III THE NINETY-NINE NAMES OF ALLAH
"I make but little of Mohammed's praises of Allah, which many praise; they are borrowed, I suppose, many from the Hebrew, at least they are far surpassed there. But the eye that flashes direct into the heart of things and sees the truth of them; this to me is a deeply interesting object. Great Nature's own gift." - Carlyle, in "Hero Worship."
THE attributes of God are called by Moslems Isma-ul-Sifat and are also called in the Koran Isma-ul-Husna, the excellent names. We read in Surah 7:179: "But God's are the excellent names; call on Him then thereby and leave those who pervert his names." The number of these names or attributes of Allah is given by Tradition as ninety-nine. Abu Huraira relates that Mohammed said, "Verily, there are ninety-nine names of God and whoever recites them shall enter Paradise." In the same tradition these names are mentioned, but the number is arbitrary and the lists of the names differ in various Moslem
books.1 It is the custom of many pious Moslems to employ in their devotions a rosary of ninety-nine beads to represent these names, and the repetition of them is called Thikir, or remembrance. The latter is the chief religious exercise among the various schools of dervishes.
We will now give these names in order with the place where they occur in the Koran and brief comment where necessary. Edwin Arnold has made so much of these Pearls of the Faith in his poem that we need to get back to the Moslem idea of these attributes. His Pearls of the Faith is as one-sided a presentation of Islam as his Light of Asia is of Buddhism.
1. Er-Rahman - The Merciful. (Surah 1:1, etc.)
2. Er-Rahim -- The Compassionate. Both of these names are from the same root and are very frequently used in the Koran. They occur as the opening formula, 'In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate," before every Surah of the Koran except the ninth. Beidhawi says that Er-Rahman is a more exalted attribute than Er-Rahim, because it not only contains five letters in Arabic,
1 Compare the lists as given in Mishkat-el Misabih, Al Mustatraf, Hughes' Dict. of Islam, Nofel's Sinajet el Tarb. Arnold's Pearls of the Faith, etc.; Ahmed bin Ali el Buni's Shems-ul Muarif is one of many books on the ninety-nine names of God. in this book these names are written in talismanic form, and one of these talismans is given in our frontispiece.
while Rahim only has four, but it expresses that universal attribute of mercy which the Almighty extends to all men, the wicked and the good, believers and unbelievers. This is a noble thought.
3. El Malik - The King, or the Possessor, used often in the Koran as in the first Surah, "King of the day of judgment." In Surah 43:77, however, the same word is used for the angel who presides over hell. Is this latter use of the word allied to Molech, the fire-god of Syria?
4. El Kuddus - The Holy. Only once used of Allah in the Koran (Surah 59:23), "He is God beside whom there is no deity, the King, the Holy." The Taj-el-Aroos dictionary instead of defining this important attribute discusses the various readings of its vowel-points (See the next chapter.) The Holy Spirit is a term frequently used in the Koran, but is in no case applied to Deity.1
5. Es-Salam - The Peace, or the Peace-maker. The latter significance is given by Zamakhshari. Beidhawi again explains it by a negation, "He who is free from all loss and harm." Used only in Surah 59:20.
6. El-Mu'min -- The Faithful. (Surah 59:28.)
1 Nine times the word Spirit or Holy Spirit is said to refer to the Angel Gabriel (Surahs 2:81; 2:254; 5:109; 16:2; 16:104; 26:193; 70:4; 97:4; 19:17); three times to Jesus Christ (4:169; 21:91; 66:12), in this case without the epithet holy; the other cases are left in doubt by the commentators. In none of them does even "Spirit" apply to deity.
7. El-Muhaimin The Protector. (Surah 59:23.).
8. El-Aziz - The Mighty One. Very frequently used; e.g., Surahs 42:2, 3, 18; 46:1, etc. It is one of the dozen or more names that express Allah's power.
9. El-Jabbar - The All-Compelling. (Surah 59:23.) The word is also translated, The Giant or the Absolute ruler. What Moslems think the word means is evident from the teachings of the sect, which denies all free agency to man, and who call themselves after this name, Jahariyah. (See Hughes' Dict. Of Islam in loco.)
10. El-Mutakabbir - The Proud. This word when used of a human being always implies haughtiness, and Zamakhshari defines it (Surah 59:23), "Supreme in pride and greatness or the One who is haughty above the wickedness of his slaves."
11. El-Khalik - The Creator.
12. El-Bari - The Maker.
13. El-Musawwir - The Fashioner. These three are used in succession for Allah as creator in Surah 59:23. The commentators take pains to explain away any nearness of the Creator to the creature in the last term used.
14. El-Ghafer - The Forgiver, sometimes given as Al Ghaffar. Both have the same significance, but the latter, as well as Al Ghafur, are intensive. (Surah 2:225.) All are frequently used.
15. El-Kahar - The Dominant. (Surah 13:17.)
16. El-Wahab - The Bestower. (Surah 3:6, etc.) This name is commonly used with Abd as a surname among the Arabs, "Slave of the Bountiful."
17. Er-Razzak - The Provider. Once used in Surah 51:58.
18. El-Fattah - The Opener. (Surah 34:25.) This name is inscribed over gates and doors, on the title-pages of books and is used as the first copy-book lesson for boys at school.
19. El-'Alim - The Knowing One. (Surah 35:43.) Frequently used in nearly every long Surah of the Koran.
20. El-Kabidh - The Grasper, the Restrainer.
21. El-Basil - The Spreader or Uncloser of the hand. These two names are complementary. The former occurs not in the Koran as a noun, but was put in the list in reference to a passage in the Surah of the Cow. The latter is found in Surah 13:15, and there means he who dispenses riches.
22. El-Khafidh - The Abaser. (Surah ? )
23. Er-Rafia' - The Exalter. (Surah 3:48.) In reference to the translation of Jesus Christ.
24. El-Mu'izz - The Strengthener. The word does not occur in the Koran, but the idea is referred to in Surah 3:25: "Thou strengthenest whom Thou pleasest."
25. El-Muthill - The One who leads astray. (Surahs 4:90; 4:142; 17:99; 18:6, and
frequently elsewhere.) "God misleadeth whom He pleaseth," is a common phrase in the Koran.
26. Es Samia - The hearer. (Surah 40:2], etc.)
27. El-Basir - The Seer. (Surah 40:21 and frequently elsewhere.) According to Surah 31, Allah has present vision of five secret things: the day of judgment, and the times of rain, the child in the womb, what happens to-morrow, and where every mortal dies.
28. El Hakim - The Wise, the Only. Very often used, as in Surah 2:123, e.g., "Thou art the mighty and the wise." It is used in every-day Arabic for a philosopher or a physician.
29. El 'Adl - The Just. It is remarkable and very significant that this title does not occur in the Koran, but is put in the list by Tradition. The word 'Adl, Justice, occurs twelve times only, and is never used of the righteous acts of God and only once (Surah 5:115) of His words. In every other case it refers to human equity or faithfulness (as in 4: 125) toward one's wives in their marriage rights, etc.
30. El-Latif - The Subtle. (Surah 6:103.) Edwin Arnold translates this word "Gracious One" and hangs to this invention a verse or two of Christian thought on God's grace to sinners. Zamakhshari gives the Moslem idea of this word when he says: "He is too subtle (too ethereal) for eyes to see Him." (El Kishaf in loco.)
31. El-Khabir - The Cognizant. (Surah 6:103.)
32. El-Halim - The Clement. (Surah 2:225.) "He will not catch you up for a casual word in your oaths, but He will catch you up for what your hearts have earned; but God is forgiving and clement." Mohammed's idea of clemency!
33. El-'Adhim The Grand. (Surah 2:257.)
34. El-Ghafar - The Forgiving. (Surah 35:27.)
35. Esh-Shakur - "The Acknowledger of Thanksgiving." This is more correct than to translate The Grateful. (Surah 35:27.) "That He may pay them their hire. ... Verily He is Forgiving and Grateful."
36. El-�Ali - The Exalted. (Surah 2:257.)
37. El-Kabir- The Great. (Surah 34:22.) This is never used by Arabic-speaking Christians as a title for the Godhead, since it really means big in size or station. Zamakhshari says (Vol.II., p.231): "Al-Kabir means the possessor of pride."
38. El-Hafidh -The Guardian. (Surah 86:3.) This name is often put over house-doors.
39. El-Mukit - The Feeder, the Maintainer. (Surah 4:88.)
40. El-Hasib - The Reckoner. Occurs three times. (Surahs 4:7, 88; 33:39.) Arnold's comment here is thoroughly Mohammedan:
"Laud Him as Reckoner casting up th' account
And making little merits largely mount."
41. El-Jalil - The Majestic. (Surah 55:25.)
42. El-Karim -The Generous. (Surah 96:3. "He is the most generous.")
43. Er-Rakib - The Watchful. (Surah 4:1.)
44. El-Mujib -The Answerer (of prayer). (Surah 11:64.) Compare comment of Zamakhshari in loco.
45. El-Wasia - The Capacious. (Surah 2:248.)
46. El-Hakim - The Judge. "The most just of judges (or rulers)." (Surahs 95:8 and 7:85.)
47. El-Wadid - The Affectionate. Occurs only twice in the Koran. (Surahs 11:92 and 85:14.)
48. El-Majid - The Glorious. (Surah 11:76 and elsewhere.)
49. El-Ba'ith - The Awakener or Raiser; used frequently in the verbal form in regard to the resurrection of the body. (Surah 22:7 by inference.)
50. Esh-Shahid - The Witness. Frequently used. (Surah 3:93.)
51. El-Hak - The Truth. (Surah 22:62.) According to orthodox Tradition, a lie is justifiable in three cases: "To reconcile those who quarrel, to satisfy one's wife and in case of war." (El Hidayah, Vol. IV., p. 81.) And Abu Hanifah alleges that if a man should swear "by the truth of God" this does not constitute an oath. Imam Mohammed agrees with him. (Oaths, Hughes' Dict.,. p. 438.) Of absolute truth in Deity or in ethics the Moslem mind has very
distorted ideas and Tradition affords a thousand examples of Moslem teaching in this regard.
52. El-Wakil - The Agent. (Surah 4:83.)
53. Al-Kawi - The Strong. (Surah 11:69.) Used of physical strength.
54. El-Mutin - The Firm; in the sense of a fortress. Used in Surah 51:58: "God is the provider.... The Firm."
55. El-Wali - The Helper. (Surah 22: last verse.) By implication. I cannot find it elsewhere.
56. El-Hamid - The Laudable. Frequent. (Surah 11:76.)
57. El-Muhsi - The Counter. Only by reference to Surah 36:11, which speaks of God "reckoning up".
58. El-Mibdi - The Beginner. Reference to Surah 85:13.
59. El-Mueed - The Restorer. Reference to Surah 85:13.
60. El-Muhyi - The Quickener or Life-giver.
61. El-Mumit - The Slayer. These two names are in a pair and occur together in Surah 2:26 in a verbal form. The former also occurs, Surahs 30:49 and 41:39, in both cases referring to quickening the soil after rain as proof of the resurrection.
62. El-Hai - The Living. (Surah 3:1.) Very frequent.
63. El-Kayum - The Self-Subsisting. (Surah 3:1.) Beidhawi and Zamakhshari both speak of the
latter term in a purely physical way. "He who always stands up," i.e., does not need rest or sleep. Compare the same words as used in the verse of the Throne, Surah 2d, and the commentaries.
64. El-Wajid - The Inventor or Maker. The word does not occur in the Koran.
65. El-Mugheeth -The Refuge or the Helper. The word does not occur in the Koran.
66. El-Wahid - The One. (Frequently, as in 2:158.)
67. Es-Samad - The Eternal. (Surah 112.) According to the dictionaries and some commentaries, the word means "One to whom one repairs in exigencies," and hence the Lord, the Eternal One.
68. El-Kadir - The Powerful. (Surah 2:19, and in many other places.) The word is from the same root as Kadr, fate, predestination; and Zamakhshari, in commenting on Surah 2:19, leaves no doubt that the term used means to him "The One who predestines all."
69. El-Muktadir - The Prevailer or Overcomer. Used three times in the Koran. (Surahs 18:43; 54:42; 5:55.)
70. El-Mukaddim - The Approacher or Bringer forward.
71. El-Muakhir - The Deferrer. This pair of titles does not occur in the Koran.
72. El-Awwal - The First.
73. El-Akhir -- The Last.
74. El-Dhahir The Substance.
75. El-Batin - The Essence. These four divine titles are known by the technical appellation of "The mothers of the attributes," being regarded as fundamental and all-comprehensive. All four occur together in Surah 57:3. This verse is a great favorite among the Mystics of Islam.
76. El-Wali - The Governor. (Surah 13:12.)
77. El-Muta�ali - Lofty One; better, "He who tries to be the highest." (Surah 13:10.)
78. El-Barr - The Beneficent. (Surah 52:27.) The word used for Righteous is El-Barr and does not occur in the Koran. Once only is this name used.
79. El-Tawwab - The Relenting - one who turns frequently. Used four times in Surah 2d and twice in the 9th Surah. Also, beautifully, in Surah 4:119: "He has also turned in mercy unto the three who were left behind, so that the earth, spacious as it is, became too strait for them; and their souls became so straitened within them that there was no refuge from God, but unto Himself. Then was He turned to them that they might turn to him. Verily, God is He that turneth (At-Tawwab) the merciful."
80. El-Muntakim - The Avenger. (Surah 32:22.) Also Surahs 43:40 and 44:15.
81. El-Afuw - The Pardoner. Literally, the Eraser or Cancellor. (Surah 4:51.)
82. Er-Ba'oof - The Kind or Indulgent. Frequently used. (Surah 2:138.)
83. Malik-ul-Mulk - Ruler of the Kingdom. (Surah 3:25.)
84. Dhu-al-Jilal - Possessor of Majesty. (Surah 55:78 )
85. El-Muksit - The Equitable. It does not occur in the Koran but in Tradition.
86. El Jamia - The Gatherer. (Surah 4:139).
87. El-Ghani The Rich. (Surah 60:6.)
88. El-Mughni - The Enricher. (Surah 4:129.)
89. El Mu'ti - The Giver. (Referred to Surah 108:1.)
90. El-Mania� - The Withholder. Not in the Koran.
91. Edh-Dhur - The Harmful. Not in the Koran.
92. El-Nafia' - The Profiter. Not in the Koran. Although these names, and others, are not found in the Koran they belong to Allah's attributes on authority of the Prophet and are used especially in invocations and incantations.
93. En-Nur - The Light. Used only in the remarkable 35th verse of the 24th Surah. Quoted elsewhere with comment. The idea seems borrowed from the Old Testament and the golden candlestick.
94. El-Hadi - The Guide. (From Surah 1:5, etc.)
95. El-Azili - The Eternal-in-the-Past. Arabic speech has another word, Abadi, for eternal future, and a third, Sarmadi; to include both.
96. El-Baki - The Enduring. (Surah 28: last verse by inference.)
97. El-Warith - Inheritor of all things. Not in the Koran, but implied in various passages.
98. El-Rashid - The Director. It occurs only once in the Koran, and is not there applied to God. (Surah 11:80.) "Is there not among you one who can rightly direct?" The word is still in common use as a proper name among the Arabs.
99. Es-Sabur - The Patient. (Surah 3:15?)
The word Rabb Lord (although it is also an attribute, according to the Moslem ideas of the Unity), is not mentioned among the ninety-nine names. It is, however, used most frequently of all the divine titles and is combined with other words in Moslem theology, such as: Lord of Glory, Lord of the Universe, Lord of Lords, Lord of Slaves (i.e., His servants). It is not without significance to note that later many of these divine titles were applied to Mohammed himself by the pious, and in the list of his two hundred and one titles there are a score of the ninety-nine beautiful names!1
1 See Mishkat-el-Misabih and any book of Moslem prayers or devotions for proof. (Isma-en-Nebi.)
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