By Sadia Dehlvi
Aug 06, 2013
Prophet Muhammad said, “Allah has 99 names and whoever patterns himself on them shall enter paradise.” These names are referred to as Asma ul Husna or “The most beautiful names”. The Quran affirms, “The most beautiful names belong to Allah; so call on him by them.”
The metaphysics of the Quran can be found in these 99 names that contain His essence. Some of these include, The Compassionate, The Beneficent, The All Merciful, The Sovereign, The Constrictor, The Provider, The Restorer and The Just.
Islamic philosophers have broadly categorised these names into two groups, Jalal (majesty) and Jamal (beauty). Majesty, the revelation of which burns and consumes the worlds, is in one aspect rigorous, severe. Beauty, on other hand, is the synthesis of mercy, generosity, compassion and all beneficent qualities. These two categories work together to form the tapestry of the world, mysteriously connected with humans.
Muslims use different formulae of repeating Allah’s names for spiritual benefit. The names are repeated using a “Ya” before them like, “Ya Rahman, ya Rahim”, meaning “O Merciful, O Compassionate”.
Mercy represents God’s fundamental attribute and is most commonly invoked. An entire mystical theology developed around these names ascribed to the Lord. It is these divine attributes that Sufis attempt to realise within themselves.
Sufi scholars explain that if people display traces of attributes such as severity and wrath, failing to keep them properly confined through justice, compassion and generosity, they will be dominated by arrogance and cruelty. Only a perfect harmony of divine attributes can lead to the full blossoming of human nature.
The Quran never refers to God as “The Father”, without any specific gender or form. It reacts against worship of nature and idols and declares the transcendence of God by categorically affirming, “Nothing is like Him”. Therefore, classic Muslim theologians have said that God is not gendered, not even metaphorically. They attribute the use of a male pronoun for Allah in the Quran to the complexities of Arabic grammar, where pronouns are not always gender-specific. Prophet Muhammad reported that upon God’s throne is written, “My mercy takes precedence over my wrath.”
Invoking Allah’s mercy remains the central theme of Islamic thought.
Divine mercy is the bestowal of the good, the beautiful and the true, determining the nature of the universe.
Another saying tells us that God’s throne is the human heart. Just as nothing lies beyond the macrocosmic throne but God, nothing is found at the microcosmic throne of God. Hence the Hadith Qudsi, divine saying related to the Prophet: “My heavens and the earth embrace me not, but the heart of my believing servant does embrace me”.