The Importance of Studying Allah’s Names and Attributes – 25th October 2015
Posted by Enlightenment into Islam Center
In a hadith recorded in Saheeh Muslim, Zaid bin Alqam (Radhi Allahu ‘anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) used to supplicate: “O Allah, I seek refuge in You from knowledge which does not benefit, from a heart that does not entertain the fear (of Allah), from a soul that is not satisfied and the supplication that is not answered.”
The Prophet (Salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) used to ask Allah for beneficial knowledge and a submissive, humble heart. If knowledge is beneficial it would undoubtedly affect the heart. When your heart becomes submissive, it will have a positive effect on your actions, and they will in turn be accepted by Allah. If Allah accepts your deeds then He will grant you provision and make your life good.
He (Salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) also used to seek refuge from knowledge void of benefit. In the Qur’an, Allah warned us of being like the Jews, who acquired knowledge but didn’t benefit from it.
Surat Al-Jumu’ah Verse 5:
مثل الذين حملوا التوراة ثم لم يحملوها كمثل الحمار يحمل اسفارا بئس مثل القوم الذين كذبوا بايات الله والله لا يهدي القوم الظالمين
The example of those who were entrusted with the Torah and then did not take it on is like that of a donkey who carries volumes [of books]. Wretched is the example of the people who deny the signs of Allah . And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.
They were entrusted with laws, obligations and commandments which were for their benefit but they didn’t act upon them. Allah taught them, but they denied it.
There are 3 descriptions in this verse:
- The person is carrying beneficial knowledge, just as the donkey carries اسفارا.
- They carry knowledge from one place to another. The Jews practiced certain rituals when they carried the Torah from one place to another, they honoured knowledge.
- They have knowledge but don’t know the purpose and goal behind it neither do they know what is required from them.
Let’s take the relationship between the story of the cow and the last two verses in surat Al-Baqarah for example. We all know the story of the cow but only few understand the purpose of narrating the story and what Allah wants from them. The story is an example of stubbornness in following the commands of Allah.
In the last verses of the Surah Allah says, “and they say: We hear, and we obey.” in reference to the Prophet and the believers, after understanding this we have to act upon it.
Whenever a command comes from Allah, we shouldn’t show stubbornness or reluctance like the Jews, and instead adopt the example of the Prophet and the believers, who responded by hearing and obeying.
The Jews carried knowledge, memorized and magnified it, but didn’t act upon it. Allah warns us from this behaviour.
There are manners to be followed when studying the Names and Attributes of Allah:
- You have to know that the knowledge is received by the heart. It is a provision and its vessel is the heart. We need to purify our hearts to receive knowledge.
a) Allah looks at our hearts. You need to be aware of the turning of your heart, and your faith – how much you have and whether it’s increasing or decreasing.
b) Allah afflicted us with deficiencies in our characters and hearts. We all have sicknesses of the heart.
Use the knowledge you learn to purify and cure your heart. The more you learn more about Allah, the more you will be able to overcome these sicknesses.
For example, if you know that you are someone who is greedy and always runs after this world, when you learn that Allah is Ar-Razzaq, Al-Hakeem and Al-Mu’min- He who provides for whomever He wills at the right time and that He promises and keeps His promises, one of which is that if you believe and do righteous deeds, He will give you Paradise and you will have whatever you wish and more- You will remind yourself of all this information whenever your self covets over something.
Knowledge of Allah is like a medicine, it cures the sicknesses of your heart.
c) Know that hearts turn. You have to repeat the meanings and impacts of the names of Allah repeatedly to yourself until the knowledge settles in your heart and you reach certainty.
– Know the meaning of the name
– Study the evidences from the Qur’an and Sunnah where Allah had mentioned the name
– Use it as remedy
If you have the sickness of showing off and you do good deeds and await the people’s praise, Allah will cause someone to dispraise you while you were expecting praise. Allah is nurturing you.
The problem is that we don’t know our sicknesses. We never accuse ourselves because we never see ourselves as defective. This is why Allah continues to repeat the situation with us, until we learn the lesson. Ask Allah, Al-Hadee, to guide and enlighten you.
Don’t despair, change is something that happens gradually, not overnight. However, it requires effort and exertion.
The scholars said you have to seek knowledge for at least 10 years. We study for a few years and think we are scholars while we might not even be considered students of knowledge. The scholars studied from when they were young till they attained old age, it is only then that they were considered scholars.
- You have to follow the rules when studying the Names and Attributes along with their impacts.
“Indeed Allaah has ninety-nine names. Whoever counts them will enter paradise.”
[Bukhari & Muslim]
a) The sources of knowledge of the names of Allah are the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Any name which isn’t mentioned in the Qur’an or Sunnah cannot be accepted as a Name of Allah.
b) Every name of Allah has an attribute and each attribute has an impact in our lives. We need to worship Allah according to that.
How I can worship Allah according to this knowledge?
For example, Allah’s names Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem (The Most gracious’, The Most merciful) imply the attribute of Mercy.
The general impact of Allah’s Mercy is shown in His creation. He created everything around us as a mercy for us. He subjected the entire creation for our benefit. The impact of His Mercy can be seen in His legislations. When you ponder over the details of the laws you will find that He didn’t enjoin the woman to cover herself except as a mercy for her. He didn’t enjoin the cutting the hand of the thief except as a mercy for the community. Sending Messengers with books is also an impact of the mercy of Allah.
The mercy of Allah can also be seen through His decrees. You may dislike the situation you are in but Allah, The Most merciful, decreed it for you. This means that there is a mercy in it for you.
If Allah decreed sickness for you, although you dislike it, you know that Allah purifies your sins by it and elevates you in ranks.
You will know all this through the Qur’an and Sunnah. You can compile the impacts of Allah’s Mercy by going through the whole Qur’an and noting down verses which has the word رحمة – Rahmah and its derivations, and studying them one by one.
The knowledge of Allah’s Mercy should make you love Allah. Whenever you go through distress, you will remind yourself that Allah is Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem. He doesn’t want to destroy you, He wants good for you. When your children are sick, you will remind them that it is a mercy from Allah.
Another example is Allah’s name, Al-‘Azeez, implies the attribute of Might.
To learn the impact of Allah’s might, go to every verse that talks about عزة-‘Iza and it’s derivations and study them.
One of the impacts of His might is that by it, He rescues and supports the believers, and destroys the disbelievers. He honours and humiliates whomever He wills.
If you seek honour, then seek the means of honour with Allah, Al’Azeez.
Allah’s name, The Most high (Al-‘Aaliyy), implies the attribute of highness, علو
There are three impacts of Allah’s highness:
– Allah is above His creation, there is nothing higher than Him.
– He is high in His attributes.
– He is the most high in His power, in subduing everything.
How do I worship Allah according to this? Allah will be the ‘Qiblah’ of your heart. Your heart will be directed to Him. Whenever you go through any situation you will flee and seek shelter with Him and no one else. When you are afraid, sad, confused, you must know that you don’t have anyone except Allah the Most High to return to. Don’t think of anyone except Allah.
If you really worship Allah by this name, you will never be afraid of anything or anyone else in your life.
Think of the most fearful thing to you. The most fearful thing to the believers is being made confused and distracted by the Shaytan at the time of death. If the person lived throughout his life resorting to Allah, then do you think that Allah will forsake or leave him at the time when he is in the greatest distress? Certainly not!
If you do this with every name of Allah, you will have a good heart and good life and your final eternal abode will be Paradise.