Descriptions of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala)

The Qur'an, however, attributes to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) certain descriptions like for instance:

The Beneficent is firmly established on the throne.( 20:5 )

Everything will perish except his Countenance.( 28:88 )

That you are brought up under my eye.( 20:29 )

Allah's hand is above their hands.( 48:10 )

The heavens are rolled in his right hand.( 39:67 )

One whom I created with my two hands.( 38:75 )

And the like. How can we understand these descriptions? Does Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) have organs similar to ours? These and other verses in the Qur'an are part of what is called allegorical verses in the holy book whose real meaning only Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) knows. This is referred to in the following verse:

It is He who has sent down to you the book, in it are verses of established meaning, they are the foundation of the book while others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversion follow what is allegorical in it seeking discord and attempting to interpolate it. No one, however, knows its real interpretation except Allah. Those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: we believe in it; each is from our lord. No one will remember except those who have reason.( 3:7 )

Based on this verse and following the injunctions of prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. Early scholars including leaders of the major four schools of thought took the following attitude. They said: we believe in these descriptions of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) but leave the knowledge of their reality to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala). We should abstain from interpreting them on the lines of similar descriptions ascribed to humans; this is simply because as prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. Warned us: think of Allah's creation and never think of Allah, for you will never appreciate him as he deserves.(6) also Muslim scholars said that whatever we think of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala), he is totally different from what we think about him. In sahih Muslim Abu Hurairah said: people will continue to argue and dispute until it is said: this is the creation of Allah who created Allah? Whoever finds anything like this let him say: i believe in Allah.(7) we glorify Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) from the imagined description that might come to our minds. This is because it is impossible for Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) to be similar to mortals. Commenting on the verse that says:

The Beneficent is firmly established on the throne.( 20:5 )

Ummu Salama wife of prophet Muhammad said: it is not possible to imagine how, but the divine establishment on the throne is not unknown; faith requires that we accept this without any questions for denying it borders on disbelief. The same attitude is adopted by early scholars like Imam Malek and many others. Prominent scholars even today have the same conviction. Another group of scholars, however, tend to interpret these divine attributes in such a manner that becomes the glory of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) although they warn against taking them to be literally equivalent to human qualities. One example of their approach is their interpretation of verse 75 chapter 38 where they took the two hands of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) to be only for confirmation and to assert Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala)'s care of his slave Adam.

In addition to the above two approaches the closer of which to Islamic creed is the former although the latter is not excluded, there were some perverted attitudes influenced by alien philosophies like the Greek and other philosophies. One claimed that all these descriptions are identical to human ones. Another group gave incarnate descriptions of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) while a third group went to the other extreme and denied all description of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala). These groups died in the bud; and the only ones that remained to exist are the first two which are very close to each other. The Qur'an gives us a conclusive answer when it says about Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala):

Nothing is like Him and He is the Hearer, the Seer.( 42:11 )

Based on this verse we can safely confirm these descriptions but we do not compare them to any others. Rather we believe in them and accept them as they are.

Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) does not perish:

Every soul will taste of death; and you will be paid your wages on the day of judgement. Whoever is removed from the fire and is made to enter paradise, he indeed is triumphant; and the life of the world is but comfort of illusion. ( 3:185 )

One God in Heaven and Earth:

And He it is who is in heaven is God, and in the earth God; and he is the Wise, the Knower. And blessed be he unto whom belongs the sovereignty of heavens and earth and what is between them and with him is the knowledge of the hour; and to him you will be returned. And those unto whom they cry instead of him possess no power of intercession, save them who bear witness to the truth in a state of knowledge. If you ask them who created them, they will surely say: Allah. How then are they turned away?( 43:84-88 )

Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) is the only lord of all:

Lord of the east and the west, there is no God save him. So choose him alone for your defender.( 73:9 )

A conclusive verse about Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) is the one towards the end of chapter two that says:

Unto Allah belongs whatsoever is in heavens and whatsoever is in the earth; and whether you reveal what is in yourselves or conceal it Allah will bring you to account for it. He will forgive whom he will and he will punish whom he will and Allah is capable of all things. The messenger (Muhammad) believed in that which was revealed to him from his Lord and so did believers. Each one believed in Allah, His angels, His books and His messengers; and they said: we heard and we obeyed. Your forgiveness our Lord. Unto You is the journeying. Allah tasks not a soul beyond its capacity. For it is that which it has earned and against it is that which it committed. Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or err. Our Lord! Lay not on us such a burden as you did lay on those before us. Our Lord! Impose not on us that which we have not the strength to bear. And pardon us, forgive us and have mercy on. You are our protector. So grant us victory over disbelieving folk.( 2:284-286 )

The ninety nine attributes:
Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. Said: "Allah has ninety nine names one hundred minus one, whoever counts them will enter paradise".(8) the Qur'an also confirms this fact:

Unto Allah belong the most beautiful attributes, appeal to Him through them; and leave the company of those who blaspheme his names. They will be requited what they used to do.( 7:180 )

And again:

Allah: there is no God save Him. His are the most beautiful names.( 20:8 )

So according to these statements and verses of the Qur'an what are the ninety nine names of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala)? They are mentioned in the Qur'an. We already quoted the greatest verse in the Qur'an called the verse of the divine chair 2:255. Sometimes the Qur'an mentions a number of these divine names together. Sometimes a couple of them conclude some verses of the Qur'an and this happens very often in the holy book. Numerous verses are concluded with two attributes of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) that are appropriate to the context and the theme of the verses. If the context is one that extols the power and wisdom of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala), then the conclusion is thus: and he is the mighty, the wise. If the verse speaks about forgiveness and mercy, then the conclusion is thus: and he is the all-forgiving, the merciful and so on and so forth. Most of the time many verses are concluded with two attributes; and very rarely with one.

Before we review the ninety nine names or attributes of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) let us quote a few verses that mention several divine names. In chapter 59 we read:

He is Allah, than whom there is no other God; the Knower of the unseen and visible. He is the Beneficent, the Merciful. He is Allah, than whom there is no other God, the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One, the Peace, the Keeper of faith, the Guardian, the Majestic, the Compeller, the Superb. Glorified be Allah from all that they ascribe as partners (to him). He is Allah the Creator, the Evolver, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names; and He is the Mighty, the Wise.( 59:22-24 )

Now that we have reviewed some divine attributes, let us enumerate the ninety nine names that any one who counts them and believes in them will enter paradise.

Allah is: the Beneficent, the Merciful, the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace, the Guardian of Faith, the Overwhelming, the Mighty, the Irresistible, the Supreme, the Creator, the Evolver, the Fashioner, the Ever Forgiving, the Subduer, the Grantor of Bounties, the Provider, the All-Knowing Judge, the All- Knower, the Withholder, the Extender, the Abaser, the Exalter, the Honourer, the Humiliator, the All-Hearer, the All-Seer, the Arbiter, the Justice, Beyond All Comprehension, the All-Aware, the Most Forebearing, the Glorious, the Oft- Forgiver, the Most Thankful, the Mot High, the Greatest, the Guardian, the Saviour, the Holder of Careful Accounts, the Majestic, the Generous, the Watcher, the Rresponder, the All-Eembracing, the Wise, the Most Loving, the Owner of Glory, the Resurrector, the Witness, the Truth, the Most Trusted One, the Powerful, the Steadfast, the Patron, the Praiseworthy, the Keeper of All Statistics, the Beginner of Creation, the Restorer of life, the Giver of life, the Causer of death, the Ever Living, the Self Subsisting, the Founder, the Deserver of all Praise and Honour, the One, the Eternal Absolute, the Capable, the Omnipotent, the Forwarder, the Giver of Respite, the First, the Last, the Manifest, the Invisible, the Protector, the Most Eminent, the Source of All Good, the Acceptor of Repentance, the Punisher, the Pardoner, the Most Kind, the Owner of the Universe, the Lord of Majesty, Bounty and Honour, the Just, the Gatherer, the Self Sufficient, the Giver of Wealth, the Preventer, the Harmer, the Giver of Profit, the Light, the Guide, the Orginator, the Everlasting, the Inheritor, the Most Upright, the Most Patient.

These are the important divine names agreed upon by many scholars based on the Qur'an. It is not enough, however, to enter paradise just to count the ninety nine divine attributes mentioned earlier, but one has to believe in them seriously and to manifest his belief in pious actions. So it is not simply a lip service to them; but rather the sincere commitment to these attributes that brings salvation and bliss.

There are also other names of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala); some scholars counted more than two hundred as Imam al-Qurtubi says in his Qur'anic interpretation volume 7 page 325. One may notice some similarities in the names, or may even claim the existence of repetition among them. This is not the case. It is only the difficulty to translate their meanings that might give this wrong impression.

I remember once an argument between a Muslim scholar and a Christian priest. The latter imagined that he caught something against Islam when he said: you blame us for saying that god is a trinity while you have ninety nine gods. The Muslim scholar laughed and then said: don't confuse between attributes or names of the one god, and the trinity which is three persons. These attributes describe the only one god in his capacities, qualities and actions. They all refer to the same god, the one divine being.

Some perverted people evolved some so-called miracles around number 19. They said that it is composed of two simple numbers, namely 1 which is the first simple number. Thus they claim that it refers to god being the first, and 9 which is the last simple number, thus, according to them it refers to god as the last. Based on these claims they said that this number refers to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) the first and the last and they thus claim that it is the foundation of the Qur'an. They then took one more step and said that the first verse in the Qur'an which occurs at the beginning of every chapter of the holy book namely: in the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful is composed in Arabic of 19 letters. Then they began to make baseless conclusions. They even reached the extreme and said that the day of judgement will take place after more than 250 years or so and their leader finally declared himself a messenger of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala)! The fact of the matter is that the whole theory falls to ashes when we confirm that the said verse on which they based their theory is, in fact, 21 letters and not 19. The Qur'an or god, for that matter, does not need these baseless claims. He is enough for believers and his book the Qur'an, introduces him without the need of any further theories.

God is not Muhammad:
Some non-Muslim writers call Muslims Muhammadans and Islam Muhammadanism as an analogy of Christianity called after Jesus Christ, Buddhism called after buddha etc. Muslims do not worship Muhammad or any other. Their only deity is Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) the god. Muhammad was nothing but the trusted conveyer of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala)'s message. The most honourable title given to Muhammad in the holy Qur'an is that he is the slave and messenger of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) almighty. He himself warned his followers not to raise him above his human status. He said: only say i am the slave and messenger of Allah.(9)

Another important distortion that has to be clear is the claim that the Qur'an is the word of Muhammad. Time and again the Qur'an asserts that it is the revelation of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala). The Qur'an says:

And if he (Muhammad) had invented false sayings concerning Us, We would assuredly had taken him by the right hand; and We would have then severed his life artery.( 69:44-46 )

About the Qur'an we read in the same holy book:

It is the revelation of the Lord of the Worlds; the Honest Spirit descended with it unto your heart (Muhammad) so that you may be one of the warners, in a clear Arabic tongue.( 29:192-195 )

Muhammad p.b.u.h. Was not the first but the last messenger of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala). A series of prophets before him were sent by Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) to different people at various times conveying the same message of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala). The problem of some people is that they do not understand the position of prophets. On the one hand these prophets were not self appointed individuals who claimed divine descent but they were chosen by Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) based on their piety and righteous deeds. And as all previous messages were changed or lost, Muhammad, the praised one, was sent by Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) with the last message to the worlds. He is the last messenger simply because his message is the culmination and completion of all previous messages. That is why Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) preserved the Qur'an. The holy book Muslims have today is exactly the same book revealed to Muhammad p.b.u.h. Over fourteen centuries ago. Why then should we have another message or another prophet?

To conclude, this is how Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) is described in the Qur'an the word of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) to all the worlds. It is time to listen to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) and believe in his word that shows us the way to him and to salvation. This booklet is just an attempt to guide the fair minded people to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) the Almighty the Only Lord.

Source: Muslim World League - Canadian Office