By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam
What are the Divine Attributes of Allah Almighty?
Answer: The Divine Attributes (Sifat) are generally classified as positive attributes (Sifat Thubutiyah) and negative attributes (Sifat Salabiyah).
Positive Attributes which are essentially befitting Allah are many in number but eight of them are popularly listed as 1) Divine knowledge (Ilm), 2) Divine Omnipotence (Qudrat), 3) Divine Hearing (Sama’), 4) Divine Seeing (Basr), 5) Divine Willing (Irada), 6) Bringing into being (Takween), 7) Divine Speech (Kalam) and 8) Divine Living (Hayat)
1. Divine Knowledge (Ilm). This signifies that Allah is Omniscient. He knows everything, be it manifest or hidden. Ilm-e-Zaati (Divine self-Knowledge) is His unique Attribute. Any person, who tries to prove Ilm-e-Zaati, be it manifest or hidden, for anyone other than Allah, is a disbeliever. Allah Almighty’s knowledge encompasses everything. He knew of everything always (Azali), knows of everything currently and always knows of everything forever. Allah Almighty says;
وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ “He knows everything” (2:29)
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ “indeed Allah is the All Capable, (His powers and reach are limitless), the All Knowing” (2:115)
“وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ” “keep fearing Allah and know well that Allah knows everything” (2:231)
“إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ” “Allah knows well what lies within the hearts.” (3:119)
The word عليم, or Alim meaning All-Knowing is mentioned as a Divine Attribute in numerous Quranic verses. Some of them are Surah Baqarah 2: 158, 181, 215, 224, 227, 244, 246, 261, 268, 273, 282, Surah Ale Imran 3: 115, 119, 154, Surah Nisa 4: 12, 26, 176, Surah Maida 5:54, 97 and so on.
2. Divine Omnipotence (Qudrat). This means Allah has divine power over everything that is possible (Mumkin). Nothing is possible out of his divine Power. Allah says;
“إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ”, “Indeed, Allah is over all things competent (Qadeer) (2:20). See also Surah Baqarah 2:106, 109, 148, 259, 284, Surah Ale Imran 3:26, 29, 165, 189, Surah Maidah 4: 17, 19, 40, 120 etc.
3. Divine Hearing (Sama’). This means Allah is all-Hearing. Allah Almighty says,
“إِنَّ اللَّـهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ” “Indeed Allah is the All Hearing, the All Knowing” (2:181). See also Surah Baqarah 2:224, 227, 244, 256, Surah Ale Imran 3:34, 38, Surah al-Aaraaf 7:200, Surah al-Anfal 8: 17, 53, etc.
4. Divine Seeing (Basr). Allah is all-Seeing. Allah says,
“وَاللَّـهُ بَصِيرٌ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ” “and Allah is seeing their misdeeds” (2:96)
“إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ” “indeed Allah is seeing your deeds” (2:110)
See also Surah Baqarah 2:96, 110, 233, 237, 265, Surah Ale Imran 3: 15, 20, 156, 163, Surah Al-Maidah: 71, Surah Anfaal: 39, 72 etc
5. Divine Willing (Irada). Allah does what He wills. He Almighty says,
“وَلَـٰكِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَفْعَلُ مَا يُرِيدُ” “but Allah does what He wills” (2:253)
“إِنَّ رَبَّكَ فَعَّالٌ لِّمَا يُرِيدُ” “indeed your Lord may do whatever, whenever, He wills” (11:107)
See also Surah Haj: 14, Surah Buruj: 16, Surah al-Anaam: 125, Surah Maidah: 1 etc
6. Creating (Takween). This concept is also expressed by the words like al-Fi’l (doing), al-Khalq (creation), Al-Takhliq (producing), al-Ijad (bringing into existence), al-Ihdath (originating) and Al-Ikhtira’ (inventing). This signifies the bringing the non-existent (al-Madum) from non-existence into existence. (Taftazani, Sharah Aqaid Nasafi)
“وَإِذَا قَضَىٰ أَمْرًا فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ” “When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, "Be," and it is.” (2:117)
See also Surah Ale Imran: 47, 59, Surah al-Anaam: 73, Surah al-Nahl: 40, Surah Maryam:35, Surah Yasin:82, Surah Ghafir:68 etc.
7. Divine Speech (Kalam). Like all His other Attributes, His Kalam is also Qadeem (uncreated). According to Imam Azam Abu Hanifa and all other jurists and Imams, those who consider the Quran to be a creation are disbelievers. This is also proven by the holy companions.
Sadrus Sharia writes, “The Divine Speech of God Almighty is free from sound. The Quran that we recite with our tongues and which we read from written scriptures is the uncreated Kalam of Allah without any sound. Our reading, writing and our voices are Haadith (creation). In other words, our recitation is creation and that which we have recited is Qadeem (uncreated). Our writing is Haadith and that which we have written is uncreated. Our hearing is a creation and that which we have heard is uncreated. Our memorizing is a creation and that which we have memorized is uncreated.” (Sadrus Sharia Mufti Amjad Ali, Bahare Shariat tr. Cassim Qadri)
8. Divine Living (Hayat). Allah Almighty is Hayy i.e. He is Self-Existing and the lives of everything and everyone is in His Divine Control. Allah says;
“كُلُّ شَيْءٍ هَالِكٌ إِلَّا وَجْهَهُ” “Everything will be destroyed except His Entity” (28:88)
“اللَّـهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ” “Allah – there is no God except Him; He is Alive (or Self-Existing eternally, on His own) and the Upholder (keeps others established)” (2:255)
هُوَ الْحَيُّ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ" “It is He, the Alive – there is no God except Him..” (40:65)
This is the established doctrine of Sufi-oriented Sunni Muslims that “Existence, Divine Power, Divine Hearing, Divine Seeing, Divine Speech, Divine Knowledge and Divine Will are all His Self Attributes. He does not depend on ears, eyes, and tongue to hear, see or speak, as these are all physical (i.e. related to a body) and Allah is free from any physical form and body. He hears the faintest of sounds and sees the smallest of things, even that which cannot be seen under the lenses of a microscope, His seeing and hearing is not only confined to this but He is all Seeing and all Hearing. We thus say that Allah sees absolutely and hears absolutely”. (Bahar e Shariat)
As for the Negative Attributes (Sifat Salabiya) of Allah, they do not mean negation of perfection. These Attributes signify negation of defect. In the next part, we will mention Negative Attributes.
A regular Columnist with NewAgeIslam.com, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator.
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