The 99 Names of Allah (Asma ul-Husna)
What are the 99 Names of Allah?
Allah SWT is best known by His Name, Allah, which means ‘The God’ in Arabic. He refers to Himself as Allah in the Qur’an, but He also mentions that He has other names:
“Allah—there is no deity except Him. To Him belong the best names.” (Quran 20:8)
He also says in a different place in the Qur’an:
“And to Allah belong the best names, so call on Him by them.” (Quran 7: 180)
These are the Names and Attributes that Allah SWT has described Himself with. We do not ascribe to Allah SWT anything except that which He has prescribed to Himself, but He has given us plenty of Names with which to remember Him by and call upon Him in dua.
Why is it important to learn the 99 Names of Allah? Learning the Names of Allah SWT is a way for us to get to Jannah.
The Prophet (SAW) said, “Allah has ninety-nine names, i.e. one-hundred minus one, and whoever knows them will go to Paradise.” (Bukhari)
Learning Allah SWT's beautiful names is one of the keys to paradise; If we learn the names of Allah and try to live our lives by them, then Allah SWT will enter us into Paradise by His Mercy. Learning the names of Allah SWT also helps us come closer to Him because only when we know Him can we truly love Him.
We cannot love someone we don’t know. The names of Allah SWT are a means for us to gain a deeper level of love and appreciation for Him. Allah SWT says in the Qur’an as quoted in the ayah above: “so call on Him by them.” Not only does Allah SWT instruct us to call on Him, but He instructs us to do so through His names. Allah SWT loves it when we ask Him and He loves to give, so in this beautiful exchange between us and Him, if Allah asks us to use His beautiful names, then how special and blessed must they be? How many of our duas would come true if we just called on Allah by His beautiful names the way He instructed us?
How do the Names relate to our purpose on earth?
When Allah SWT announced the decision to create Adam (AS) to the angels, He said:
“Verily, I am going to place in the earth a Khalifah (representative)…” (2:30)
A representative is someone who carries out the will of the leader, often in a different land. When you represent someone, you have the honor of the one who you are representing, but at the same time, you carry a huge responsibility to act by the rules given to you.
Allah SWT has sent us on earth to worship Him, and He sent us the Prophet (SAW) as an example of how to do that correctly and in the best possible way that is pleasing to Him. There are certain names of Allah SWT that humans cannot be named, such as Ar-Rahman, because they belong to Allah SWT alone. And some attributes cannot be attributed to anyone except Allah SWT, such as Al-Qahhar (The Dominator/The Subduer) or Al-Aleem (The All-Knowing).
And although no human can ever come close to ever embodying the attributes of Allah SWT, scholars like Imam Al-Ghazali (r.h.) have mentioned that one of the ways of representing Allah SWT properly is to learn to embody His attributes in whatever human form that we can, with our limited abilities and capacities. For example, Allah SWT is Al-Kareem (The Most Generous), so we should try to embody generosity to the best of our abilities.
Allah SWT is Al-Ghafur (The Great Forgiver), so we should try to cultivate a forgiving nature in ourselves. Allah SWT is Ash-Shakoor (The Appreciative), so we should try to increase our level of appreciation for the gifts we have been given and for people’s kindnesses and favors towards us. When we embody these attributes of Allah SWT (in our very human way), then we become true representatives of Allah SWT.
We should aim to show people mercy and kindness because Allah SWT shows us Mercy and Kindness.
Which Names should we call on Allah with during the pandemic?
This is a time in which there is a lot of uncertainty, illness, and loss. There are specific duas that we might already be making, but if we want to boost our duas and make Allah SWT happier with us when we are calling on Him, then we should use His specific names that relate to what we are asking for. Here are a couple of examples:
Ar-Razzaq (The Provider): Many people have lost their jobs or other means of livelihood due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Whether we are making dua for ourselves or for someone we know, it’s good to use this name of Allah SWT when asking Him to provide for us, as He is the Ultimate Provider.
Al-Fattah (The Opener): The pandemic has closed many doors for people: doors of visiting family and friends, doors of travel, doors of education, doors of earning a living, but Allah SWT is the Opener. He can open all doors. He can create doors where there were none. We should call upon Allah, The Opener, to open up all doors of goodness for us from places we do and do not expect. Allah SWT is the One Who can make miracles happen.
Al-Qahhar (The Dominator/The Subduer): This pandemic has left many of us feeling scared, overwhelmed, and powerless. Allah SWT has certainly shown us His Power by sending us this virus. Allah has power over everything. He can subdue the weakest to the deadliest virus—they are all under His Command. Therefore, we should ask Allah to show us His Power yet again—this time, by removing from us the virus and restoring life for us in the most wholesome way possible.
Al-Shaafi (The Healer): Millions of people around the world have fallen ill due to the virus, and many have passed away. There are people teetering on the edge of life and death in the ICUs. But, we have to remember that Allah SWT is The Healer. Allah SWT can heal with or without medicine. Allah SWT can heal even the most complicated cases. Use Allah SWT's comforting name, Ash-Shaafi, and call on Him, knowing that He can restore you or your loved ones’ health the way He restored the health and body of Ayyub (AS).
Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem (The Most Compassionate, The Most Merciful): We all know someone who has lost a loved one to Covid-19 or maybe we lost a dear one ourselves. We can call on Allah SWT using His Names Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem to have Mercy on our loved ones. Allah SWT uses these names often in the Qur’an. In fact, we say them every day in salah. Allah SWT is more merciful to us than our mothers are to us. So, call upon Allah SWT by His Infinite Loving Mercy so that He may respond to us and our loved ones in Mercy.
May Allah SWT provide for us from places we did not expect. May Allah SWT cure our ill and have mercy on our deceased. May Allah SWT show us His Power and Mercy by removing from us the troubles that have befallen us. And May Allah SWT allow us all to learn His Names, to call on Him by them, and to live by them and to enter Jannah by them. Ameen.