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Islam is an Abrahamic religion, meaning it worships the single God worshipped by Abraham and his descendants. This monotheism is the cornerstone of the Islamic faith, with the oneness of Allah being stressed throughout the Quran and in the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. But while Muslims praise only one God, they refer to Him by many names. In fact, most Islamic scholars agree that the Quran uses a total of 99 names to refer to Allah. Each of these names refers to a different aspect of Allah's character, allowing us to better understand everything He is capable of. This article is the second in a series dedicated to compiling and discussing all 99 of Allah's names at length. In the first installment, we discussed numbers 1 to 25. Today, we'll be examining another 25 names the Quran utilizes to help us comprehend the extent of Allah's glory.
Allah is the most high being in the universe. It is not possible for a more powerful creature to exist. Of course, that has not stopped some people from believing themselves to be above His power. Consequently, it is sometimes necessary for Allah to remind powerful figures in our society of their place as His creation. In these situations, Allah takes on the role of Al-Muzil or, in English, "The Humiliator". By humiliating those most prone to hubris, Allah brings them back to Earth, putting them in a position to accept his divine authority and secure a place in Paradise.
The title of Al-Mu'izz is quite a bit different to the title of Al-Muzil. While Al-Muzil translates to "The Humiliator", Al-Mu'izz translates to "The Bestower of Honor". It reminds us that although Allah may be forced to occasionally humiliate us, He is just as quick to honor us when it is deserved. In fact, religious scripture would suggest that Allah much prefers to bestow honor than He does to purvey humiliation. Throughout the Quran, we are told of prophets and of great men and women who won Allah's favor. For every one person who incurs Allah's wrath, it seems like there are half a dozen more upon whom He heaps praise. It is the duty of every Muslim to strive to be among these honored individuals.
Al-Hakam is odd in that it shares an exact meaning with another of the 99 names of Allah. Both Al-Hakam and Al-Fattaah (which we examined in the first installment of this series) translate to "The Judge". The fact that the Quran utilizes two separate words to describe the same aspect of Allah's character is a testament to the importance of Allah's role in judging humankind. Only He possesses the divine authority and wisdom required to determine whose deeds are worthy of Paradise and who must be cast into the Hellfire on the Day of Judgment.
In the first installment of this series, we looked at the title As-Samee', which translates to "The All-Hearing". Going hand in hand with As-Samee' is the title of Al-Baseer. Translating to "The All-Seeing", Al-Baseer describes an aspect of Allah accepted by virtually all monotheistic religions. With powers of perception far beyond anything the human mind can comprehend, Allah knows everything we do just as He knows everything we say. All of our acts, no matter how insignificant they may seem, are seen and documented by Allah in preparation for the Day of Judgment.
Al-Lateef has two primary English translations. These are "The Subtle" and "The Kind". Like many Islamic scholars, we choose to focus on the former of these interpretations. There are a number of reasons for this. For starters, there are so many titles used to describe the kindness and gentility of Allah that to focus on "The Kind" for Al-Lateef seems redundant. More importantly, however, we feel "The Subtle" accurately describes a particular strain of kindness dispensed by Allah. On some occasions, the blessings of Allah are almost imperceptible. They are so subtle that we may feel to identify them until long after they have benefited us, if we ever identify them at all.
One of the most important character traits of Allah is His unyielding mercy. On numerous occasions throughout the Quran, we are reminded that Allah is always willing to forgive somebody who is genuinely seeking His forgiveness. Muhammad himself reaffirmed this in multiple Hadith during his prophethood. It should come as no surprise, then, that a significant portion of the 99 Names of Allah make reference to His divine capacity for forgiveness. Al-Ghafoor is one of them. Translating to "The Ever-Forgiving", Al-Ghafoor reassures us that no matter how grievous our sins are, we can always rely on Allah's forgiveness as long as we repent before the Day of Judgment.
In a way, the title Al-Haleem goes hand in hand with the title Al-Ghafoor. After all, Allah could not be all-forgiving if he was not capable of immeasurable patience. Translating to "The Most Forbearing", Al-Haleem served to reassure the early Muslims that Allah would be patient with them as they made the transition from idol worship to monotheism. Given how alien monotheism was in the Mecca of Muhammad's time, this patience was certainly necessary on Allah's part. These days, monotheism is perhaps the prevailing religious belief and is adhered to by most of the major world religions. However, that does not mean modern Muslims are without challenges. The believers of today face their own contemporary obstacles. With this in mind, Allah's role as Al-Harlem is just as important as ever.
Many religions paint Allah as a supreme being who is impossible to please. His standards, they say, are so high that no mortal could possibly make Him happy. Islam, however, paints a less intimidating picture of Allah. Although the Quran does speak of Allah's irreproachable nature, it also makes sure to refer to Him as Ash-Shakur. In English, Ash-Shakur translates to "The Appreciative". This serves as a welcome reminder that Allah is always pleased with those who seek to please Him. Whether they perform a prayer of praise or a kind act toward a fellow human being, Allah is appreciative of those who do good. In fact, He is so appreciative that He often multiplies a good deed tenfold, thus markedly increasing a believer's chances of being admitted into Paradise on the Day of Judgment.
There are billions of people around the world who do not follow the message of the Quran. Many of them do not adhere to any religious beliefs of any kind. As such, they do not know Allah. Allah, however, knows them. As Al-Khabeer, He is "The Acquainted". Allah knows everything about everybody He has ever created. Be they a believer or a non-believer, Allah is acquainted with every human being and understands their true motivations for doing the things they do. Because of this, even a Muslim must ensure they perform their good deeds for the right reasons and not to simply secure a place in Paradise.
As humans, we are prone to exaggeration. We are quick to declare sporting heroes to be the finest physical specimens in the universe, just as we are quick to declare best-selling musicians to have the best voices and supermodels to be the most beautiful people. In reality, however, there is only one "best" and there is only one "most beautiful". That is, of course, Allah. As Al-Atheem, Allah is "The Supreme".He is the most powerful being that could possibly exist and cannot be bested by anybody in anything.
In the early days of Islam, Muhammad and his followers were subjected to much persecution. Mecca's most powerful figures were quick to mock them for their beliefs, while some even went so far as to commit violent acts against them. But despite their best efforts, these aggressors could not wipe out the Muslims. Muhammad and his ever-growing army ultimately won the day,claiming Mecca and ensuring the spread of Islam throughout the world. We can attribute Muhammad's success to the grace of Allah, who protected His messenger and the early Muslims during the most taxing period in Islamic history. Although these trying times have long since passed, Allah continues to play the role of Al-Hafeedh; or, in English, "The Guardian". He is committed to protecting his followers, meaning those who believe in Him can be certain of great rewards on the Day of Judgment.
In the first installment of this series, we discussed the title Ar-Raafi', a name given to Allah which translates to "The Exalter". As Al-Raafi, Allah has elevated men among the rest of humankind so that they may act as His prophets. However, even the glory of these great prophets pales in comparison to that of Allah. As well as being Ar-Raafi', Allah is Al-'Alee. Translated to English, this means "The Exalted" and reminds us that nobody can possibly be elevated above Allah. He is the most high being and cannot be overshadowed by even His most valued prophets.
Al-Muqeet is commonly interpreted as "The Nourisher". That being said, you may also see it translated as "The Sustainer". Both translations are acceptable as both accurately describe the role Allah plays as Al-Muqeet. By allowing the growth of fruit-bearing trees and the falling of the rain, Allah has provided us with the food and water we need to nourish us. Meanwhile, the warmth of the sun helps foster the conditions required to sustain life on our planet. From a spiritual standpoint, Allah has given us the prophets and the Quran to nourish our souls and sustain us in the afterlife.
As Al-Jaleel, Allah is the embodiment of everything we associate with the glory of Heaven. Translating to "The Sublime One", Al-Jaleel tells us that Allah cannot possibly commit a sin or even make an error. He is absolutely perfect in all areas and does not fall victim to the temptations which would render a human being impure and possibly prevent their admission into Paradise.
Those who are familiar with Christian theology will be aware that Jesus, knowing his crucifixion was fast approaching, cried out to God and pleaded with Him to save him from the torture. In Christian tradition, God did not grant Jesus' prayer and instead allowed him to be crucified for the good of mankind. In Islamic doctrine, however, we are told that Allah did indeed save Jesus from crucifixion. By arranging for a lookalike to take the prophet's place, Allah was able to safely raise Jesus to Heaven. This incident and others like it have earned Allah the title Al-Mujeeb, which translates to "The Responsive One". Fortunately for us, Allah's responsiveness is not limited to the prophets. To this day, He continues to listen to the prayers of His people, responding to each and granting those which He deems necessary for His divine plan to unfold as scheduled.
Another major difference between the Christian and Islamic views of Jesus comes in the form of the Resurrection (or lack thereof). The cornerstone of the Christian faith is the belief that Jesus rose from the dead three days after his crucifixion. In Islam, however, the belief is that Jesus was never crucified in the first place. This, of course, means the resurrection could not have occurred. This is not to say that Allah did not have the power to resurrect Jesus had the prophet indeed perished on the cross. As noted in the Quran, Allah is Al-Ba'ith or "The Resurrector". If Jesus had died and He wished to resurrect him, Allah could have done so effortlessly. Despite wielding the immense power to raise the dead, Allah has chosen not to utilize it until the Day of Judgment. On that glorious day, Allah will resurrect all of mankind so that they may be judged according to their works and faith.
Many of the words used to describe Allah can be applied to human beings, albeit to a lesser extent. For example, a person can be appreciative, though not as appreciative as Allah. Furthermore, a person can be forgiving, though not as forgiving as Allah. No human being, however, can be glorious. Even a king, who may be worshipped by his people, does not boast any true degree of glory. As the Quran states time and time again, all glory belongs to Allah. Only He, having created the universe and everything within it, is worthy of the title Al-Majeed. Translated to English, Al-Majeed means "The Glorious One", a seemingly simple title that somehow manages to encapsulate everything which separates Allah from man and beast.
Scripture is full of stories detailing Allah's wrath. From expelling Adam and Even from the Garden of Eden to destroying Sodom and Gomorrah for their hedonistic ways, Allah has been forced to commit acts of destruction on many occasions. It is important for us to remember, however, that Allah has never taken joy in such deeds. As the Quran states, He is Al-Wadood, which translates to English as "The Most Loving". As Al-Wadood, Allah carefully crafted the world and all that dwells within it. He placed the sun, the moon, and the stars so that we may see the beauty of His creation and experience all it has to offer. He does not want to cut our time on the planet short. However, Allah does not want us to stray too far from Him. As such, He has had no choice but to bring an end to civilizations which have forgotten Him and His authority. Had He not committed the acts outlined above (and others like them), hedonism would have spread across the world, meaning we would currently be living in a godless society with the Hellfire awaiting us in the next life.
As we discussed in the previous section, there have been instances throughout history where Allah was forced to do something seemingly counterproductive. Upon closer inspection, however, we see that these apparent acts of destruction were necessary to ensure the continued spiritual survival of the human race which Allah loves so much. To this day, Allah continues to make decisions which may seem unprofitable to us mortals. In such situations, the Quran encourages to remember that Allah is Al-Hakeem. Translated into English, this title means "The Perfectly Wise". As such, it tells us that every decision Allah makes is based upon His infinite wisdom. He is not capable of error, meaning His acts cannot result in anything but the most constructive outcome, even if it takes a while to become obvious to us.
Islam promotes an omnipresent view of Allah. This means He is all around us at all times. He sees everything we do and hears everything we say. He encompasses all of existence, earning Him the title of Al-Waasi'. Along with encompassing all that is physical, Allah encompasses all that is emotional. He is the embodiment of mercy and justice and is the sole source of both. Neither are doled out bar the permission of Allah. The same can be said of knowledge, laughter, and all that is of the Heavens.
Earlier on in this article, we took a look at the title Al-Baseer or "The All-Seeing". It's easy to confuse that title with the title of Al-Raqeeb, which translates to "The All-Watchful". However, the two titles denote separate parts of Allah's duties. As Al-Baseer, Allah sees everything we do. As such, He knows the moment we commit a sinful act. As Al-Raqeeb, however, Allah watches us only to ensure we are safe at all times. If He sees somebody in a dangerous situation, it is very likely that He will utilize His unyielding might to rescue them. A quick search online will turn up multiple accounts of Allah saving believers and non-believers alike in His impartial role as Al-Raqeeb.
It is the view of most Islamic scholars that each of the Abrahamic religions is rooted in truth. The Abrahamic religions, for those unfamiliar with the term, are generally considered to be Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Although all three have major doctrinal differences, all trace their founding back to Abraham. Abraham preached a message of monotheism at a time of idol worship and was instrumental in spreading the belief in a single God across the world. Because so much of the Quran focuses on the oneness of Allah, the idea that Christianity and Judaism hold some degree of truth is understandable. This truth is Allah Himself. For this reason, the Quran accurately dubs Him Al-Haqq, or "The Absolute Truth."
The Day of Judgment is one of the most prominent themes of the Quran. It is also discussed repeatedly by the Prophet Muhammad in the Hadith. On that day, the dead will be raised out of their graves to be judged on their deeds. Those who are deemed worthy of Allah's presence will be granted admission into Paradise. Those whose acts were so heinous that even Allah's forgiving nature could not save them will be cast into the Hellfire. All decisions on the Day of Judgment will be made by Allah Himself. No angel nor prophet possesses the authority or wisdom to determine who will go where on the Day of Judgment. Allah alone is Al-Haseeb, which appropriately translates into English as "The Bringer of Judgment."
The Quran often refers to Allah as Al-Kareem. In English, this title can be understood to mean "The Generous" or "The Bountiful". In our hectic world, it is easy to get caught up in the gathering of possessions and forget everything that Allah has already given us. He is the most generous being in the universe, having given the gift of life to everything within it. While He may not give you a car on your sixteenth birthday, He gave you the sun and the moon and the mountains and the fruit-bearing trees. And let us not forget about perhaps the most generous gift of all, the Glorious Quran.
There are multiple names used in the Quran to describe the immeasurable power of Allah. Al-Qawiyy, which translates to "The All-Strong", is one of them. Unlike many similar names of Allah, however, Al-Qawiyy does not reference the physical power of Allah exclusively. While there is no doubt that Al-Qawiyy praises Allah's bodily strength, it is also a commentary on the strength of His character. Allah cannot be persuaded or manipulated. He is strong in His will and His decisions are final. Many will try to deceive Him on the Day of Judgment, but He will prove too steadfast for all.