99 names of Allah
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The Quran talks about "beautiful names of Allah" and the hadiths further specify that there is exactly 99 names. Muslims are supposed to learn these names of Allah, but Muhammad didn't offer the full list of these names. Islamic scholars had to rely on ijtihad (independent judgement) to find these names in the Quran and sunnah and different scholars came up with different lists. Out of the supposed 99 names of Allah, they altogether found at least 276 names.
The phrase "beautiful names of Allah" mentioned in the Qur'an
The Quran says that Allah has beautiful names (الأسماء الحسنى, al-asmaa' ul-husnaa), but doesn't specify what these names are and how many.
There are many hadith claiming Allah has 99 names, this is one of them from Sahih Bukhari:
Some apologetic sources (including Wikipedia) claim that according to the hadith, there are at least 99 names. But the hadith doesn't say "at least". It says simply ninety-nine (تِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ) and adds that it's one hundred minus one, which seems to emphasize, that it is exactly 99 and not 100 or more. And the hadith also says that who memorizes all these names would go to paradise - though it is not know which these 99 are.
The popular list
The most popular list of 99 names of Allah among Muslims (which is also used on the English Wikipedia) seems to be a list from a weak (da'if) hadith from the collection of Tirmidhi.
This hadith is weak. Tirmidhi wrote about it:
Ibn Taimiyya said:
The list (which is based on a weak hadith) is attractive at first blush, because it contains references to the Quran, but the list loses it charm when one discovers that in some of these references the word is not actually present in the Arabic Quran. When there is more verses containing the name, only one exemplary verse is mentioned. But if there is more verses and none of them actually mentions the name, all of them are mentioned in the list with the addition "(it's not there)".
|Num.||In Arabic||Transliteration||Offical translation||Actual translation||Reference||Notes|
|1||الرحمان||ar-rahmaan||The Most Gracious||The Gracious||Quran 1:1|
|2||الرحيم||ar-raheem||The Most Merciful||The Merciful||Quran 1:1|
|3||المالك||al-maalik||The King||The Posessor ||Quran 59:23||Some translations say "sovereign" |
|4||القدوس||al-quddoos||The Holy||The Holy||Quran 59:23|
|5||السلام||as-salaam||The Peace||Free from defect||Quran 59:23||Ibn Kathir understands it as "free from defect" |
|6||المؤمن||al-mu'min||The Granter of Security||The Believer ||Quran 59:23||Mu'min in all other verses means "believer" |
|7||المهيمن||al-muhaymin||The Controller||The Controller||Quran 59:23|
|8||العزيز||al-'azeez||The Powerful||The Honorable ||Quran 3:6|
|9||الجبار||al-jabbar||The Strong||The Forceful ||Quran 59:23|
|10||المتكبر||al-mutakabbir||The Supreme||The Arrogant/The Boaster ||Quran 59:23|
|11||الخالق||al-khaaliq||The Creator||The Creator||Quran 6:102|
|12||البارئ||al-baari||The Maker||The Maker||Quran 59:24|
|13||المصور||al-musawwir||The Fashioner||The Fashioner||Quran 59:24|
|14||الغفار||al-ghaffaar||The Repeatedly Forgiving||The Forgiving||Quran 20:82|
|15||القهار||al-qahhaar||The Subduer||The Despot / The Conqueror||Quran 12:39|
|16||الوهاب||al-wahhaab||The Bestower||The Provider ||Quran 38:9||Also a name of the founder of Wahhabism.|
|17||الرزاق||ar-razaaq||The Provider||The Provider||Quran 51:58|
|18||الفتاح||al-fattaah||The Opener||The Opener||Quran 34:26||"fath" (opening) is a euphemism for Islamic conquests (futuhaat islamiyya, literally "islamic openings").|
|19||العليم||al-'aleem||The Knowing||The Knowing||Quran 2:158|
|20||القابض||al-qaabid||The Restrainer||The Grabbing ||Quran 2:245 (it's not there)||قبضة qabda is fist|
|21||الباسط||al-baasit||The Extender||The Extender||Quran 2:245 (it's not there)||It should be actually باصط.|
|22||الخافض||al-khaafid||The Humiliator||The Lessener/Lowerer||Quran 56:3 (it's not there)|
|23||الرافع||ar-raafee||The Exalter||The Raiser||Quran 56:3 (it's not there)|
|24||المعز||al-muiz||The Giver of Honor||The Honored||Quran 3:26 (it's not there)|
|25||المذل||al-mudhil||The Giver of Dishonor||The Humiliating ||Quran 3:26 (it's not there)|
|26||السميع||as-samii||The Hearing||The Hearing||Quran 2:127|
|27||البصير||al-baseer||The All-Seeing||The Seeing||Quran 4:58|
|28||الحكم||al-hakam||The Judge||The Judge||Quran 22:69 (it's not there)|
|29||العدل||al-adl||The Just||The Justice||Quran 6:115 (it's not there)|
|30||اللطيف||al-lateef||The Subtly Kind||The Kind||Quran 22:63|
|31||الخبير||al-khabeer||The All-aware||The Informed ||Quran 6:18|
|32||الحليم||al-haleem||The Forbearing||The Forbearing||Quran 2:235|
|33||العظيم||al-'azeem||The Great||The Great||Quran 2:255|
|34||الغفور||al-ghafoor||The Much Forgiving||The Forgiving||Quran 2:173||The list already contains Ghaffar, which means the same.|
|35||الشكور||ash-shakoor||The Grateful||The Thankful||Quran 35:30|
|36||العلى||al-aliyy||The Sublime||The Exalted||Quran 4:34|
|37||الكبير||al-kabeer||The Great||The Great||Quran 13:9||Not akbar (اكبر) - the Greatest??|
|38||الحفيظ||al-hafeez||The Preserver||The Preserver||Quran 11:57|
|39||المقيت||al-muqeet||The Nourisher||The Nourisher||Quran 4:85|
|40||الحسيب||al-haseeb||The Bringer of Judgment||The Accountant||Quran 4:6||حساب hisaab means account|
|41||الجليل||al-jaleel||The Majestic||The Majestic||Quran 55:27 (it's not there), Quran 7:143 (it's not there)|
|42||الكريم||al-kareem||The Bountiful||The Bountiful||Quran 27:40|
|43||الرقيب||ar-raqeeb||The Watchful||The Watchman||Quran 4:1|
|44||المجيب||al-mujeeb||The Responsive||The Responsive||Quran 11:61|
|45||الواسع||al-waasie||The Vast||The Vast||Quran 2:268|
|46||الحكيم||al-hakeem||The Wise||The Wise||Quran 31:27|
|47||الودود||al-wadood||The Affectionate||The Affectionate||Quran 11:90|
|48||المجيد||al-majeed||The Glorious||The Glorious||Quran 11:73|
|49||الباعث||al-baaith||The Resurrector||The Resurrector||Quran 22:7 (it's not there)|
|50||الشهيد||ash-shaheed||The Witness||The Witness||Quran 4:166|
|51||الحق||al-haqq||The Truth||The Truth||Quran 22:6||Allah in the Quran claims that the Earth is flat.|
|52||الوكيل||al-wakeel||The Trustee||The Trustee||Quran 3:173|
|53||القوي||al-qawee||The Strong||The Strong||Quran 22:40|
|54||المتين||al-mateen||The Firm||The Firm||Quran 51:58|
|55||الولي||al-walee||The Friend||The Friend||Quran 4:45|
|56||الحميد||al-hameed||The All Praiseworthy||The Praiseworthy||Quran 14:8||Muhammad (محمد) is derived from the same root.|
|57||المحصى||al-muhsee||The Accounter||The Accounter||Quran 72:28 (it's not there), Quran 78:29 (it's not there)||إحصىء means "statistics"|
|58||المبدئ||al-mubdi||The Initiator||The Initiator||Quran 10:34 (it's not there), Quran 27:64 (it's not there), Quran 29:19 (it's not there), Quran 85:13 (it's not there)|
|59||المعيد||al-mueed||The Restorer||The Lecturer ||Quran 10:34 (it's not there), Quran 27:64 (it's not there), Quran 29:19 (it's not there), Quran 85:13 (it's not there)|
|60||المحي||al-muhee||The Giver of Life||The Giver of Life||Quran 30:50|
|61||المميت||al-mumeet||The Bringer of Death||The Deadly ||Quran 3:156 (it's not there), Quran 7:158 (it's not there), Quran 15:23 (it's not there), Quran 57:2 (it's not there)|
|61||الحى||al-hayy||The Living||The Living||Quran 2:255|
|63||القيوم||al-qayyum||The Subsisting||The Subsisting||Quran 2:255|
|64||الواجد||al-waajid||The Perceiver||The Angry ||Quran 38:44 (it's not there)|
|65||الماجد||al-maajid||The Illustrious||The Illustrious||Quran 11:73|
|66||الواحد||al-waahid||The Single||The Single||Quran 13:16|
|67||الأحد||al-ahad||The One||The One||Quran 112:1|
|68||الصمد||as-samad||The Eternal||The Eternal||Quran 112:2|
|69||القادر||al-qaadir||The All-Powerful||The Able||Quran 6:65|
|70||المقتدر||al-muqtadir||The Determiner||The Able||Quran 18:45|
|71||المقدم||al-muqaddim||He Who Brings Forward||The Donor||Quran 16:61 (it's not there)|
|72||المؤخر||al-muakhir||The Delayer||The Delayer||Quran 71:4 (it's not there)|
|73||الأول||al-awwal||The First||The First||Quran 57:3||The first what?|
|74||الآخر||al-aakhir||The Last||The Last||Quran 57:3||The last what?|
|75||الظاهر||az-zaahir||The Apparent||The Apparent||Quran 57:3|
|76||الباطن||al-baatin||The Inner||The Inner||Quran 57:3|
|77||الوالي||al-waali||The Patron||The Patron||Quran 13:11||"And there is not for them besides Him any patron." - is it really a name?|
|78||المتعالي||al-mutaali||The Most High||The Arrogant ||Quran 13:9|
|79||البر||al-barr||The Good||The Good||Quran 52:28|
|80||التواب||at-tawwaab||The Ever-Returning||The Merciful||Quran 4:64|
|81||المنتقم||al-muntaqim||The Avenger||The Revenger||Quran 32:22||It's in plural form.|
|82||العفو||al-'afuu||The Pardoner||The Pardoner||Quran 4:43|
|83||الرؤف||ar-rauf||The Kind||The Kind||Quran 9:117|
|84||مالك الملك||maalik ul-mulk||The Owner of all Sovereignty||The Owner of all Dominion||Quran 3:26|
|85||ذو الجلال والإكرام||dhul jalaal wal ikraam||The Owner, Lord of Majesty and Honour||The Owner, Lord of Majesty and Honour||Quran 55:27|
|86||المقسط||al-muqsit||The Equitable||The Equitable||Quran 3:18 (it's not there)|
|87||الجامع||al-jaami||The Gatherer||The Gatherer||Quran 3:9|
|88||الغني||al-ghaani||The Rich||The Rich||Quran 57:24|
|89||المغني||al-mughni||The Enricher||The Enricher||Quran 9:28 (it's not there)|
|90||المانع||al-maani||The Preventer||The Preventer||Quran 67:21 (it's not there)||It's not there at all.|
|91||الضار||ad-daar||The Harmer||The Harmer||Quran 6:17 (it's not there)|
|92||النافع||an-naafi||The Propitious||The Propitious||Quran 30:37 (it's not there)||It's not there at all.|
|93||النور||an-noor||The Light||The Light||Quran 24:35|
|94||الهادي||al-haadi||The Guide||The Guide||Quran 22:54|
|95||البديع||al-badee||The Originator||The Originator||Quran 2:117|
|96||الباقي||al-baaqi||The Immutable||The Remaining||Quran 55:27 (it's not there)||"And there will remain the Face of your Lord..." - not a name.|
|97||الوارث||al-waarith||The Heir||The Heir||Quran 15:23||It's in plural|
|98||الرشيد||ar-rasheed||The Guide to the Right Path||The ِRightly Guided||Quran 72:10 (it's not there)||"And we do not know [therefore] whether evil is intended for those on earth or whether their Lord intends for them a right course (رشدا)."|
|99||الصبور||as-saboor||The Patient||The Patient||Quran 2:153 (it's not there), Quran 3:200 (it's not there), Quran 103:3 (it's not there)|
It is based on a weak hadith
Some names are not actually beautiful
Some of the names, like "The Harmer", even with apologetic translation by Muslims, doesn't seem to be beautiful.
Some names are strange
Why is one of his names "The Believer" (المؤمن)?
The verse 55:27 is considered as an instance of both "ذو الجلال والإكرام" and "الجليل". It is not clear what the difference could be between الغفور and الغفار or between "مالك" and "مالك الملك"
Are they all really names?
Arabic doesn't use capital letters for names. So a noun could be understood both as a proper noun or as a regular noun. For example the Arabic name Abdullah (عبد الله) could be understood as the name "Abdullah", but it could also be understood literally "slave of god". In the same way some of the "names of Allah" could be simply his characteristics, not names. In the same way we can understand "الله الرحيم" as both "Allah, The Merciful" and "merciful Allah". That is also a reason why finding the names in the Quran by ijtihad cannot result in a conclusive answer.
Some names are not actually mentioned in the Quran
Many of the names in the column "In Arabic" are not actually in the Arabic Quran. These names are marked with "(it's not there)" in the table.
Looking at, for example, the last name of Allah, الصبور (The Patient).
First, it's supposed to be in the verse 2:153:
O you who have believed, seek help through patience (بالصبر) and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.
The word الصبور doesn't exist in the verse. The word الصبر exists there, but it means "patience", not "the patient one". And if based on this verse "Patience" is a name of Allah, then why not "The Prayer"? The verse talks about patience and prayer in the same context.
The next verse that supposedly includes the word الصبور is this one:
This was a verb and it was a command for the believers, not a name of Allah.
Again it's the word الصبر (the patience), not الصبور (the patient one) and it's not a name of Allah. It's just a command for believers to advise each other to be patient.
Nowhere in the Quran is الصبور mentioned as being the name of Allah, that means the 99th name in this list is wrong and therefore the whole list is unreliable. We could analyze many more of these supposed "names" how they are not actually in the Quran. They are easier ones to debunk, for example The Preventer (المانع) doesn't exist in the verse 67:21, and is not a verb derived from the same root منع. Although the word "Preventer" exists in the Quran (50:25 and 68:12), but it is written as مناع, not مانع and it says "preventer of good" about disbelievers.
Other names not mentioned in the list
Analyzing the list, we see that some of the "names of Allah" don't seem to be proper names, but just simply nouns like "patience". And also sometimes the "name of Allah" is derived from a verb occurring in the Quran. Using the same tactics, we could find many more names of Allah in the Quran. For example, the verse 8:17 says Allah killed people, so why not take this verb and say that Allah's name is القاتل (al-qaatil, The Killer)?
And you did not kill them, but it was Allah who killed them. And you threw not, [O Muhammad], when you threw, but it was Allah who threw that He might test the believers with a good test. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.
The Qur'an also terms Allah as The Best of Deceivers (khayru al-makireena). For obvious reasons, this name is not there in the above list.
Arabic: ومكروا ومكر الله والله خير الماكرين
Transliteration: Wamakaroo wamakara Allahu waAllahu khayru almakireenaLiteral: And they cheated/deceived and Allah cheated/deceived, and Allah (is) the best (of) the cheaters/deceivers.
We could find many other names of Allah in the Quran. The list doesn't contain the word "Allah" (الله).
God is just and forgiving at the same time. But absolute justice means punishment of all crimes no matter how small, while absolute forgiveness means to forgive everything and not to punish at all.
Contingency upon creation
Allah supposedly existed before he created the world. So his attributes must be indipendent on his creation. But many of the names are relational. God can't effectively be for example "merciful" if there is no creation to be merciful upon. How was he "hearing" when nothing existed except him?
The Arabic Wikipedia article contains more than 10 different lists by various Islamic scholars. Some of those lists contain the name "Best of deceivers" (خير الماكرين). The lists together contain 276 names of Allah and one can comfortably assume that there are other lists with more names.
Beautiful names of Muhammad
Beautiful names are not limited for Allah. Muhammad also has his portion:
Jubair b. Mut'im reported on the authority of his father that he heard Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:
I am Muhammad and I am Ahmad, and I am al-Mahi (the obliterator) by whom unbelief would be obliterated, and I am Hashir (the gatherer) at whose feet mankind will be gathered, and I am 'Aqib (the last to come) after whom there will be no Prophet.
There are many more such names:
- 3. Ali-Imran - The Family Of 'Imran (سورة آل عمران) - Revealed in Madinah (English: Literal) - IslamicNature, accessed August 25, 2011