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Names and Attributes of God: What Does It Mean to Believe in Them?

It is necessary for a Muslim to adhere to the true methodology and the correct path in belief with regards to the names and attributes of Allah; and that belief does not materialize except through the following matters:

1- The affirmation of what Allah affirmed for Himself or what His messenger (peace be upon him) affirmed for Him from among the names and attributes and denial of what Allah denied about Himself or what His messenger denied about Him because there is no one more knowledgeable about Allah than Allah the Exalted.

Say: Are you more knowledgeable or Allah? (Al-Baqarah 2:140)

Just as there is no one more knowledgeable about Allah after Allah than His messenger  about whom Allah said:

And he does not speak out of desire. Indeed it is but a revelation inspired. (An-Najm 53:3-4)

2- The consideration that Allah the Exalted is far above being likened to His creation, as He the Exalted said:

There is nothing like Him at all; and He All-Hearing, All-Seeing. (Ash-Shura 42:11]

So Allah the Exalted is not similar to anything, and He has no equal in His creation, rather He, glorified is He, is the one characterized with the sublime and perfect attributes which are not suitable for anyone except Him, glorified and the Exalted.

3- The absence of aspiring to perceive the nature of the attributes of Allah because they are from the knowledge of the Unseen which Allah alone possesses knowledge of; and the intellect is incapable of perceiving that which is Unseen, as Allah the Exalted said:

And they cannot encompass him in knowledge. (Ta-Ha 20:110)

And He, the Glorified, said:

Do you know of any equal for Him? (Maryam 19:65)

Glorification of Allah through His Names & Attributes

Truly from among the greatest indications of the glorification of the slave for Allah the Exalted and (greatest indication of) a link in his heart with Him is that the effect of belief in the names and attributes of Allah appears in his life and in his character.

The truehearted believer is he who worships Allah through His names and attributes, and among the ways of doing that are:

1- Calling upon Allah by His Names and Attributes

Indeed from the exaltation and glorification of Allah (the Exalted) is for the Muslim to turn toward Him through supplication with his heart and limbs, in obedience to His command, as He, lofty is His praise, said:

And for Allah are Good names, so call Him by them and abandon those who disbelieve in His names. (Al-A`raf 7:180)

Calling upon Allah the Exalted by His names and attributes is of two types:

First is the supplication of worship. What it means is that mankind is a worshipper of Allah the Exalted by any categorical act of worship, whether heart based, as in having fear, hope, love, and trust; bodily (worship) as in prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, recitation of the Qur’an, glorification and remembrance; or wealth-based (worship) as in obligatory charity, voluntary charity and sacrifice.

From the supplication of worship is: remembering Allah (the Exalted), praising Him, thanking Him, and glorifying Him through His names and whatever is appropriate of the attributes which He taught us.

So the Muslim says: ‘Glory be to Allah’, ‘All praise is due to Allah’, ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah’, and ‘Allah is great’; each of these is glorification and praise of Allah, and are calls to Allah through His names and attributes as a way of worshipping Him, glorified is He.

So the supplication of worship does not contain any request, rather its only

purpose is to worship Allah through praising Him and being pleased with mentioning His names and attributes.

Second is the supplication dealing with an issue. It is when the slave seeks from his Lord what benefits him and he asks Him to divert what harms him from a matter of the life of this world or the Afterlife; like asking Allah the Exalted for forgiveness of sins, or mercy, or guidance and success, or the achievement of paradise and rescue from the Hell-Fire.

These two types of supplication – of the act of worship and dealing with an issue – are linked. For every questioner who asks Allah the Exalted and asks Him with sincerity, fear, hope and love, then this is an act of worship; and the one who remembers Allah the Exalted by definition is seeking and asking Allah the Exalted for an elevation in status, an increase in good deeds, and pardon from sins, and this is the supplication of dealing with issues.

2- Calling Allah the Exalted by His greatest name

From the great favour of Allah upon His monotheist slaves is that He distinguished from among His good names, glorified and the exalted a name that a monotheist slave would not call Him by it except that Allah responds to his call and grants his request.

And there is no doubt that the persistence of the Muslim in calling Allah by this name is among the most important ways the heart of the believer is connected to his Lord. On authority of `Abdullah ibn Buraidah, on authority of his father, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) heard a man saying:

‘Oh Allah, truly I ask You that I bear witness that You are Allah who there is none worthy of worship except You, the One, the Eternal, who does not beget and is not begotten, and for whom there can be no equal’.

So the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘By He in whose Hand is the soul of Mohammed, indeed he asked Allah by His greatest Name which when asked by it, He grants, and when called by it, He responds’. (Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah)

On authority of Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him): He was with the messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) sitting and a man prayed and then supplicated:

‘Oh Allah, truly I ask You in that for You is all praise, there is none worthy of worship except You, the Giver of All Good, Maker of the heavens and the earth; Oh Possessor of Sublimity and Honour, Oh Ever-Living, Oh Eternal…’ So the Prophet said:

‘Indeed he has called Allah by His great Name which when called by it, He responds, and when asked by it, He grants’. (Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah)

So contemplate, oh Muslim, and call Allah by these great supplications. If you praise Allah the Exalted remember Him, glorify Him, and call Him by His good names and supreme attributes, rather by His great name, you have a hope of response to your supplication and materialization of your issue, and you have been promised a response based on it.

So there is no greater way to connect your heart with your Lord, to moisten your tongue with His remembrance, praise Him, and ask Him than through what is earned by a person from (utilizing) the names and attributes.

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The article is excerpted from the book “A Beneficial Summary of Rulings for New Muslim”, published by The Ministry of Endowments & Islamic Affairs, Kuwait- 2nd Edition 1436/2015.

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