Allah has described Himself in the Quran through His Names and Attributes. Muslims believe that studying these Names and Attributes is one of the most effective ways of strengthening one’s relationship with God. Each Name and Attribute nourishes a kind of consciousness and humility in man and their study leads one to constantly better their actions. Allah says:
وَلِلَّهِ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ فَادْعُوهُ بِهَا وَذَرُوا الَّذِينَ يُلْحِدُونَ فِي أَسْمَائِهِ سَيُجْزَوْنَ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
“And for Allah (are) the names – the most beautiful, so invoke Him by them. And leave those who deviate concerning His names. They will be recompensed for what they used to do.” (Surah Al-A’raf 7:180)
Muslims are asked to call upon God during their supplications by the most appropriate names that relate to what they are asking for. For example, if one is seeking forgiveness from God for a sin they have committed, they would call upon Him by His name “Al-Ghaffar,” meaning “The Ever-Forgiving.” If one is asking for peace and tranquillity in their life while experiencing a period of tension, they would call on God by His name “As-Salaam,” meaning “The Ultimate Source of Peace.” Allah says:
لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ لَا انفِصَامَ لَهَا وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“(There is) no compulsion in the religion. Surely has become distinct the right (path) from the wrong. Then whoever disbelieves in false deities and believes in Allah, then surely he grasped the handhold – [the] firm, (which) not (will) break [for it]. And Allah (is) All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:256)
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is reported to have said that no man’s good deeds are alone enough to get him admitted into Paradise, but it is only by the Mercy of God that people will enter Paradise. Our deeds are a tool to get close to God to a place where we can be hopeful of His Mercy. Allah says:
هُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
“He (is) Allah, the Creator, the Inventor, the Fashioner. For Him (are) the names the beautiful. Glorifies Him whatever (is) in the heavens and the earth. And He (is) the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Surah Al-Hashr 59:24)
In order to familiarize ourselves with Allah’s Attributes, we have to consult the Holy Qur’an, traditions, or even common sense. His Being precedes time. His Existence precedes non-existence, and His eternity precedes beginning. By creating the senses, it is known that He does not have the same. Allah says:
قُلِ ادْعُوا اللَّهَ أَوِ ادْعُوا الرَّحْمَٰنَ أَيًّا مَّا تَدْعُوا فَلَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ وَلَا تَجْهَرْ بِصَلَاتِكَ وَلَا تُخَافِتْ بِهَا وَابْتَغِ بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ سَبِيلًا
Say, “Invoke Allah or invoke the Most Gracious. By whatever (name) you invoke, to Him (belongs) the Most Beautiful Names. And (do) not be loud in your prayers and not be silent therein, but seek between that away.” (Surah Al-Isra, 17:110)
By comparing antitheses, it is known that He has no antithesis, and by striking similarities between things, it is known that there is nothing similar to Him. He has made light the contrary of darkness, brightness the opposite of dimness, dryness the opposite of moisture, and heat the opposite of coolness.
Attributes of Allah
The word Sifaat means attributes, the singular form is Si’fah. There are 20 Sifaat that are waajib (essential) for Allah.
- Al-Wujood – Existence. All existence and action depend upon Him.
- Al-Qidam – Without beginning. He is before the before. He did not become. He always was.
- Al-Baqaa – Infiniteness. He is after the after, Eternal. He always will be.
- Mu’kaa la fa tu hoo ta’alaa lil hawaadithi – He the Exalted being unlike to any of the contingents. He is the Creator, bearing no resemblance to the created.
- Qi yaa mu hoo bi naf sih – Self subsistent or self-existent, without any needs
- Al wah daa niy yah – Oneness. He is unique, without a partner, without resemblance, the cause of all
- Al-Qudrah– Power. All power is His.
- Al-iraadah– Free will or choice. All will is His
- Al-ilm– Knowledge. Allah is all-knowing
- Al-hayaah– Life. Allah is ever-living
- As sam’u– Hearing. Allah is all-hearing
- Al Basar– Sight. Allah is all-seeing
- Al Kalaam-Speech. The word, all that is taught, is His
- Kau nuhoo ta’alaa qaadiraa – He the Most Exalted being Powerful.
- Kau nuhoo ta’’alaa mureedaa – He the Exalted being a free chooser.
- Kau nuhoo ta’alaa ’aalimaa – He the Most Exalted being all-knowing.
- Kau nuhoo ta ‘alaa ghay yaa – He the Most Exalted being Alive.
- Kau nuhoo ta ‘alaa sa mee’aa – He the Most Exalted being All-Hearing.
- Kau nuhoo ta ‘alaa basee raa – He the Most Exalted being the All-Seeing.
- Kau nuhoo ta ‘alaa muta kal lima – He the Most Exalted being All-Speaking.
فِي بُيُوتٍ أَذِنَ اللَّهُ أَن تُرْفَعَ وَيُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ فِيهَا بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ
“In houses (which) Allah ordered that they are raised and be mentioned in them His name. Glorify [to] Him in them in the mornings and (in) the evenings.” (Surah An-Nur 24:36)
Allah made the human being exist after having been non-existent, and then this human being shall be annihilated (Annihilation of humans is by complete death, which is defined as the soul completely departing the body. The souls do not annihilate and some bodies do not decay in the soil.) This is why the human being’s existence is among the intellectual possibilities.