GOD The name of the Creator of the Universe in the Qur’an is Allah, which is the title given to the Supreme Being by Muslims of every race and language.
Allah is supposed to be derived from ilah a deity or god, with the addition of the definite article al- Al-ilah, “the God” – or according to some authorities, it is from lah, ie Allah, “the secret one.” But Abu Hanifah says that just as the essence of God is unchangeable, so is His name, and that Allah has ever been the name of the Eternal Being (See Ghiyasu-‘l-Lughah.)
Allah may be an Arabic rendered of the Hebrew el, and the unused root ul, “to be strong”, or from , the singular form of . It is expressed in Persian and Hindustani by the word Khuda derived from the Persian khud, self; the self-existing one.
Another word very frequently used for the Almighty in the Qur’an, is Rabb, which is generally translated in English versions of the Qur’an, “Lord.” It seems to stand in the relative position of the Jehovah of the Old Testament and the of the New Testament. The word is understood by Muslims to mean “the sustained,” but it is probably derived from the Hebrew , “a stronghold,” or from its root rab, which, according to Gesernius means “a multitude,” or anything of size or importance.
The title Allah is called the Ismu ‘z-Zat, or the essential names of God, all other titles including Rabb, being considered Asa u ‘s Sifat, or “attributes are called al-Asthma u’l-husna, or the “excellent names.” The expression occurs in the Qur’an, (Surah vii 179), “But God’s are excellent names, call on Him thereby.” This verse is commented upon in the Traditions, and Abu Huraurah says that Muhammad said, “Verily there are ninety-nine names of God, and whoever recites them shall enter into Paradise.
In the same tradition these names (or attributes) are given as follows:-
1. Ar-Rahman The Merciful
2. Ar-Rahim The Compassionate
3. Al-Malik The King
4. Al-Quddus The Holy
5. As-Salam The Peace
6. Al-Ma’min The Faithful
7. Al-Muhaimin The Protector
8. Al-Aziz The Mighty
9. Al-Jabbar The Repairer
10. Al-Mutakabbir The Great
11.Al-Khaliq The Creator
12. Al-Bari The Maker
13. Al-Musawwir The Fashioner
14. Al-Ghaffar The Forgiver
15. Al-Qahhar The Dominant
16. Al-Wahhab The Bestower
17. Ar-Razzaq The Provider
18. Al-Fattah The Opener
19. Al-‘Alim The Knower
20. Al-Qabiz The Restrainer
21. Al-Basit The Spreader
22. Al-Khafiz The Abaser
23. Ar-Rafi’ The Exalter
24. Al-Mu’iaz The Honourer
25. Al-Muzil The Destroyer
26. As-Sami’ The Hearer
27. Al-Basir The Seer
28. Al-Hakim The Ruler
29. Al-‘Adl The Just
30. Al-Latif The Subtle
31. Al-Khabar The Aware
32. Al-Halim The Clement
33. Al-‘Azim The Grand
34. Al-Ghafer The Forgiving
35. Ash-Shakur The Grateful
36. Al-‘Ali The Exalted
37. Al-Kabir The Great
38. Al-Hafiz The Guardian
39. Al-Muqit The Strengthener
40. Al-Hasib The Reckoner
41. Al-Jalil The Majestic
42. Al-Karim The Generous
43. Ar-Raqib The Watcher
44. Al-Mujib The Approver
45. Al-Wasi’ The Comprehensive
46. Al-Hakim The Wise
47. Al-Wadud The Loving
48. Al-Majid The Glorious
49. Al-Bais The Raiser
50. Ash-Shahid The Witness
51. Al-Haqq The Truth
52. Al-Wakil The Advocate
53. Al-Qawi The Strong
54. Al-Matin The Firm
55. Al-Wali The Patron
56. Al-Hamid The Laudable
57. Al-Muhsi The Counter
58. Al-Mubdi The Beginner
59. Al-Mu’id The Restorer
60. Al-Muhya The Quickener
61. Al-Mumit The Killer
62. Al-Haiy The Living
63. Al-Qaiyam The Subsisting
64. Al-Wajid The Finder
65. Al-Majid The Glorious
66. Al-Wahid The One
67. Ab-Samad The Eternal
68. Al-Qadir The Powerful
69. Al-Muqtadhir The Prevailing
70. Al-Muqaddim The Bringing foward
71. Al-Mu’akhkhir The Deferrer
72. Al-Awwal The First
73. Al-Akhir The Last
74. Az-Zahir The Evident
75. Al-Batin The Hidden
76. Al-Wali The Governor
77. Al-Muta’ali The Exalted
78. Al-Barr The Righteous
79. At-Tawwab The Acceptor of Repentance
80. Al-Muntaqim The Aveneger
81. Al-‘Afuw The Pardoner
82. Ar-Ra’uf The Kind
83. Maliku ‘l-Mulk The Ruler of the Kingdom
84. Zu’l-Jalali wa’l-Ikram The Lord of Majesty and Liberality
85. Al-Muqsit The Equitable
86. Al-Jami’ The Collector
87. Al-Ghani The Independent
88. Al-Mughni The Enricher
89. Al-Mu’ti The Giver
90. Al-Mani’ The Withholder
91. Az-Zarr The Distresser
92. An-Nafi’ The Profiter
93. An-Nur The Light
94. Al-Hadi The Guide
95. Al-Badi’ The Incomparable
96. Al-Baqi The Enduring
97. Al-Waris The Inheritor
98. Ar-Rashid The Director
99. Ar-Sabur The Patient
The list either begins or closes with Allah, thus completing the number of one hundred names, which are usually recited on a rosary in the ceremony of Kikr [ZIKR], as well as at all leisure moments, by devout Muslims. The Wahhabis do not use a rosary but count the names on their finger, which they say was the custom of the Prophet, for from the Traditions it appears that Muhammad did not use a rosary.
According to the Traditions (Mishkat, book x c i), the Almighty has an “exalted name” known as the Ismu ‘l-Azam, which Muhammad is related to have said was with in the Suratu ‘l-Baqarah, the second chapter of the Qur’an, 158th verse, or in the Suratu Ali ‘Imran, the third chapter, first verse. The names of God which occur in these two verses are ar-Rahim, “The Compassionate,” al- Jaiy, “the Living,” and al-Qaiyan, “the Subsisting.” There is, however, another tradition, from which it would appear that the name may be either al-Ahad, “the One,” or as-Samad, “the Eteral.”
Abd ‘l-Haqq in his remarks on these traditions that it is generally held, according to the a tradition by ‘Ayishah, that this great name is known only to the prophets and other saintly persons. The compiler of the Kitabu ‘t-Ta’rifat says it is none other than the name of Allah.
The Prophet having said that whoever calls upon God by this name shall obtain all his desires (Mishkat. Book x c i pt. 2), the various sects of faqirs and mystics spend much time in endeavoring to ascertain what the name really is [DA’WAH], and the person who is able to assert that he has obtained this secret knowledge possesses great influence over the minds of the superstitious.
There can be little doubt that the discussion regarding this exalted name has arisen from the circumstance that Muhammad became aware of the fact that the Jews never recited the great name of Jehovah, and spoke of it as “the great and terrible name,” “the peculiar name” of God.
The attributes of God as expressed in the ninety-nine names, are divided into the asma u ‘l-jalaliyah, or the glorious attributes, and the asma u ‘l-jamaliyah, or the terrible attributes. Such names as ar-Rahim, “the Merciful,” al-Karim, “the Kind,” and al-Afuw, “the Forgiver,” belonging to the former; and al-Qawi, “the Strong,” al-Muntaqim, “the Avenger,” and al-Qadir, “the Powerful,” to the latter.
In praying to God it is usual for the worshiper to address the Almighty by that name or attribute which he wishes to appeal to. For example, it praying for pardon, he will address God as wither al-Afuw, “the Pardoner,” or at-Tauwab, “the Receiver of repentance.”
A belief in the existence of God, His Unity, His Absolute Power, and in the other essential attributes of an Eternal and Almighty Being, is the most important part of the Muslim religion, and is supposed to be expressed in the two clauses of the well known formula:-
La ilaha Il-la ‘l-lahu
There is no deity But Allah
The first clause, “There is no deity,” is known as the Naf i, or that which is rejected, and the second clause, “But Allah,” as the Isbat, or that which is established, the term Naf l wa-Isbat being applied to the first two clauses of the Muslim’s Kalimah, or creed.
The teaching of Muhammad in his Qur’an as to the nature of God, forms such an important consideration in an exposition of Islam, that no apology is needed for full and lengthy quotations from that book on the subject.
The following verses are arranged in chronological order according to Jalalu ‘d-din as-Suyuti’s list:-
Suratu ‘l-Ikhlas. Chapter cxiii
(One of the earliest chapters of the Qur’an)
“Say, He is God, One [God]
“God, the Eternal.
“He begetteth not nor is begotten.
And there is none equal to Him.”
Suratu ‘l-A’raf, Chapter vii 52
(Given at Medinah.)
“Verily your Lord is God, who created the heavens and the earth in six days; then He ascended the throne. He causeth the night to cover the day; it followeth it swiftly; and the sun and the moon and the stars, made subject utterly to His command. Do not the whole creation and command belong to Him? Blessed be God, the Lord of the Worlds.”
Suratu Maryam. Chapter xix 91-96, (Given at Makkah.)
“They say, ‘The Compassionate hath gotten offspring’; Ye have done an impious thing.”
“It wanteth little but that the heavens be rent thereat, and that the earth cleave asunder, and that the mountains fall down in pieces.”
“For that they have attributed offspring to the Compassionate, when it beseemeth not the Compassionate to get offspring.”
“There is none of all that are in the heavens and the earth but he shall come unto the Compassionate as a servant. He hath known them and numbered them with an
“And each of them shall come unto Him on the day of resurrection, alone.”
“Verily those who have believed and have done the tings that are right, on them the Compassionate will bestow [His] love.”
Suratu ‘l-Hijr. Chapter xv 16-25. (Given at Makkah.)
“We (God) have placed in heaven the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and adorned them for the beholders with the constellations;
And We have guarded them (by means of shooting star) from every accursed devil.
Excepting him who listened by stealth, whom a manifest shooting star pursueth.
We have also spread forth then earth, and thrown thereon firm mountains, and We have caused to spring forth in it every kind [of green thing] weighed.
And We have provided for you therein necessaries of life, and for him whom ye do not sustain.
And there is not a thing but the storehouses thereof are with Us and We send it not down save in determined quantities.
We also send fertilizing winds, and We send down water from heaven, and give you drink thereof; and ye are not the storers of it.
And verily We give life and death, and We are the heirs of all the creation.
We also know those who have gone before you, and We know those who follow after [you].
And verily they Lord will assemble them together; for He is Wise, Knowing.”
Suratu ‘l-An’am. Chapter vi 59-64. (Given at Makkah.)
“With Him are the keys of the hidden things; none knoweth them but He; and He knoweth whatsoever is on the land and in the sea, and there falleth not a leaf but He knoweth it, nor a grain in the dark parts of the earth, nor a moist thing nor a dry thing, but [it is noted] in a distinct writing.
And it is He who taketh your souls at night, and knoweth what ye have gained in the day; then He reviveth you therein, that an appointed time may be fulfilled. Then unto Him shall ye return; then will He declare unto you what ye have done.
And He is the Supreme over His servants, and He sendeth watchers over you, until when death cometh unto any one of you, Our messengers take his soul, and they fail not.
Then are they returned unto God their Lord, the True. Doth not judgement belong to Him? And He is the most quick of reckoners.
SAY, Who delivereth you from the darknesses of the land and of the sea, when ye supplicate Him humbly and in secret, saying, ‘If Thou deliver us from these dangers, we will assuredly be of [the number of] the thankful’?
SAY, God delivereth you from them and from every affliction.”
Ib. 95-108: –
“Verily God causeth the grain to come forth, and the date stone; He bringeth forth the living from the dead, and He bringeth forth the dead from the living; This is God; then wherefore are ye turned away?
He causeth the dawn to appear, and hath ordained the night for rest, and the sun and the moon for reckoning time; this is the appointment of the Mighty, the Wise.
And it is He who hath ordained for you the stars, that ye may be guided by them in the darkness of the land and of the sea; We have clearly shown the signs of Our power unto the people who know.
And it is He who hath produced you from one soul, and there is a place of rest and of storing; We have clearly shown the signs to the people who understand.
And it is He who hath sent down water from heaven, and We have produced thereby the germs of everything, and We have caused the green thing to come forth therefrom, from which We draw forth grains massed; and from the palm-tree, from it fruit-branch, clusters of dates heaped together; and gardens of grapes, and the olive and the pomegranate, like one another and not like. Look ye at their fruits when they bear fruit, and their ripening. Verily therein are signs unto the people who believe.
Yet they, have set up the Jinn as partners of God, though He hath created them, and without knowledge have they falsely attributed to Him sons and daughters. Extolled be His purity, and high be He exalted above that which they attribute [to Him]!
He is the Author of the heavens and the earth. How then should He have offspring, when He hath no consort, and hath created everything and knoweth everything?
This is God your Lord. There is no God but He the Creator of everything; therefore worship ye Him; and He is guardian over everything.
The eyes see Him not, but He seeth the eyes; and He is the Gracious, the Knowing.”
Suratu Bani Isra’il Chapter lxvii 1-4 (Given at Makkah).
“Blessed be He in whose hand is the cominion and who is all powerful;
Who hath created death and life, that He may prove you, which of you [will be] best in works; and He is the Mighty, the Very-Forgiving;
Who hath created seven heavens, one above another. Thou seest not any fault in the creation of the Compassionate. But life up the eyes again to heaven. Dost thou see any fissures?
The lift up the eyes again twice; the night shall return unto thee dull and dim.”
Suratu ‘l-Ankabut Chapter xxix 40-43. (Given at Makkah).
“The likeness of those who take to themselves Tutclars instead of God is as the likeness of the spider, which taketh for herself a dwelling, and the frailest of dwelling surely is the dwelling of the spider! If they knew – !
Verily God knoweth whatever thing they invoke in His stead; and He is the Mighty and Wise.
And these parables we propound unto men; but none understand them except the wise.
God hath created the heavens and the earth in truth; verily therein is a sign unto the believers.”
Suratu ‘l-Baqarah. Chapter ii 157-160. (Given at al-Madinah).
“And you God is One God; there is no god by He, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
Verily in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the varying of night and day and the ships that course upon the sea laden with what is profitable to mankind, and the water that God hath sent down form heaven, quickening the earth thereby after its death and scattering about it all kinds of beasts; and in the changing of the winds, and the clouds that are compelled to do service between heaven and earth, are signs unto a people who understand.
Yet among men are those who take to themselves, beside God, idols, which they love as with the love of God; but those who have believed are more loving towards God than these towards their idols”
“God! There is no God but He, the Ever-Living, the Ever-Subsisting, Slumber seizeth Him not, nor sleep. To Him belongeth whatsoever is in the Heavens and whatsoever is in the Earth. Who is he that shall intercede with Him, unless by His permission? He knoweth what [hath been] before them and what [shall be] after them, and they shall not compass aught of His knowledge save what He willet. His Throne comprehendeth the Heavens and the Earth; and the care of them burdeneth Him not. And He is the High, the Great.”
Suratu Ali-Imran, Chapter iii 25. (Given at al-Madinah.)
“Say, O God, to whom belongeth dominion. Thou givest dominion to whom Thou wilt, and from who Thou wilt Thou takest it away; Thou exaltest who Thou wilt, and who Thou wilt Thou humblest. In Thy hand is good. Verily Thou art all-powerful.
Thou causes the night to pass into the day, and Thou causes the day to pass into the night; and Thou bringest forth the living from the dead, and Thou bringest forth the dead from the living; and Thou givest sustenance to whom Thou wilt without measure.”
Suratu ‘r-Ra’d Chapter xiii 13 (Given at al-Madinah).
“It is He who taketh the lighting to appear unto you [causing] fear and hope of rain, and formeth the pregnant clouds.
And the thunder proclaimeth His perfection with His praise; and [likewise] the angels, in fear of Him. And He sendeth the thunderbolts, and striketh with them whom He pleaseth whilst they dispute concerning God; for He is mighty in power.”
Suratu ‘n-Nisa’. Chapter iv 51 (Given at al-Madinah).
“Verily God will not forgive the associating with Him [any other being as a god], but will forgive other sins unto whom He pleaseth; and whoso associateth [another] with God hath wrought a great wickedness.”
The following is an interpretation of the Muslim belief in the existence and nature of God by the famous scholastic divine, the Imam al Ghazzali, in his book entitled al-Maqsadu ‘l-asna, an extract from which Ockley has translated from pocook’s Specimen Historae Arabum:-
“Praise be to God the Creator and Restorer of all things; who does whatsoever He pleases, who is master of the glorious throne and mighty force, and directs His sincere servants into the right way and the straight path, who favoureth them, who have once borne testimony to the unity, by preserving their confessions from the darkness of doubt and hesitation; who directs them to follow His chosen apostle, upon whom be the blessings and peace of God; and to go after His most honorable companions, to whom he hath vouchsafed His assistance and direction which is revealed to them is His essence and operations by the excellencies of His attributes, to the knowledge whereof no man attains but he that hath been taught by hearing. To these, as touching His essence, He taketh known that He is one, and hath no partner; singular, without anything like Him; uniform, having no contrary; separate, having no equal. He is ancient, having no first; eternal, having no beginning; remaining forever, having no end; continuing to eternity, without any termination. He persists without ceasing to be; remains without failing, and never did cease, nor ever shall cease to be described by glorious attributes, nor is subject to any decree so as to be determined by any precise limits or set times, but is the First and the Lat, and is withing and without.
“(What God is not.) He, glorified be His name, is not a body endued with form, nor a substance circumscribed with limits or determined by measures; neither does He resemble bodies, as they are capable of being measured or divided. Neither is He a substance, neither do substances exist in Him; neither is He an accident, nor do accidents exist in Him. Neither is he like anything that exists, neither is anything like to Him; nor is he determinate in quantity nor comprehended by bounds, nor circumscribed by the differences of situation, nor contained in the heavens. He sits upon the throne, after that manner which He Himself hath described, and in that same sense which He Himself means, which is a sitting far removed from any notion of contact, or resting upon, or local situation; but both the throne itself, and whatsoever is upon it, are sustained by the goodness of his power, and are subject to the grasp of His hand. But He is above all things, even to the utmost ends of the earth; but so above as at the same time not to be a whit nearer the throne and the heaven; since He is exalted by (infinite) degrees above the throne no less that He is exalted above the earth, and at the same time is near to everything that hath a being; nay, ‘nearer to man than their jugular veins, and is witness to everything; though His nearness is not like the nearness of bodies as neither is His essence of bodies. Neither doth He exist in anything, neither doth anything exist in Him; but He is too high to be contained in any place, and too holy to be determined by time; for He was before time and place were created, and is now after the same manner as He always was. He is also distinct from the creatures by His attributes, neither is there anything besides Himself in His essence, nor is His essence in any other besides Him. He is too holy to be subject to change, or any local motion; neither do any accidents dwell in Him, nor any contingencies befall Him; but He abides through all generations with His glorious attributes, free from all danger of dissolution. As to the attribute of perfection, He wants no addition of His perfection, He wants no addiction of His perfection. As to being, He is known to exist by the apprehension of the understanding; and He is seen as He is by an ocular intuition, which will be vouchsafed out of His mercy and grace to the holy in the eternal mansion completing their joy by the vision of His glorious presence.”
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam