The Many Names of Allah According to the Quran – Part OneJanuary 8, 2020 2023-08-08 14:59
The Many Names of Allah According to the Quran – Part One
The Many Names of Allah According to the Quran – Part One
Most religions have a preferred name by which they refer to the God they worship. This is the case even in the Abrahamic religions, which technically worship a common higher being. In Christianity, this supreme being is usually referred to as God. However, this name may vary from denomination to denomination. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, for example, He is generally referred to as Heavenly Father, while Jehovah’s Witnesses unsurprisingly prefer the name Jehovah. In Judaism, He is sometimes given the anglicized title of Yahweh. Orthodox Jews predominantly consider this name too sacred to pronounce or even write. As such, it is often replaced by the word Adonai and spelled as YHWH. In Islam, the supreme being is, of course, known as Allah. However, Muslims have been known to use names such as God or Jehovah interchangeably. Throughout the Quran, Allah is mentioned by a variety of additional names, most of which reference a character trait, such as His mercy or intelligence. In total, Islam recognizes 99 Names of Allah. This article is the first in a series in which we will endeavor to provide a definitive compilation and commentary of each of these names.
The 99 Names of Allah: 1 – 25
1. Al-Azeez: The All Mighty
Many of the names used by Muslims to describe Allah are exclusive to Islam. There are a few, however, which are utilized by other religions for the same purpose. Al-Azeez is one of them. Translating to “The All Mighty,” it refers to a trait of God recognized by virtually all monotheistic religions. Allah, The All Mighty, is the most powerful being in existence. Neither man nor beast can topple Him. Even nature itself, with its tsunamis and earthquakes, is helpless against Allah.
2. Al-Mu’Min: The One Who Gives Iman And Security
The fact that a seemingly simple title such as Al-Mu’min can be translated to “The One Who Gives Iman and Security” is a testament to the beauty of Arabic. Of course, Al-Mu’min is anything but simple. It refers to one of the most important characteristics of Allah. He provides the foundation for belief, also known as “iman,” and protects all those who display faith in Him and His messenger
3. Al-Malik: The King
The Mecca of Prophet Muhammad’sﷺ time was a society awash with leaders. People were split into tribes, with each tribe being controlled by one or two dominant voices. Farther from the city, other societies were led by kings, most of whom considered themselves to be above all other authorities. The name Al-Malik, translating literally to “The King,” was a reminder to the early Muslims that while they were surrounded by so-called “rulers,” the only leader they were obligated to follow was Allah. This message is equally valuable today, as flamboyant political leaders seek to create a “them versus us” mentality and secure the blind devotion of the most impressionable constituents.
4. Al-Quddus: The Most Pure
English translations of the name Al-Quddus tend to vary. We have seen it interpreted as “The Most Holy,” “The Absolutely Pure,” and a dozen or so slight variations. We chose to split the difference for this article and go with “The Most Pure,” a decision many contemporary Islamic scholars have made before us. However you choose to translate it, the meaning of Al-Quddus remains the same. It tells us that Allah is incapable of error. While we may be prone to poor decision making, self-consciousness, and unclean thoughts, Allah does not suffer from such afflictions. He is pure as pure can be and invulnerable to corruption.
5. Ar-Rahman: The Most Merciful
Throughout the Quran, we are reminded again and again of Allah’s forgiving nature. It should come as no surprise that Allah has displayed such a capacity for mercy throughout the centuries. After all, He created Paradise intending it to be a home for all of His creations. As such, He wants to grant admission to as many human beings as possible. Given that we are flawed by our very nature, this requires a great deal of mercy on the behalf of Allah. So noteworthy is the mercy of Allah that the 55th surah of the Quran is titled “Ar-Rahman.” It is worth mentioning here that the name Ar-Rahman was particularly perplexing to the Arabs of the peninsula of that time. They were masters of the Arabic language, and yet, even the best of wordsmiths had never conceived of or used the word Ar-Rahman. One reason is that the mercy of Allah in this name connotes mercy that comes with power– the Possessor of Mercy or the One Who Attributed Mercy to Himself–whereas merciful in most other contexts that they used denoted meekness or docility. The arrogance of being idolaters (meaning, people who preferred to worship what they created), also led to their rejection of a word attributed to God that they did not conceive of themselves. It is also noteworthy that every surah in the Quran, but one, begins in the Name of Allah, The Most Merciful…
6. Ar-Raheem: The Bestower of Mercy
Allah’s capacity for mercy is so great that it could not accurately be described by a single name. For this reason, the Quran refers to Him both as Ar-Rahman and as Ar-Raheem. The latter of these names translates to “The Bestower of Mercy.” It serves to remind us all that while we human beings are capable of mercy, it can only truly be doled out by our creator. Allah is the Supreme Bestower of Mercy and His compassion simply cannot be rivaled. Of all 99 Names of Allah, Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem have been chosen as the ones to begin 113 out of 114 surahs in the Quran. Furthermore, most Muslims who follow the sunnah of beginning most things with the basmalah include these two Names of Allah.
7. Al-Jabbar: The Restorer
As both the Quran Allah created the world in just six days and, unlike the Bible, specifically states that He was not fatigued from creating the Heavens and the Earth, and therefore, He did not rest on the seventh. Rather, He settled on the Throne. In Islam, Muslims believe Allah created His creation with the ability to upkeep maintenance–to come back together, to bring back to a former state.. A bush is cut and Allah ensures it grows again. A cat scrapes its owner’s hand and Allah ensures the wound heals. A person passes away and Allah prepares them to be raised on the Day of Judgment. As such, Muslims often refer to Him as Al-Jabbar, or “The Restorer.”
8. As-Salam: The Perfect
Much like the name Al-Quddus, As-Salam is a testament to the unwavering flawlessness of Allah. Translating to “The Perfect” or “The Perfection,” it reminds us that Allah is incapable of sin or error. He created and controls all that is in the Heavens and on the Earth. As such, He cannot possibly fall victim to the vices which have claimed even the strongest of creation.
9. Al-Muhaymin: The Protector
Al-Muhaymin is another name of Allah which has multiple translations in English. Type it into Google and you will be greeted by a variety of English interpretations, including “The Protector” (as listed here), “The Corrector,” and even “The Supervisor.” We feel The Supervisor feels a little cold and unemotional to describe a being as wondrous as Allah. The same can be said of the term The Corrector. While both are certainly accurate translations of Al-Muhaymin, only The Protector conveys the devotion Allah has toward his creations. It is His will that keeps us safe from pain and suffering. While this may not always seem like the case on this planet, we can be certain that even with the misery often experienced in this life, Allah will grant us everlasting joy as a reward for faithful patience and gratitude to Him in the next world.
10. Al-Mutakabbir: The Supreme
The Quran contains so many references to Allah’s forgiving nature that some may come to view Him wrongfully as meek; or a being who is so merciful that He will allow anybody into Paradise whether they are truly sorry for their sins or not. This, of course, could not be further from the truth. Allah is the most powerful being in the universe. He is Al-Mutakabbir; known in English as “The Supreme.” He knows all the designs of our hearts and sees our true motives for every act we commit. He cannot be fooled or taken advantage of. His vengeance, when enacted, is every bit as supreme as His mercy.
11. Al-Musawwir: The Fashioner
A surprising number of people have been thrown-off by Al-Musawwir, confusing “The Fashioner” for “The Fashionable.” A testament to the detail and care Allah dedicated to producing everything we see around us, this name can best be translated to “The Fashioner” or “The Bestower of Form.” It reminds us that everything we come into contact with in our daily lives was designed according to Allah’s infinite wisdom. No matter how insignificant a creature or object may appear, we can be confident that its purpose and form were divinely ordained by The Fashioner.
12. Al-Baari’: The Maker
Also regularly translated as “The Inventor” and “The Originator,” the title Al-Baari’ proclaims Allah to be “The Maker.” In a way, this is quite similar to Al-Musawwir, which praises Allah as “The Fashioner.” However, most Islamic scholars agree that Al-Baari‘ speaks more to Allah’s role in the very foundation of the universe. While The Fashioner may have molded the world and everything in it out of clay, it was The Maker who produced the clay to begin with.
13. Al-Wahhaab: The Giver of Gifts
When Allah created humankind, He gave us the greatest gift of all. This was, of course, the gift of life. Such an act of generosity alone deserves the title The Giver of a Gift. However, Al-Wahhaab translates to “The Giver of Gifts.” Note the plurality of this name. Allah did not merely give us one gift and leave us to our own devices. He gave us gift after gift after gift and continues to do so to this day. The gifts of Allah can be seemingly insignificant, such as a hot drink on a cold day, or they can be truly monumental, such as the gift of the Quran.
14. Al-Khaaliq: The Creator
Similar to Al-Baari‘ and Al-Musawwir, Al-Khaaliq is another name given to Allah to denote His total role in the origin of the universe. Translating to “The Creator,” the meaning of Al-Khaaliq can be considered to focus on the will of Allah once the universe was brought into existence. The trees, the rivers, the mountains, and all other wonders–and everything in existence– of the natural world are the will of Al-Khaaliq.
15. Al-Fattaah: The Judge
We encounter judges in all facets of society. A parent can ac\\mployer can act as a judge. A judge, obviously, can act as a judge. However, the judgment of these people will mean absolutely nothing when the Day of Judgment arrives. On that glorious day, all decisions will be made by the One and Only Supreme Judge, Al-Fattaah, Allah. Allah alone will review the faith and works of each human being and decide, without prejudice or error, who is deserving of admission to Paradise and who must suffer the unthinkable horror of eternal damnation.
16. Al-Baasit: The Munificent
This is one of the most unique names of Allah, largely because even English speakers struggle to understand its English translation. “Munificent” is a word not every English speaker is familiar with. Used to describe an individual who is willing to extend great generosity, it is very rarely used in the English language as so few people are deserving of it. Allah, however, most certainly is. Always willing to bestow on His creations, even during the most trying of times, Allah is undoubtedly Al-Baasit.
]]17. Al-‘Aleem: The All-Knowing
Again and again in the Quran, we are reminded of the uselessness of obeying the commands of Allah simply to secure one’s place in Paradise. The Quran stresses that Allah is indeed Al-‘Aleem or “The All-Knowing.” He knows everything that we do and our motivation for doing it. As such, He can discern when a Muslim is acting righteously for the good of the world and those within it or if they are striving to ensure more riches for themselves. Likewise, Allah knows when we perform charitable acts solely so others will praise us for our generosity or heroic acts so others will praise us for our courage. When we are dealing with Al-‘Aleem, nothing less than the purest of intentions is acceptable.
18. Ar-Razzaaq: The Provider
As well as being the Giver of Gifts (Al-Wahaabb), Allah is Ar-Razzaaq. Translating to “The Provider” reminds us that Allah does not only will for us creature comforts and other luxuries which could be considered as “gifts.” He also provides us with everything we need to live healthy lives. He has provided us with trees bearing fruit and vegetables for nourishment. He has provided us with the sun for warmth. He has provided us with the stars to light our way at night. Even the Quran, which we previously discussed as a gift, could be considered a basic human need in many respects. Through the Quran, Allah has provided us with the knowledge and tools we need to live a blissful existence in this life and enter Paradise in the next one.
19. Al-Qahhar: The Subduer
Al-Qahhar is often translated as “The Ever-Dominating.” While this is not exactly an inaccurate interpretation of the title, many Islamic commentators find it to be somewhat abrasive and not entirely becoming of a benevolent being such as Allah. We are among them. Instead, we choose the alternative translation of “The Subduer.” This interpretation of Al-Qahhar serves to reassure Muslims that they can always turn to Allah when they are in times of need. Rather than fearing Allah dominating their life with an iron fist, a person in distress can be confident that Allah will subdue their feelings of anxiety and help them overcome the obstacles ahead of them.
20. Al-Qaabid: The Withholder
The Quran bestows multiple titles upon Allah in praise of His generosity. However, it is not always His will to give everyone everything. In some cases, Allah, from His wisdom, wills to deny human beings the things that they seek. As such, the Quran also aptly refers to Allah as Al-Qaabid or “The Withholder.” Since the dawn of man, Allah has withheld access to the Heavens so that we may fully experience their glory on the Day of Judgment.
21. Al-Ghaffar: The Forgiver
Al-Ghaffar is one of the most popular of the 99 names of Allah. This shouldn’t come as any surprise. After all, it reminds us of Allah’s most glorious character trait: His boundless capacity for forgiveness. As Al-Ghaffar, Allah is always willing to forgive somebody who is truly sorry. This is providing, of course, that they repent before the Day of Judgment. Should they choose to follow the message of the Quran only after being cast into Hellfire, Allah is almost certain to exercise his attribute as Al-‘Adl, which we will be outlining in the following entry.
22. Al-‘Adl: The Just
There are some who believe mercy and justice cannot co-exist. In Islam, however, it is often argued that one can only exist because of the existence of the other. Without mercy there can be no justice and without justice there can be no mercy. For example, if Allah shows mercy to an individual who repents in this life and to an individual who repents only on the Day of Judgment, there is no justice. The former shunned the pleasures of this world for the remainder of his time on Earth while the latter fully indulged in them throughout his life. If both were to receive the same degree of clemency, mercy would be unjust. It is a difficult concept, but one which Allah knows fully. As such, He justly casts the unrepentant sinners into Hellfire while rewarding those who sought His forgiveness before it was convenient for them to do so.
23. Al-Khaafidh: The One Who Humbles
Within Islam and outside of it, scripture is full of stories of people who believed themselves to be above the authority of Allah. One of the most famous of these tales is that of the people of Babel. Driven by hubris, they banded together to build the Tower of Babel, which they intended to build so tall it reached Heaven, in an affront to Allah. Of course, they did not get far before Allah tore their tower asunder and scattered their people across the globe. Similarly, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah displayed great pride in themselves and brazen disregard for the law of Allah before He humbled them. On the Day of Judgment, there will be no pride, but utter humility before Allah.
24. Ar-Raafi’: The Exalter
Just as Allah wills to humble an arrogant ruler, it is on occasion His will to elevate an individual above all others. Only by doing this did His message spread throughout the world for so many centuries. Even all the way back in the ancient world, Allah chose to elevate Abraham so that he may spread the message of monotheism. This began a chain of exaltation, which led through many great prophets before finally arriving at Prophet Muhammadﷺ. Muhammadﷺ was chosen over everybody else in the world at that time to give the final message and convey the Quran. Had he not been exalted, Allah’s message would have been lost and the Quran – and, subsequently, Islam itself – never would have come into being.
25. As-Samee’: The All-Hearing
Most monotheistic religions spend a great deal of time discussing Allah’s description as an all-seeing being. Naturally, Islam is one of them. However, Islam is also one of the few monotheistic religions to give thought to Allah’s hearing and seeing as different from that of His creation. Describing Him as As-Samee’, the Quran reminds us that Allah is “The All-Hearing” and “The Ever-Listening.” Yes, He hears us when we pray to Him and rewards us for such supplication and praise. It is important to remember, however, that He also hears us when we are not directly addressing Him. Everything we say is heard by Allah, even the things we may not want Him to hear. Thankfully, Allah will always listen attentively to a prayer from an individual seeking forgiveness. Furthermore, He is always willing to forgive those who are truly sorry for anything they may have said or done.