Author: Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah)
Source: Sharh Lum’atul-‘Itiqaad (20-23) [Dar Al-Istiqamah Printing]
Footnotes: From the Checking of Ashraf Ibn ‘Abdil-Maqsood to the Shaikh’s book
Translator: abu maryam

 

The Text:

Before entering into the core of this book, I would first like to introduce some important principles related to Allaah’s Names and Attributes.[1]

 

The First Principle: What is obligatory from the texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah regarding Allaah’s Names and Attributes

With regard to the texts of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, it is obligatory (concerning Allaah’s Names and Attributes) to leave their proofs and implications upon their literal meanings, without changing them.  This is because Allaah revealed the Qur’aan in a plain Arabic language and the Prophet, sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, used to speak with the Arabic language.  Therefore, it is obligatory to leave the implications of the words of Allaah and the words of the Messenger of Allaah, sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, as they are, in that language. Also, changing it from its literal meaning is speaking about Allaah without knowledge and this is forbidden, due to the statement of Allaah:

“Say: ‘The things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are the great evil sins, whether committed openly or secretly, sins (of all kinds), unrighteous oppression, joining partners (in worship) with Allaah for which He has given no authority, and saying things about Allaah of which you have no knowledge.'” [2]

An example of this principle is found in the statement of Allaah:

“Nay, both His hands are widely outstretched.” [3]

Indeed, what is literally apparent from this ayah is that Allaah has two actual hands.  Thus, affirming that is obligatory, due to this principle.  So if someone were to say that the meaning of His hands is “power”, then we must say to him that this is changing the word from its literal meaning.  And saying this is not permissible, for it is speaking about Allaah without knowledge.

 

The Second Principle: Concerning Allaah’s Names

There are several subdivisions included in this principle:

 

The first subdivision: All of Allaah’s Names are the best

This means that they all possess the highest extent of goodness.  This is since they are comprised of perfect attributes.  There are no deficiencies to be found in them in any way whatsoever, for Allaah says:

“To Him belong the best of Names.” [4]

An example of this is the name Ar-Rahmaan, which is one of the Names of Allaah, for it demonstrates a magnificent attribute – which is (His) vast mercy.

We know that Ad-Dahr (time) is not one of the Names of Allaah, for it does not possess a meaning that reaches the highest extent of goodness.  As for the Prophet’s, sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, statement: “Do not curse time, for indeed, Allaah is Ad-Dahr (time)”, [5] then its meaning is that He is the “Owner of time – the One who dispenses it”.  This change occurs based on the evidence found in his, sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, statement in the second narration (of this hadeeth) in which Allaah said: “In My hand is the Command.  I turn (in cycles) the night and the day.” [6]

 

The Second Subdivision: The Names of Allaah are not confined to a fixed and definite number

This is based on the famous hadeeth: “I ask You, O Allaah, by every one of Your Names by which You have named Yourself or revealed in Your Book.  Or (those which You have) taught to one of Your creatures or appropriated for Yourself in the knowledge of the Ghaib (Unseen) that is with You.” [7]

Specifying and grasping whatever Allaah has appropriated for Himself in the knowledge of the Ghaib (Unseen) that is with Him, is impossible to attain.

The way to combine between this hadeeth and the other authentic hadeeth: “Verily, to Allaah belong ninety-nine names, (by which) whosoever takes account of them (i.e. memorizes, learns and supplicates by them), will enter Paradise” [8] is that the meaning of this (latter) hadeeth is:

“Verily, from among all the names of Allaah are ninety-nine names by which if someone takes account of them, he will enter Paradise.”

It does not mean that Allaah’s names are restricted to this number (of 99).

The equivalent of this would be if one were to say: “I have one hundred dollars which I have counted out for the purpose of giving in charity.”  This does not negate that he has other dollars in his possession, which he has counted out for a purpose other than charity.

 

The Third Subdivision: The Names of Allaah are not affirmed by the intellect – they can only be affirmed by Revelation

The Names of Allaah are based upon Revelation and as such, their affirmation is dependent upon what is reported in the revealed texts concerning them.  Therefore, nothing can be added to them nor subtracted.  This is because the intellect is not able to itself ascertain which names Allaah is most deserving of.  So it is obligatory to depend upon the revealed texts for determining that.  Also, naming Allaah with that which He did not name Himself or rejecting what He did name Himself with, is a crime against Him and a perpetration of His right.  Thus, abiding by the proper etiquettes with regard to that is obligatory.

 

The Fourth Subdivision: The meaning of each of Allaah’s Names applies to 1) Allaah Himself, 2) the attribute that such a Name implies, and 3) the effect of such an attribute, if it is transitive.

Faith in Allaah’s names cannot be complete without affirming all of this.

An example of those names that are not transitive is the name Al-‘Adheem (The Most Great).  One’s Faith is not complete until he believes that it is a name of Allaah whose meaning applies to Him Himself, as well as the attribute that it encompasses, which is His magnificence (‘adhamah).  An example of a name that is transitive is Ar-Rahmaan (the Most Merciful).  One’s Faith is not complete until he believes that it is a name of Allaah that applies to 1) Himself, 2) the attribute that it encompasses, which is his mercy, and 3) what results from that, which is that he grants mercy to whom He wills.

Footnotes:

[1] Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen has a great book on the subject of Allaah’s Names and Attributes in which he states a number of important principles regarding this topic.  We have provided a checking for it and it is called “Al-Qawaa’id Al-Muthlaa fee Sifaatillaahi wa Asmaa’ihi Al-Husnaa” (Ideal Principles concerning Allaah’s Attributes and His Beautiful Names).  It deserves to be studied and devoted special attention to.

[2] Surat-ul-A’araaf (7): 33

[3] Surat-ul-Maa’idah (5): 64

[4] Surah TaHa (20): 5-8

[5] Saheeh Muslim: Book of Words from Good Manners (no. 2246) from the hadeeth of Abu Hurairah t.  Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr said in Al-Fath (10/565): “Ahmad has transmitted it from another path from the hadeeth of Abu Hurairah t with the wording: ‘Do not curse time, for indeed Allaah has stated: ‘I am Ad-Dahr (Time).  The days and the nights belong to Me.  I will renew them, vanquish them and bring forth kings after kings.’  And its chain of narration is authentic.”

A Point of Benefit:

The great scholar Ibn Al-Qayyim said in Zaad Al-Ma’aad (2/355): “Anyone that curses time is lingering between two states of which there is no doubt that he is from one of them.  Either he has cursed Allaah Himself or he has ascribed a partner to him (Shirk).  For indeed, if he believes that Allaah is the only one that did that and he curses whomsoever did it, then he has cursed Allaah.”

[6] Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: Book of Tawheed (no. 7491) and Saheeh Muslim: Book of Words from Good Manners (no. 2246) from the hadeeth of Abu Hurairah t.

[7] Hadeeth Saheeh: This is a part from the hadeeth of Ibn Mas’ood t that has been reported by Ahmad (1/394, 452), Ibn Hibbaan (no. 2372 of the Mawaarid), and Al-Haakim (1/519).  Al-Haafidh Ibn Al-Qayyim authenticated it in Shifaa-ul-‘Aleel (pg. 274).  And he (ra) went in detail, clarifying the importance and benefits of this hadeeth in his book Al-Fawaa’id (pg. 24-29).  It was also authenticated by Shaikh Ahmad Shaakir (ra) in his notes to Al-Musnad (no. 3721), Al-Albaanee in As-Saheehah (no. 199) and Shu’aib Al-Arna’oot in his checking of Zaad Al-Ma’aad (4/198).

[8] Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: Book of Supplications (no. 6410) and Saheeh Muslim: Book of Remembrance and Supplication (no. 2677) from the hadeeth of Abu Hurairah, radyAllaahu ‘anhu.

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