The Name of Allaah العليم Al-‘Aleem (Part 11)

Attaining Taqwa by knowing Allaah by His Name Al ‘Aleem

We, as believers want to attain Taqwa because Allah has prepared Paradise for Al-Muttaqeen – the pious.

What is Taqwa?

The Prophet ﷺ   pointed to his chest three times and said:

“التقوى هاهنا”

“Taqwa is here” [Muslim]

When asked about Taqwa, Talq bin Habib said:

العمل بطاعة الله على نور من الله رجاء ثواب الله

To perform actions of obedience to Allah, upon a light from Allah, hoping to get a reward from Allah

و ترك المعاص الله على نور من الله مخافة عذاب الله

To leave disobedience to Allah, upon a light from Allah, out of fear of His punishment

Upon a light from Allah” – على نور من الله

How can one know good from bad and right from wrong unless he has a light from Allah?

Taqwa is not fasting abundantly or remembering Allah much or establishing the night with Tahajjud prayer. Taqwa is to be mindful of Allah by performing what He commanded us to do – the obligatory acts – and doing them hoping for a reward from Allah; and avoiding what Allah prohibited, out of fear of Allah.

Since the location of Taqwa is in the heart, we should not praise people and attribute Taqwa to them. Only Allaah knows whether a person has Taqwa or not.

Ibn Al-Qayyim said, regarding the statement of Talq bin Habeeb:

و هاذا أحسن ما قال في حد التقوى. فإن كل عمل لابد له من مبدأ و غاية، فلا يكون العمل طاعة و قربة حتى يكون مصدره عن الإيمان فيكون الباعث عليه هو الإيمان المحض، لا العادة و لا الهوى، و لا طلب المحمدة و الجاه و غير ذالك بل لا بد أن يكون مبدؤه محض الإيمان و غايته ثواب الله و ابتغاء مرضاته و هو الإحتساب. و لهاذا كثيرا ما يقرن بين هذين الأصلين في مثل قول النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم: ‘”من صام رمضان إيمان و احتسابا” و “و من قام ليلة القدر إيمان و إحتسابا” و نظائره.

This is the best of what has been said concerning the definition of Taqwa, for indeed every action must have a beginning cause (what motivates a person to perform the action) and an objective (what he wants to achieve by it). An action can never be considered to be obedience or a cause, and/ or a cause to draw closer to Allah, until its beginning and cause is pure faith; not habit, not desires, not the wish for pride and/ or position, nor other such things. Its objective must be the reward that lies with Allah and His pleasure, this being the definition of Ihtisaab. This is why we often find these two foundations mentioned together, such as his sayings, “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan with Eeman and Ihtisaab…” and “Whoever stands (in prayer) during Laylat al-Qadr with Eeman and Ihtisaab…” and their companions.

فقوله: “على نور من الله” إشارة إلى الأصل الأول و هو الإيمان الذي هو مصدر العمل و السبب الباعث عليه 

His (Talq bin Habib’s) statement “upon a light from Allah” points to the first foundation, which is Eeman, which is the source of the action and the reason for doing it

So an action will not be an act of obedience to Allah nor a means of bringing a person closer to Allah until its source is faith. The motivating factor behind any action we perform should be faith. 

E.g. Belief in Allah, that He loves this, He hates this, Allah has prepared a reward for such and such action, etc.

So the motivation for the action is not done because of:

1) العادة (Custom)

E.g. everyone wears the Shaila, so I will wear it too

2) الهواء (Desire)

E.g. doing it if you want to do it, leaving it if you want to leave it

3) طلب المحمدة و الجاه (Seeking Praise and Position)

E.g. doing it if people praise you and leaving it if they do not praise you

The only act that will be considered an act of nearness to Allah is the one done seeking His pleasure, according to one’s faith.

* “على نور من الله” can also refer to knowledge.

وقوله: “رجاء ثواب الله” إشارة أن الأصل الثاني و هو الإحتساب و هو الغاية التي لأجلها يوقع العمل و لها يقصد به

And his saying, “hoping for a reward from Allah” points to the second foundation, which is Ihtisaab. And that is the goal which one works towards and what is intended by it. [Ar-Risaalah At-Tabukiyya, pg. 27]


الإحتساب  is to perform a good deed hoping for a reward from Allah. We want to have an account (حساب) with Allah.

E.g. when a person performs a certain action, hoping for Paradise, or hoping for a heavy scale on the Day of Judgment, or hoping for light in the grave, he is making an account with Allah.

Allah connected Taqwa to His Name العليم in many verses in the Qur’an:

1- Surat Aal-‘Imran [3:115]:

“And whatever good they do, nothing will be rejected from them; for Allah knows well those who are Al-Muttaqun.”

2- Surat al-Ma’idah [5: 7]:

“And remember Allah’s Favor upon you and His Covenant with which He bound you when you said: ‘We hear and we obey.’ And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Knower of the secrets of (your) breasts.”

Allah knows what is established in your heart, so have Taqwa of Him.

The most honored with Allah amongst the people is the most pious of them. And Allah knows what is in the hearts. He knows who the true Muttaqi – pious person is.

If a person knows that Allah encompasses everything with His knowledge and knows what is in his heart, he will be afraid of Allah. He will not say a word which makes Allah angry. He will not take an action which makes Allah angry. He will not have a wrong belief because He knows that Allah is (Knower of all what the breasts conceal)عليم بذات الصدور. This person watches his tongue, limbs, and heart.

The place of Taqwa is the heart, which is why we have to be careful with our hearts. One’s thoughts are one’s own problem. When one thinks too much and his mind is disturbed with Waswaas (whisperings) of the Shaytan about Allah, the future, people, etc. it will make his life miserable. Therefore, we have to ask Allah for  ‘Afiyah – العفية (sound health), especially in our hearts. Al-Muttaqi is afraid of having a concealed wrong Aqeedah (belief) or bad thought in his heart.

Shaikh As-Sa’di رحمه الله   mentioned in his Tafseer, that Taqwa guides one to purify his heart and remember Allah’s knowledge at all times. Then he (the slave) will show shyness to His Lord from seeing his heart as a place for every lowly thought, and instead he will occupy his mind with good thoughts and ideas that bring him closer to Allah, such as:

  • Contemplating a verse from the Qur’an and always thinking of it
  • Contemplating a Sunnah act from the narrations of the Prophet ﷺ 
  • Reflecting on the creation of Allah and His favors 
  • Contemplating on how to advise people

Allah’s Name العليم   implies the attribute of العلم   (Knowledge). Allah is attributed with having knowledge, and the creation also has knowledge. How can we single Allah out with this attribute?


  • We affirm perfect and comprehensive knowledge to Allah 
  • We affirm deficient knowledge to the creation


  • We negate any deficiency in the knowledge of Allah (ignorance, forgetfulness, etc.)

Allah affirmed perfect comprehensive knowledge to Himself in many verses in the Qur’an, for example:

Surat al-An’am [6:59]:

“And with Him are the keys of the Ghaib (all that is hidden), none knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is in (or on) the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but He knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record.”

“لا يعلمها إلا هو”

To believe that no one knows the keys of the unseen except Allah – this is Tawheed.

The keys of the Unseen includes:

“يعلم ما في البر و البحر” – And He knows whatever there is in the earth and in the sea  

“و ما تسقط من ورقة إلا يعلمها” – Not a leaf falls, but He knows it

“و لا حبة في ظلمات الأرض و لا رطب و لا يابس إلا في كتاب ميين” – There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but it is written in a clear record.

The knowledge of all creation in comparison to Allah’s Knowledge is as what Khidr said to Musa, who were the most knowledgeable people of their time, when a bird dipped its beak once or twice into the sea, “My knowledge and your knowledge, in comparison to Allah’s knowledge, is like what this bird has taken out of the sea.”

 Ibn Al-Qayyim رحمه الله said in Madaarij As-Salikeen:

“الحمد لله” (All praise is due to Allah) includes the refutation of the claim of those who say that Allah Knows about things generally and not in detail. The word الحمد لله indicates Allah’s complete praise, for how can the One Who deserves all praise not know anything of the world and its details, or the number of stars and planets, or who obeys Him and who does not? It is impossible to give our Ilah and Lord such a defective description, because the One worshipped should know the state of His worshippers!

“الرحمن الرحيم”

It is impossible to be merciful with whom He does not know.

“مالك يوم الدين”

This is the affirmation of full sovereignty and kingship to Allah. How does a King not know about His wards or the state of His Kingdom? 

He is the One Who will recompense the people on the Day of Judgment. How can He judge among His creation while He does not have knowledge?

To deny Allah’s Knowledge about the details of His creation is void and contradicts all what is mentioned above. How can the knowledge of Allah, Who created everything, not comprehend everything? In Surat al-Mulk [67:14], Allah says:

“Should not He Who has created know? And He is the Most Kind and Courteous (to His slaves) All-Aware (of everything).”

The Knowledge of the Creation

a) The creation can never encompass Allah’s Knowledge.

  • In Ayat al-Kursi [2:255]

“Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber, nor sleep overtake Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His Permission? He knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them in the Hereafter. And they will never encompass anything of His Knowledge except that which He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.”

“و لا يحيطون بشيء من علمه إلا بما شاء”

We cannot even encompass “بشيء من علمه”

This part of the verse has two meanings:

i) The creation does not know about Allah’s Names, Attributes, and Actions except what He wills to teach them.

ii) They cannot encompass anything of Allah’s Knowledge of what is in the Heavens and Earth except what He wills to teach them. 

We only know what Allah taught us, nothing more than that.

b) The creation does not know anything except what Allah teaches them

All religious knowledge, worldly knowledge, decreed knowledge is attributed to Allah. He is العليم, and He teaches His Angels, Prophets and the Creation.

  • In Surat al-Baqarah [2:31]:

“And He taught Adam all the names (of everything), then He showed them to the angels and said, ‘Tell Me the names of these if you are truthful.’”

The Angels then said as mentioned in verse 32:

“They (angels) said: ‘Glory be to You, we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Verily, it is You, the All-Knower, the All-Wise.’”

  • In Surat an-Nisa’ [4:113]:

“Had not the Grace of Allah and His Mercy been upon you (O Muhammad ﷺ), a party of them would certainly have made a decision to mislead you, but (in fact) they mislead none except their own selves, and no harm can they do to you in the least. Allah has sent down to you the Book (the Qur’an), and Al-Hikmah (Islamic laws, knowledge of legal and illegal things, i.e. the Prophet’s Sunnah – legal ways), and taught you that which you knew not. And Ever Great is the Grace of Allah upon you (O Muhammad ﷺ).”

“و علم ما لم تكن تعلم”

Allah addresses the Prophet ﷺ that Allah taught Him that which He did not know. The Prophet ﷺ was illiterate and Allah taught Him, and no one else.

  • In Surat Yusuf [12:37]:

“He said: “No food will come to you (in wakefulness or in dream) as your provision, but I will inform (in wakefulness) its interpretation before it (the food) comes. This is of that which my Lord has taught me. Verily, I have abandoned the religion of a people that believe not in Allah and are disbelievers in the Hereafter (i.e. the Kan’aniun of Egypt who were polytheists and used to worship sun and other false deities).”

When the two companions asked Yusuf عليه السلام  to interpret their dreams, he said: “ذالكما مما علمني ربي”

I.e. What I interpret of dreams is what Allah taught me. 

So, in order to affirm Tawheed Al-Asmaa wa Sifat to Allah, we have to:

  1. Affirm perfect knowledge to Allah
  2. Affirm deficient knowledge to ourselves
  3. Admit that our knowledge is nothing in comparison to Allah
  4. Admit that Allah is the One who taught us, the Angels, the creation, etc.
  • In Surat ar-Rahman [55: 1-2]:

The Most Beneficent (Allah)!”

“Has taught (you mankind) the Quran (by His Mercy).”

  • In Surat al-Alaq [96:4-7]:

“Who has taught (the writing) by the pen [the first person to write was Prophet Idrees (Enoch)].”

“Has taught man that which he knew not.”

“Nay! Verily, man does transgress all bounds (in disbelief and evil deed, etc.).”

“Because he considers himself self-sufficient.”

Allah is the One Who taught us everything we know, but man continues to show arrogance.

Read the full post on Allah’s Knowledge VS creation’s knowledge (Part 1)



About Enlightenment into Islam Center

The Enlightenment into Islam Center is a community of sisters who aim to please Allah by seeking knowledge and calling the people (Muslims as well as non-Muslims) to Tawheed and obedience to Allah by spreading the true knowledge of Islam based on the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

Posted on April 9, 2017, in Allah's Names and Attributes, The Name of Allaah Al-'Aleem and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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