This issue will commence a series exclusive to AMUST on the 99 divine attributes of Allah. This work is prompted by the work of the past great sufi M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, published as the book “al-Asmā’ul-Husnā; The 99 Beautiful Names of Allah” in English originally in 1979 in USA. Subsequent parts will commence describing these names in detail, according to my humble understanding through the Quran and the Sunnah.
Part 1 – Introduction
A human likes and appreciates the name of an entity or object according to the concept that he forms about it in his perception. Any defect in the concept stems out from the defect of the name that also points out the defect of the concept vice versa.
Based on this axiom, the attachment of the human with the entity also depends upon his concept in his perception and thus the relationship, cordial or otherwise, of the human with that entity is established on this basis.
This final reality being true for all the ideas, entities, objects or virtues in this world is also true about the relationships between a human and his ideas about God (Allah). Hence, pertaining to personal names or attributes of Allah, any aberration in the concept or faith about Allah automatically manifests in the aberration in moral and ethical behaviour of the person’s whole life in this world.
Therefore it is extremely essential to think over the personal names or attributes of Allah in order to frame the healthy ethical pattern of living in this world with love, peace and harmony individually and collectively.
These best attributes indicate the characteristics depicting the greatness, superiority, holiness and perfect ideal virtues of Allah. The deviation in the assignment of the attitudes of Allah would be indicated by calling Allah with the characteristics that depict wrong faith, concept or ideas about the Most Superior Being whom a person considers his Ideal and most dependent and reliable personality. To assign any name to Allah the Creator which is also used and assigned to the creature being created by Allah seems as if to assign the human characteristics to the Supreme Being. Beware! Humans themselves are also the creature.
“Allah has the most excellent names. So invoke Him by His Names and keep away from those who practice deviation concerning His names. They shall be recompensed for what they have been doing.”
(Qur’an; Al-A’raf, 7:180)
Hence the Qur’an, the divine word of Allah according to Islam, strictly forbids to attributing any kind of partnership with Him.
There are only excellent attributes and nice names that should always be called by the humans created by Him.
As far as the persons who are, by omission or commission, have been involving Allah by unsuitable attributes or names, the virtuous persons should not bother about them. For example, some consider God to have partners, sons or daughters that can function as intercessors to persuade and convince God to change his decree or decisions on their recommendations and certification. Such concepts and assumptions dilute the Exaltedness, Divinity, Almighty Position, Wisdom, Oneness and Superiority of Allah.
“These best attributes indicate the characteristics depicting the greatness, superiority, holiness and perfect ideal virtues of Allah.”
The word used in Arabic Yulhedoon (Degrading the status of Allah) indicates severe offence and distortion. It indicates mismatching the nice attributes of Allah with the degraded and dishonoured characteristics toward Allah. To keep yourself away from them does not mean to boycott or hate them. It means that one should never get resentment and discuss about this issue with them. Allah orders to leave them to be dealt with by Allah. Allah is All-Wise and All-Knower how to deal with them and He well understands their ignorance or motive for this kind of negligence.
Most excellent names indicates that these are the distinctive, unique and special attributes without having any kind of deficiency. These should always be invoked with much reverence and respect.
According to the saying of the Prophet (pbuh) called ahadith in Arabic there are the renowned 99 attributes of Allah, mentioned in two most important classical collections by Tirmidzi and Ibn Mājah as narrated by the Prophets lifelong disciple and student Abu Huraira (ra). Most of them are also mentioned in Al-Quran at different occasions.