26). This word may also be applied to anything honourable; the Almighty has said, "... surely the most honourable of you with Allah is the one who is most careful (of his duty towards Allah)" (Qur’an, 49:13).
Arabs may also apply it to something that has many benefits or advantages, such as what is implied in this verse which narrates the story of prophet Solomon: "Surely an honourable letter has been delivered to me" (Qur’an, 27:29). According to exegesis, kareem in this verse means quite significant and weighty, containing very good statements.
One of the signs of His greatness and generosity is that He provides His bounties even to those who do not deserve them. He doles out His benevolence even without being asked. If a suppliant prays Him for forgiveness, one of the signs of His greatness is that He will erase that suppliant's sin if he truly repents, and He records a good deed for him in its place. Allah has said,
"The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like the parable of a grain growing seven ears (with) a hundred grains in each, and Allah multiplies for whomsoever he pleases, and Allah is ample-Giving, Knowing" (Qur’an, 2:261).
Among the signs of His greatness is that in the life of this world He covers the sins of the sinners and hide their shortcomings.
In one incident, the Messenger of Allah has narrated a story about the forgiveness of the Almighty which is thought-provoking. He said, "I know the last person who will enter Paradise and the last one to get out of hellfire.
He is a man who will be approached and it will be said, `Show him his minor sins and suspend the major ones,' whereupon he will be shown his minor sins. He will then be asked if on such-and-such a day he did such-and-such, and he will answer in the affirmative, fearing the penalty from his major sins. He will be told, `In place of each of your sins, you will be granted a good deed,' whereupon he will say, `Lord! But... I have committed other sins which I do not see here among them!'" The narrator of the anecdote says that he saw the Messenger of Allah smile at that juncture of the story till his front teeth became visible.
Allah is "al-Kareem mutaghafil," that is, the Great One Who deliberately and quite often overlooks. One of the signs of His Greatness is that He forgives whenever He is prayed for forgiveness; Allah has said, "Ask forgiveness of your Lord; surely He is the most Forgiving" (Qur’an, 71:10). And among the signs of His Greatness is that He forgives without reminding those whom He forgives of the types of sins and ugly things they had committed.
And among the signs of His Greatness is that if they come to Him after having obeyed Him only a little, He will grant them quite a generous reward and will honour them by praising them beautifully. Among the signs of His Greatness is that He includes them in His Covenant; He has said, "... fulfill (your) covenant with Me, I will fulfill (My) covenant with you" (Qur’an, 2:40). He even makes them worthy of His love: "... He shall love them and they shall love Him" (Qur’an, 5:54).
Among the other signs of His Greatness is that He has made this world the loaned property of His servants saying, "He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth" (Qur’an, 2:29), and the hereafter as well, "... and a Garden, the extensiveness of which is like the heavens and the earth, prepared for those who guard (themselves against evil)" (Qur’an, 3:133).
Also among the signs of His Greatness and generosity is that He has made everything in the heavens and the earth subservient to man: "And He has made whatever in the heavens and in the earth, all of it, subservient to you, [a gift] from Him" (Qur’an, 45:13). One of the signs of a believer's good conduct in as far as the Attribute "al-Kareem" is concerned is that he directs himself wholeheartedly towards His Lord.
He makes it his habit to feed and clothe the orphans and be good to his kith and kin. In order to attract the attention of the Muslims to this weighty matter, Prophet Muhammad has said, "If someone held in high esteem by his folks comes to you, be generous to him." He has also said, "Your Lord, Honour and Glory belong to Him, is ever-Living, Generous, too shy to disappoint any of His servants who plead to Him."
It is a sign of good manners to habitually forgive the doers of evil deeds, including repeated offenders, and to cover the faults of your brethren in all circumstances. Such generosity of manners is surely more precious than any materialistic generosity, for the latter preserves the body whereas the first sustains the soul.
The Messenger of Allah has said, "You will not be able to please all people with your wealth; so, do please them with your good manners." He has also said, "Allah, Honoured is His Name, is Generous, and He loves good manners and hates a lowly conduct." The Messenger of Allah has said, "The generous one is close to Allah, close to [the hearts of] people, close to Paradise, distant from the fire. A miser is distant from Allah, distant from people, distant from Paradise, close to the fire."
As for "al-Akram," i.e. the most Generous, surely it is Allah, the Most Generous of all those who are generous. This Attribute may also bear the same meaning embedded in that of "al-Kareem."
Allah has said,
"... and be careful of (your duty to) Allah through Whom you demand (your rights of) one another, and to the ties of kinship; surely Allah ever watches over you" (Qur’an, 4:1).
"Al-Raqeeb" is one of Allah's Attributes, and He is the Witness Who is never absent from the scene. In language, a raqeeb is a vigilante, a watchman who stands to protect and guard. In the army, the raqeeb is the one in the vanguard. Al-Raqeeb is Allah Who safeguards everyone and everything, the One from Whose knowledge nothing at all can escape. According to one sacred tradition, the Messenger of Allah has said, "Safeguard Muhammad in his household," meaning safeguard his name and honour it. "Raqeeb" also means offspring.
The angel who writes down whatever we do and say is also called "raqeeb":
"He does not utter a word except that there is by him someone watching at hand" (Qur’an, 50:18).
Al-Raqeeb, that is, the One Who truly ever watches over us, is, of course, Allah. One Who is raqeeb regarding Allah is one who acknowledges that He oversees whatever we do and say, so he observes his duties towards Him.
Allah, al-Raqeeb, knows our conditions and counts our breath. Al-Raqeeb never laxes nor forgets, Who is always present and is never absent, Who knows everything and nothing regarding the conditions of His creation can ever escape His knowledge. He manages the affairs of His servants, Who knows what they say, Who watches over His servants, Who observes what they do, Who is familiar with their innermost thoughts.
Narrating the story of Jesus son of Mary, the Almighty quotes Jesus saying,
"... but when You caused me to die, You were the Watcher over them, and You witness all things" (Qur’an, 5:117). He has also said, "... and Allah is Watchful over all things" (Qur’an, 33:52).
There are two viewpoints that explain the meaning of "al-Raqeeb":
One: Linguistically, He safeguards things, Who watches over everyone, Who guards everyone, Who is free of any oversight or negligence. He takes care of and safeguards everything. The Almighty has said, "He does not utter a word except that there is by him a watcher at hand" (Qur’an, 50:18), meaning an angel who records his deeds and takes note of everything he contemplates, says, or does, while Allah is al-Raqeeb Who looks after His servants, knows their conditions and whatever they utter.
As regarding observation, it is His saying: "... surely I (Allah) am with you both: I hear, and I see" (Qur’an, 20:46).
Regarding knowledge, it is His saying: "Allah knows what every female bears, and that of which the wombs fall short of completion, and that in which they increase" (Qur’an, 13:8). Other such references include:
... and He knows what is in the land and the sea. (6:59) He knows what goes deep down into the earth and what comes forth out of it. (57:4)
The other viewpoint says that this word is derived from irtiqab, waiting. Allah has said, "Wait, therefore; surely they (too) are waiting" (Qur’an, 44:59). Such a viewpoint is impossible to accept; therefore, it is rejected on the ground that one who waits for something needs to reach its commencement, desiring to find out its outcome. The correct meaning of this latter verse is that Allah wants His servants to reach out to Him, to make Him the goal of their adoration, submission and humility.
Al-Raqeeb, then, is the Witness Who is never absent. The virtues of one who watches himself is implied in a tradition wherein the Messenger of Allah Muhammad says, "Ihsan (goodness) is that you worship Allah as though you see Him, for if you do not see Him, He surely sees you."
It is narrated that a man once passed by a young slave tending sheep and pointed to an ewe and said, "Sell me this ewe, young shepherd!"
The young slave told him that it was not his; therefore, he could not sell it, whereupon the man said, "Where is your brilliance?! Can't you tell its owner that a wolf ate one of his sheep?" He answered him by saying, "Then where is Allah?!" The man was very impressed by his answer, so he bought the young slave and set him free, then he bought the herd and gave it to him as a gift. Since then, that man kept repeating "Then where is Allah?!" quite often. It is, therefore, one of the good manners of a believer towards Allah, al-Raqeeb, to keep in mind that Allah ever watches over him and sees whatever he does.
He knows that his self, that is, his nafs, is his enemy, and that the accursed Satan, too, is another, and that they both seize every opportunity to make him lax and disobey his Lord; therefore, he must always be on his guard. He must close all the pitfalls in which he may fall and block all the avenues from which Satan may approach him. It is also one of the signs of good manners of a believer in this regard to watch himself and his senses, to keep vigil, and to make whatever he does solely for the achievement of the Pleasure of his Lord in a pure intention, to observe his obligations towards his Muslim brother, and not to expose the latter's faults to others.
Allah has said,
"And to Thamud (We sent) their brother Salih. He said: O my people! Worship Allah; you have no other god besides Him; He brought you into being from the earth and made you dwell in it; therefore, ask forgiveness of Him, then turn to Him; surely my Lord is Nigh; he ever answers" (Qur’an, 11:61).
Linguistically speaking, both nouns ijaba and istijaba mean basically the same, and "al-Mujeeb" has two meanings: One is: the One Who answers the pleas. The other is: the One Who grants what He is pleaded for.
Al-Mujeeb, Allah, responds to the plea of those who plead to Him and helps them, Who favourably answers the supplication of those who supplicate to Him, Who removes the need of those in need and gives them sufficiently. He even gives prior to being asked and accepts even prior to being pleaded.
He knows the need of those who are in need before they pray Him, and He since eternity knows all their needs, so He has provided them with means to satisfy all their needs: He creates foods and all types of sustenance for them; He creates the tools and the means to get such tools to the hands of those who need them. Al-Mujeeb responds to the pleas of those who plead to Him. Since time immemorial, He knew in advance what they needed. He goes to the rescue of those who are in dire need of help, and He does not disappoint anyone who pleads to Him.
This theme recurs quite often throughout the Holy Qur’an. Examples are:
And Noah called upon Us, and most excellent are We to answer the prayer. (37:75)
So their Lord accepted their prayer: That I will not waste the deed of one who does a good deed among you, whether male or female, each one of you being from the other. (3:195)
And Job (Ayyub) cried out to his Lord: Harm has afflicted me, and You are the most Merciful of the merciful. So We responded to him and removed the harm from him, and We gave him his family and the like (number) of them in addition: a mercy from Us and a reminder to the worshippers. (21:83-84)
Or Who answers the [prayer of] the distressed one when he calls upon Him and removes the evil, and Who will make you successors in the earth? Is there a god with Allah? Little is it that you mind! (27:62)
... you sought aid from your Lord, so He answered you: I will assist you with a thousand of the angels following one another. (8:9) When My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me. (2:186)
And your Lord says: Call upon Me, I will answer you; surely those who are too proud to worship Me shall soon enter hell abased. (40:60)
For those who respond to their Lord there is goodness, and those who do not respond to Him, had they had all that is in the earth and the like thereof with it, they would certainly have offered it for a ransom. (As for) those (latter ones), an evil reckoning shall be theirs, and their abode is hell, and evil, indeed, is the resting-place. (13:18)
O you who believe! Answer (the call of) Allah and His Prophet when he invites you to that which gives you life, and be informed that Allah intervenes between man and his heart, and that to Him you shall be gathered. (8:24)
Allah is capable of responding in various ways. When some of His friends are in need of something, He satisfies their need, and He may even make some circumstances deliberately hard for them only to test them and raise their status due to their perseverance, and to their thanking Him during the time of ease as well as the time of hardship. So when they almost lose hope, He comes to their rescue with beautiful rewards and with indications of His being pleased with them.
Allah guarantees for His servant that He will respond favourably to his supplication in the way which He knows to be in his best interest, and at the time He chooses, rather than the time chosen by His servant; so, do not lose hope because of His delay in answering your plea, for such a delay may prove to be better for you. Allah May even opt to grant you better than what you ask Him for; so, plead to Him as one convinced of His favourable response.
The Messenger of Allah used to say, "Plead to Allah, being convinced of His answer to your pleas, and be advised that Allah does not respond to the pleas of one who is inattentive, indifferent." This tradition has been recorded by al-Tirmithi. He has also said, "No Muslim pleads to Allah a plea wherein there is no desire for committing a sin nor the severing of the ties of kinship except that Allah will grant him one of three good rewards: He will either grant him an immediate response, or He may save the rewards for him in the life hereafter, or He may keep its equivalent of evil away from him." His companions said, "Then we will plead to Him a great deal, indeed." He said, "Surely Allah is greater still!"
The Messenger of Allah has said, "When you have a plea, plead to Allah, and whenever you need help, seek help from Allah." In another tradition, he says, "Allah is too shy to disappoint any of His servants who pleads to Him for something good."
The Most Exalted and Glorified One has said,
"... whither you turn, there is Allah's purpose; surely Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing" (Qur’an, 2:115).
"Al-Wasi`" is one of Allah's Attributes, and its root word is derived from si`a, spaciousness, expanse, capacity, abundance, plentitude, etc. One may have an abundance of knowledge if he is acquainted with a good deal of it, or he may have an abundance of means. In his book Al-Nihaya, Ibn al-Atheer, who discusses Allah's Attributes, says that al-Wasi` can enrich everyone who is indigent, Whose mercy encompasses everything. His authority never ends; His benevolence is unlimited; His domain is endless.
He never stops giving; He is never distracted by knowing something from knowing another, nor by one issue from taking care of another. His knowledge encompasses everything. His knowledge encompasses everything; His might suffices everything. His mercy is spacious; He is independent; His authority is above everything; His knowledge, might, and benevolence are the greatest. He is the One for the meanings of Whose Attributes there can be no limit, Whose knowledge is spacious, and so are His mercy and forgiveness; His domain is tremendous.
The Absolute al-Wasi` is Allah, Glorified and Exalted is He. There is no shore for the spacious ocean of His knowledge. Had the seas been ink, they would have been consumed before His words can ever be exhausted. There is no end for what He is capable of giving and blessing.
The Holy Qur’an has indicated that Allah's knowledge is vast and endless; in Surat al-Ana`m, the Almighty says,
"And his people disputed with him. He said: Do you dispute with me regarding Allah, and He has, indeed, guided me? And I do not fear in any way those that you set up with Him unless my Lord pleases; my Lord comprehends all things in His knowledge; will you not then mind" (Qur’an, 6:80)?
The Holy Qur’an has described Allah's mercy as vast; in Surat al-A`raf it is stated that,
"And ordain for us good in this world's life and in the life hereafter, for surely we turn to You. He said: (As for) My chastisement, I will afflict with it whomsoever I please, and My mercy encompasses all things; so I will ordain it (especially) for those who guard (themselves against evil) and pay the zakat and those who believe in Our signs" (Qur’an, 7:156).
In Surat Taha, His knowledge is described as vast:
"Your only God is Allah; there is no god but He; He comprehends all things in (His) knowledge" (Qur’an, 20:98).
Other references to the vastness of His knowledge, to His mercy and might, are as follows:
Our Lord comprehends all things in His knowledge; in Allah do we trust: Lord! Decide between us and our people with the truth, and You are the best of those who decide. (7:89)
Those who bear the Throne and those around Him celebrate the praise of their Lord and believe in Him and ask protection for those who believe (saying): Lord! You encompass all things in mercy and knowledge; therefore, grant protection to those who turn (to You) and follow Your way, and save them from the punishment of hell. (40:7)
And the heavens We raised high with power, and most surely We make things ample. (51:47)
We ought to ponder on Allah's vast knowledge, for He is the Absolute al-Wasi` Whose Grace has encompassed everything in existence, in fact, even prior to their existence, and even before the existence of time itself, since He has always been for all eternity. His knowledge encompasses everything.
Nothing He knows distracts Him from knowing something else. His might overwhelms everything; no issue distracts Him from another. His Hearing encompasses everything; no person's supplication can distract Him from hearing the supplication of another. His benevolence includes all His creation; His helping one particular needy person does not prohibit Him from helping another.
One of the ways for learning a code of ethics derived from this Attribute, "al-Wasi`," is that you should include all servants of Allah in your good treatment and kindness at all times; be gracious to all people. Help them when they seek your help, and treat all of them with the best treatment.
A servant of Allah ought to remember and seek wisdom from the conduct of the Messenger of Allah who was saying his prayers once when he overheard a bedouin supplicating to his Lord saying, "O Allah! Have mercy on me and on Muhammad, and do not be merciful to anyone else besides us." The Prophet said to him, "You have prayed Him to limit what is limitless," meaning the mercy of Allah. The Messenger of Allah has also said, "If Allah grants you an increase [of His blessings], do give your own self an increase."
Allah has said,
"... and if You forgive them, then surely You are the Mighty, the Wise" (Qur’an, 5:118).
"Hakeem" is a superlative form, a form for the glorification of the One Who has all the wisdom; hence, al-Hakeem is the very greatest in His wisdom. Allah is the most wise in creating everything and in perfecting such a creation. His wisdom means His prior knowledge of everything and His bringing everything into existence most wisely and most perfectly.
Wisdom means: the best way of knowing something utilizing the very best of means. "Al-Hakeem" carries the same meaning as that of "al-`Aleem." Nobody knows Allah except Allah; therefore, al-Hakeem cannot be anyone but Allah: He knows the origins of all things through His eternal and perpetual knowledge which nobody can ever conceive as being liable to extinction.
"Al-Hakeem" may also mean His being Holy, too Holy to do anything which does not beseem Him. In Surat al-Mominoon, Allah says,
"What?! Did you then think that We had created you in vain and that you will not be returned to Us?!" (Qur’an, 23:115).
Some scholars have said that al-Hakeem is equitable in His assessment, benevolent in His management of affairs, the One Who has determined the measure of everything, the One Whose wisdom is the very ultimate end, the One Who places everything in its right place. Nobody can really appreciate Allah's wisdom other than Allah Himself.
Al-Hakeem is free from seeking any self-interest, nor can anyone object to anything He does. Al-Hakeem is adorned with wisdom, and wisdom is knowing the best of things through the best means. The best of everything is Allah; so, He is the Absolute al-Hakeem; He knows everything by the very best means of eternal and everlasting knowledge, the knowledge which nobody can conceive as ever coming to naught, nor can there be any doubt about it, and nobody can be described as such except Allah.
Some scholars say that wisdom means getting to know the truth for its own sake, and to know goodness in order to act upon it. A servant of Allah, though his portion of knowledge and potential may be little, such a shortcoming is evident in him when compared to Allah's knowledge and might and to the knowledge and ability of the angels. Yet whatever amount human beings have been given is quite significant by the token that Allah Himself has deemed it great when he said,
"... and whoever is granted wisdom is indeed granted a great deal of goodness" (Qur’an, 2:269).
Abraham prayed his Lord for wisdom saying, "Lord! Grant me wisdom" (Qur’an, 26:83).
Allah said the following about David (prophet David): "We granted him wisdom and a clear judgment" (Qur’an, 38:20). Scholars have said that wisdom means knowledge.
Knowledge may either be knowing what can exist without our choice or doing, which is theoretical knowledge, or it may be knowledge of what can happen by our choice and doing, which is practical knowledge. Theoretical knowledge may either be the means towards an end, or it may be an end by itself. The means, for example, may be the science of logic the deduction of which is determined by what concepts and assertions mankind can conceive in a way which does not permit except a very rare margin of error.
As regarding what is considered as the ultimate end, be informed that things may be classified into three categories: They may either comprise a form, or they actually are not supposed to exist in a certain form, or either case may be applicable to them. What is supposed to be in a form should either be in a particular one, and the science which researches such portion of what exists is called natural science or physics.
What ought not be a particular form and ought to be in some other form, the science that researches it is called the science of mathematics. As regarding the other category which is not supposed to be in a particular form at all, the science that researches it is called theology.
As regarding the third kind, the one which may be in a particular form or may not, the science researching it is called the inclusive science, and it is like the knowledge of the unit, the multiplicity, the causation, the deduction, the completion or the deficiency. All of this falls under the category of theoretical knowledge.
Practical knowledge may either be the researching of the conditions of man regarding his own body, which is called the science of physiology, or his conditions with members of his household, which is called the science of domestic management, or his conditions (ties to, relationship...) with the rest of the world, which is called political science.
The person who personified wisdom in his everyday conduct among people is the Messenger of Allah by the token of this verse of Surat Ali-`Imran:
"Certainly Allah conferred a benefit upon the believers when He raised among them a Messenger from among themselves reciting to them His signs and purifying them and teaching them the Book and the wisdom although before then they were surely in manifest error" (Qur’an, 3:164).
The wisdom in as far as the servants of Allah are concerned is to say and to do what is right as much as it is humanly possible. Allah says in Surat al-Baqarah,
"He grants wisdom to whomsoever He pleases, and whoever is granted wisdom is indeed granted a great deal of good and none but men of understanding mind" (Qur’an, 2:269).
A wise person among people is one who precisely calculates intricate things; he masters them and skillfully executes them. Wisdom is the greatest knowledge, and its greatness depends on the greatness of what is known, and surely there is nothing greater than Allah. Anyone who gets to know Allah is wise even if his share of all other secular branches of knowledge is most modest.
The ratio of the wisdom of any of Allah's servants to that of Allah is like the ratio of such servant's knowledge to that of Allah, and what a vast difference it is! And what a vast distance it is between both norms of knowledge! Yet despite the huge gap between both matters, wisdom is regarded as the most precious of all types of knowledge and the most fruitful, and anyone who is endowed with wisdom is surely granted a great deal of good.
To derive a good conduct from the attribute al-Hakeem requires a servant of Allah to be wise, that is, to do his best in whatever good deeds he does, and that his condition is pleasing to others, that is, based on following the commandments of Allah and distancing himself from whatever He has enjoined us to be distant from. He takes extreme care in performing his religious obligations, distancing himself from following his own whims and desires, staying away from any doubtful matter.
The Messenger of Allah has said, "The apex of wisdom is fearing Allah." A wise person is one who indicts his own self and who learns about what will come after death. A feeble person is one who follows his own desires and still wants even more from Allah. The Messenger of Allah has made many wise statements in this regard. A bedouin once came to the Messenger of Allah and asked him to teach him something good to say.
He told him to say, "There is no god except Allah, the One and only God Who has no partner; Allah is Great, Greater than everything; Praise, a great deal indeed of Praise, is due to Allah; Glory to Allah, Lord of the Worlds; there is no power nor might except in Allah, the Honoured One, the Wise." The bedouin said, "All this is for my Lord; what about something for my own self?!" The Messenger of Allah taught him to say, "Lord! I invoke You to forgive me, to have mercy on me, to grant me guidance, to grant me good health, and to grant me an increase in sustenance."8
As regarding what some people consider as having "wisdom," anyone who knows "everything" without knowing Allah is not worthy of being called wise because he has missed the knowledge of the best and the most significant of everything. One who knows Allah is a wise person even if his share of all other branches of knowledge is very shallow, even if he stutters or is unable to absorb them. One who knows Allah is one whose speech will sound different from that of anyone else, one who seldom indulges in frivolous matters. On the contrary, his speech will be inclusive, and he does not seek any vanishing interest.
The Most Glorified and Exalted One has said,
"And He is the Forgiving, the Loving" (Qur’an, 85:14).
"Al-Wadood" is an Attribute derived from the Arabic word "wudd" which conveys the meaning of love and friendship, and it applies to all avenues of goodness. Allah is "al-Wadood" because He loves His servants and they love Him; He says the following in Surat al-Ma'ida:
"O you who believe! Whoever among you turns back from his religion, Allah will bring people whom He loves and who love Him, who are humble before the believers and mighty against the unbelievers...." (Qur’an, 5:54).
The condition of true love is that it does not increase on account of loyalty, nor does it decrease on account of aversion. Al-Wadood ever tries to show His love for His friends by manifesting His knowledge to them. The "wadood" person is one who prefers you over all others, who removes from your heart any desire to notice or to love anyone else but him.
Al-Wadood very much loves His servants, Who tries to be loved even by the sinners through His forgiveness, and by all His creation by sustaining them and granting them sufficiently. Allah's righteous servants love Him due to their knowledge of His perfection and the perfection of His qualities, and due to His readiness to forgive.
For all these reasons, al-Wadood is the Loving and the Beloved One. If a servant of Allah dives deeply into the depths of the knowledge of Allah's perfection, the perfection which causes a servant of Allah to love his Lord more and more, his knowledge will be crystallized, and he will find a great deal of contentment while worshipping Him accordingly. His knowledge of Him will then bear good fruits, and he, the servant of Allah, will turn to be the one who loves Him. He may also be understood to be the One Who loves His servants and the love for Whom bears good fruits according to the degree of love in the heart of each one of those who love Him.
If someone sees through his heart his Lord to be self-Sufficient, Gracious, Honoured, Omnipotent, everyone is in need of Him while He does not need anyone or anything, yet He loves His servants and wishes the best for them and even tries to get closer to them by granting them His favours..., such a person will surely have been blessed with true vision and a clear sight.
One who tries to fashion his conduct according to the inspiration of this Attribute ought to know that he should love all those whom Allah loves such as the prophets, successors of the prophets, and the scholars. He should love everything Allah loves and with which He is pleased such as acts of righteousness, piety, good deeds and exemplary conduct with others.
Such a person should be compassionate towards all people: He loves to see the disobedient returning to their Lord obediently, the righteous remaining firm in their righteousness.
He becomes compassionate towards all servants of Allah, forgiving those who abuse them, being kind to all people especially his family and kin. It is recorded that the holy Prophet has said to Imam `Ali, "If you wish to surpass those who are close to Allah, then join your ties with those who have cut them off from you, grant those who deprived you, and forgive those who wrong you."
The attribute "al-Wadood" deserves from the servants of Allah that they wish one another what they wish for their own selves, and even more so! They should prefer others over their own selves. A righteous man once said, "I wish to be a bridge over the fire whereupon people pass [to heaven] unharmed."
The perfection of such following is that anger, grudge, or harm received do not stop anyone who exemplifies this Attribute in his conduct from favouring others over himself and from being good to them; thus are we taught by our master the Messenger of Allah. Four of his teeth were once broken, and his face was bleeding, yet all of that uncalled for abuse to which he was exposed at the hands of the infidels did not stop him from praying for them or from wishing them good.
Ibn `Abbas is quoted saying that he had heard the Messenger of Allah, who had just finished his prayers, supplicating thus: "Lord! I plead to You for mercy from You whereby You guide my heart, manage my affairs, unite my kinsfolk, and bring reform to those who are absent from among my kin. I plead to You for security on the Promised Day, for Paradise on the Day of Eternity, in the company of the witnesses who are near to You, those who bow down and prostrate, who fulfill their promise..., for surely You are the Most Merciful One, the Compassionate."
Regarding the explanation of the verse saying, "... for them will Allah bring about love" (Qur’an, 19:96), the "love" referred to here means that Allah will make His creation love them, that is, He will make His servants experience love and affection on their own account. Supporting this explanation is a tradition wherein the Messenger of Allah says, "If Allah loves one of His servants, He calls upon Gabriel to tell him so, whereupon Gabriel loves that person, so he calls upon the residents of the heavens saying, `Allah loves so-and-so; therefore, you, too, should love him,' whereupon the residents of the heavens respond to him in the affirmative. Love for him will thus be disseminated among the residents of the earth."
Allah has said,
"The mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you, O Ahl al-Bayt (People of the Prophet's House); surely He is Praised, Glorified" (Qur’an, 11:73).
In language, majd is glory; when combined with good deeds, a person's own prestige will be enhanced, so he will be called glorious. It also conveys the meanings of manliness, generosity, open-handedness, and gracious conduct.
"Al-Majeed" connotes general honour or abundance of wealth. A man who is majeed is extremely generous. Al-Majeed is Glorified to the utmost extent of Glorification due to His own merits, qualities, and actions. He is also Great in His attributes, beautiful in His power and authority. Al-Majeed has the utmost limit of glory; His benevolence is great. Al-Majeed is the great One, the One Whose status is Sublime, Who is most Benevolent.
His status is tremendous, Whose Benevolence is great. He is Honoured, Whose actions are beautiful, Who is generous in giving. Al-Majeed grants His favours to all others, Who is Glorified because of His actions, Who is Praised by His creation due to His greatness. He alone has the perfect Honour, the vast kingdom since time immemorial, the One Who does not disappoint anyone, Whose will is always carried out. Whose Honour is not earned, Whose actions are never abhorred, Whose benevolence is beautiful, Who gives most generously...
All meanings of perfect and inclusive glory are always rendered to Allah, and all of them combined are but a drop in the ocean of His Glory. Glory is also attached to His prophets, to the successors of the latter, and to the mujahidin.
Allah has described the Holy Qur’an as majeed, saying, "Qaf. I swear by al-Qur’an al-majeed..." (Qur’an, 50:1). The Holy Qur’an is majeed because of the abundance of wealth of knowledge, ethics, and sublime objectives it contains and due to the benefits it contains; so, it is beneficial for man both in the life of this world and in the life to come.
One who personifies in his conduct the essence of this attribute ought to be gracious in all circumstances and most cultured.
Allah has said,
"And the hour is coming; there is no doubt about it, and Allah shall resurrect those who are in the graves" (Qur’an, 22:7).
"Al-Ba`ith" is an attributes linguistically derived from bai`th which means: exciting or stimulating action, something stirring someone to action, sending someone somewhere, going out seeking revenge, or simply waking up someone. It also means sending a soldier to war: bai`th means army. It also means to bring life back to the dead.
The word "al-Ba`ith" conveys more than one meaning:
1) the Almighty will bring His creation back to life on the Day of Judgment as stated in Surat al-Hajj quoted above.
2) He sends messengers to His servants: In Surat al-Nahl, He says, "And certainly We raised in every nation an prophet" (Qur’an, 16:36).
3) He commissions His servants to perform specific tasks by creating the impulses and motivations in them.
4) He sends aid to His servants who need it and helps the sinners by accepting their repentance.
Al-Ba`ith resurrects those in the graves, stirs things into motion, causes determination, manifests the knowledge of the unknown, brings His servants back to life, resurrects His creation on the Day of Judgment, Who records what the breasts conceal. Ba`th is the life hereafter.
One who knows the real meaning of resurrection knows the real meaning of this Attribute. Most people have numerous general misconceptions and ambiguous presumptions about it. They imagine that death is the end of everything, and that resurrection starts a new creation from nothing, just as the first creation was started. Their belief that death is the end of everything is surely erroneous, for we have come to learn from studying the Sunnah that the grave is either a pit of fire or a piece of Paradise.
The dead are either happy or miserable. The happy ones, such as the martyrs, are not dead; rather, Allah says the following about them in Surat Ali-`Imran (the Family of Amram):
"And do not reckon those who are killed in the way of Allah as dead; nay! They are alive receiving sustenance from their Lord, rejoicing in what Allah has given them out of His grace, and they rejoice for the sake of those who, (being left) behind them, have not yet joined them, that they shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve" (Qur’an, 3:169-170).
The miserable, too, are living, leading a miserable life. For this reason, the Messenger of Allah once addressed the latter in the aftermath of the Battle of Badr saying, "I have found what my Lord has promised me to be the truth; so, have you found what your Lord promised you to be true?" He was asked, "How can you address people who have turned into a stink?" He answered by saying, "You do not hear me better than they, except that they cannot answer me back."
Al-Ba`ith is also the One Who inspires determination in the heart of people to undertake lofty objectives on the battlefields of jihad, and to purify themselves. Al-Ba`ith plants the will to rise up to lofty endeavors, Who removes from your heart the evil whisperings, Who purges the innermost conscience from scruples and purifies the deeds from filthiness. He sends His messengers to convey His commandments:
"Allah raised prophets as bearers of glad tidings and as warners" (Qur’an, 2:213).
He brings the dead back to life:
"Then We resurrected you after your death..." (Qur’an, 2:56).
He wakes up those who sleep by reawakening their bodies:
"He it is Who takes your souls at night (while asleep), and He knows what you acquire during the day, then He raises you up therein so that an appointed term may be fulfilled, then to Him is your return, then will He inform you of what you were doing" (Qur’an, 6:60).
Glory, then, to Him for resurrecting the dead and recording what the breasts conceal.
The subject of bai`th is referred to in numerous places of the Holy Qur’an; these are some of them:
Certainly We raised in every nation an prophet saying: Worship Allah and shun Satan. So there were some of them whom Allah guided, and there were others against whom error was due; therefore, travel in the land and witness what the end of those who rejected [Our signs] was. (16:36) And during part of the night pray Tahajjud beyond what is incumbent upon you so that your Lord may raise you to a position of great glory. (17:79)
Then We raised them up so that We might ascertain which of the two parties was best able to compute the time during which they remained (asleep). (18:12)
Those who disbelieve think they shall never be resurrected. Say: Aye! By my Lord! You shall most certainly be resurrected, then you shall most certainly be informed of what you did, and that is easy for Allah. (64:7)
The portion of inspiration a servant of Allah may be able to derive from the attribute al-Ba`ith is his knowledge that a soul first has no knowledge of anything, just like the body. Allah says the following in Surat al-Ana`m:
"Is he who was dead then We brought him back to life and made for him a light whereby he walks among people like one who is in utter darkness from which he can never come forth? Thus what they did was made fair-seeming to the unbelievers" (Qur’an, 6:122),
And in Surat al-Nahl He says,
"He sends the angels with the inspiration by His command to whomsoever He pleases of His servants saying: Give the warning that there is no god but I; therefore, be careful (of your duty) to Me" (Qur’an, 16:2).
If a servant of Allah strives hard to learn, he will be as though he has instilled a new life in his soul after its death, and if he strives to teach the ignorant ones, he will be as though he brought their souls back to life after their death.
Allah has said,
"Is it not sufficient as regarding your Lord that He is Witness over all things?" (Qur’an, 41:53).
According to Mu`jam maqayees al lugha by Ibn Faris, the topic of the verb shahida, saw, witnessed, or testified, indicates, linguistically, presence, knowledge, and the dissemination of such knowledge. The attribute "al-Shaheed" is derived from shuhood, [eye] witnesses, and it requires knowledge by observation: Allah is al-Shaheed because He is present and observes all beings whom He has created and whom He will create at any time and in any place, and He is fully aware of such beings; "... and He is with you wherever you may be."
Al-Shaheed is a superlative of al-Shahid, the Witness. In his work Taj al-Aroos, al-Zubaidi has indicated that al-Shaheed is one of Allah's Attributes meaning: "the One Who is faithful in His witness and from Whose knowledge nothing at all escapes." His knowledge is the very ultimate regarding all apparent matters, all things to observe and to witness. The Holy Qur’an states the following in Surat Ali-`Imran:
"Allah bears witness that there is no god but He" (Qur’an, 3:18).
Al-Shahid knows and manifests the knowledge of what He knows to a select
group from among His most sincere and loyal servants. Allah has proven
His being One through all what He has created. Al-Shaheed is
ever-present; from His kingdom nothing at all can be absent; everything
is included within the realm of His kingdom.
Addressing the Messenger, Allah says the following in Surat al-Nisa':
"... and We have sent you (O Muhammad!) to mankind as an Prophet, and Allah suffices as Witness (to that)" (Qur’an, 4:79).
That is, Allah suffices as Witness to all people regarding the truth of your message: He testifies that you are His Messenger who does not have full control over His servants. In Surat al-Ana`m, He says, "Say: What is the weightiest in testimony? Say: Allah is Witness between you and me" (Qur’an, 6:19), that is, were we to paraphrase it, "Ask them: What is the greatest witness? Say: Allah testifies with regard to you and to me." Allah ordered His Messenger to ask the disbelievers, "Whose testimony is the greatest and the most accurate?"
Then He ordered him to tell them that the greatest is the testimony of the One Whose statement does not permit any room for lying or erring. The testimony, that is, shahada, of the Almighty is of three types:
1) His own telling people in His Book that He has sent the Prophet as His Messenger;
2) His own support for His Messenger in numerous ways the greatest of which is the Holy Qur’an, which is the everlasting scholarly and rational miracle. It has been practically proven that all people put together are incapable of producing a chapter or a verse like it;
3) the testimony of previously revealed divine books and the fact that messengers before him had already brought the glad tidings of his Prophethood.
In Surat Younus, the Great Qur’an says,
"Allah, therefore, suffices as Witness between us and you that we were quite unaware of your worship (of us)" (Qur’an, 10:29).
It may be paraphrased thus: Allah suffices as Witness, O polytheists, and as Judge between us and you, for He is fully knowledgeable of our condition and yours, and we were not happy with your own associating partners with Him. In Surat al-Tawbah, the Almighty says,
"... Allah and His Prophet will witness your deeds, then you shall be brought back to the One Who knows the unseen and the seen, then He will inform you of what you did" (Qur’an, 9:94), that is, He knows what you hide or manifest, what you conceal or reveal.
The Almighty has repeated the phrase "`Alim al ghayb wal shahada," the One Who knows the unseen and the seen, about ten times; among such references are the following:
... His is the kingdom on the Day when the trumpet is blown, [and He is] the One Who knows the unseen and the seen, and He is the Wise, the Aware. (6:73)
The One Who knows the unseen and the seen, the Great, the Most High (is He). (13:9)
The One Who knows the unseen and the seen, so may He be exalted above what they associate (with Him). (23:92)
Such knows the unseen and the seen, the Mighty, the Merciful. (32:6)
Say: O Allah! Originator of the heavens and the earth Who knows the unseen and the seen! You judge between Your servants as to that wherein they differ. (39:46)
He is Allah besides Whom there is no other god, the One Who knows the unseen and the seen; He is the Beneficent, the Merciful. (59:22)
Say: (As for) the death from which you flee, it will surely overtake you, then you shall be sent back to the One Who knows the unseen and the seen, and He will (then) inform you of whatever you did. (62:8)
The believing nation, the nation that believes in Muhammad as the Messenger of Allah, always remembers that its Lord, Allah, is the Witness over it, and it is also the nation of testimony in every field. Its Lord has said the following about it:
"Thus have We made you a medium (just) nation so that you may be the bearers of witness to people, and so that the Messenger may be a bearer of witness to you" (Qur’an, 2:143).
Allah has said:
Allah is the Truth, and He gives life to the dead, and He has power over all things. (22:6)
One of the attributes Allah is "al-Haqq", the Truth. His existence is proven to be true and so is His Divinity. He makes the truth manifest by the power of His words, Who supports those whom He loves by His signs. Allah is the Truth, al-Haqq, who is worthy of being adored, Who is always there and Who never disappears, Whose presence is proven to have always been, since time immemorial, and forever - even before time and above time.
His presence is a reality standing on its own merits, and there is no existence except through Him, and by Him, and He never moves and is above motion or anything physical or material. He permits the truth to manifest itself. He creates everything as His wisdom dictates. He is present in a way which permits no room for Him to be absent, nor different, nor extinct. Everything that exists is from Him, and to Him is its ultimate end.
"Al-Haqq" is the antithesis of falsehood. According to one tradition, the Messenger of Allah has said, "Labbayka Haqqan Haqqa!" that is, "Here I am, O Truth, O Truthful One, here I am, in obedience to You! Here I am, O antithesis of falsehood!" Surely He is the truth beyond any doubt. Allah has said, "Then are they sent back to Allah, their Master, the true One" (Qur’an, 6:62).
He has also said,
This is so because Allah is the Truth, and that which they call upon besides Him is falsehood. (31:30) And Allah will show the truth to be true by His words. (10:82)
His promise is the very truth; He has said in this regard: Surely the promise of Allah is true. (31:33)
Whenever the Prophet made tahajjud during the night, he would say, "Lord! All Praise is due to You! You are the Lord of the heavens and the earth and everything in them! All Praise is due to You! You are the One Who sustains the heavens and the earth and everything in them! You are the Truth; Your speech is the truth; Your promise is the truth; meeting with You is the truth; Paradise is the truth; Hell is the truth; the Hour [of Judgment] is the truth! Lord!
To You have I submitted myself; in You have I believed; upon You have I relied; to You have I returned; for Your sake have I disputed with others, based upon Your truth have I arbitrated; so, I implore You to forgive my past faults and my future ones, what I have concealed and what I have manifested! You are my Lord! There is no god but You!"
Allah has said, "... and trust in Allah, and Allah suffices as Protector" (Qur’an, 4:81, 33:3).
"Al-Wakeel" is one of the Attributes of Allah, these Attributes which link whoever repeats them quite often, being aware of their meanings, to the gardens of Allah, the Truth, Who has all the beauty, perfection, and glory. Al-Wakeel is the Sustainer, the One Who has taken upon Himself to provide sustenance for His servants.
He, and only He, takes charge of all the affairs of those who are in His custody, under His care. According to linguists, "al-Wakeel" is the One to Whom all affairs are entrusted to manage, Who provides His servants with everything they need. In other words, He takes charge of everything. Al-Wakeel benevolently looks after His pious servants. He is the One to Whom all affairs are referred, Who makes the truth manifest; so, whoever relies on Him will be self-sufficient, and whoever seeks sufficiency from Him will be independent and pleased.
The servants of Allah have entrusted their affairs to Him and relied on His benevolence due to their inability to attain what they wish to attain versus His own ability to do so: He takes charge of the conditions of His servants, Who manages them as He pleases. Those who recognize Him will entrust Him to fare with their own affairs.
He surely is the only One Who truly fares with His servants as He pleases. If one of His servants entrusts Him to fare with his own affairs, He will beautifully save him the hardship of any task and will grant him more than He grants others; He gives sufficiently to those who rely on Him. He takes care of the affairs of His servants. He initiated the giving to man without the latter having asked Him, and He gave man everything he needed. Whenever man pleads to Him, He directs His attention to him and beautifully looks after him. If he remains on the straight path, He will seal his deeds with the beauty of His guardianship.
Linguistically, a wakeel is one upon whom one relies; so, this is why it is said that one who relies on Allah will come to know that Allah suffices him in as far as his sustenance and affairs are concerned, so he relies on Him and only Him and depends on none but Him. The wakeel of someone else is the person who efficiently represents him or does on his behalf what he is incapable of doing.
In Surat Hud, Allah addresses His Messenger Muhammad saying, "You are only a warner, and Allah is Custodian over all things" (Qur’an, 11:12), that is, "Your responsibility is simply to convey the Message, to warn against the dire consequences of rejecting it, to invite people to accept it, while Allah manages the affairs of His servants and watches over them, something which you do not have to do, since it is the responsibility of the Creator towards His creatures, and it is not a subject to be taught or conveyed."
Narrating the tale of Ya`qoob (Jacob) and his sons, the Almighty says in Surat Yousuf (Joseph), "And when they gave him their pledge, he said: Allah is the One in Whom trust is placed as regarding what we say" (Qur’an, 12:66).
In Surat al-Ahzab, the Almighty addresses His Messenger Muhammad saying, "The Lord of the east and the west; there is no god but He; therefore, take Him for Protector" (Qur’an, 73:9).
The address here is repeated twice to the Messenger of Allah; therefore, the Messenger of Allah used to quite often remember his Lord, al-Wakeel al-Hafiz, reminding his companions and followers never to neglect mentioning this Gracious Attribute during the time of trouble, hardship and affliction.
The Messenger of Allah once said, "How can I feel happy knowing that the one charged with blowing the horn (i.e. archangel Israfil) has picked the horn and bent his forehead listening to the order to blow it?" His companions asked him, "Then what are we supposed to say, O Messenger of Allah?" He said, "Say: `Hasbuna Allah wa ni`mal-Wakeel (Allah suffices us, and Great is the Guardian)!'"
The Messenger of Allah used to plead to his Lord, al-Wakeel, on every occasion, saying, "Lord! I implore You not to permit me to rely on my own self even for the twinkling of an eye else I should surely perish." According to one qudsi tradition, the Almighty, addressing His Messenger, says, "You are My servant and Messenger, and I have named you al-Mutawakkil [one who trusts in and relies on his Lord];" therefore, the Messenger of Allah was ordered by his Lord to do so; i.e. to always rely on Him.
In Surat Ali-`Imran, He says, "... so once you have made up your mind, place your trust in Allah; surely Allah loves those who trust (in Him)" (Qur’an, 3:159), that is, "Having consulted your companions regarding a matter, you must rely on Allah in effecting it, and have confidence in His assistance and help, for He is al-Wakeel, and He is your Guardian." Allah loves His servants who turn to Him and rely on Him provided they exert some effort and exhaust the means available to them.
Allah has made His Messenger a role model to emulate in the reliance upon his Lord, for Allah has ordered His believing servants to be among those who rely on Him. In Surat Yousuf, He says, "Judgment is only Allah's; on Him do I rely, and on Him let those who are reliant rely" (Qur’an, 12:67).
In another verse of the same chapter, He says, "And what reason do we have not to rely on Allah, and He has, indeed, guided us in our ways? And certainly we would bear with patience your persecution of us, and on Allah should the reliant rely" (Qur’an, 14:12).
In 39:38 we read, "Say: Allah suffices me; on Him do the reliant rely" (Qur’an, 39:38).
One who chooses Allah as his Guardian is one who has also to guard Allah's interest in his own self by observing His rights and obligations and whatever He has required him to do, so he should be the opponent of his own evil-insinuating self day and night, without laxing for a moment, nor falling short even for the twinkling of an eye.
54. "Al-Qawiyy" and 55. "Al-Mateen"
The Almighty has said,
"Surely Allah bestows sustenance, the Lord of Power, the Strong One" (Qur’an, 51:58).
"Al-Qawiyy" and "al-Mateen" are two of Allah's Attributes and are mentioned in such an order. They share the same basic meaning.
Linguistically, "al-Qawiyy" is derived from quwwa, strength, power, might, ability, etc. It is in lexicons indicative of strength versus weakness. Strength in this sense describes a complete and perfect might. Since He is very Strong, Allah has the most perfect and absolute might and perfection; He has said,
"... surely your Lord is the Strong, the Mighty" (Qur’an, 11:66).
"Al-Qawiyy" means: the One Whose strength is unlimited and before Whom the strength of His foe dwarves, and so does the greatness of anyone held as great. Allah has granted the angels a mighty power whereby one angel, for example, can uproot a mountain or turn cities upside down. Yet such an angel, or his like, fears Allah and His Might, shakes in awe for fear of His Greatness.
Al-Qawiyy is the One Whose Might and Greatness are perfect: He subdues and is not subdued; He helps and is not helped; His Might is superior to the might of anyone else. It is also said that He never suffers any weakness in Himself, in His qualities, or in His actions, and His strength is indicative of His complete Might.
There are many Qur’anic verses that describe Allah as the Strong One; among them are the following,
O had only those who are unjust seen when they witness the chastisement that power is wholly Allah's, and that Allah is severe in requiting (evil)! (2:165)
And wherefore did you not say, when you entered your garden: "It is as Allah has pleased; there is no power save in Allah"? (18:39)
As regarding `Ad9 , they were unjustly proud in the land, and they said: "Who is mightier than we are?" Did they not see that Allah Who created them is mightier than them, and that they denied Our signs? (41:15)
When we discern the previously quoted glorious verses, we will find the Attribute "al-Qawiyy" existing in 8:52 and 40:22 as the One Who is severe in requiting evil. Seven times has the Attribute "al-Qawiyy" been combined with the Attribute "al-`Azeez"; strength is not suited except for those who are honourable. Might is accompanied by severity.
The root word, matana, connotes solidness with expansion and extension. It may be applied to a solid rock, or to a distance traversed. Al-Mateen is al-Qawiyy, the Strong One, Who can do whatever He pleases, Who does not need an army to enforce His authority. He needs no help, nor supporters, nor assistants. Rest your hope on none besides Him. Al-Mateen is the One Whose Might is perfect; nothing in the heavens nor on earth can stand in His way. He is Allah Who affects His will, Whose Might is eternal; He affects everything yet nothing can affect Him.
Allah has said, "Allah is the Guardian (al-Waliyy) of those who believe" (Qur’an, 2:257). Al-Waliyy connotes closeness, nearness, one who may be an ally, a neighbor, a guardian, a relative, etc. It also means the supporter, the beloved one.
Allah has said, "Allah is the Guardian of those who believe" (Qur’an, 2:257). Quoting Yousuf, He has said, "You are my Guardian in this life and in the life hereafter" (Qur’an, 12:101). Quoting the believers, He has said, "You are our Patron; so, help us against the unbelieving people" (Qur’an, 2:286), and, "Then are they sent back to Allah, their Master, the True One" (Qur’an, 6:62). He has also said, "That is so because Allah is the Protector of those who believe, and because the unbelievers shall have no protector" (Qur’an, 47:11).
Allah is the Guardian of His servants. A good servant of Allah is also a friend of His. The Exalted One has said, "Surely the friends of Allah shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve" (Qur’an, 10:62). The word "waliyy" simultaneously conveys the meanings of a master and a slave, a supporter, a neighbor, a cousin, an ally, a guardian... The common denominator in the meaning of all these connotations is nearness. A "waliyy" is one who is near to someone else physically and figuratively.
The Almighty has said, "Awla laka fa awla" (Qur’an, 75:34): Nearer to you (is the destruction) and nearer, a clear warning meaning: "It (destruction) has come close to you, and that against which I have warned you has almost reached you; therefore, beware!"
This proves that the root word of this Attribute is derived from nearness, and this meaning is met in the case of a slave, a supporter, a cousin, an ally, or a guardian. In all these cases, there are situations which necessitate nearness required for proximity and communication. If this is proven, His being al-Waliyy of His servants is indicative of His being near to them.
The Almighty has said, "... and He is with you wherever you are" (Qur’an, 57:4).
He has also said,
... and We are nearer to him than his life-vein. (50:16) Nowhere is there a secret counsel between three persons except that He is their fourth. (58:7)
Whoever repeats this Attribute, realizing its great meanings, must be a friend of Allah. Any friend of Allah is also a friend of people, Allah's servants. He looks after them, managing their affairs, and so on. Allah says, "Believing men and women are guardians of one another" (Qur’an, 9:71).
Whoever aspires to be close to the Almighty will find Him willing to be his friend too, and whoever turns away from Allah, Allah will turn away from him, and Satan will welcome him with open arms.
The Almighty has said, "O people! You are the ones who stand in need of Allah, while Allah is the self-Sufficient, the Praised One" (Qur’an, 35:15).
The root word of "al-Hameed" is hamd which means: praise, something more general than thanking. Al-Hameed is also al-Mamood, the Praised One. Allah is al-Hameed due to praising His own Self since time immemorial, and also due to His servants praising Him.
His qualities, such as His being Glorified and Exalted, are due to the fact that those who mention His Attribute glorify and exalt it. Hamd in this context means enumerating or the attempt to enumerate the qualities of perfection conceived by those who praise Him. Al-Hameed grants you success and compliments you for it; He wipes out your sins and does not embarrass you by exposing them. He is Praised due to His merits.
One whose beliefs, conduct, speech and action are praiseworthy is called hameed. Such a description fits only the Messenger of Allah and those whose ranks are close to his from among Allah's prophets as well as others such as the friends of Allah, and the scholars. Each one of these is hameed with regard to his beliefs, conduct, deeds and statements.
Allah has said, "So that He may ascertain that they have truly delivered the messages of their Lord, and He encompasses what is with them, and He records the number of all things" (Qur’an, 72:28).
The root word of "Al-Muhsi" is ihsa' which means: counting or computing. Linguistically, it also means to tolerate or to be able to handle. It is also used to describe a tract of land where there is a large quantity of pebbles or stones.
Allah is al-Muhsi Who counts what we do and readies it for the Day when we meet Him, that is, the Day of Judgment, the day of hisab, accounting or reckoning, the day of reward or punishment. Al-Muhsi knows all precise and minute matters, the secrets of what is decreed; He sees what is apparent and is fully knowledgeable of what is hidden.
He counts the acts of obedience to Him, knows everything, counts our breath, and is acquainted with our insinuations. His knowledgeable of all beings in existence, when they move around or when they are still, and with all their affairs and deeds.
This Attribute's meaning and derivations exist in several places; here are some examples:
Certainly He has a comprehensive knowledge of them, and He has numbered them a (comprehensive) numbering. (19:94)
Surely We shall give life (back) to the dead, and We record what they have sent forth before and what they leave behind, and of all things have We taken account in a clear Book. (36:12)
And We have recorded everything in a book. (78:29)
Allah, Glory and Exaltation are His, has said,
"... as We originated the first creation, so shall We reproduce it, a promise (binding on Us); We shall surely bring it about" (Qur’an, 21:104).
Both "al-Mubdi" and "al-Mu`eed" are among Allah's Attributes, and most of those who have discussed them have dealt with them jointly.
In Surat al-A`raf, we read the following:
"Say: My Lord has enjoined justice, and set your faces upright at every time of the prayers and call upon Him, being sincere to Him in obedience; just as He brought you forth in the beginning, so shall you also return (to Us)" (Qur’an, 7:29).
And in Surat al-Naml, we read:
"Or Who originates the creation then reproduces it, and Who gives you sustenance from the heavens and from the earth? Is there a god with Allah? Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful" (Qur’an, 27:64).
In Surat al-`Ankabut, we read this verse:
"Say: Traverse the earth and see how He makes the first creation, then Allah creates the latter creation; surely Allah has power over all things" (Qur’an, 29:20).
Surat al-Room mentions these Attributes in two places:
Allah originates creation, then He reproduces it, then to Him you shall be brought back. (30:11) He it is Who originates the creation then reproduces it, and it is easy for Him, and His are the most exalted Attributes in the heavens and the earth, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. (30:27)
In Surat al-Buruj, we read: "Surely He it is Who originates and reproduces" (Qur’an, 85:13).
Linguistically, the root word of this Attribute means to start, begin, initiate, and the like. Allah starts, begins, initiates, the creation of all beings and Who brings them into existence. In Surat Saba', we read the following: "... falsehood shall vanish and shall not come back" (Qur’an, 34:49). This verse may be paraphrased thus: "What can falsehood initiate, and what can it bring back?"
Al-Mubdi has brought the cosmos into being without a prior model, Who created all the worlds in a perfect manner, Who initiates the giving to and the assistance of His servants, proving Himself as the best to rely on.
One who remembers the Attribute "al-Mubdi" ought to seek His forgiveness whenever he remembers it and to always stay attentive while supplicating to Him.
Allah has said, "Surely He it is Who originates and reproduces, and He is the Forgiving, the Loving" (Qur’an, 85:13-14).
Linguistically, the root word of this Attribute means: to return, to go back. We supplicate thus: "Lord! We plead to You to grant us a return to Your House," that is, to go back to the Ka`ba after having visited it or after having been there. A man who is mu`eed is one who is knowledgeable of certain issues/topics, etc. Al-ma`d means: the Day of Judgment. According to one particular tradition, the Messenger of Allah has supplicated saying, "... and make my abode in the hereafter good, for to it shall I return."
It is narrated that Gabriel asked the Messenger of Allah once, "O Muhammad! Do you have a nostalgic feeling for your place of birth, to your homeland?!" He answered him in the affirmative, whereupon Gabriel quoted the Qur’anic verse saying, "Most surely He Who has made the Qur’an binding on you will bring you back to the destination" (Qur’an, 28:85).
Al-Mu`eed brings life back to the dead. He gathers all beings for the Judgment Day together, lifting the veils from them and rewarding or punishing them, each according to what he/she had said and done. He tries them about how they fared with the blessings He bestowed upon them. Allah will cause all things (beings as well as inanimate objects) to come to naught, then He will bring them back again into existence:
"Say: The One Who brought them into existence at first will give life [back] to them, and He is Cognizant of all creation" (Qur’an, 36:79).
We ought to return to Allah regarding everything, and we have to bear in mind that Allah created us when we were nothing at all; He determines our destiny.
Allah has said, "Allah gives life and causes death, and Allah witnesses whatever you do" (Qur’an, 3:156).
Allah surely brings life to the bodies when He rejoins their souls to them. Al-Muhyi creates life and grants it to whomsoever He pleases. He creates people out of nothing, then He brings them back to life when the Day of Judgment approaches after their death.
He brings life into the heart of those who know through the light of His knowledge:
"Is he who was dead then We raised him to life and made for him a light whereby he walks among people like him whose likeness is that of one who is in utter darkness from which he cannot come out?" (Qur’an, 6:122).
Allah gives life to the sperm and to the leech-like clot. He causes rain to pour out of the clouds in order to bring life thereby to a dead land.
References to Allah bringing life back to the dead are numerous throughout the Holy Qur’an; here are some of them:
So We said: Strike him (the dead corpse) with part of it (the sacrificed cow); thus does Allah bring the dead to life, and He shows you His signs so that you may understand. (2:73)
Allah gives life and causes death, and Allah sees whatever you do. (3:156)
Say: O people! Surely I am the Messenger of Allah to you all, [the Messenger] of Him to Whom the kingdom of the heavens and the earth belongs; there is no god but He; He brings (beings/things) to life and causes death; therefore, believe in Allah and in His Messenger, the ummi Prophet who believes in Allah and in His words, and follow him, so that you may walk in the right way" (Qur’an, 7:158).
Allah's is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth; besides Allah you have no guardian nor helper. (2:107)
He gives life and causes death, and to Him you shall be brought back. (10:56)
He it is Who gives life and causes death, and in His (control) is the alternation of the night and the day; do you not then understand? (3:80)
He brings forth the living from the dead and the dead from the living and gives life to the earth after its death; thus shall you be brought forth. (30:19)
One of His signs is that He shows you the lightning for fear and for hope and sends down water from the clouds, then He gives life therewith to a land after its death (barrenness); most surely there are signs in this for people who understand" (Qur’an, 30:24).
He it is Who gives life and causes death; so, when He decrees an affair, He only says to it: Be, and it is. (40:68)
Or have they taken guardians besides Him? But Allah is the Guardian, and He gives life to the dead, and He has power over all things. (42:9)
There is no god but He; it is He Who gives life and causes death, the Lord and Cherisher of yourselves and of your earlier ancestors. (44:8)
A believer ought to adorn his conduct by remembering this Attribute quite often so that Allah may bring light into his heart through knowledge. His soul will then glow with the mysteries of manifestation. He should particularly remember Him as such in the depth of the night.
Allah has said,
"He it is Who makes (men) laugh and makes (them) weep, and He it is Who causes death and gives life" (Qur’an, 53:43-44).
Death is the antithesis of life. A wind dies when it stands still. A human dies when he sleeps; sleep is called death by way of analogy: it causes the faculties of reason and almost all other bodily movements to stop. The mawt is the land which was never tilled. One whose heart dies is dumb, stupid, idiotic, the warmth of his reason cooled down and died out.
Al-Mumeet, the Almighty, decrees death for whomsoever He pleases; none causes death except He. He has subdued His servants by death, causing them to go back to the earth from which He had created them and to be covered with dust...
Al-Mumeet has caused the heart of sinners to die because of going against His will. He is the Creator of death. He has caused the tyrants to die out of His mercy for the living. He causes the oppressors to die on account of their disrespect for Him. He causes the land to die, rendering it barren, free from vegetation, then He brings it back to life when it produces. He brings to life His Sunnah by causing His prophets to inherit it from their predecessors, and He causes the death of innovations through the life of knowledge.
Once the Messenger of Allah performed the hajj then stood over the safa, overlooking the House, the Ka`ba. Then he made three takbeers saying, "There is no god except Allah, the One and only God; there is no partner with Him; His is the kingdom; to Him is all Praise due; He brings to life and causes death; in His hand is all goodness, and He can do anything at all."
Abu Tharr al-Ghifari, may Allah be pleased with him, is quoted as saying that whenever the Messenger of Allah was ready to go to bed at night, he would say, "In Your Name do we die and live," and whenever he woke up, he would say, "All Praise is due to Allah Who has brought us back to life after having caused us to die, and to Him is our final return."
The Almighty has said,
"... as for the next abode, that most surely is the (real) life, had they only known!" (Qur’an, 29:64).
He has also said,
"And rely on the ever-Living Who never dies" (Qur’an, 25:58).
Life is the antithesis of death. Allah brings life back to a "dead" land: He causes vegetation to grow in it; He brings it life through rain. When we discuss it as an Attribute of the Almighty, it means that He is the ever-Living Who is self-Sustaining since time immemorial and will continue to be so forever. Every living being besides Him is not alive on its own; it does not by itself sustain its life; rather, its life is sustained by al-Hayy. Al-Hayy never dies. The Holy Qur’an states the following in Surat al-Zumar:
"Surely you shall die, and so shall they" (Qur’an, 39:30).
Al-Hayy is the Doer, the Aware; any deed without an origin or an awareness is dead. The least degrees of awareness is awareness of one's own self. Anything which is not aware by itself is a dead inanimate object. Allah is the Absolute Living One, and everyone and everything that live besides Him is alive according to the extent of its awareness.
Anas ibn Malik has said, "I was once sitting with the Messenger of Allah in our circle when a man was still performing his prayers. After having bowed down, prostrated and made the tashahhud, he supplicated to his Lord saying, `Lord! I plead to You by the very fact that to You is all Praise due; there is no god but You; You are the One Who gives without reminding the takers, Who created the heavens and the earth; O You Who has all the Honour and all the Glory! O ever-Living One, O Sustainer! I plead to You...' whereupon the Prophet said, `He surely has invoked Allah by His Greatest Attribute: He answers favourably when He is asked thereby, and He gives when invoked.'"
Al-Mumeet causes your heart to die when you fail to remember Him, and your soul to die when you continuously permit yourself to slip away from His right path, and your mind to die when you permit your desires to take control of you. Al-Muhyi brings life to the hearts of those who know and who willingly submit to Him, while al-Mumeet causes the [spiritual] death of those who go against His will.
Allah has said,
"Alif, Lam, Mim. Allah, (there is) no god but He, the ever-Living, the self-Subsisting, the One through Whom all things subsist" (Qur’an, 3:1-2).
One who is qayyim is a master and organizer of affairs. The "qayyim creed" is the Hanafi faith. The day of qiyama is the Day when everyone will stand before Allah, Lord of the Worlds, for judgment. Al-Qayyum is never created, Who manages all affairs.
Al-Qayyum exists absolutely on His own, not through others, while every being exists through Him and because of Him. Nothing, no life whatever, can ever be sustained without Him. Al-Qayyum is the ever-Lasting, the Eternal Who never suffers extinction. He effects justice and equity, Who is self-Sustaining, Who never sleeps.
According to Abdullah ibn `Abbas, whenever the Messenger of Allah used to stand up to perform his night prayers, he would say, "Lord! All Praise is due to You! You are the Lord of the heavens and the earth! All Praise is due to You! You are the Qayyum of the heavens and the earth and everything in them; all Praise is due to You! You are the Light of the heavens and the earth; all Praise is due to You! You are the King in the heavens and the earth; all Praise is due to You! You are the Truth; Your promise is true, the meeting with You is true, Your speech is the truth; Paradise is true; the fire is true; the prophets are truthful; Muhammad is truthful, and the Hour is true!
Lord! To You have I submitted; in You have I believed; upon You have I relied; to You is my return; for Your sake do I dispute; Your judgment do I seek; so, I implore You to forgive my sins, the ones I have committed and the ones I may commit in the future, what I have concealed and what I have declared, for You are the One Who advances and Who postpones; there is no god but You, and there is no strength nor might except in Allah."
According to another tradition, he has invoked His Maker saying, "O Hayy! O Qayyum! We solicit Your help by Your mercy! Lord! I invoke You to mend my affairs, all of them, and not to permit me to rely on my own self even for a twinkling of the eye, nor for a shorter time, nor on anyone from among Your creation."
Imam `Ali has said, "During the Battle of Badr, I participated in the battle for some time, then I came to the Messenger of Allah to see what he was doing, and I found him making sajdah while repeating, `O Hayy! O Qayyum!' So I went back to the battle-field, then I came back to him and I saw that he was still repeating the same words. I kept going there and coming back to him, and he was still doing exactly the same thing till Allah granted us victory."
Abdullah ibn `Abbas is quoted as saying that the Greatest of all Attributes of Allah is al-Hayy al-Qayyum. Anyone who truly realizes that He, Glory to Him, is the Qa'im, Qayyim, Qiyam and Qayyum will never detach his heart from loving the Creator.
Al-Qayyum connotes His independence and the dependence of all others on Him, that He does not need anyone while everyone is in need of Him.
Allah, Glory to Him, is the Only al-Hayy al-Qayyum: He exists on His own, whereas everything that exists depends on Him to continue existing. So rely on al-Qayyum besides Whom you need no other supporter, nor is there anyone else besides Him who can sustain you, nor can anyone else teach you whatever you need to know.
Allah has said,
"And whoever does evil or acts unjustly against his own soul then asks forgiveness of Allah, he shall find Allah Forgiving, Merciful" (Qur’an, 4:110).
The root word of "al-Wajid" is "jidda," abundance and independence. Al-Wajid is the most Knowing:
"And [did He not] find you lost and guide you?" (Qur’an, 93:7);
"... and there he finds Allah, so He pays him back his reckoning in full" (Qur’an, 24:39).
The phrase "he finds Allah" means "he finds out that Allah..." Al-Wajid has everything; He lacks nothing; He is never incapable of doing whatever He pleases. Al-Wajid is the One from Whose knowledge nothing at all escapes; He does not overlook anything at all. He is the opposite of one who has lost everything. Al-Wajid lacks neither necessary things nor any of the requirements related to Divinity and its perfection; He is none but Allah, the Most Exalted One.
In such sense, He, and He alone, is the Absolute al-Wajid. Anyone besides Him who may have some of the attributes of perfection while still lacking a few things is not called wajid at all.
Al-Wajid has with Him everything He wants and desires; He can affect His decree; He knows everything and He determines everything; He is capable of doing everything; nothing is beyond His reach or might; His status is Sublime. He is the Most Honoured; His Might is the most perfect; He gives abundantly and generously.
The root word of this Attribute has many other meanings such as: finding out something through the power of the senses, the reaching of a point or a goal, the existence of something, the mental realization.
The Almighty has said,
"... the handiwork of Allah Who has made everything thoroughly" (Qur’an, 27:88).
The root word of this Attribute is "majd," a noun meaning glory and honours. A man may be said to be majid if he has descended from parents known to have established a deeply rooted reputation of glory and honours. A majid person is very highly distinguished; he quite often showers others with his favours.
The Attribute "al-Majid" means absolute perfection and dazzling glory; He is Beautiful in His qualities and actions, Who treats His servants most graciously, most generously, manifesting His Greatness to them through the light of His compassion for them. Among our supplications is this one:
Lord! You are al-Majid al-Majid, the Doer of whatever pleases You! We plead to You to grant us security on the Promised Day; Glory to the One Who has been Gracious unto His servants through His Glory and Honours and is distinguished thereby! Glory to the One Who is Great, Whose Honour is Great, Whose Generosity is vast!
The Attribute "al-Majid" underscores the meaning of the Attribute "al-Wajid", thus stressing their common meaning of independence. Abu Tharr al-Ghifari, may Allah be pleased with him, has quoted the Messenger of Allah quoting, in turn, his Lord saying, "O servants of Mine! You are all sinners except those whom I have healed from sinning; therefore, seek My forgiveness so that I may forgive you by My might.
Whoever among you comes to know that I am capable of forgiving, and he seeks My forgiveness, I shall forgive his sins and overlook them. You are all to perish except those whom I guide; therefore, seek My guidance so that I may guide you. You are all poor except those whom I enrich; therefore, ask Me so that I may grant you sustenance. O servants of Mine! If the first of you and the last, whatever is moist with you and whatever is dry, the living among you and the dead, should ever unanimously become as pious as the most pious person among My servants, it will not increase My domain as much as the wing of a mosquito.
And if they all become as wretched as the worst wretch among My servants, it will not decrease My domain as much as the wing of a mosquito. If the first of you and the last, the moist with you and the dry, the living and the dead, were to ask Me, it will not decrease what is with Me in anything at all just as any of you may pass by a sea shore and immerse a needle therein then takes it out. This is so because I am al-Majid; I do whatever I please; My giving is only a word: Whenever I desire something, I say to it `Be!' and it is."
This Attribute instills in the hearts of the faithful the sincere desire to treat others with forgiveness, clemency, and patience. One should speak kindly to them, smile to them, and remove the dissension from among them. He should spend his wealth for the good of the poor, and he should be humble and kind to the weak among them. He should treat all people as though they were his own family members and brethren.
Allah has said,
"And your Lord is One (and Only) Lord! There is no god but He" (Qur’an, 2:163).
He has also said,
"Say: He, Allah, is One" (Qur’an, 112:1).
Linguistically, "al-Wahid" means: the One Who does not socialize with people nor keeps them company. To believe in Tahweed is to believe that there is no partner at all with Allah in His authority, and that being One is a quality of His which nobody else shares with Him.
Tahweed means recognition of the Unity of the One Who alone manages the affairs of His servants.
None creates, nor sustains, nor grants, nor withholds, nor brings back to life, nor causes death, nor manages the affairs of the domain outwardly or inwardly, except Allah. Whatever He wills comes to be, and whatever He does not never will. Not even an atom moves without His knowledge; nothing takes place without His will. No leaf falls down without His knowledge. Nothing escapes His knowledge, not even as much as the weight of an atom in the heavens or the earth, nor smaller than that nor bigger: His knowledge encompasses everything. His might overwhelms everything. His will is effected regarding everything. His wisdom dominates everything.
Tawhid, then, means that whatever comes to your mind of how He may be or anything which you think is appropriate for Him..., He is contrary to and above it, Glory to Him.
The subject of Tawhid is beyond anyone's description, for if you discuss
the Almighty, there are too many views about Him to discuss, and there
are too many ways to discuss Him through Him [i.e. through His
statements]. Reason recognizes Him, yet the tongue can never describe
Tawhid's meaning shatters any image and confuses all branches of knowledge, while Allah remains just as He has always been and will always be. Glory to the One Who has made no means for His creatures to really know Him except by proving to them that they can never know Him.
One who falls into the seas of Tawhid will day after day feel more and more thirsty. Tawd is a prerogative, a privilege, of the Truth (the Almighty), yet His creatures are simply curious. Among people are those whose actions portray their belief in Tawhid; they look at everything that happens through Him. And there are those who, when the truth is unveiled before their eyes, feel less and less concerned about anyone besides Him; they see everyone to be as one secret within another...
Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, has said, "Allah is One, and He loves oneness." This tradition indicates that He loves the heart that is solely dedicated to Him, Glory and Exaltation are His.
Al-Wahid, the One and Only God, protects you, the individual that you are, against the group, a number of individuals, whereas the latter cannot protect you against Him. Al-Wahid cannot be counted. He Alone is the source of all knowledge, the Only One Who reveals what is hidden. His existence has neither a duration nor a limit, nor can anyone carry out a decision against Him, nor can His Essence ever suffer any decrease or increase whatever.
Allah, Glory and Exaltation are His, has said,
"Say: He, Allah, is One. Allah is He on Whom all depend" (Qur’an, 112:1-2).
Al-Samad is an Attribute of Allah whose linguistic meanings include the following: the ultimate goal, the obeyed Master without Whose command nothing can happen, the Support of those who need to be supported, the One to Whom all matters are referred, the One to Whom all issues are rendered and regarding which nobody else decides, the One to Whom pleas are directed. A-Samad is approached to grant the pleas and is pleaded to make wishes come true. He is the Master sought during the time of need. Arabs describe a household as Samad if people go there in the hope of fulfilling their worldly needs.
God is the final destination, the ultimate goal. The one whom Allah enables to be sought to satisfy people's needs, particularly those relevant to their creed, as well as those of every day life, the one who serves their interests by word and by means is truly one upon whom Allah has bestowed a great deal of goodness. It is goodness inspired by this Attribute.
Whoever recognizes Allah as the ever-Lasting Who never dies will turn away from the adornments of this fleeting life and will have no desire for its material things... One of the good manners of a believer inspired by this Attribute is that he does not seek help from anyone besides Allah to help him meet his worldly needs, nor does he rely on anyone else besides Him. He fashions his conduct after Him and becomes the one sought by people for the fulfillment of their needs. According to one hadith, the Messenger of Allah has said, "One who is most loved among people is the one who benefits them most."
In the Holy Qur’an, we read,
"Say: He has the power to send on you a chastisement from above you, or from beneath your feet, or throw you into confusion, (making you) different parties, and making some of you taste the fighting of others. See how We repeat the signs so that they may understand" (Qur’an, 6:65).
Both al-Qadeer and al-Qadir are among Allah's characteristics. They may be derived from taqdeer, estimation or assessment, or from qudra, might, power, or ability. Al-Qadeer does whatever He does according to the requirement of wisdom, no more, nor less. Al-Qadeer is not among Allah's ninety-nine Attributes although it is repeated more than thirty times throughout the text of the Holy Qur’an.
The root word of "al-Qadir" is the noun "qudra", might, power, prowess, ability, etc. Laylat al-Qadr, the Night of Power or of Destiny, is surely the Night of the great honour. In the Holy Qur’an, we read the following verse in Surat al-Ana`m: "And they do not honour Allah the Great Honour due to Him" (Qur’an, 6:91), that is, they do not honour Him as He ought to be honoured.
The word "qadr" means that Allah is capable of doing anything without tackling it or using any means, etc.; therefore, it does not exert or exhaust Him to do whatever He wants. It means authority and power, that is, the complete dealing with the entire universe, the cosmos, without being opposed by an opponent. Who can oppose Him or escape His grip? His command is that whenever He decrees anything, he says to it: "Be!" and it is. It means the One Who has the Complete power, Who is not frustrated by anything at all, He needs no means to do anything.
He measures His decree, Who manages the universe with might and wisdom: "So We proportion it: how well We are at proportioning (things)!" (Qur’an, 77:23) and also, "Surely We have created everything according to a measure" (Qur’an, 54:49). The qadar is what Allah, the Most Honoured and Glorified, decrees and decides.
A servant of Allah has a measure of power to do a number of things, but it is deficient, for his ability is limited. Allah, on the other hand, makes His servants capable of doing what they do through His might. A servant of Allah has power to do a number of things, but he cannot do everything. He cannot create things out of nothing. Only Allah can.
As regarding the Attribute "al-Muqtadir", the Almighty has said, "They rejected all Our signs, so We overtook them after the manner of a Mighty, Powerful One" (Qur’an, 54:42).
"Al-Muqtadir" is a superlative of "al-Qadir" which enhances the prestige and awe inspired by the latter. Al-Muqtadir controls everything through His might which encompasses all His creation. His might is endless, Who manages all affairs, Who manifests His might to the souls through the light of His Attribute al-Muqtadir and thus grants them serenity and security.
They recognize and venerate His might in the late hours of the night and at both ends of the day. The meaning it suggests is:
"the One Whose Might is Great, Who, through His overwhelming Power, controls all His creatures; He subdues everyone and everything in His domain. He decreed, so existence came to be as a manifestation of His might: `... and Allah holds power over all things'" (Qur’an, 18:45).
One of the signs of the good manners of a believer in as far as al-Muqtadir is concerned is that this Attribute will always fill his heart, and he always remembers it, so much so that a glimpse of its light will shine upon him and will always surround him. The following is a tradition related by Jabir ibn Abdullah al-Salami:
The Messenger of Allah used to teach his companions to follow istikhara in all matters just as he used to teach them the text of the Holy Qur’an. He used to always repeat saying, "If one of you decides to do something, let him prostrate twice besides what is incumbent upon him then say: `Lord! I seek Your istikhara and Your help to enable me to achieve what I aspire to achieve! I plead to You to grant me of Your favours, for You can and I cannot, and You know and I do not, and You know the unknown.
Lord! If You know that this matter (and here you indicate what it is) is good for me sooner or later, or good for my creed or sustenance, or for the ultimately good end of my affairs, then decree it for me and ease it for me, then bless it for me. Lord! If You know that it is evil for me regarding my creed or the ultimate end of my affairs, or regarding my matter sooner or later, then take me away from it and enable me to acquire goodness wherever it may be, then make me pleased therewith.'"
The Attribute "al-Muqtadir", Praised and Glorified is He, is mentioned verbatim in two verses of the Holy Qur’an: in verses 42 and 55 of Surat al-Qamar, and once in verse 45 of Surat al-Kahaf.
Allah has said,
"... so that Allah may forgive your past faults and your faults to come, to complete His favour unto you, and to guide you on the right path" (Qur’an, 48:2).
Linguistically, taqdeem, the root word of this Attribute, means advancing, promoting, or preferring; "al-Muqaddim" means: the One Who presents things and places them in their right place. Whoever deserves to be advanced, preferred or favoured over others, the Almighty, al-Muqaddim, advances his rank or status.
And He advances the living, each according to his sincerity of worshipping Him, protecting them against falling into disobedience of Him. Al-Muqaddim since the beginning of time advanced those whom He loves and made them happy through accurate comprehension and sound judgment. He prefers those who know over those who do not. He opens the gates of true conviction (iman) for everyone. He prefers humans over all others, making them Imams. And He advances, prefers, favours scholars over ignorant folks, making the first party like stars guiding others to righteousness.
He has advanced the Messenger of Allah from the very beginning and will advance him at the very end, in the Hereafter. He took a covenant from all those whom He sent into this world that: "... when a Messenger comes to you verifying that which is with you, you must believe in him, and you must support him" (Qur’an, 3:81).
He also advanced him on Laylatul-Isra', the Night Journey. Muhammad led all other Prophets in congregational prayers.
The Holy Qur’an states the following: "Do not dispute in My presence, and indeed I warned you beforehand" (Qur’an, 50:28). Muhammad, the most honoured of all prophets, as Muslims regard him, enjoys a status that tops all those of other "Ulul-`Azm" prophets10, peace be upon all of them. Next in status are awliya', the friends of Allah, whose status is less only than that of the prophets.
Al-Muqaddim, therefore, advances whoever He pleases on account of one's piety and frequency of returning to Him, to His path, making them truthful; He responds favourably to their pleas. And al-Muqaddim advances the living who worship Him in ranks (in this life as well as in the one to come), protecting them against disobeying or displeasing Him.
The Almighty has said,
"Man shall on that Day be informed of what he had sent forth before and of what he had put off" (Qur’an, 75:13).
Al-Mu'akhkhir causes the polytheists to lag behind while raising the ranks of the believers. He delays the disobedient ones and grants His guidance to those who obey Him. He postpones the penalty of the oppressor because He is Compassionate and Merciful. Whenever your heart is exposed to a glimpse of the light of His Attribute "al-Mu'akhkhir," you will be managing your affairs very well, postponing what the Legislator has decided must be postponed, and looking down at what the Wise Lord has Himself looked down upon.
In Surat Ibrahim (Abraham), we read the following verse:
"And do not think that Allah is heedless of what the unjust ones do; He only grants them a respite till a Day on which the eyes shall be fixedly staring (being horrified)" (Qur’an, 14:42).
He has forewarned people regarding the Day when His chastisement will approach them, so those who have wronged their own souls will plead to thus: "Lord! Grant us a respite till a near term so that we may answer Your call and follow the messengers" (Qur’an, 14:44) but they will be told: "Did you not swear before now that there would be no passing away for you?!" (Qur’an, 14:44).
The Messenger of Allah used to supplicate by saying, "Lord! I plead to You to forgive my sins, my ignorance, my extravagance, and to grant me that which You know to be better for me. Lord! I plead to You to forgive my (unintentional) sins, my deliberate sins, my ignorance, when I am serious and when I am not, and I am guilty of all of that. Lord! I plead to You to forgive what I have advanced and what I have postponed, what I have revealed and what I have declared, for You are al-Muqaddim, and You are al-Mu'akhkhir, and surely You can do whatever You please." Both Attributes "al-Muqaddim" and "al-Mu'akhkhir" are not mentioned in the text of the Holy.
The discussion of advancing something and postponing something else has been dealt with in the Holy Qur’an with reference to mankind in verses such as these:
Man shall on that Day be informed of what he sent forth before and what he put off. (75:13)
Surely We know those of you who have gone before and We certainly know those who shall come later. (15:24)
And We do not delay it except till an appointed term (11:104).
One of the signs of a believer's good conduct with regard to both of these Attributes is that he should take a middle course between fear and excessive hope, and to always be on his alert.
Allah has said, "He is the First (al-Awwal) and the Last (al-Akhir) and the Ascendant (over all) and the One Who knows hidden things, and He is Cognizant of all things" (Qur’an, 57:3).
The Attribute "al-Awwal" means: the One upon Whom all others rely, the One Who advances all others. Applied to the Almighty, it means: He was never preceded in existence by anyone at all; He does not need anyone else at all; He is Independent of everything and everyone.
A bedouin once asked the Messenger of Allah, "Where was Allah before creation?" He answered him by saying, "Allah was and there was nothing with Him." The bedouin asked him again, "How about now?" He answered him by saying, "He is now just as He has always been." The Attribute "al-Awwal" exists in Surat al-Hadeed: "He is the First and the Last, the Ascendant (over all), the One Who knows hidden things, and He is Cognizant of all things" (Qur’an, 57:3).
And He is referred to by implication in this verse:
"We have ordained death among you and We are not preceded in doing so by anyone else" (Qur’an, 56:60).
"Al-Awwal" is the first of anything different from Him. He has the upper hand over His foes, an advancement due neither to time nor to place nor to anything else that can be conceived by mind nor acquired by knowledge. "Al-Awwal" means the timeless, the perpetual, the One Who has neither a beginning nor an end. He is the First without a beginning; He exists on His own even before His creatures were ever there.
He is the Eternal One Who has always been and Who is never preceded by anyone at all. Allah has said, "We have ordained death among you, and We are not preceded in doing so by anyone else" (Qur’an, 56:60). This verse indicates that He, and Only He, has such power to effect death upon His servants, and He is the First to do so without anyone preceding Him.
Allah Almighty has said,
"He is the First and the Last, the Ascendant (over all), the One Who knows all hidden things, and He is Cognizant of all things" (Qur’an, 57:3).
Al-Akhir is the Last without having to have a first, the Last in His Attribute of eternity and perpetuity; He postpones anything that is to come later. He is the Last by virtue of being above any adjectives whereby He may be described, the Last above extinction. He is the Last without anyone having delayed Him and made Him so, and He is the Last due to His sustaining us. He is the Last according to the rule of necessity: He is the First to grant guidance; He is the Last to look after those whom He guides.
Allah permits the rewards to reach those who earn them and the penalty to afflict those who deserve it; so, just as He was the first since time immemorial, when there was nothing with Him at all, so will He remain the Last One and nothing will be with Him at all.
Among the good manners of a believer with respect to this Attribute is that he keeps remembering it quite often so that its light may manifest itself unto his heart, and so that he should escape this vanishing abode and look forward for the lasting one; he flees from his own self seeking Allah, the Lord of the heavens and the earth.
Allah has said,
"... the One Who knows the unseen! So He does not reveal His secrets to any..." (Qur’an, 72:26).
Linguistically speaking, "al-Zahir" is derived from "zuhoor," manifestation, appearance, sighting, etc. It means something hidden coming to appearance. It also conveys the meaning of "victor." This meaning occurs in this verse: "... and they became the uppermost" (Qur’an, 61:14), that is, in a higher status and rank. "zahr" also means back, the opposite of "ban," stomach or belly; so, what is zahir is the opposite of what is batin.
It also means: animals used to transport people and luggage on their backs, their hrs, that is, beasts of burden, whether it is used as a figure of speech or literally. Something zaheer is very strong. According to hadith, "There is no verse in the Holy Qur’an except that it has an apparent meaning and a hidden one." What is apparent may be the wording, and what is hidden may is the meaning, or it may mean recitation or reading versus comprehension and learning.
The meaning of the Attribute of the Almighty "al-Zahir" permits more than one interpretation:
1) He subdues His creation. 2) He knows everything apparent, just as the Attribute "al-Batin" means He knows everything hidden. 3) He is al-Zahir due to the abundance of dazzling proofs and the enlightening evidence testifying to His Glory.
Suppose someone says that if He is al-Zahir, the Apparent or the Evident One, the One about Whom there can be no doubt entertained, well, most people seem to doubt His existence nevertheless; so, how can He still be Apparent or Evident?
Allah is al-Batin, the Obscure, if sought through the senses and the imagination. He is al-Zahir, the Apparent One, if sought by the treasure of reason by way of deduction. His being obscure to many minds, despite His being so Apparent, is due to the intensity of such evidence. His being Evident is the reason why He is Obscure, and His light is the same that obscures His glow: whatever exceeds its limit turns into its own antithesis. He is Obscure if one seeks to know Him by applying his own physical senses.
The senses are related to what is apparent, such as one's complexion, physique, etc.. In fact, a person is a human being not only on account of his complexion, for even if such complexion or the rest of his parts are altered, he still remains one and the same. Actually, a person's parts at the time when he ages are not the same when he was young. They would have suffered a great deal of change due to the passage of time and were replaced by ones similar to them through food intake. His identity, nevertheless, has not changed. Such an identity is obscure from the senses, quite clear to the mind by way of deduction.
Allah has said,
"He is the First and the Last and the Ascendant (over all) and the One Who knows all hidden things, and He is Cognizant of all things" (Qur’an, 57:3).
"Al-Batin" means: the One Who is obscured from the eyes of His creatures
due to the intensity of His appearance, the Hidden One due to His
Essence that defies the minds and intellects.
The Messenger of Allah has supplicated thus:
Lord! O God of the heavens and of the great Throne! Our Lord and the Lord of everything! The One Who splits the seed and the date-stone! The one Who has revealed the Torah, the Gospel, and the Holy Qur’an! I seek refuge with You against the evil of every being whose forelock is in Your Hands! Lord! You are the First; there is nothing before You! And You are the Last; there is nothing after You. You are the Apparent; there is nothing beyond You, and You are the Hidden One; there is nothing that can reach You! I plead to You to pay our debts on our behalf, and to save us from [the humiliation of] want.
He is al-Zahir through sufficiency, al-Batin by objectivity, al-Zahir due to His bounties, al-Batin through His mercy. He is the Apparent One Who subdues everything, the Hidden One Who knows the truth about everything, the One Who is Apparent for everything by way of convincing proofs, the One Who is Hidden from any physical appearance. Glory, then, to the One Who has obscured Himself from all creation by His light, Who is Hidden from them because of the intensity of His appearance.
The Almighty has said, "... and made His favours to you complete outwardly and inwardly" (Qur’an, 31:20).
Apparent are the ones we can observe, see, witness, notice, while hidden are the things with which we are not familiar. He has also pointed out to the fact that
"And if you were to count Allah's favours, you will not be able to count them" (Qur’an, 16:18 and 14:34).
They are apparent to the senses, defying our intellect.
Man is a manifestation of the Attribute "al-Zahir" and, at the same time, is also a manifestation of the other Attribute "al-Batin." Man, physically, is a manifestation of the Apparent Light, and spiritually a manifestation of the Hidden One, al-Batin. Whenever a servant of Allah repeats the Attribute "al-Batin", his soul will feel submissive to its Creator, and he will realize that he on his own is really incapable of doing anything at all; so, it is then that the Truth will be Merciful unto him and will grant him purity of both body and soul.
Allah has said,
"For his sake there are angels following one another, before him and behind him, who guard him by Allah's commandment; surely Allah does not change the condition of people until they change their own conditions, and if Allah intends evil to anyone, there is none to avert it, and besides Him they have no protector" (Qur’an, 13:11).
Al-Wali is the Owner of everything; He deals with everything as He pleases. The mawla is also a supporter or a helper.
Al-Wali manages the affairs of all creation. He initiates whatever improves the condition of His creatures. In other words, He is the Absolute and undisputed Ruler. Al-Wali is the One and only One Who manages all affairs, Who does everything, and there is no continuity nor existence without His permission; everything happens according to His judgment and by His command. Al-Wali gives graciously by halting the advent of mishaps and calamities.
Among the characteristics of al-Wali is that He manages, is capable and is the doer of whatever He pleases. Unless all these attributes are found in someone, he will not be called wali, and there is no wali for our affairs except Allah. He, and only He, single-handedly manages them first and foremost and safeguards their continuity and existence. It is also possible to attach to the wali the meaning of: One Who gives abundantly, Who wards off evil.
Allah has said,
"[He is] the One Who knows the unseen and the seen, the Great, the Most High" (Qur’an, 13:9).
The root word of "al-Muta`ali" is `uluww, height, sublimity, loftiness. Its verb also means one who feels proud, or even arrogant, with regard to someone else, and this usage is for humans. We have already discussed the Attribute "al-`Aliyy", which is also derived from the same root word. Al-Muta`ali is Exalted in His Greatness and Honours, an Exaltation which nobody reaches besides Him.
His Honour is above what any of His creation can conceive or comprehend, above what His creation describe, measure, compute, or define. Al-Muta`ali is Sublime and is above everything due to His might or perfection. He, Glory to Him, is Most High due to His Greatness. It also means He is high above deficiencies or shortcomings, or above being conceived by anyone's imagination. He is very, very High above all His creatures. He does not need any of what He creates or what He did not create; He created them out of His Munificence.
His Compassionate Attribute is surely gloriously manifesting itself to all what He has created. He does not need the worship of those who worship Him; He makes His grace available to all those who strive to attain it.
Al-Muta`ali is above the falsehood of the conceited, by necessity is Lofty and Sublime. His rank is the Most High; He has the authority all of it. He is Proud and Great. His Glory is too High to be comprehended or conceived by His creation.
One who keeps remembering the Attribute "al-Muta`ali" ought to fashion his conduct according to it by his determination to worship none but Allah. One who adorns his manners as such will then remember the persecuted and the downtrodden and does his best to help them, so their condition will hopefully improve. According to one tradition, "A wretch indeed is a servant of Allah who fancied himself and became conceited, forgetting the Great One, al-Muta`ali."
Our second Imam, al-Hasan ibn `Ali, says that his grandfather, the Messenger of Allah, had taught him a few supplications to recite during his witr prayers such as this one:
Lord! I plead to You to guide me among those whom You have guided, to grant me good health among those whom You have granted, to befriend me among those whom You have befriended! I further implore You to bless what You have granted me, to shun from me the evil of what You have decreed in my regard, for You decree while none can force his decree on You! Surely none can humiliate those whom You have befriended; Blessed, Lord, are You and Exalted exceedingly.
Allah has said,
"Surely He is the Benign One, the Merciful" (Qur’an, 52:28).
Al-Barr is one of Allah's Attributes derived from barr, the doer of goodness; birr means the doing of benevolent deeds. "Al-Barr," then, is an inclusive word containing all attributes of goodness, benevolence and charity. One who is barr to his parents is very gracious and benevolent to them. Those who are barr are those from whom deeds of goodness are expected. Birr also means ties, links, or connections. A person who is barr regarding his kin means he maintains good ties with them.
The Holy Qur’an states this verse in Surat al-Mumtaana:
"Allah does not forbid you regarding those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion and have not driven you out of your homes that you show them kindness and deal with them justly; surely Allah loves the doers of justice" (Qur’an, 60:8).
And in Surat Ali-`Imran, we read,
"By no means shall you attain righteousness until you spend (benevolently) out of what you love" (Qur’an, 3:92).
A pilgrimage that is blessed and free of any prohibited acts is called "hajj mabroor" the reward for which is no less than Paradise according to hadith. Birr also means piety, which in turn means the doing of whatever brings one closer to Allah, a word that combines qualities very highly commendable and praiseworthy.
The birr is the best of what is in the life of this world and that of the hereafter. The best of this life is whatever Allah makes available to any of His servants such as guidance, bounties, and enjoyable things. The best of the life to come is the eternal bliss which is residence in Paradise; may Allah enable us to enjoy both blessings by His mercy and grace, Allahomma ameen. The Messenger of Allah has said, "Uphold telling the truth, for it shall lead you to birr."
Birr means goodness, a word which combines all good attributes. It implies whatever good deeds bring one closer to Allah, the Honoured One, the Most Exalted. The well of Zamzam is called barra due to the abundance of its benefits and of its water.
Al-Barr does not do anything ugly or abominable. He has been Gracious unto those who seek His pleasure by showing them the way how to, and unto the worshippers by His Favours and the granting of success to them. Al-Barr is kind unto those who seek His benevolence and His giving, unto the worshippers by beautifully rewarding them. He never ceases giving benevolently because of one's disobedience to Him.
A servant of Allah may be described as barr. A servant of Allah can be barr according to the extent of his deeds of righteousness, to his being the first and the foremost to observe the right of his parents, teachers, and mentors.
One of the ways wherein a servant of Allah can fashion his conduct after following the light of this Attribute is to befriend the believers who are sincere in their belief, who are acquainted with the secrets of belief. When someone mentions this Attribute quite often, his conduct will then personify it, and love for all servants of Allah will then be planted in his heart, and all people will love him with sincerity.
Allah has combined all the aspects of birr in one of the verses of Surat al-Baqarah when He said:
It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the east and the west, but righteousness is this: that one should believe in Allah and the last day and the angels and the book and the prophets and give away wealth out of love for His sake to those near in kin, to the orphans, the needy, the wayfarer, the beggars, and for (the emancipation of) the slaves, and keep up prayers and pay the zakat, and those who fulfill their promise when they promise, and those who persevere when in distress and affliction and during the time of conflict: these are they who are true (to themselves), and these are they who guard (themselves against evil) (2:177).
One to whom Allah is barr will be protected from committing what displeases Allah, and He, in turn, will please him with many beautiful things; He will make his path in life full of success; He will make his objectives always good. He will make him independent through Favours from Him, and He will protect him against committing anything which He deems unlawful.
The Glorified and Exalted One has said,
... except those who repent and amend and make (the truth) manifest: to these do I turn (mercifully), and I am the oft-Returning (to mercy), the Most Merciful. (2:160)
"Al-Tawwab" is an Attribute whose root word is tawbah, repentance, which means: returning to Allah. It means that He accepts His servants' repentance, that is, He resumes bestowing His grace upon them, enabling them to repent, making it easy for them to do so. Al-Tawwab, then, accepts repentance. He says in the Holy Qur’an,
"... then He turned to them (mercifully) so that they might turn (to Him); surely Allah is oft-Returning (to mercy), the Most Merciful" (Qur’an, 9:118).
It is known, hence, that if Allah does not accept the repentance of one of His servants, the latter is not considered repentant, for the initiation of repentance in all reality is from Allah Who concludes it with His acceptance thereof.
Al-Tawwab facilitates repentance for His servants, time and over again, by the Signs which He manifests for them, and the warning whereby He warns them; so, when they become familiar with the penalty of their sins, they become frightened, and they return to repentance, and Allah's favour returns to them when He accepts their repentance.
Al-Tawwab accepts the repentance of His servants and forgives their sins. He accepts the repentance of one who disobeys Him then returns to obeying Him. And if he commits a sin then returns to Him, He welcomes him back. He forgives the one who slips from the right path then apologizes to Him and overlooks his sin. As long as the servant of Allah seeks tawbah, the Lord remains Forgiving.
The light inspired by this Attribute is that one who accepts the apologies of criminals as well as friends and relatives time and over again derives his conduct from this Attribute. So that we may model our conduct after it, we ought to repent and seek His acceptance of our repentance; we should go to Him in every circumstance. Also, repetition of repentance prepares a servant of Allah for Allah's love for him, which is the greatest honour and status, for repentance is admission of one's deficiency and shortcoming, and the standing at the threshold of the Most Knowing most humbly.
For this reason, the Messenger of Allah used to repent quite often in order to show us the path to happiness. It is also one of the good manners of a believer who repeats this Attribute quite often to forgive those who wrong him, to be benevolent to those who mistreat him, and to accept the apologies of others.
The Messenger of Allah has desired very much that those who believe in him should always seek Allah's forgiveness. He once said, "By Allah! I seek forgiveness of Allah, and I repent to Him, every day more than seventy times." Allah has forgiven all the faults of our master Muhammad, yet he seeks His forgiveness and repents to Him more than seventy times a day, nay, even a hundred times a day! So, what can we say about how often should Muslims repent to Him and seek His forgiveness?
Anas ibn Malik has said that he had heard the Messenger of Allah quoting his Lord saying, "O son of Adam! So long as you invoke Me and place all your hope on Me, I shall forgive you, and I do not mind. O son of Adam! Even if your sins were to pile up and reach the skies, then you seek My forgiveness, I shall forgive you. O son of Adam! If you come to Me after having committed as many sins as would fill the earth, believing in Me, associating no partners with Me, I shall grant you their equal in forgiveness."
Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala, has said,
"Therefore do not think Allah (to be One) failing in His promise to His prophets; surely Allah is Mighty, Lord of retribution" (Qur’an, 14:47).
Al-Muntaqim, the Avenger, splits the spines of those who deviate from His path, Who increases the penalty of those who oppress in the land, after alerting them and repeatedly warning them, and after enabling them to amend, giving them a respite. It implies a much more severe penalty than merely an immediate one.
The word "al-Muntaqim" is derived from the noun intiqam, avenging or seeking revenge against someone. A penalty is not called as such unless the following conditions are met:
Clemency reaches the limit of extreme outrage. Allah has said, "On the Day when We seize them with the most violent of seizing; surely We will (then) inflict retribution" (Qur’an, 44:16).
A punishment is affected after a period of respite. The Glorified and Exalted One has said, "... and whoever returns to (committing) it, Allah will inflict retribution on him, and Allah is the Mighty, the Lord of Retribution" (Qur’an, 5:95).
Such a punishment must require a sort of feeling of spiteful gratification upon seeing one being hurt, something which never happens in the case of the Creator, but it does happen in the case of vicious and spiteful humans. The intiqam, revenge, of a servant of Allah is held commendable only if it is inflicted on His foes (those who deny or disbelieve in Him). The worst of all foes of mankind are their own insinuating selves, the nafs, which is within each and every one of us. There is no doubt that he has to seek revenge against such nafs.
The Attribute "al-Muntaqim" manifests itself in the body: in the means for its natural defense system when a germ violates the sanctity of the body. These means will then kill the germ as a penalty for such a violation, and they will then purge the body from it. Al-Muntaqim, then, facilitates getting rid of what is bad, harmful, or dangerous.
The discussion of "revenge" occurs in the Holy Qur’an: In Surat al-Ma'ida we read:
"O you who believe! Do not kill (any) game while you are on pilgrimage, and whoever among you kills it unintentionally, the compensation (for it) is the like of what he killed from the cattle, as two just persons among you shall judge, as an offering to be brought to the Ka`ba, or the expiation (of it) is the feeding of the poor or the equivalent in fasting, so that he may taste the unwholesome result of his deed; Allah has pardoned what is gone by, and whoever returns (to it), Allah will inflict retribution on him, and Allah is the Mighty, the Lord of Retribution" (Qur’an, 5:95).
The "We" in the phrase "We inflicted retribution" is meant, of course, as a reference to Allah Almighty. It also occurs in several other places throughout the text of the Holy Qur’an such as the following:
We, therefore, inflicted retribution on them and drowned them in the sea... (7:136)
So We inflicted retribution on them, and they are both, indeed, on an open road (still) pursued. (15:79)
... then We punished those who were guilty, and helping the believers is ever incumbent upon Us. (30:47)
So We inflicted retribution on them, then see how the end of those who rejected was. (43:25)
Then when they displeased Us, We inflicted retribution on them. (43:55)
He has revealed to you the Book with the truth, verifying what is before it, and He revealed the Torah and the Gospel aforetime, a guidance for people, and He sent the Furqan (Qur’an). Surely those who disbelieve in the signs of Allah shall have a severe chastisement, and Allah is the Mighty, the Lord of retribution. (3:3-4) ...
and Allah is the Mighty, the Lord of retribution. (5:95)
Do not, therefore, think Allah (to be) failing in His promise to His Messengers; surely Allah is the Mighty, the Lord of Retribution. (14:47)
And whoever Allah guides, there is none that can lead him astray; is not Allah the Mighty, the Lord of Retribution? (39:37)
And who is more unjust than one who is reminded of the signs of his Lord then he turns away from them? Surely We will punish the guilty. (32:22)
But if We should take you away, still We shall inflict retribution on them. (43:41)
On the Day when We seize them with the most violent of seizing, surely We will (then) inflict retribution. (44:16)
Al-Muntaqim intensifies His penalty against the oppressors, causing the criminals to be subjected to His retribution. He sends His messengers supported by His signs and miracles to warn people; so, if warning does not benefit someone, He will surely then inflict His penalty and revenge against him.
Once a person comes to realize that there is nothing small nor big except that there is a penalty for it equal in size and kind, he will certainly fear his Lord and remain alert regarding his wishes and desires for fear of falling into transgression.
Allah has said,
It may be that Allah will pardon them, and Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving. (4:99)
"Al-`Afuww" is derived from the root word "`afuw" and permits several meanings: When used as a verb, it means to go somewhere to receive something, to give without being asked, to increase, to wipe out something. As a noun, it means the wiping out of sins in their entirety. One may supplicate and say, "Lord! I implore You to grant me `afuw and `fiya," that is, not to punish me for my sins, and to make me safe and secure with regard to Your torment. As an adjective, it means what is halal, lawful.
Al-`Afuww has removed, by His Mercy, from the souls the darkness of slipping away from the right path, and of the loneliness of forgetfulness from the hearts through His Greatness. It is also said that He removes the sins from the records and replaces loneliness with beautiful things from Him.
Al-`Afuww wipes out the traces of sins, removing them by the winds of His forgiveness. He wipes out the sins from the records kept by His guardian angels. He even wipes them out from their (angels') memory and the memory of those who committed them. He abandons punishing the sinners, Who does not remind you of your shortcomings; He is Gracious when He forgives. He protects the heart of the doer of evil against loneliness, sparing him the feeling of shame, and He does not remind him of the evil of what he had done.
We notice that in the text of the Holy Qur’an, the Attribute [indeed a Most Beautiful one] al-`Afuww occurs side by side with another Attribute which is al-Ghafoor as many as four times, and once side by side with the Attribute "al-Qadeer" as the following verses demonstrate:
... surely Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving. (4:43)
It may be that Allah will pardon them, and Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving. (4:99)
... most surely Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving. (22:60, 58:2)
If you do good openly or secretly or pardon an evil act, then surely Allah is Pardoning, Powerful. (4:149)
The Messenger of Allah has always enjoined us to wipe out our evil deeds with good ones, saying, "Fear Allah wherever you may be, and follow your evil deed with a good one in order to wipe out the first, and treat people in the best conduct." He addressed one of his uncles once saying, "O `Abbas, uncle of the Messenger of Allah! Plead to Allah for `afuw and `fiya in the life of this world and in the life to come."
The Commander of the Faithful Imam `Ali ibn Abu Talib called upon one of his slaves once but he did not respond. He repeated his call, and the slave again neglected to respond. Then he repeated it a third time, and no response was there either, so he stood up and looked for him and found him lying down. He asked him, "Did you hear me calling you?" He answered, "Yes, I did." The Imam asked him, "Then what stopped you from responding?"
He answered, "My confidence in your clemency and my reliance on your forgiveness," whereupon the Imam said, "Then I set you free seeking the Pleasure of Allah." The Imam did so on account of the firm conviction on the part of that slave.
One who wishes to receive a glimpse of the light inspired by this Attribute should first forgive those who have committed a wrong deed against him or dealt with him unjustly. One who remembers this Attribute ought to wipe out from his heart any ill feeling towards anyone who has wronged him, and to treat beautifully those who mistreated him.
Allah, the Glorified and the Exalted One, has said,
... so that He may bring you out of utter darkness and into the light. (57:9)
Linguistically, this Attribute is derived from ra'fa, intense mercy or compassion which is the ultimate limit of rahma. When applied to the Almighty, it means His warding off all types of evil.
The Attribute "al-Ra'oof" refers to the One Who does not cease being kind and compassionate to the sinners by accepting their repentance, and to His friends by protecting them from committing sins. It conveys the same meaning conveyed by the Attribute "al-Rahim" with an intensification of the meaning embedded in the latter.
Among the manifestations of His mercy towards His servants is that He protects them against committing what incurs His penalty. Such a protection from slipping from the right path carries a stronger sense of mercy than His forgiveness for sins already committed. He may be Merciful unto one of His servants by outwardly exposing him to hardship, but inwardly there may be a great deal of bliss and blessing hidden for him in such hardship, while he does not know it. How often has a servant of Allah been pitied by people for the harm from which he suffers, the harm of poverty, want, and misery, while in reality he is enjoying a blessing for which the angels envy him?
The Most Exalted One has advanced the Attribute "al-Ra'oof" over that of "al-Rahim," preferring "ra'fah" over "rahmah" and giving precedence to the first over the latter in the following glorious verses:
Most surely Allah is Affectionate, Merciful, to people. (2:143)
... and We put in the hearts of those who followed him kindness and mercy. (57:27)
... to the believers he is compassionate, merciful. (9:128)
This Attribute is derived from "mercy" and "compassion." This requires us to distinguish between both of these words. Also, whenever the Almighty uses both of these words, He mentions the Attribute "al-Ra'oof" before "al-Rahim;" therefore, we have to explain the difference between both of them and the reason for such a preference.
The Messenger of Allah was travelling once as he happened to pass by a woman baking bread. Her young son was with her. She was told that the Messenger of Allah was passing by, so she came to him and said, "O Messenger of Allah! It has come to my knowledge that you have said, `Allah is more Compassionate towards His servants than a mother towards her son.' Is this the correct statement which you have spoken?"
He answered her in the affirmative, whereupon she said, "A mother does not hurl her son in an oven like this one." Having heard her say so, the Messenger of Allah wept, then he said, "Allah does not torment anyone by the fire [of hell] except one who is too arrogant to bear witness that there is no god but He."
If a servant of Allah wishes to model his conduct after the inspiration of this Attribute, he has first to remember and mention it quite often, hence the light of al-Ra'oof will manifest itself to his heart, so much so that he will become compassionate towards all people, the commoners as well as the elite, always remembering the saying of the Messenger of Allah, "Be merciful unto the people of the earth so that the people of the heavens may be merciful to you."
Allah has said: Say:
O Allah, Master of the Kingdom! You give the kingdom to whomsoever You please and take the kingdom away from whomsoever You please, and You exalt whomsoever You please and abase whomsoever You please; in Your hand is goodness; surely You have power over all things. (3:26)
Malikul-Mulk affects His will in His kingdom however He pleases, letting some live and others perish. The mulk in this context means the kingdom, and the Malik is the Omnipotent, the Most Powerful. All things in existence are included in His kingdom, so His is one kingdom because all things in it are somehow connected to one another. Although they may be regarded as many, they constitute one entity, one kingdom.
Malikul-Mulk fares with His kingdom as He pleases, and none can revoke His judgment, nor can anyone appeal or repeal it. All things in existence, in all their degrees and levels, constitute one kingdom owned by One: Allah, the Most Exalted.
Malikul-Mulk is the true King Who deals with His kingdom as He pleases, bringing things into existence in it or ending the existence of some of its beings, chastising some and accepting the repentance of others, without anyone sharing the authority with Him or prohibiting Him from doing whatever He pleases. "Malikul-Mulk" occurs in the original Arabic text of this verse:
"Say: O Allah, Master of the Kingdom!" (Qur’an, 3:26).
Another derivative is "al-malakoot" which exists in
"Glory to the One in Whose hand is the kingdom of all things, and to Him you shall be brought back" (Qur’an, 36:83).
... and a hard Day shall it be for the unbelievers. (25:26)
To Whom does the kingdom belong this Day? To Allah, the One, the One Who subdues (all). (40:16)
And Allah's is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and to Allah is the eventual return. (24:42)
The Messenger of Allah is quoted saying that Allah's Greatest Name, the one because of which He will respond if thereby invoked, exists in the verse saying, "Say: O Allah, Master of the Kingdom!" (Qur’an, 3:26).
The Commander of the Faithful Imam `Ali ibn Abu lib was asked once by Ababah ibn Rab`i al-Asdi about "ability." The Commander of the Faithful asked Abadah, "Do you have it without Allah or with Him?" Ababah could not answer, so he told him to say something. "What shall I say, O Commander of the Faithful?!" asked Ababah.
He answered, "You should say that you have it by permission of Allah Who has full control over it without your help. If He opts to grant it to you, then it is a boon which He gives you. And if He takes it away, it is a trial from Him. He is the real Owner of what you own, and the One Who owns what He enables you to possess.
Have you not heard about seeking His help and might by saying, `Surely there is no help nor might except through Allah'?" The man asked him, "And what does it mean, O Commander of the faithful?" He said, "It means: We do not stay away from committing acts of disobedience to Allah except if He protects us against disobeying Him, and we have no strength to obey Him except if He grants us His help," whereupon the man leaped and kissed his hands and feet.
The kingdom of each and every servant of Allah is his own body. If it affects his will regarding his heart and senses, he will then be the owner of his kingdom according to the extent of his control over it.
85. "Thul-Jalali wal Ikram"
Allah has said:
Blessed is the name of your Lord, the Lord of Glory and Honour! (55:78)
Thul-Jalali wal Ikram is a glorious Attribute that combines glory and beauty, for there is an awesome Glory and Beauty of the Almighty; no servant of Allah can achieve knowledge except if he becomes familiar with Thul-Jalali wal Ikram. This Attribute surely combines in it anticipation, awe, hope and fear.
The Almighty monopolizes the qualities of jall, greatness, and ikrm, honour. All greatness is His, and honour is from Him; Glory to Him; there is no glory except that He is its fountainhead, while honour is always His. Glory has originated from Him and overwhelmed His creation, and the norms of His honouring His creation are countless, immeasurable; therefore, He, and only He, is worthy of being Glorified by His creatures. They should express their respect for His Greatness, show appreciation for His favours and grace, and recognize His signs and bounties.
"Thul-Jalali wal Ikram" means: the One Who has all Greatness. There is no distinction, nor glory, nor prominence, except if Allah permits it; in all reality, it is His, from Him, and by Him. Glory and Exaltation are His, the One Who is the source and fountainhead of all glory, perfection, honour, dignity and greatness. There is neither greatness nor favour nor bliss nor goodness except that it springs from His ocean.
Ma`ath ibn Jabal is quoted saying that the Messenger of Allah once passed by a man who was repeating "O One with the Glory and Honours!" so he said to him, "Your plea will be honoured; so, proceed and state it."
The Messenger of Allah has said, "Uphold Thul-Jalali wal Ikram," that is: "follow His path and remain steadfast in doing so and repeat this Attribute of His in your supplications." If a servant of Allah keeps repeating this Attribute, and its light will eventually shine in his innermost, he will become highly regarded among the nations. Whoever realizes the Greatness of Allah will become very humble before Him.
One of the signs of the good conduct of a servant of Allah is that he seeks nearness to Him by attaching himself to Him, by becoming very humble, by expressing his humility before Allah. He must realize that all Greatness and perfection belong to Him, and that He honours His servants by granting them His favours.
Allah, Glory and Exaltation are due to Him, has said,
Allah testifies that there is no god but He, and (so do) the angels and those who have knowledge, maintaining His creation with justice. (3:18)
Meanings of variations of this Attribute's root word is qist, equity or fairness, are as follows: qasata means implemented justice; qasata means became inequitable or unfair; qasit is an unfair or inequitable person, an oppressor; muqsit is one who is fair in his judgment or decision, and qist means share, lot, or portion of something. Qasitoon is plural: they are those who deviate from justice and about whom the Almighty says,
"As to the deviators, they are the fuel of hell" (Qur’an, 72:15).
Qist means the implementing of justice by taking what one unlawfully has acquired and giving it back to its lawful owner. Iqsat means that one is given his own lawful share which someone else has unlawfully taken [forcefully or otherwise]; it is also called insaf, carrying out equity. Qasata means someone became inequitable, and aqsata means that he became fair and just. Al-Muqsit is the Almighty Who is fair and equitable in all His decisions and decrees, Who deals with everyone according to a system.
Al-Muqsit comes to the rescue of the oppressed and brings about justice. The perfection in His doing so is the fact that He adds to pleasing the oppressed His own pleasing of the oppressors as well, which is the ultimate end of equity, something which nobody can do other than Allah, Glory to Him, Who has said,
"... and if you judge, then judge between them with equity; surely Allah loves those who judge equitably" (Qur’an, 5:42).
According to a Qudsi tradition, while the Prophet was sitting once, he smiled to the extent that his molar teeth showed. One of his companions said to him, "May both my parents be sacrificed for your sake, O Messenger of Allah! What has made you smile like that?!" He answered, "Two men of my nation were brought before the judgment of the Lord of Dignity. One of them said, `Lord! I plead to You to effect justice on my behalf from this man.' Allah, the Honoured and the Great, said, `Be fair to your brother and give him what is his.' The man said, `Lord! None of my good deeds is left to effect it thereby.'
The Glorified and the Honoured One said to the first man, `What are you going to do to your brother since he has none of his good deeds left with him?' The man answered, `Then, Lord, let him bear some of my own burdens.'" It was then that the eyes of the Messenger of Allah over-flooded with tears. "That, indeed," he continued, "is a momentous Day when men will need others to bear their own burdens." After a pause, the Messenger of Allah continued to say,
"Allah, the Honoured and the Glorified One, said to the wronged one, `Raise your eyes and cast a look at the Gardens of Bliss.' The man said, `Lord! I see whole cities made of silver and huge houses of gold bedecked with pearls; for which siddeeq or martyr are they?' The Almighty said, `They are for the one who pays the price.' The man said, `Lord! Who can have their price?' He said, `You can.' `For what, Lord?' he asked the Almighty. `For forgiving your brother,' the Lord said. The man said, `Lord! I do forgive him.' The Almighty then said, `Take your brother by the hand and lead him the way to Paradise.'" Then the Messenger of Allah said, "Fear Allah; fear Allah, and mend your relations, for Allah will implement justice on the Day of Judgment among the believers."
Allah has said,
Lord! Surely You are the One Who gathers men on a Day about which there is no doubt; surely Allah will not fail His promise. (3:9)
Al-Jami` is an Attribute of Allah derived from jami`, its root word, which means: to gather, assemble, horde, or combine. The Day of Gathering is the Day of Judgment. It is called so because Allah will gather on it the early generations of His creation and the last ones, the jinns and mankind, all the residents of the heavens and the earth, each and every servant of Allah and his deeds, every oppressor and those whom he oppressed, and every prophet and those to whom he was sent. He will also combine between the rewards of those who obeyed Him and the penalty of those who disobeyed Him.
The subject of jami`, gathering or combining, is referred to in several verses of the Holy Qur’an such as the following:
Allah: there is no god but He; He will most certainly gather you together on the Resurrection Day; there is no doubt about it. (4:87)
He has ordained mercy on Himself; most surely He will gather you on the Day of Resurrection, there is no doubt about it. (6:12)
And on that Day, We will leave some of them in conflict with others, and the trumpet will be blown, so We will gather them all together. (18:99)
Say: Our Lord will gather us together, then will He judge between us with the truth, and He is the greatest Judge, the all-Knowing. (34:26)
Say: Allah gives you life, then He causes you to die, then He will gather you to the Day of Resurrection wherein there is no doubt... (45:26)
And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and what He has spread forth in both of them of living beings, and when He pleases, He is all-Powerful to gather them together. (42:29)
On the Day when He gathers you for the Day of Gathering, that is the Day of loss and gain: whoever believes in Allah and does good, He will remove from him his evil and cause him to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow to abide therein forever; that is the great achievement. (64:9)
One whose knowledge is perfected and whose conduct is good deserves to be called jami`. For this reason, a perfect person is one who does not put out the light of his piety by the light of his knowledge; so is one who combines perfect vision with foresight.
Allah has said,
O men! You are the ones who stand in need of Allah while Allah is self-Sufficient, Praiseworthy. (35:15)
Both "al-Ghaniyy" and "al-Mughni" are among the Attributes of Allah.
Linguistically, ghina, the root word of "al-Ghaniyy", means: independence by virtue of having self-sufficiency. It is the opposite of faqr, poverty, want, indigence, need, and the like. Independence or self-sufficiency is of various types: one is the absence of need, and none is independent of needing anyone or anything other than Allah. This meaning is implied in the verse saying,
"His is whatever in the heavens and in the earth, and most surely Allah is the self-Sufficient, the Praised" (Qur’an, 22:64).
The other is the small or limited number of one's needs, which is pointed out in this verse:
"And found you in want and made you free from want" (Qur’an, 93:8).
A third is what is mentioned by a few ignorant folks among the unbelievers who claimed that Allah was poor while they were rich, whereupon the One Who has all the Glory and Honours responded by telling them that
"Allah has certainly heard the statement of those who said: Allah is poor and we are rich" (Qur’an, 3:181).
They had said so upon hearing the verse saying, "Who will loan Allah a beautiful loan...?" The Almighty answered them by saying, "O men! You are the ones who stand in need of Allah while Allah is self-Sufficient, Praiseworthy" (Qur’an, 35:15). The Almighty emphasized the same fact in another verse:
"... and whoever disbelieves, then surely Allah is self-Sufficient, above any need of the worlds" (Qur’an, 3:97).
Al-Ghaniyy has no need, within Himself or in His Attributes or deeds, for anything or anyone at all. He needs none while everything and everyone need Him. Al-Ghaniyy is the Perfect One due to what He has and what is with Him. Our Lord, the Most Praiseworthy, is referred to as such because need is a deficiency, and the needy person is incapable of attaining what he desires or aspires for.
The one who is needed has an advantage, because of what he has, over the one who is in need of him. Deficiency is out of the question in the case of the Absolute al-Ghaniyy, and incapacitation cannot be attributed to Him, Praise to Him, nor can anyone do Him a favour, for everything is His own creation and invention; He formed and created it, and it is totally dependent on Him in everything. Everything is exactly what the Creator wants it to be.
Everyone else besides Allah is needy while He, al-Ghaniyy, does not need anyone. The Holy Prophet is quoted saying, "Wealth is not abundance of availability; rather, it is the richness of one's own soul." The highest degree of wealth is satisfaction, contentment, with what is available with you; therefore, there is, indeed, no wealth like the feeling of contentment. A man may be very poor, yet he tries his best to look good in the eyes of the people. Notice what the Almighty says about such persons:
"... the ignorant man perceives them rich on account of their abstaining (from begging)" (Qur’an, 2:273).
The Almighty exists by virtue of the necessity for His existence, on His own merits; therefore, He needs none besides Himself. Everything and everyone besides Him may exist, yet its existence comes about when He creates it; so, He, and He alone, Praise to Him, is al-Ghaniyy.
Allah, al-Mughni, has said,
... and if you fear poverty, Allah will enrich you out of His grace if He pleases; surely Allah is Knowing, Wise. (9:28)
Al-Mughni has granted His favours to His servants abundantly and facilitated for them the achievement of their goals and objectives, and the meeting of their everyday needs. There is no independence nor self-sufficiency except that He caused it to exist. He enriches His friends from the treasures of His lights, facilitates for those who live in the universe to access the means of their livelihood and sustenance by His decree. He enriches every truth which He provides in a measure, for He, and only He, knows its secrets, what is hidden of it and what is apparent.
Allah is the Enricher, yet a servant of His whom He has enriched cannot be thought at all as being absolutely independent. The least of his affairs proves that he needs al-Mughni; therefore, he is never independent; rather, he may be independent of anyone except Allah Who provides him with what he needs while not jeopardizing the causes for his needs. The true independent person is one who does not need anyone at all.
One who needs and finds what he needs is independent only by way of analogy, which is the most that can be said about anyone besides Allah. As regarding the lack of need, this is out of the question for anyone besides Him. But if one needs none save Allah, then he will be called ghaniyy. Had he had no need at all, the verse saying "... and Allah is self-Sufficient while you have need (of Him)" (Qur’an, 47:38) would not have been accurate. Had there been any possibility at all that Allah could in any way be regarded as in need of anything, there would have been no need for the Almighty to be al-Mughni, the Enricher.
Al-Mughni makes whomsoever from among His servants self-sufficient. He grants independence and self-sufficiency to His servants, and He can be regarded as granting them self-sufficiency. And Allah also makes some of His servants independent of others, for all needs are in reality met by Him: His creatures cannot do anything for themselves without His help; so, how can they be thought to help others when they themselves need to be helped? He grants independence and self-sufficiency to whomsoever He pleases from among His servants according to His wisdom and will; He says the following : "... Our Lord gave everything its creation then guided" (Qur’an, 20:50).
About Himself, al-Mughni has said,
... if they are needy, Allah will make them free from want by His grace. (24:32)
And that He enriches and Who withholds. (53:48)
And He found you in want and made you free from want. (93:8)
One of the ways to derive a code of ethics from al-Ghaniyy and al-Mughni is that one realizes that he needs Him constantly, and that he trusts in what Allah has more than he does in what he himself has, and to be good in conducting generosity and benevolence towards other servants of Allah. One of the norms of conduct of a believer with regard to the Attribute "al-Mughni" is that once he realizes Him to be the One and only One Who is Independent of any need, the One Who satisfies all the needs of His servants, he will rely on Him in everything and refer to Him in every matter.
Allah, Glory and Praise are due to Him, and only to Him, has said,
Or do they have gods who can defend them against Us? (21:43)
Al-Mani` is one of Allah's Attributes and is derived from man`, the opposite of giving or granting. It also means: to protect, to stop one thing from harming another or one group of people from annihilating another. It is used to describe the defense of a house, a fortified fortress, etc, against an enemy. It means: to protect and support.
It means He has the power to stop the causes of annihilation or deficiency in both creeds and bodies. He wards off evil to protect and safeguard; He stops giving to whomsoever He pleases in order to try or to protect them. He gives life to whomsoever He loves or does not love, but He does not grant the bliss of the hereafter except to those whom He loves.
Al-Mani` protects and supports those who obey Him, and He stops some of His servants from doing what He does not want them to do while giving them what they want. He wards off the causes of perdition and diminution in matters related to creeds and nations due to what He creates of causes prepared for their preservation.
Obstruction from the causes of annihilation, and the preservation of what is guarded against extinction, are the objectives of man` and are the ultimate goal. If man`, prohibition, is needed for the purpose of preservation, and the latter is not needed for the sake of the first, then every protector defends and protects. Not everyone who prohibits protects except that he prohibits the causes of annihilation and diminution.
Al-Mani` prohibits affliction from reaching His friends, or the complete abstention from giving to whomsoever He pleases. If He prohibits affliction from reaching His friends, this is due to His beautiful Grace, and if He stops giving to them, it will still be a great favour from Him.
Allah grants the pleasures of the life in this world to those whom He loves and to those whom He does not, but He does not protect the heart of a servant of His except when the latter is one of His close friends.
Al-Mani` wards off the causes of annihilation and diminution of creed and body by creating the means which protect it against annihilation and diminution. So, He creates some causes and prohibits others; He gives everything what serves its interests and prohibits what causes its damage. He makes some wealthy by giving them, and He stops giving to whomsoever He pleases to try them by affliction. He enriches and impoverishes; He makes some happy and some miserable; He grants some and withholds from others; He grants some and deprives others; so, He is both al-Mu`ti, the Giver, and al-Mani`, the One Who withholds.
And He withholds giving from whomsoever He pleases, and His withholding may contain giving in disguise. He may withhold giving one of His servants abundant wealth and instead give him accomplishments and beauty. He may deprive one of His servants from enjoying good health and make him pleased with His decree. Al-Mani` is also al-Mut'i: for within the withholding there may be giving, and within the giving there may be withholding.
The Messenger of Allah used to say the following after finishing each of the prescribed daily prayers: "There is no god but Allah, the One and only God; His is the Kingdom; His is the Praise, and He can do everything. Lord! None can prohibit what You grant, nor can anyone grant what You withhold, and none is capable of stopping the implementation of Your will."
Allah has said,
Say: I do not control for myself any harm, nor can I benefit myself in aught except what Allah pleases. (10:49)
Both al-Darr and al-Nafi` are among the Attributes of Allah.
Most references wherein these Attributes are discussed have combined both Attributes together. Combining both of these Attributes is better: it conveys a stronger meaning of the Almighty's Power to do whatever He wills, however He wills; none benefits nor harms others besides Him.
Language says that darr, harm, is the opposite of nafi`, benefit or advantage. Allah is al-Darr, that is, the One Who can harm anyone He wants in any way He wishes; He impoverishes some of His servants or causes them to fall prey to sickness according to His wisdom; so, He determines everything, and He alone facilitates the means of harm as a trial from Him whereby He purges the sins or subjects one of His servants to a test in order to raise his status.
He decrees harm to some of His servants and effects His decree through certain means. He is the Wise One in whatever He does, the most Merciful in His judgment. If He decrees some harm, it is only for the sake of the general good, and if He decrees an ailment, it is but the useful medicine in the life of this world and the life hereafter. Allah has said,
"If Allah touches you with affliction, there is none to remove it but He..." (Qur’an, 6:17).
Prophet Moses once complained to his Lord about a tooth-ache, so the Almighty instructed him to apply a certain type of herb on the area of his pain, which he did, and the aching stopped. A few days later, the same pain came back to him, so he went and took the same herb and applied it, but this time his pain intensified many times more. He complained to Allah saying, "Lord! Did You not order me to apply this type of herb and tell me where I could find it?" The Almighty inspired him, "O Moses! I am the One Who heals and Who grants good health; I am the One Who causes harm and Who benefits. You came to Me the first time, so I removed the cause of your ailment, whereas this time you went to the plant (on their own) instead and did not come to Me."
The Messenger of Allah has said, "Anyone who claims that Allah commends the doing of wrong deeds and of sins tells lies about Allah. And anyone who claims that goodness and evil are possible without the will of Allah strips Allah of His Authority. And anyone who claims that sins are committed without Allah's Might tells a lie about Allah, and whoever tells lies about Allah, He will lodge him into the fire." In this tradition, by goodness and evil he means health and sickness respectively due to this verse:
"... and We try you by evil and by good by way of probation" (Qur’an, 21:35).
Imam al-Baqir is quoted saying, "Allah, the Exalted and the Great, is more compassionate towards His creation than forcing them to commit sins then penalizing them for doing so, and Allah is more Mighty than willing to do something and it does not take place." He was asked once whether there was a distance between compulsion and destiny, and his answer was, "Yes! One more spacious than that between the heavens and the earth!"
He has also said, "There should neither be compulsion nor an unrestricted freedom; the best course is a middle one." When he was asked about the middle course, he said, "Let me give you an example: You may see a man committing a sin, and you may try to stop him from doing so but he refuses to desist, whereupon you leave him to commit that sin. When he does not listen to you but insists on sinning, it does not mean that you yourself have encouraged him to commit that sin."
As regarding the Attribute "al-Nafi'", Allah subhanahu wa ta`la has said,
"Whatever benefit comes to you (O man!), it is from Allah, and whatever misfortune befalls you, it is from your own self" (Qur’an, 4:79).
Al-Nafi` is the source of any benefit and goodness for the life in this world and for the creed. He alone grants good health, wealth, happiness, authority, guidance and piety. He enables all His creatures to receive the benefits He creates for them.
He has facilitated the path leading to Him for those who aspire to tread it, Who benefitted the souls through His prophets, Who nourished the bodies through food, Who warded off disease through medicine, Who kept affliction away through favours and goodness, and Who has benefitted everyone, be he an angel, a human, or a jinn.
Ibn `Abbas says, "I was sitting once behind the Messenger of Allah so he said to me, `Young man! I would like to teach you a few words [of wisdom]: If you safeguard your rights towards Allah, He will protect you. If you remain mindful of Allah's rights on you, you will find Him looking after you. If you have a plea, then plead to Him; if you seek help, seek it from Him, and bear in mind that if all people gather to benefit you in anything, they will not be able to do so except in what He has already allotted for you, and if they all gather together to harm you in any way, they will never be able to do so except if He has already decreed it on you; the ink has dried, and the tablets have been removed.'"
Al-Darr al-Nafi` is the One from Whom everything good or bad ensues; all is attributed to Allah and is affected either through the angels, mankind, inanimate objects, or by other means; so, do not think that poison, for example, kills by itself, or that food by itself satisfies hunger. Angels, mankind, demons, or anything else in existence, such as planets, stars, or other things, are all under His control; they do not do anything except what He has made them do. Their totality, in addition to the eternal Power, is like a pen in the hand of the writer as conceived by an illiterate.
If a ruler signs the order to penalize or reward someone, the pen whereby he signs such an order cannot tell the difference between one order and another, or between what harm it is causing or what benefit, or even the difference between one of its users and the other. This is the case with all means and causes.
Both al-Darr and al-Nafi` are referred to in various places in the Holy Qur’an; among them are:
Say: I do not control any benefit nor any harm for my own soul except as Allah pleases; had I known the unknown, I would have had much of good and no harm would have touched me; I am only a warner and giver of glad tidings to people who believe. (7:188)
Say: I do not control for myself any harm, nor any benefit, except whatever Allah pleases; every nation has a term; when their term comes, they shall not remain behind for an hour, nor can they go before (their time). (10:49)
Yet when He removes the evil from you, lo! A party from among you associates others with their Lord. (16:54)
And when We make people taste of mercy, they rejoice in it, and if evil befalls them for what their hands have done, lo! They despair. (30:36)
The portion a servant of Allah may obtain of the inspiration of these Attributes is that he becomes "harmful" towards the enemies of Allah while benefitting the friends of Allah. In Surat al-Ma'ida, the Almighty describes the faithful as
"... lowly before the believers, mighty against the unbelievers" (Qur’an, 5:54).
Such a believer does not plead to anyone, nor does he fear anyone except his Lord; he relies wholly on Allah.
One who fully realizes that his Lord, the Most Exalted One, is the One and only Who creates and makes things available, Who alone brings new things into existence, he will then submit to Him and rely on Him regarding all his affairs; he will then live enjoying a peaceful mind; he will be secure from people, and he will provide counsel for everyone. His heart will have no room for deception nor treachery.
It is good to combine both of these Attributes, al-Darr and al-Nafi`, together, for at them it is said that all Attributes end; He, Glory to Him, controls the means for people's harm and benefit, and none can harm anyone nor benefit anyone besides Him;
"... and suffices your Lord for a Guide and a Helper" (Qur’an, 25:31).
One who remembers both of these Attributes will submit totally to Allah and will always feel that everything is from Him and returns to Him.
The Almighty has said,
Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth; a likeness of His light is a niche wherein there is a lamp; the lamp is in a glass, and the glass is as if it were a brightly shining star lit from a blessed olive-tree, neither eastern nor western, the oil whereof almost emanates light though fire does not touch it: light upon light; Allah guides whomsoever He pleases to His light, and Allah sets forth parables for men, and Allah is Cognizant of all things. (24:35)
In language, noor is light, whatever its glow, rays, or reflection may be. It aids vision. There are two kinds of light: a light related to the life of this world, and a light related to the life hereafter. The first, let us say the secular, is also of two types: one is what the mind, the intellect, can see; it is a Divine light, the light of reason, of the Holy Qur’an.
The other is related to the physical one, that of things which emit or reflect light such as the sun and the moon. An example for the Divine light is implied in a verse such as this:
"... there has come to you light and a clear Book from Allah" (Qur’an, 5:15).
Reference to the physical light exists in the verse saying,
"He it is Who made the sun a shining brightness and the moon a light (a reflection)" (Qur’an, 10:5).
Here, the sun is mentioned before the moon because its light is more commonly associated with what we can see than the moon.
Al-Noor is the Apparent One Who has manifested Himself fully. The One Who is apparent on His own and Who makes everything else apparent and visible is called al-Noor Who takes things out of non-existence and brings them into the world of existence. Al-Noor, Glory to Him, has filled our world with light and brought it into existence, Who determined it since time immemorial, Who has illuminated the apparent existence through the sun and the stars, Who illuminated the world of spirits through the Messenger of Allah, the master of the first generations and of the last, and He illuminated the hearts through the light of His Divinely revealed Books. He illuminated those endowed with knowledge with the light of Divine manifestations.
Al-Noor has illuminated the hearts of the truthful through His Unity, and the conscience of those who love Him by His support for them. He beautified the complexions and brought life to the souls of the pious through their adoration. He guides the hearts to prefer and opt for what is right, Who guides the innermost conscience to silently address Him.
Noor, light, then, has many meanings. One of them is the light of knowledge and scholarship, which is the dawn of the truth as seen by the heart of a knowledgeable believer. The Attribute "al-Noor" has been mentioned in the text of the Holy Qur’an and is attributed to Allah in many places the best known of which is 24:35 cited above.
Ibn `Abbas says that the meaning of this verse is that Allah is the Guide of the residents of the heavens and of the earth; the similitude of His guidance in the heart of a believer is like pure oil which shines even before fire touches it; therefore, when fire does touch it, it intensifies its light, so it intensifies and adds light to its light. The Attribute "al-Noor" is indicative of the fact that Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.
There are many other verses wherein reference to Allah's light is made; among them are the following:
They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, and Allah insists on perfecting His light though the unbelievers are averse thereto. (9:32)
What?! Is he whose heart Allah has opened for Islam, so he is in a light from his Lord (like the hard-hearted one)? Nay! Woe unto those whose hearts are hard against the remembrance of Allah; surely they are in clear error. (39:22)
And the earth shall beam with the light of its Lord, and the Book shall be laid down, and the prophets and the witnesses shall be brought forth, and judgment shall be issued between them with equity, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly. (39:69)
There are more than forty references to light in the text of the Holy Qur’an. Some scholars are of the view that the Attribute "al-Noor" is Allah's Greatest Name. They say that they cannot see anything in existence without seeing the meaning of this Attribute manifested in it.
The Messenger of Allah used to supplicate to his Lord in the morning saying, "Lord! I invoke You to create light in my heart, light in all parts of my body, light in my hearing, light in my sight, light in my hair, light in my complexion, light in my flesh, light in my blood, light in my bones, light before me, light behind me, light on my right, light on my left, light above me, light underneath me! Lord! I implore You to increase my light, to grant me light, and to create light for me."
The Most Glorified and Exalted One has said,
... and sufficient is your Lord as a Guide and a Helper. (25:31)
"Al-Hadi" is an Attribute derived, linguistically, from hidya, guidance, which means: to attract someone to something, such as attracting the heart of a believer to al-Hadi, to the One Who provides such guidance. Guidance means bringing the hearts closer to the Almighty.
Guidance is the following of one's sound reason and common sense and the graceful way of bringing someone to the anticipated goal.
He guides the elite from among His servants whom He has chosen to know His Essence, so much so that they see things through Him, and He guides the commoners among them to witness His creatures, so much so that they have seen them as signs of His being their Creator and Sustainer.
He has guided everything He created to whatever means whereby it can satisfy its needs. He has guided the baby to suck the breast of its mother, the young birds to pick the seeds, and the bees to build their honey-combs in hexagonal shapes which are the best to suit the forms of their bodies, and such examples are quite lengthy indeed.
Al-Hadi guides the guilty to repentance, and those blessed with knowledge to the facts regarding nearness to Him. Al-Hadi occupies the hearts by truthfulness and equity, the bodies by life and death. Al-Hadi has given everything He has created its shape and characteristics, and He guides whom He creates to the goals behind His creating them, to issues related to their life in this world and to those related to their creed, in addition to everything else related to them.
He guides the hearts to know Him and the souls to obey Him; He guides the guilty to the path of repentance, the sincere ones to nearness to Him after being far from it. He keeps the hearts filled with love for equity and truth; He enables them to treat people justly. Al-Hadi is in all reality Allah. Al-Hadi has guided the elite from among His servants to wisdom and knowledge.
Whenever the Messenger of Allah woke up during the night for prayers, he would supplicate to his Lord saying, "Lord! God of Gabriel, Michael and Israfil, Originator of the heavens and the earth, Knower of the unknown and the Witness! You judge between Your servants regarding that wherein they dispute! I plead to You to guide me to that wherein they have differed, by Your will, for You guide whomsoever You please to a straight path."
Allah, Glory and Exaltation are His, has said,
Wonderful Originator of the heavens and the earth! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it "Be!" and it is. (2:117)
In language, to originate is to bring about something without following a model or an example. Al-Badee` is the Unique One; there is nothing similar to Him in His essence, qualities, or whatever He does; He has manifested the wonders that He has created as the most beautiful indications of His wisdom. He has created all cosmic worlds without a prior model. He, Exalted is His Name, has said,
"Wonderful Originator of the heavens and the earth! How could He have a son when He has no consort, and He (Himself) created everything, and He knows all things?" (Qur’an, 6:101).
"Badee`" means: originator; one who does something new, originating its existence. "Bid'a" means something new, an innovation, simply because nobody before had said or advocated it. Allah is the Originator of all things without following a prior model. He did not learn their creation from anyone else; rather, He initiated the creation of all beings, so He is their Maker, the One Who started their existence. The Almighty, al-Badee`, has brought everything into existence without the use of a tool or any material, without being limited to time or space in order to be able to do that.
Al-Badee` has manifested the wonderful things of what He has done and the extra-ordinary proofs of His wisdom. He is the Absolute One Who has no peer similar to Him in His qualities, wisdom, or anything related to Him; He, and only He, is the Absolute al-Badee` Who has created everything without following a prior model.
Since there is none like Him in His essence, characteristics, actions, or anything related to Him, that makes Him the Absolute Originator. If such a thing is known commonly, it cannot be called badee' at all; so, this Attribute does not fit anyone besides Allah. None was ever like Him nor ever will; therefore, His example never existed at all and never will, and whatever exists besides Him exists because of Him; He, and He alone, is the Originator since time immemorial and forever.
Anas ibn Malik is quoted saying that the Messenger of Allah once heard a man supplicating thus, "Lord! I plead to You by the fact that to You is all Praise due; there is no god but You; You are the One Who never stops giving, Who originated the heavens and the earth, the One to Whom all Glory and Honour belong! I plead to You to grant me a place in Your Paradise, and I seek refuge with You against the fire," whereupon the Prophet said, "He surely has pleaded to Allah by His Attribute which, if one pleads to Him by it, He grants the plea and gives what He is asked."
A believer's share of this Glorious Attribute is that if he repeats it quite often, Allah will cause the springs of wisdom to flow from his tongue; he will be wise in his intentions, for intention is the bedrock of action. A servant of Allah who remembers and repeats this Attribute quite often, being fully aware of its meanings, will be exposed to the beauty of its light. Allah, the Truth, Exalted and Blessed is He, will permit him to enter into the circle of invention; He will make him a master obeyed by others. One of the norms of conduct of whoever mentions this Attribute quite often is the avoiding of innovations in the creed and full adherence to the Sunnah.
Allah, Glory and Exaltation are His, has said,
"... and Allah is better and more abiding" (Qur’an, 20:73).
"Al-Baqi" is one of Allah's Attributes the root word of which is baqa': the opposite of extinction. It also means: obedience to Allah and awaiting His rewards, or the lingering status of goodness.
The reality of al-Baqi, Glory to Him, is in His ever-enduring existence; endurance is one of His characteristics. Al-Baqi, Glory to Him, always exists and Whose existence is necessitated by virtue of His own merits. He is ever-Present, Who remains existing forever, from the beginning of any beginning and for eternity.
The Absolute al-Baqi is the One the duration of Whom never ends, and such a duration is described as abadi, perpetual, eternal, endless. The Absolute al-Qadeem is the One the time of Whose beginning, if there is such a thing, goes back to the very beginning of time, and such a duration is called azali, eternal. When you say that His existence depends on His own merits, this Attribute will then include both meanings.
What affects the determining of the "past" and the "present" are certain variables; both words describe time, and nothing measures time other than change. One Who is above change by virtue of motion is above being affected by time; therefore, neither "past" nor "future" can apply to Him. The Truth, Exalted is He, is before time, since He Himself created time, and nothing in Him changed, and He was before time, and He remains after His creation of time just as He has always been and will always be.
Those who have claimed that duration is a characteristic added to the essence of al-Baqi are far from the truth, and still further from the truth than them are those who claim that time is an additional quality in as far as the Eternal One is concerned. There is no need to bother the reader with details about such confusion regarding existence, duration, and which qualities endure.
Allah's existence stands on its own merits and is self-necessitating, that is, it does not accept extinction in any way. The duration of anything which is self-sustaining during the past and will remain so in the future as well as it did in the past is called old, and its duration in the future is called existence.
The subject of enduring and duration attributed to Allah has been referred to in the text of the Holy Qur’an in more than one place. Examples are the following:
... and the sustenance of your Lord is better and more abiding. (20:131)
And there will endure forever the person of your Lord, the Lord of glory and honour. (55:27)
... what is with Allah is better and more lasting for those who believe and rely on their Lord. (42:36)
... ever-abiding good deeds are with your Lord best in recompense and best in yielding fruit. (19:76)
The good fortune a servant of Allah may receive if he remembers this Attribute quite often is that the Almighty will reveal to him enduring facts and will make him observe the perishing trails, so he will flee eagerly to al-Baqi and decorate his conduct with the meanings its qualities and moral code suggest.
Allah has said,
... Allah's is the heritage of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is aware of everything you do. (3:180)
Al-Warith, Glory to Him, remains after the extinction of all beings. He inherits everything after the extinction of everyone and everything. He is the Heir: on the Day of Judgment, it will be loudly called out,
"To whom does the kingdom belong this Day? To Allah, the One, The Subduer (of all)" (Qur’an, 40:16).
The root word of the Attribute "al-Warith" is "waratha," inherited: He will inherit all beings after their extinction. He is the only One Who remains after those who used to think that they possessed wares and items, the things which He had given them, will be gone; their existence, as well as that of what He has given them, is dependent on Him, and on none else. He has said,
"And most surely We bring to life, and We cause death, and We are the heirs" (Qur’an, 15:23).
What Allah's servants used to own will go back to Him; there is no partner with Him. Al-Warith is the One to Whom all possessions will go back after the death of their "owners." He will be the One Who will call on that Day, the Day of Judgment, as in 40:16,
"To whom does the kingdom belong this Day?" and He will be the One Who will answer by saying, "To Allah, the One, The Subduer (of all)" (Qur’an, 40:16)."
Most people mistakenly think that they have possessions which are their own, but the reality of the matter will be unfolded before their eyes on that Day. This call represents a fact which will then be revealed to everyone.
Reference to the subject of heritage as applied to the Almighty occurs in some Qur’anic verses such as the following:
And most surely We bring to life and cause death, and We are the heirs. (15:23)
Surely We inherit the earth and all those on it and to Us shall they all be returned. (19:40)
And We desired to bestow a favour upon those who were deemed weak in the land and make them the Imams and make them the heirs. (28:5)
Lord! Do not leave me alone, and You are the best of inheritors. (21:89)
The Messenger of Allah used to supplicate saying, "Lord! I plead to You to grant me the enjoyment of my hearing and vision, and to make them my heirs."
Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has said,
And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near: I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me; therefore, they should answer My call and believe in Me so that they will be rightly guided. (2:186)
The Attribute "al-Rasheed" is derived from Rushd, its root word, which means: guidance, righteousness, and uprightness, the antithesis of straying and crookedness. Its derivation accepts two possibilities: one is al-Rasheed, which means the same as al-Rashid, the Wise One, so Wise is He that there is nothing among His deeds that can be regarded as wasteful or wrong. The other is that it may mean the same as al-Badee`, and Allah's irshad, that is, His leading His servants to the right path, is due to His hidaya, guidance. Al-Rasheed is the One Whose management of all affairs achieves its objectives without anyone else besides Him directing or assisting it, Who is none but Allah, Glory to Him. Al-Rasheed pleases whoever He wills by providing him with His guidance, making whoever He wills miserable by distancing him from His guidance. He is the One in Whose management there is no lapse, and in Whose assessment there is no fault.
Al-Rasheed is characterized by complete perfection, great wisdom, ultimate guidance. He is the One Whose management of all affairs reaches its ultimate goal and success. He guides His creatures and leads them to what is best for them. He guides them through His wisdom towards the attainment of their well-being in the life of this world and in the life to come. Al-Rasheed has made those with whom He is pleased happy, Who guided His friends to Him; there is no negligence in His management of the affairs nor in His assessment, and He is known for His justice and favours.
Al-Rasheed is al-Murshid, the One Who inspires right guidance for those who obey Him, and He has led all beings to His guidance, the One Whose rope is strong, Whose command is wise. In Surat al-Kahaf, we read the following verses,
"Lord! Grant us mercy from You, and provide for us a right course in our affairs" (Qur’an, 18:10),
"... whomsoever He causes to err, you shall not find for him any friend to lead (him) rightly" (Qur’an, 18:17).
If a servant of Allah wishes to be on the right track, his guidance will be proportionate with his terse management in the attainment of his secular and religious objectives. One must deal with his Lord, al-Rasheed, in a way whereby he properly relies on his Lord to guide him. His Lord will then lead him to reform his own self first, to refer all his affairs to Him, and to seek refuge with Him whenever evil touches him and pray for His help whenever he is afflicted, just as Allah has told Moses to do:
"And when he (Moses) turned his face towards Midyan, he said: Maybe my Lord will guide me to a course nearer to the right path than this" (Qur’an, 18:24).
Thus ought a servant of Allah behave: when he wakes up, he should rely on his Lord, and whatever matter faces him, he should seek Allah's help in its regard then await what signal his heart will respond thereto. He will then help him do whatever he needs to do and will suffice him regarding all his affairs. If he does contrary to what Allah guides him, He will then reprimand him so that he would know that his Lord found him to be insolent, hence he abandons his self-reliance and forsakes following his own mind and trickery.
A servant of Allah ought to quite often remember the Attribute "al-Rasheed" and cling to its meaning so that he may be led to the commendable conduct, and Allah will then grant him wisdom and bestow His blessings upon him.
The Praised and Glorified One has said,
... nor did they weaken, nor did they abase themselves, and Allah loves those who are patient. (3:146)
"Al-Saboor" is an Attribute of Allah linguistically derived from the noun sabr which means: withholding one's self from expressing its overwhelming grief. Al-Saboor is most patient, Whose patience is greater than anyone else's. The month of Raman is called the month of patience and perseverance: during its days, the believer withholds himself/herself from yielding to the desires.
Al-Saboor, Glory to Him, is the Clement One Who does not surprise those who disobey Him by suddenly inflicting His penalty on them; rather, He forgives and postpones His carrying out of such a penalty. Al-Saboor does not rush to do anything too early; rather, He manages the affairs according to a measure; He conducts them according to a well-defined plan of His; He does not delay them from reaching their destined courses out of laziness or laxation, nor does He advance their execution.
Rather, He does everything exactly at its right time, in the best way, as it ought to be. All of this He does without facing hardship which may frustrate His will. Al-Saboor gives you and is true to you even when you are rude to Him. He comes to you forgiving even when you shun Him and revolt against Him.
Al-Saboor does not rush to penalize those who disobey Him or to chastise those who sin. He does not do anything except when it is most opportune due to His wisdom, honour, and sublimity. He is not harmed by those who commit sins. He takes the guilty by the forelocks. Al-Saboor commands and respites those to whom He issues His command; He observes and does not rush, nor does He do anything prematurely.
He commands and His command is according to a certain measure. He cancels the penalty even after it becomes due. Al-Saboor inspires patience and perseverance for all His creatures. The meaning of the Attribute "al-Saboor" is very close to that of the other Attribute "al-aleem". The difference between the first and the latter is that with al-Saboor, nobody can feel safe against His penalty, as is the case with al-aleem.
In Surat Ali-`Imran, the Almighty says, "O you who believe! Be patient, excel in patience, and remain steadfast" (Qur’an, 3:200), that is, be patient while obeying Allah, make your hearts accustomed tolerating affliction in the cause of Allah, and train your innermost conscience to be eager for Allah. It also means: Be patient for the sake of Allah; persevere while seeking Allah's Pleasure; remain in Allah's camp. Patience regarding what Allah decrees is a trial, and patience for the sake of Allah is a hardship, while patience with Allah is loyalty [to Him].
The Messenger of Allah has said, "None is more patient regarding the pain of what he hears than Allah: they ascribe sons to Him even as He grants them good health and sustenance."11
One of the manifestations of a believer's good conduct in deriving a moral code from the inspiration of the Attribute "al-Saboor" is that he keeps in mind its beautiful meanings, so he is patient under all circumstances. One who examines how Allah treats His servants, how He is patient in the face of their rudeness and disobedience, while He keeps giving them one respite after another, will learn how to treat people applying Allah's manners to the best of his ability.
Whenever patience is repeated by a servant of Allah, it becomes a habit, and he will then be following its guiding light. Such is the status of those who persevere in the sight of Allah, Glory and Praise to Him, as explained in the text of the Holy Qur’an.
We are told that the group of those who were patient will be advanced before others by the token of the verse saying,
"Those who are patient, and the truthful, and the obedient, and those who spend (benevolently) and those who ask forgiveness in the morning..." (Qur’an, 3:17).
Thus, such a group will have a higher status than that of other groups of His servants. The Praised One has said,
"If there are twenty patient ones among you, they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred, they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve" (Qur’an, 8:65).
This is victory with regard to prowess and number granted by Allah whereby He blesses those from among His servants who persevere.
"Lord! Pour down upon us patience, and make our steps firm, and assist us against the unbelieving people" (Qur’an, 2:250),
"Lord! Pour upon us patience and cause us to die as Muslims" (Qur’an, 7:126).
in 41:35 that the residents of Paradise will surely be the very lucky ones. The Almighty's use of this word is quite different from that of humans. It is humans' use of this word that we reject.
singular due to its reference to one: the sky. If it is at all used in the plural, it will then be referring to the seven layers or spheres of the sky. As for the word "heaven," it is often used by non-Muslims to refer to Paradise. Non-Muslims' concept of Paradise is certainly different from that of Muslims.
area where the people of Thamud, also Arabs, used to live. Prophet Hud was sent to them; they did not heed his warning, so they were annihilated. As for the people of Thamud, these used to live in Wadi al-Qura in the 8th century B.C.
This tradition is recorded on p. 12, "Kitab al-Adab," Vol. 8 of ↩
The word "lucky" is used here only because the Holy Qura'n states ↩
Muslim, Sahih. It also is stated on page 260 of his "Book of ↩
Abu Dawud, Al-Athkar, p. 81. ↩
Notice that the word "heavens" is used throughout this book as ↩
Abu Dawud, Jami` al-Fawa'id, Vol. 2, p. 410. ↩
al-Tirmithi, Sunan, Vol. 4, p. 379. ↩
Muslim, sahih, Vol. 4, traditions 33 and 35 ↩
The people of `Ad were Arabs who lived in upper Hijaz near the ↩
These are: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. ↩
al-Bukhari, Sahih, Vol. 9, p. 206 ↩