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Objectives of studying Asma-ul-Husna
"To draw closer to Allah ta’ala through knowing His beautiful names."
When you love someone, you want to know them and Allah ta’ala has given us these 99 names and He wants us to know Him through them to whatever extent we can with our limited understanding.
"To try to adorn ourselves with the traits of Allah ta’ala even though the attributes and traits of Allah ta’ala are very high and obviously our level is going to be extremely low."
For a lot of the Asmaa -ul-Husnaa, one is to understand them at an academic level and then to understand them at a spiritual level to connect to Allah ta’ala. A third way is to understand them on an emotional level which is, “How can I use the names of Allah ta’ala to get myself therapy i.e. to control/manage and eliminate my negative emotions and deal with the different situations of my life."
At the end of every name, counsel/advise is given. We should make it our objective to adorn ourselves with the Akhlaaq/traits of Allah ta’ala. This means that the traits of Allah ta’ala are perfect and belong only to Him but we can try to learn and benefit from them and emulate the ones we can share in, on a personal level.
Study of the Asmaa -ul-Husnaa are not just for intellectual understanding but to enact on the knowledge we gain and harmonize our internal and external dimensions.
Verses in the Qur’an regarding Calling Allah ta’ala by His Beautiful Names
وَلِلَّهِ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ فَادْعُوهُ بِهَا
Allah has the most excellent names (over ninety-nine attributes); call on Him by them. [Suratul A’araaf:180]
The Hadith Regarding Memorising the Names of Allah ta’ala
The Hadith regarding the 99 names of Allah ta’ala has different variations.
لِلَّهِ تِسْعَةٌ وَتِسْعُونَ اسْمًا مَنْ حَفِظَهَا دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ
Abu Huraira RA reported: The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam said,
“Allah has ninety-nine names and whoever preserves them will enter Paradise.” [Muslim]
Another variation has the word أَحْصَاهَا which means to count or include.
إِنَّ لِلَّهِ تِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ اسْمًا مِائَةً إِلاّ وَاحِدًا مَنْ أَحْصَاهَا دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ
What does it mean to حَفِظَهَا“Memorise” or أَحْصَاهَا“Innumerate”?
Scholars have written that “Memorizing” or “Innumerating” the names of Allah ta’ala means:
As mentioned in the verses of the Qur’an: "And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them” [al-A‘raaf 7:180].
So one may say for example, “O Most Gracious, have mercy on me; O Oft-Forgiving, forgive me; O Accepter of repentance, accept my repentance” and so on.
It is not just to know the meaning but to know it at a deeper level. Example: We know Ar-Razzaaq means “The Provider” but to know that He gives Rizq to everyone with some more than others.
If a person knows that He is One, he will not associate anything else with Him; if he knows that He is the Provider, he will not seek provision from anyone else; if he knows that He is the Most Merciful, he will do acts of obedience that are a means of attaining this mercy… And so on
He is Al-Khaaliq (The Creator). What does it mean to be Al-Khaaliq? There are other names with similar meanings i.e.
Al-Musawwir (The Fasioner/Bestower of forms) What is the difference? Some names have a similar meaning however they have subtle differences between them and one should know these subtle differences.
There are certain names which human beings can act upon i.e. Al-Kareem (The Generous), Ar-Raheem (The Merciful)
Some you cannot act upon i.e. showing anger, taking revenge, being proud, etc. which is not permitted for human beings. Example: “Al-Mutakabbir” (The Majestic) Human beings cannot be proud or claim greatness. This is the sole right of Allah ta’ala. Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Allah the Almighty said: Pride is my cloak and greatness is my garment, so whoever competes with me regarding these two will be thrown into the Hellfire.” [Abu Dawood]
Imam An-Nawawi (رحمه الله) said,
“To preserve them is said to mean to enumerate and count them in one’s supplication by them. It is said it means to persevere in them, to respect them in the best manner, to guard what they require, and to affirm their meanings. And it is said the meaning is to act by them and to obey Allah according to the implications of every name.” Source: Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2677
Are the Names of Allah ta’ala limited to 99?
Scholars say you cannot limit that Being Who is unlimited. Therefore Allah ta’ala’s attributes are unlimited though the Hadith mentions 99.
Imam Al-Nawawi (رحمه الله) stated in Sharh Saheeh Muslim,
“The scholars are unanimously agreed that this hadeeth does not mean that Allah has only ninety-nine names, or that He does not have any other names apart from these ninety-nine. Rather what the hadeeth means is that whoever learns these ninety-nine will enter Paradise. The point is that one may enter Paradise by learning them, not that the number is limited to these names.”
The Names mentioned in Hadith
إِنَّ لِلَّهِ تَعَالَى تِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ اسْمًا، مِئَةً غَيْرَ وَاحِدَةٍ، مَنْ أَحْصَاهَا دَخَلَ الجَنَّةَ، هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لا إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الرَّحْمَنُ، الرَّحِيمُ، الْمَلِكُ، الْقُدُّوسُ، السَّلامُ، الْمُؤْمِنُ، الْمُهَيْمِنُ، الْعَزِيزُ، الْجَبَّارُ، الْمُتَكَبِّرُ، الْخَالِقُ، الْبَارِئُ، الْمُصَوِّرُ، الْغَفَّارُ، الْقَهَّارُ، الْوَهَّابُ، الرَّزَّاقُ، الْفَتَّاحُ، الْعَلِيمُ، الْقَابِضُ، الْبَاسِطُ، الْخَافِضُ، الرَّافِعُ، الْمُعِزُّ، الْمُذِلُّ، السَّمِيعُ، الْبَصِيرُ، الْحَكَمُ، الْعَدْلُ، اللَّطِيفُ، الْخَبِيرُ، الْحَلِيمُ، الْعَظِيمُ، الْغَفُورُ، الشَّكُورُ، الْعَلِيُّ، الْكَبِيرُ، الْحَفِيظُ، الْمُقِيتُ، الْحَسِيبُ، الْجَلِيلُ، الْكَرِيمُ، الرَّقِيبُ، الْمُجِيبُ، الْوَاسِعُ، الْحَكِيمُ، الْوَدُودُ، الْمَجِيدُ، الْبَاعِثُ، الشَّهِيدُ، الْحَقُّ، الْوَكِيلُ، الْقَوِيُّ، الْمَتِينُ، الْوَلِيُّ، الْحَمِيدُ، الْمُحْصِي، الْمُبْدِئُ، الْمُعِيدُ، الْمُحْيِي، الْمُمِيتُ، الْحَيُّ، الْقَيُّومُ، الْوَاجِدُ، الْمَاجِدُ، الْوَاحِدُ، الصَّمَدُ، الْقَادِرُ، الْمُقْتَدِرُ، الْمُقَدِّمُ، الْمُؤَخِّرُ، الأَوَّلُ، الآخِرُ، الظَّاهِرُ، الْبَاطِنُ، الْوَالِي، الْمُتَعَالِي، الْبَرُّ، التَّوَّابُ، الْمُنْتَقِمُ، الْعَفُوُّ، الرَّءُوفُ، مَالِكُ الْمُلْكِ، ذُو الْجَلالِ وَالإِكْرَامِ، الْمُقْسِطُ، الْجَامِعُ، الْغَنِيُّ، الْمُغْنِي، الْمَانِعُ، الضَّارُّ، النَّافِعُ، النُّورُ، الْهَادِي، الْبَدِيعُ، الْبَاقِي، الْوَارِثُ، الرَّشِيدُ، الصَّبُورُ
There are variations of the names mentioned in Hadith. Some Scholars say 1,000 names of Allah ta’ala have been given to human beings, 300 in the Tawrah, 300 in the Injeel, 300 in the Zaboor and 100 in the Qur’an.
Can we know Allah Ta'ala?
لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ ۖ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ
اللهم إني أعوذ برضاك من سخطك، وبمعافاتك من عقوبتك، وأعوذ بك منك،
لا أحصي ثناء عليك أنت كما أثنيت على نفسك
"O Allah! I seek protection against Your Wrath in Your Pleasure. I seek protection in Your Pardon against Your chastisement, I am not capable of enumerating praise of You. You are as You have praised Yourself."
Therefore by studying the names of Allah ta'ala, we will increase our awareness of how little we know.
The word Allah is the “personal name” of our Creator.
That being who is perfect and free from all defects.
In the Qur’an
The word “Allah” appears almost two thousand nine hundred and forty (2940) times in the Qur’an.
According to the Ulama this blessed name is greater in magnificence than the other 99 names of Allah ta'ala because it encompasses all the attributes of Allah ta’ala. Imam Tahawi, Imam ibnul Qayyim and Imam Razi رحمهم الله تعالى also concur with the statement that Ism-e-Azam is the word “Allah”. Some of the evidences are given below:
1. The word Allah demonstrates all the beautiful names of Allah and His divine attributes.
2. This name “Allah” is not used for anyone other than Allah ta’ala. Because Allah ta’ala said (the interpretation of which is that): ‘Do you know anyone who is the namesake of Allah (or similar in attributes to Allah)?’ Although it is not true. The word Allah is only used for Allah ta’ala.
3. All the Asma-ul-Husna belong to the word Allah and it shows its excellence over other names. Secondly it is often said that “Rahman, Raheem, Malik, Quddoos” all are names of Allah ta’ala, however it is never said that “Allah” is the name of Rahman OR “Allah” is the name of Raheem. Hence the conclusion is that in all the beautiful names of Allah, the root name is “Allah”.
4. Translation of a verse of Allah ta’ala is that: “Say whether you call Him Allah or call Him Rahmaan”
These Ulama state that Allah ta’ala has specifically mentioned these two names and even in these two names, the name “Allah” is superior and nobler than “Ar-Rahman” based on the following two reasons:
a. In this verse, the name “Allah” is mentioned prior to the name “Ar-Rahman” which shows that it is superior.
b. The name “Ar-Rahman” manisfests the perfection of His mercy, but not the perfection of His dominance, supremacy, magnificence, sanctity and honour. However the name “Allah” also manifests all these great qualities of Allah, which shows that it is superior.
Respecting the name of Allah
(1) A saint Bishr Hafi رحمه الله تعالى was asked what is the cause of your acceptability in the court of Allah since your name is popular amongst the people just like the name of a Nabi. He replied: It is only a favour of Allah and there is no excellence on my part. I was a sinful and hedonist type of person. Once whilst traversing a path I saw a piece of paper. I picked it up and it had بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم written on it. I cleaned that paper and kept it in my pocket. I only had 2 Dirhams at that time and I was not the owner of anything apart from those two dirhams. I went to a perfume seller and I purchased “ghalia” fragrance in exchange of those two dirhams and then rubbed that fragrance on that piece of paper. When I slept that night, I saw someone saying in my dream:
“O Bishr bin Harith! You picked up my name from your path and cleaned and perfumed it. We will perfume your name both in this world and the next.”
(2) Allah ta’ala’s name should always be taken with respect and reverance. Whenever we take the name of Allah, we should always add “تبارك وتعالى” or “تعالی” or “رب العزت” or “جل جلاله و عم نواله” both in writing and speaking.
Everything should be started with the name of Allah
The gracious Prophet صلی الله عليه وسلم said in a hadith:
“Every important matter that does not begin with the Name of Allah is incomplete.”
Therefore Rasulullah صلی الله عليه وسلم has emphasized that we should start everything with بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم. So much so that when eating food, when drinking water, when mounting an animal, when writing a letter or manuscript, in short in the beginning of every noteworthy task, Rasulullah صلی الله عليه وسلم would recite بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم.
Shaykhul Islam Mufti Taqi Usmani دامت برکاتہم says that apparently it is a small action, which is sometimes ignored considering it a customary practice. However in reality it is not a ritual, rather the purpose behind this is to cultivate a basic concern. It is the acknowledgment of such a significant reality which if kept in view, will change a person’s whole perspective regarding all the problems of life and his entire mindset in dealing with different kinds of affairs.
"الله معي" is the Excellence of Imaan
“Allah is with me”. It seems like a trivial sentence however its belief and deep concentration is very beneficial in protecting a person from sins as well as from anxiety and depression. In Surah al-Hadeed Allah ta’ala Himself says:
وَهُوَ مَعَكُمۡ أَيۡنَ مَا كُنتُمۡۚ وَٱللَّهُ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ بَصِير
"and He is with you wherever you are. And Allah, of what you do, is Seeing."
Dua at the times of distress and grief
Rasulullah صلی الله عليه وسلم taught this dua to Hazrat Asma bint Umais رضي الله عنها and asked her to recite it at the times of distress and anguish:
اللَّهُ اللَّهُ رَبِّي، لَا أُشْرِكُ بِهِ شَيْئًا
"Allah, Allah is my Rabb, I do not ascribe any partners to him."
Hence one should keep reciting it when overcome with distress/anxiety. In short it is never futile to call upon the name of Allah.
1. A Muslim servant should make this belief firm in his heart that my Master, my Lord, the One who solves my problems and removes my difficulties is no one other than Allah ta’ala.
2. When this belief will become firm then he will only strive and make efforts in the worship and servitude of Allah ta’ala.
3. The slave who only makes the magnificence and perfection of Allah the object of his life and gives no importance whatsoever toghairullah (someone other than Allah) then this person is blessed with these qualities:
- He becomes independent of everyone other than Allah ta’ala.
- When overcome with trouble or distress, he immediately contacts Allah ta’ala.
- He does nothing which goes against the pleasure of Allah ta'ala.
Translated from Sharh Asma-ul-Husna (Maulana Muhammad haneef Abdul Majeed)
These two names will be discussed together as they are very similar in meaning and come from the same root word,رحم which means “softness”.
الرَّحْمَنُ = “The Lovingly Beneficent“, “Most kind” and “Most Gracious”
الرَّحِيمُ = “The Most Merciful” and “The Most Compassionate.”
What is the Difference between them?
Scholars have mentioned a few differences of which the following three are well known and the most accepted among them.
1.رَحْمَن is a trait of Allah ta’ala which is in His Dhaat. It is innate in Him and therefore it is in Allah ta’ala’s essence to be Rahmaan while رَحِيم is a trait which needs to be manifested upon an object to be apparent. Therefore رَحْمَن is a trait which is innate in Allah ta’ala whether Makhlooq is there or not while رَحِيم is a trait which needs Makhlooq to be manifested upon.
2.رَحْمَن is when He is asked, He gives i.e. that being Who is giving and رَحِيم is when he is not asked He gets angry.
3.رَحْمَن is Allah ta’ala’s general and expansive mercy that encompasses and includes everybody whether deserving or not, Believer or disbeliever i.e. when rain falls, it is not discriminatory. It benefits everyone and we see this in the world. Everyone eats, drinks, lives etc. whether they do good or evil so Allah ta’ala is giving them through His being رَحْمَن .
رَحِيم is “Khaas” – Allah ta’ala’s more exclusive/selective mercy for the Believers and doers of good and some Scholars say it is exclusive for Maghfirat of the Believers in this world and to enter Jannah in the Aakhirah.
Therefore رَحْمَن is general and for this world and رَحِيم is exclusive and for the Aakhirah.
رَحْمَن is that name which is very close to Allah ta’ala’s Dhaat so humans cannot share in it i.e. a person can be Raheem (merciful) or Kareem (generous) however it cannot be said that he is Rahmaan. It is exclusive for Allah ta’ala and it is also similar to Allah ta’ala’s Dhaati name in terms of not being made dual or plural and there being no feminine form of it unlike Raheemah and Kareemah. It is also the most know attribute of Allah ta’ala and is used by Allah ta’ala to describe Himself.
Allah ta’ala has used both these names in the Tasmiyah بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the Qur’an
رَحْمَن is mentioned 57 times
رَحِيم is mentioned 114 times
(Outside of the Tasmiyah)
وَإِلَٰهُكُمْ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الرَّحْمَٰنُ الرَّحِيمُ
Your God is One God; there is no God save Him, the Beneficent, the Merciful. [Baqarah 163]
In this verse Allah ta’ala describes Himself.
الرَّحْمَٰنُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ اسْتَوَى
The Beneficent One, Who is established on the Throne [Surha Taha 5]
Allah ta’ala often substitutes His Dhaati name with رَحْمَن which shows that رَحْمَن is very close to the name of Allah ta’ala and this is a Sifat that He, among all the Sifaat, wants to be known as.
In this verse Allah ta’ala says He is “Established on the Arsh” and according to the Qur’anic verses and Hadith, the Scholars say the Arsh surrounds (envelopes) all of creation and Allah ta’ala has situated Himself on it. Allah ta’ala cannot be given a locality but it is His Rahmah which is encompassing /enveloping the entire universe.
In another verse Allah ta’ala says;
وَرَحْمَتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ
My mercy encompasses all things [Suarh Al-A’raaf: 156]
Therefore it shows that literally Allah ta’ala has established His Rahmah on the Arsh and figuratively His Rahmah is above and beyond everything.
So this trait is probably the most dominant, strongest and closest to Allah ta’ala. It is the trait He wants to be known as and the trait He wants to be invoked by the most i.e. we begin with the name of Allah ta’ala and these two names in the Tasmiyah when we recite the Qur’an or when doing anything.
Description of His Rahmah and Who is Deserving of it
Allah ta’ala has made His mercy mandatory/incumbent upon Himself as mentioned in the Qur’an,
قُلْ لِمَنْ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ قُلْ لِلَّهِ ۚ كَتَبَ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ ۚ لَيَجْمَعَنَّكُمْ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ ۚ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ فَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ
Ask them: “To whom belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth?” If they don't respond, tell them: “To Allah!” He has decreed mercy for Himself, that is why He does not punish you for your misdeeds right away. He will certainly gather you all together on the Day of Resurrection; there is no doubt about it. Yet those who have lost their souls will not believe [Surah Al-An’aam:12]
Knowing that Allah ta’ala is merciful no matter how bad people seem, gives a sense of hope and peace. It is mentioned in the Qur’an and the Hadith that becoming hopeless of Allah ta’ala’s mercy is a type of Kufr. However in the next part of the verse Allah ta’ala says He will definitely gather people on the Day of Judgement so though He is Most Merciful, His punishment is also there. He gives people time and opportunities to make Tawbah and change but there will come a day when it will be cut off and people will be gathered, judged and punished or rewarded according to their deeds.
Therefore have hope but also know that you will be accountable for your deeds and there is this balance in our Deen unlike other religions like Christianity where emphasis is put of God’s mercy with the belief that He will not punish. In our Deen there is mercy of Allah ta’ala and it is extreme and far reaching and a beautiful trait however at the same time there is an ending to the time given to make Tawbah.
Rahmah comes on Whom?
In verse 54 of the same Surah, Allah ta’ala says,
وَإِذَا جَاءَكَ الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِآيَاتِنَا فَقُلْ سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ ۖ كَتَبَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ ۖ أَنَّهُ مَنْ عَمِلَ مِنْكُمْ سُوءًا بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ تَابَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَنَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
Whe those who believe in Our revelations come to you, say: “Peace be upon you. Your Rabb has decreed mercy upon Himself. If anyone among you commits evil because of ignorance and thereafter repents and mends his ways; you will find Allah Forgiving, Merciful.” [Surah Al-An’aam: 54]
This verse mentions three traits which we should have in our lives:
The verse tells us how we can utilise this beautiful trait of Allah ta’ala and become more deserving of it. Firstly, believe in Allah ta’ala and then if a person does a bad deed out of ignorance and then does Tawbah and takes measures to change, then Allah ta’ala is غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
فَإِنْ كَذَّبُوكَ فَقُلْ رَبُّكُمْ ذُو رَحْمَةٍ وَاسِعَةٍ وَلَا يُرَدُّ بَأْسُهُ عَنِ الْقَوْمِ الْمُجْرِمِينَ
So if they give the lie to thee (Muhammad), say: Your Lord is a Lord of all embracing mercy, and His wrath will never be withdrawn from guilty folk. [Surah Al-An’aam: 147]
رَحْمَةٍ وَاسِعَةٍ is very open and exclusive mercy. The verse says that even though people deny Him, Allah ta’ala is extremely merciful. He will give them opportunities and time in this world. He will let them have a good life and not punish them even though they do evil and oppress others however as the next part of the verse says, there will be a day when His anger and punishment will not be repelled from these people.
His Rahmah is such that He gives people chances again and again, but in this world.
In a well-known verse in Surah Hijr Allah ta’ala tells the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam to inform His salves that He is الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
نَبِّئْ عِبَادِي أَنِّي أَنَا الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
Announce, (O Muhammad) unto My slaves that verily I am the Forgiving, the Merciful. [Surah Hijr: 49]
And this is mentioned many times in the Qur’an i.e. that His mercy isوَاسِعَة however He punishes as well.
وَأَنَّ عَذَابِي هُوَ الْعَذَابُ الْأَلِيمُ
but at the same time My punishment is also the most painful punishment.[Surah Hijr: 50]
It is mentioned in Hadith,
“Allah has one hundred mercies, out of which He has sent down only one for jinn, mankind, animals and insects, through which they love one another and have compassion for one another; and through it, wild animals care for their young. Allah has retained ninety-nine mercies to deal kindly with His slaves on the Day of Resurrection.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
It is the one part of mercy that we see in the world where humans and animals are merciful and ninety-nine parts are kept for the Day of Judgement. In another Hadith it is narrated,
لما خلق الله الخلق، كتب في كتاب، فهو عنده فوق العرش: إن رحمتي تغلب غضبي
“When Allah created the creatures, He wrote in the Book, which is with Him over His Throne: ‘Verily, My Mercy prevailed over My Wrath’” [Bukhari & Muslim]
تغلب means “More dominant”
‘Umar ibn Al Khattab (radiyallahu ‘anhu) has narrated,
“Some captives were brought to Nabi sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, among whom was a breast feeding woman. When she found a child among the captives, she took it and suckled it. Nabi sallallahu ‘alayhi wasalla) said to us, ‘Do you think this woman will cast her child into a fire?’ We said, ‘No, if she has the power not to.’ Then Nabi sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said, ‘Allah is more merciful to His slaves than this woman is to her child” [Bukhari & Muslim]
An important Question – Why does Allah ta’ala allow Suffering?
An important question comes up here that Allah ta’ala is Arham – extremely Merciful. He is Arhamur Raahimeen – The Most Merciful of those who show mercy. His Rahmah is above and beyond everything and He has the power to remove any problem or difficulty. The question which Imam Ghazali (رحمه الله) and a lot of us have is, He still lets people go through pain, suffering, tragedy, hardship etc. and for many the suffering is extreme. This causes a lot of people, Muslims and non-Muslims who have sensitive hearts and are thinking people that why does Allah ta’ala allow suffering?
Imam Ghazali (رحمه الله) has answered this question in depth.
Something bad may contain something good however we do not see it or understand it because our concept is different on what it means to be merciful. Sometimes we have to amputate a limb to save the body which is being merciful although the person may not see it.
Imam Ghazali (رحمه الله) gives an example of a child who, due to some sickness, has to have a limb amputated. The mother refuses thinking her child will lose a limb and she is being merciful in her own way. The father however understands that without the amputation the child will lose his life. Imam Ghazali (رحمه الله) explains that a person who is ignorant thinks the mother is being compassionate but an intelligent person will see the whole picture and understand that the father is being more compassionate and more loving because he knows that to save the child the limb has to be amputated.
Through this analogy Imam Ghazali (رحمه الله) shows that sometimes Allah ta’ala puts us in difficulty and even extreme difficulty to save us from something greater and this gives solace when we see suffering i.e. in Yemen, Syria and other places where we cannot do much and it causes heartache. For our own Imaan and sanity we should know that Allah ta’ala is Merciful and He knows exactly what they are experiencing unlike us who only know what we read on the media. Yet He is allowing it to happen therefore what they are going through in the Dunya must prevent them from any difficulty in the Aakhirah and therefore the difficulty of this Dunya is not against the mercy of Allah ta’ala but is a part of His mercy.
This is something for us to remember when we are going through any difficulty even though it may extreme. We know that Allah ta’ala is Raheem and He is protecting us and alleviating pain and difficulty of the Aakhirah and this is one of the most beautiful things for the people of Imaan.
Sometimes in difficult situations we make Du’a and when the difficulty is not removed we lose hope however it is mentioned in Hadith that Du’a is accepted in one of three ways;
· Allah ta’ala will give what is asked for
· He will not give what is asked for but some evil which was meant to happen is diverted away from the person and since we do not know it was diverted (as the evil does not happen) we think our Du’a is not accepted however the Du’a prevented it from happening. Du’a can change destiny.
· Neither of the above happens however in compensation Allah ta’ala will give so much in the Aakhirah that the person will wish none of his Du’a made in the world were accepted.
Therefore the Dua not being accepted the way we want, is also His mercy and it is mercy we cannot see.
What are the lessons for us to Learn?
لَا يَرْحَمُ اللَّهُ مَنْ لَا يَرْحَمُ النَّاسَ
“Allah will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to people” [Bukhari & Muslim]
النَّاسَ – all human beings. Therefore showing mercy to human beings is a way to attain Allah ta’ala’s mercy for ourselves.
In another Hadith it is mentioned;
ارْحَمُوا مَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَرْحَمْكُمْ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاءِ
“Be merciful to those on the earth and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you.” [Tirmidhi]
Therefore show mercy to people be they Muslims or non-Muslims, good or bad, which unfortunately is something we are very short of. We do not even show mercy to our own children and families. Show mercy through your words and actions, by giving Naseehah, dealing gently with people, not looking down on anyone and looking with the eye of mercy at disobedient people (Hate the sin, not the sinner). Try to meet the needs of people in poverty or in need of education etc. and if you cannot, then show you care and make Du’a for them and that is also being merciful.
Mercy should also be shown to all other living things. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam said,
إن الله كتب الإحـسـان عـلى كــل شيء
“Indeed, Allah prescribed ihsaan in all things.”
There is mention in Hadith of a woman who was forgiven through her kindness to a dog;
“A prostitute had once been forgiven. She passed by a dog panting near a well. Thirst had nearly killed him, so she took off her sock, tied it to her veil, and drew up some water. Allah forgave her for that.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
Therefore learn these names of Allah ta’ala and make intention that I want to be more merciful to all of creation. Insha-allah
A separate point which is attached to the concept of mercy is صله رحمى - joining ties of kinship which is mentioned in the Qur’an.
وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ
“… and fear Allāh through whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut) family ties. [Surah Nisaa’:1]
Interestingly the word Rahmah is used for family ties and also used for the womb of a woman.
It is mentioned in a Hadith;
الرَّحِمُ مُعَلَّقَةٌ بِالْعَرْشِ تَقُولُ مَنْ وَصَلَنِي وَصَلَهُ اللهُ، وَمَنْ قَطَعَنِي قَطَعَهُ اللهُ
“The bond of relationship is suspending from the Throne, and says: ‘He who keeps good relations with me, Allah will keep connection with him, but whosoever severs relations with me, Allah will sever connection with him“. [Muslim]
This shows that Rahmah is maintaining family ties and to invite the Rahmah of Allah ta’ala, we should maintain family ties. Another Hadith mentions;
“Allah’s mercy will not descend on people among whom there is one who severs ties of kinship.” [Baihaqi, Shuab Al-Iman]
Therefore one of the ways to invite the mercy of Allah ta’ala is maintaining family ties and this is important for us as for a lot of us family ties are there however we do not see the worth in it (appreciate it) and we do not understand the definition.
What does it mean to maintain family ties?
With people we have issues with or with whom we do not get along, maintaining family ties can be at a minimum level which is to say and reply to Salaam, share in happy occasions, give condolences on sad occasions and visit when sick. It does not matter whether our family are Believers on non-believers. We should have a merciful attitude to all our family. If the family are non-believers and they invite you to a wedding or other occasions where you know there will be Haraam activities then you do not have to attend however wish them well.
Sometimes people are good and merciful to others but neglect the family and do not show them even a quarter of the mercy they show others.
Du’a to invoke the mercy of Allah ta’ala
Recite in illness or in other difficulty:
يَا حَيُّ يَا قَيُّوْمُ بِرَحْمَتِكَ أَسْتَغِيْث
On You Who is Ever-living and Sustains and Protects everything, I seek assistance through the means of your mercy [At-Tirmidhi]
ياَ أَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمِينَ
Oh the Most Merciful of those who show mercy
الْمَلِكُ is translated as The Absolute Ruler and means The True King.
Imam Ghazali (رحمه الله) says it is The One Who in His Dhaat (Essence) and Sifat (Attribute) has no need of any existing thing while every existing thing needs Him.
Therefore everything is dependent on Allah ta’ala and Allah ta’ala is dependent on no-one. We cannot dispense with Him and we cannot live without His Being so الْمَلِكُ means One Who is Indispensible.
Everything other than Himself is subject to Him so He is The King of Kings.
The kingship of a king among humans is temporary and limited. It is not absolute. He still needs his subjects i.e. their loyalty, tax etc. while Allah ta’ala is that King Who truly does not need anyone. He is truly independent of His creation.
He has given us human beings power and authority to some extent and to own land, money, homes etc. however we are not the true owners. Sooner or later it will leave us or if we have it now, then when we die it will belong to our inheritors. Therefore Allah ta’ala is the true Owner and true King and in Surah Faatihah - مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ - we say Allah ta’ala is the Owner of the Day of Judgement.
In the Qur’an
In Surah Mu’min Allah ta’ala says,
يَوْمَ هُمْ بَارِزُونَ ۖ لَا يَخْفَىٰ عَلَى اللَّهِ مِنْهُمْ شَيْءٌ ۚ لِمَنِ الْمُلْكُ الْيَوْمَ ۖ لِلَّهِ الْوَاحِدِ الْقَهَّارِ
The Day when they all shall come forth from their graves with nothing hidden from Allah. It will be asked: "Whose is the Kingdom today?" No one shall dare to speak, and Allah Himself will say: “It is Allah's, the One, the Irresistible.” [Qur’an 40:16]
Allah ta’ala will ask this question after the blowing of the trumpet the first time after which the world will be destroyed. Therefore on the Day of Judgement there will be no king or authority except Allah ta’ala.
This is a Sifat in which we can share to the extent that we are kings of what we have i.e. our lives, homes etc. however in reality Allah ta’ala is the True King.
Though this Sifat of Allah ta’ala is present in the Dunya it will be manifested and in full recognition in the Aakhirah. Allah ta’ala mentions in Surah Faatihah that He is the Owner of the Day of Judgement because in the Dunya He has given us a share in being kings/owners/having authority etc. however on the Day of Judgement only Allah ta’ala will have it and the semblance of kingship and authority Allah ta’ala allowed humanity, will end.
It is narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam said:
“Allah will seize the earth on the Day of Resurrection and will roll up the heavens in His Right Hand, then He will say: ‘I am the King, where are the kings of the earth?” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
According to ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood RA, a Jewish scholar came to the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam and said,
“O Muhammad! verily, Allah, the Exalted and Glorious would carry the Heavens on the Day of Judgment upon one finger and earths upon one finger and the mountains and trees upon one finger and the ocean and moist earth upon one finger, and in fact the whole of the creation upon one finger, and then He would stir them and say: ‘I am your Lord, I am your Lord’.
Thereupon Allah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhiw asallam smiled testifying what that scholar had said. He then recited this verse: “And they honour not Allah with the honour due to Him; and the whole earth will be in His grip on the Day of Resurrection and the heaven rolled up in His right hand. Glory be to Him I and highly Exalted is He above what they associate (with Him)” (Az-Zumar:67) [Al-Bukhari]
Therefore Allah ta’ala is the Haqeeqee (true) King and all other kingships will end.
Everything belongs to Allah ta'ala
Mothers should teach their children that Allah ta’ala is the true Owner of everything and not us. There are stories related regarding Scholars of the past who rebuked their children for saying words like “The maalik of the home is not in” instead of saying “The person of the house is not in.”
Shaykhul Hadith Zakariyyah Khandlawi (رحمه الله) who has authored many books said he was rebuked by his father for saying “My pillow” and as a child he was very hurt but later realised his father had taught him a very important lesson. Parents of the past noticed these things and did Tarbiyat of their children. Therefore we should teach children not to say “My” this or that, as today we have the “me, me” culture but in actuality nothing belongs to us. Everything belongs to Allah ta’ala and we only have what we say is “mine” temporarily. We know this in our Aqeedah but the Haqeeqat (reality) of it is absent. If we had this reality, it could actually protect us from the love of the Dunya. It will become a protective mechanism against a lot of negative emotions. When a person knows that it is Allah ta’ala Who owns everything then giving money to charity is not going to be a big deal and we will be saved from greed and miserliness and jealousy i.e. why does this person have such and such and I do not.
Advice of Imam Ghazali (رحمه الله) regarding the name الْمَلِكُ
Imam Ghazali (رحمه الله) mentions the story of a Wali of Allah ta’ala who was told by a Prince to ask him for his needs. The Wali of Allah ta’ala replied, “Is that the way to speak to me when I have two servants who are your masters?” The Prince asked who were his masters and the Wali of Allah ta’ala replied that they were greed and desires. He said, “I have conquered them but they have conquered you. I rule over them and they rule over you.”
Therefore if we conquer these two bad traits of greed and desires then we are masters over them. People may be kings and have authority but if they are ruled by greed and desires then they are servants to these two traits.
The person will also have certainty that my life, wealth and time is an Amaanah and Allah ta’ala is the True Owner of not just the wealth I have but He owns my life and time. He realises that it’s not just me but I have to do things for other people for the sake of Allah ta’ala and he then will give time for Allah ta’ala.
الْقُدُّوسُ is translated in English as The Holiest and The Most Pure.
It means Allah ta’ala is that Being Who is free from all defects, traits and weaknesses – understood as the Holy One – and Pure from any similar example and pure from children. Ibn Katheer (رحمه الله) says pure from any shortcomings, that Dhaat Who has perfect traits.
In the Qur’an
This name is mentioned only twice in the Qur’an.
هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْمَلِكُ الْقُدُّوسُ السَّلَامُ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْمُهَيْمِنُ الْعَزِيزُ الْجَبَّارُ الْمُتَكَبِّرُ ۚ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ
He is Allah, than whom there is no other God, the Sovereign Lord the Holy One, Peace, the Keeper of Faith, the Guardian, the Majestic, the Compeller, the Superb. Glorified be Allah from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him).
This is a powerful verse with many Asmaaul Husnaa mentioned within it including الْقُدُّوسregarding which it is mentioned in a Hadith;
“Whoever when he wakes in the morning says three times:
اعوذ بالله السميع العليم من الشيطان الرجيم
“I seek refuge in Allah the All-Hearing and All-Knowing against the accursed satan”
and then recites the three verses from the last part of Surah al Hashr, will be assigned seventy thousand angels to pray for him until the evening, and should he die that day, he would have died a martyr”
[Ibn Ahmad, Darimi, Tirmidhi]
The verses are :
هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ ۖ هُوَ الرَّحْمَٰنُ الرَّحِيمُ
هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْمَلِكُ الْقُدُّوسُ السَّلَامُ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْمُهَيْمِنُ الْعَزِيزُ الْجَبَّارُ الْمُتَكَبِّرُ ۚ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ
هُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ ۖ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
[Surah Hashr: 22-24]
The second verse is:
يُسَبِّحُ لِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ الْمَلِكِ الْقُدُّوسِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَكِيمِ
All that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth glorifieth Allah, the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One, the Mighty, the Wise [Qur’an 62:1]
The verse mentions that everything in the heavens and the earth does Tasbeeh of Allah ta’ala and as mentioned in Surah Bani Isra’eel, we do not understand;
تُسَبِّحُ لَهُ السَّمَاوَاتُ السَّبْعُ وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَنْ فِيهِنَّ ۚ وَإِنْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِلَّا يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِهِ وَلَٰكِنْ لَا تَفْقَهُونَ تَسْبِيحَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّهُ كَانَ حَلِيمًا غَفُورًا
The seven heavens, the earth and all beings therein declare His glory. There is not a single thing but glorifies Him with His praise, but you do not understand their hymns of His glory. The fact is that He is very Forbearing, Forgiving. [17.44]
Allah ta’ala is الْقُدُّوسُ and whatever He puts His Tajalli on (Special/Attentive Rahmat), also becomes Quddoos (Holy). Whatever Allah ta’ala has sworn by in the Qur’an or has referred to as “Muqaddas” has the status of being holy. It can be time i.e. Allah ta’ala swears by time, Laylatul Qadr, the month of Ramadhaan etc. or it can be places i.e. Allah ta’ala refers to the Valley of Tuwaa where Musa AS was blessed as “Muqaddas” and the Baytullah.
This name is used in some major Du’a. ‘Aishah RA has reported:
The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam used to recite in his bowing and prostration:
سبوح قدوس رب الملائكة والروح
“Subbuhun Quddoosun, Rabbul-malaa’ikati war-rooh
“You are the Most Glorious. The Most Holy. You the Rabb of the angels and of Jibra’eel” [Muslim]
This is also mentioned in the Du’a recited during the Taraaweeh Salaah.
It is Sunnah to read سُبْحَانَ الْمَلِكِ الْقُدُّوْسِ three times after Witr Ṣalaah. This was the general habit of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam who would raise and prolong his voice the third time as reported in several authentic narrations. [Musnad Aḥmad Sunan Abū Dāwūd Sunan al-Nasāʾī ]