The concept of the 99 Names

ASMA ILLAHIL HUSNA
اسماء الله الحسنى
The Beautiful Names of Allah

Allah’s names are beyond count and beyond our comprehension. The 99 names of Allah are the best names of the best out of the infinite names. Shaykh Al-Islam and a number of noteworthy Ulama (scholars) have stated that there is no authentic Hadith that identifies the exact 99 names of Allah referred to in the Hadith. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “To Allah belongs the 99 names” not “Allah has 99 names” meaning the extra-special 99 names.  No one really knows the 99 names exactly except Allah Himself. The names of Allah mentioned in the holy Quran and Sunnah number over one hundred, as several scholars have agreed, but no specific list or particular number is mentioned. Various scholars have given different lists based on their own study. The 99 name list of Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqallani, for example, is taken only from the holy Qur’an. He included the names ALLAH as the first name, DHUL QUWWATIL MATIN as one name and DHUL JALALI WAL IKRAM as two names. [Source: Islamic Creed Series 1 – BELIEF IN ALLAH in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah by Umar Sulaiman Al-Ashqar]

The different lists are largely based in the holy Quran. However, some names in the Quran are not listed in the traditional lists and vice versa. No list is a final definitive list and many names are actually disputable like the name AL-BAQI. The only sure names are those that came with the proper name (with the “AL” in it) like AR-RAHMAN.

In general, the Ulama cannot avoid having differences of opinions regarding matters of the religion, and ASMA AL-HUSNA is no exception. Sometimes there is a slight difference in their opinions and at other times, it is completely opposing views.

The Ulama have made Ijtihad by using different approaches and principles about Allah’s names.

  • Some are strict and considered a serious error to derive any name from the verbs describing Allah’s actions. The Beautiful Names of Allah are Tawqifiyah (i.e., bound by a religious text and not amenable to personal opinion). Allah should not be given a name unless it is mentioned in the holy Quran or in the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ).
  • Others allowed a name to be derived – MUSHTAQQ (مشتق) from a verb to be considered a name, like AL-MUN’IM. – The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor. [Al-Fatihah 1:7]
  • Others allowed a name that is genitive – MUDHAF (مضاف) or MUDHAF ILAYHI (مضاف إليه) to be considered a name in the MUFRAD (singular) form, like AN-NUR. – Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth…. [An-Nur 24:35]
  • Others allowed the whole phrase of MUDHAF and MUDHAF ILAYHI to be considered a name of Allah like DHUL JALALI WAL IKRAM. – And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor. [Ar-Rahman 55:27]
  • Others do not affirm or negate a name where there is no text or the text is doubtful to be used as a proof to establish a name.

Links/Sources

  1. Video: The Beautiful Names of Allah by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi – Part 1 (Introduction) and Part 3 (Unique Characteristics) and Part 19 (Opposite and Complementary Names)
  2. Video: The Beautiful Names of Allah by Shaykh Fadel Soliman – (Introduction) and (Allah)
  3. Audio: Explaining the Names of Allah by Dr. Fadi Yousef Kablawi (Abu Ubeidah Al-Maqdisi) – (Introduction)
  4. Article: The Beautiful Names of Allah (Introduction 2) by Dr. Ratib An-Nabulsi
  5. Article: With the Divine: Part 73 (Allah’s 99 Names Explanation) by Jinan Yousef