The Importance of Studying Allah’s Names and Attributes – 1st November 2015
Posted by Enlightenment into Islam Center
In the Qur’an, Allah mentions knowledge with praise, and other times with dispraise. The praised knowledge is beneficial knowledge, whereas the blameworthy knowledge is knowledge void of benefit.
An example of the first kind can be found in Surat Az-Zumar Verse 9:
امن هو قانت اناء الليل ساجدا وقائما يحذر الاخرة ويرجو رحمة ربه قل هل يستوي الذين يعلمون والذين لا يعلمون انما يتذكر اولو الالباب
Is one who is devoutly obedient during periods of the night, prostrating and standing [in prayer], fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, [like one who does not]? Say, “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” Only they will remember [who are] people of understanding.
And in Surat Fatir Verse 28:
ومن الناس والدواب والانعام مختلف الوانه كذلك انما يخشى الله من عباده العلماء ان الله عزيز غفور
And among people and moving creatures and grazing livestock are various colors similarly. Only those fear Allah , from among His servants, who have knowledge. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Forgiving.
Allah also relates to us the story of Adam and how He taught him the names of everything. When this was shown to the Angels they said (In Surat Al-Baqarah Verse 32):
قالوا سبحانك لا علم لنا الا ما علمتنا انك انت العليم الحكيم
They said, “Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You who is the Knowing, the Wise.”
On the other hand, we have people whom Allah granted knowledge but their knowledge didn’t benefit them. The Jews are an example of this.
Another example of this is in Surat Al-A’raf Verses 175-177:
واتل عليهم نبا الذي اتيناه اياتنا فانسلخ منها فاتبعه الشيطان فكان من الغاوين
And recite to them, [O Muhammad], the news of him to whom we gave [knowledge of] Our signs, but he detached himself from them; so Satan pursued him, and he became of the deviators.
The Shaytan usually is in front of the person, misleading him, however this person is being pushed from behind. He deliberately persists in error. His example is like the example of a dog:
ولو شئنا لرفعناه بها ولكنه اخلد الى الارض واتبع هواه فمثله كمثل الكلب ان تحمل عليه يلهث او تتركه يلهث ذلك مثل القوم الذين كذبوا باياتنا فاقصص القصص لعلهم يتفكرون
And if We had willed, we could have elevated him thereby, but he adhered [instead] to the earth and followed his own desire. So his example is like that of the dog: if you chase him, he pants, or if you leave him, he [still] pants. That is the example of the people who denied Our signs. So relate the stories that perhaps they will give thought.
ساء مثلا القوم الذين كذبوا باياتنا وانفسهم كانوا يظلمون
How evil an example [is that of] the people who denied Our signs and used to wrong themselves.
Whether they’re exposed to Allah’s signs and warnings or not, they won’t believe.
This person has inwardly detached himself from knowledge. He pants after this world, loves its pleasure, and trades his religion for it. He uses the religion to achieve worldly gain. He is like a dog, no matter how much you give him he always wants more and more. He appears to have knowledge and the people think good of him.
The problem is that Allah granted this person knowledge of His signs, and he understood it. But the love of this Dunya is his Ilah, and he used this knowledge to achieve it. This is how knowledge became unbeneficial for him.
How did he detach himself from the Ayaat? The knowledge taught him about the reality of this world and the next, he should have used it to seek the hereafter and shun this world, and wait for his reward from Allah. But the hereafter isn’t great in this persons heart, nor does it incite him to do good, all his thoughts revolve around this world.
These verses signify that one of the characteristics of the owners of knowledge void of benefit, is magnification of the dunya. The hereafter is weak in their hearts.
But do not despair; One of Allah’s great blessings upon creation is that He sent down the Qur’an and a Messenger – to teach us about Him. To know Him by His names, attributes, and actions.
The companions of the Prophet became the best people on earth. When faith entered their hearts, they transformed from being slaves to their desires and traditions, to become slaves submitting to Allah. They became people of high morals. The meeting with Allah became their sole concern and this made them do good in this worldly life.
The Continuation of Manners of Studying the Names of Allah
- We have to understand the meaning of the name from the Qur’an and Sunnah, and in Arabic.
- When we affirm the names and attributes of Allah, we should do it without:
- Denying the Attribute
- Alteration- changing the meaning
- Misinterpretation- interpreting based on my own intellect
- Resemblance- giving description to the attributes
One of the names of Allah is Al-‘Aliyy which means the Most High over His creation by His essence, attributes and His power.
When I read in the Qur’an that Allah rises above the throne in a manner which suits His majesty, I shouldn’t imagine this nor question how it happens.
Allah taught us what benefits us with regards to His names and attributes. The fact that He didn’t inform us about its description and how these attributes are, shows us that we don’t need to know about it, and that our minds can’t comprehend or even bear knowing it.
Musa (‘Alaihissalam) fainted when the Mountain crumbled upon seeing Allah.
We should be concerned with:
a) Knowing the meaning of the name
b) Its impact on us
c) Worshiping Allah according to the name
Our problem is that our faith in the unseen is very weak. This is shown through our behavior and attitude. We don’t act like people who are concerned with the Hereafter.
When our faith in Allah weakens, our seeking help from him becomes weak, our humility becomes weak and our deification became weak. This is because our hearts are attached to the Dunya.