Continuing in our explanation of the poem and our discussion of the branches tawheed, we now move into the second branch which is the oneness, uniqueness, and exclusiveness of Allah’s Names and Attributes (tawheed al-asma was-sifat). There are five points we will discuss; three points in this post and the remaining two in the next post.

1) All of Allah’s Names are taken from the Sacred Texts

The beautiful names and attributes of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala are those that have been revealed to us in the Qur’an or through the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam. It is not correct for anyone to make additions and call Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala by a Name that He has not named Himself with.

2) The Names and Attributes are Understood according to their Apparent Meaning

We do not re-interpret the names of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to give them a meaning that goes beyond that which is obvious and apparent. For example, Allah says:

 And [that] He may punish the hypocrite men and hypocrite women, and the polytheist men and polytheist women – those who assume about Allah an assumption of evil nature. Upon them is a misfortune of evil nature; and Allah has become angry with them and has cursed them and prepared for them Hell, and evil it is as a destination. [Surah Fath V. 6]

It is not correct to use our intellects and assume that anger in the above verse means punishment since anger is a sign of weakness in man. Allah uses different words for ‘punishment’ (‘adzaab) and ‘anger’ (ghadab) and thus they cannot be the same. Rather, we accept that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has an attribute of anger, which is perfect and majestic, without asking the how of it and without making it similar to anger of creation.

3) We do not create New Names for Allah

It is clear that Allah has an attribute of anger however we cannot give him a name such as: ‘The Angry One’ (al-ghadib) because to do so would not be befitting His Majesty and neither is it found in the sacred texts. An important principle to keep in mind is that every name of Allah denotes an attribute. For example, Allah is the Most Merciful (ar-rahman) and thus He has the attribute of mercy (rahma). However, as we already saw above, not every attribute denotes a name of Allah.

Stay tuned for part 3…