Whoever Memorizes and Acts Upon the Ninety-Nine Names of Allah Will Enter Paradise
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Allah has ninety nine names and whoever preserves them will enter Paradise.”
Source: Sahih Muslim 2677
Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Muslim
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ لِلَّهِ تِسْعَةٌ وَتِسْعُونَ اسْمًا مَنْ حَفِظَهَا دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ
2677 صحيح مسلم كِتَاب الذِّكْرِ وَالدُّعَاءِ وَالتَّوْبَةِ وَالِاسْتِغْفَارِ لله تسعة وتسعون اسما من حفظها دخل الجنة وإن الله وتر يحب الوتر
[Surah Taha Ch: 20 V: 8]
اللَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ
“Allah! there is no god but He! To Him belongs the Most Beautiful Names.”
99 Names of Allah (s.w.t) ‘Asma ul Husna’
- The One who has plenty of mercy for the believers and the blasphemers in this world and especially for the believers in the hereafter.
- The Most Merciful
- The One who has plenty of mercy for the believers.
- The most Compassionate
- The One with the complete Dominion, the One Whose Dominion is clear from imperfection.
- The King, the Monarch
- The One who is pure from any imperfection and clear from children and adversaries.
- The Holy one
- The One who is free from every imperfection.
- The Peace, The Tranquility
- The One who witnessed for Himself that no one is God but Him. And He witnessed for His believers that they are truthful in their belief that no one is God but Him.
- The One with Faith
- The Faithful, The Trusted
- The One who witnesses the saying and deeds of His creatures.
- The Protector
- The vigilant, the controller
- The Defeater who is not defeated.
- The Mighty
- The Almighty, the powerful
- The One that nothing happens in His Dominion except that which He willed.
- The all Compelling
- The One who is clear from the attributes of the creatures and from resembling them.
- The Haughty, the Majestic
- The Imperious
- The One who brings everything from non-existence to existence.
- The Creator, the Maker
- The Creator who has the Power to turn the entities.
- The Artificer, the Creator
- The One who forms His creatures in different pictures.
- The Fashioner
- The Organizer, the Designer
- The One who forgives the sins of His slaves time and time again.
- The Forgiving, the Forgiver
- The Subduer who has the perfect Power and is not unable over anything.
- The Almighty, the Dominant
- The One who is Generous in giving plenty without any return.
- The Donor, the Bestower
- The Provider, the Sustainer
- The One who opens for His slaves the closed worldly and religious matters.
- The Opener, the Revealer
- The Knowledgeable; The One nothing is absent from His knowledge.
- The all Knowing, the Omniscient
- The One who constricts the sustenance.
- The Contractor, The Restrainer, the Recipient.
- The One who expands and widens.
- The Expander, He who expands
- The One who lowers whoever He willed by His Destruction.
- The Abaser, the Humbler
- The One who raises whoever He willed by His Endowment.
- The Raiser, the Exalter
- He gives esteem to whoever He willed, hence there is no one to degrade Him;
- The Honorer, the Exalter
- Degrades whoever he willed, hence there is no one to give him esteem.
- The Abaser, the Degrader, the Subduer
- The One who Hears all things that are heard by His Eternal Hearing without an ear, instrument or organ.
- The Hearer, The All hearing, all knowing.
- The One who Sees all things that are seen by His Eternal Seeing without a pupil or any other instrument.
- The Seer, The discerning, the All seeing.
- He is the Ruler and His judgment is His Word.
- The arbitrator, the Judge
- The One who is entitled to do what He does.
- The justice, the equitable. The Just.
- The Most Gentle, the Gracious.
- The One who is kind
- The One who knows the truth of things.
- The Aware. The Sagacious, one is who is aware.
- The One who delays the punishment for those who deserve it and then He might forgive them.
- The Gentle. The most patient, the Clement.
- The One deserving the attributes of Exaltment, Glory, Extolment, and Purity from all imperfection.
- The Great, Mighty
- The One who forgives a lot.
- The Forgiving, the Pardoner.
- The One who gives a lot of reward for a little obedience.
- The Grateful, the Thankful
- The One who is clear from the attributes of the creatures.
- The most high, the exalted.
- The One who is greater than everything in status.
- The great, the big.
- The One who protects whatever and whoever He willed to protect.
- The Guardian, the preserver.
- The One who has the Power.
- The maintainer, The Nourisher
- The One who gives the satisfaction.
- The noble, The Reckoner
- The One who is attributed with greatness of Power and Glory of status.
- The Majestic. The honorable, the exalted.
- The One who is clear from abjectness.
- The most generous, the Bountiful.
- The One that nothing is absent from Him. Hence it’s meaning is related to the attribute of Knowledge.
- The Guardian, the watchful. Watcher.
- The One who answers the one in need if he asks Him and rescues the yearner if he calls upon Him.
- The Responder. The respondent, one who answers.
- The Englober. The enricher, the Omnipresent, the Knowledgeable.
- The One who is correct in His doings.
- The most Wise, the Judicious.
- The Affectionate, the Loving.
- The One who is with perfect Power, High Status, Compassion, Generosity and Kindness.
- The Glorious, the exalted.
- The One who resurrects for reward and/or punishment.
- The Resurrector, the Raiser from death.
- The One who nothing is absent from Him.
- The Witness
- The One who truly exists.
- The Truth, the Just.
- The One who gives the satisfaction and is relied upon.
- The Guardian, the Trustee
- The One with the complete Power.
- The powerful, the Almighty, The Strong
- The One with extreme Power which is un-interrupted and He does not get tired.
- The Strong, the Firm
- The Supporter, the Friend, the Defender the master.
- The praised One who deserves to be praised.
- The Praiseworthy , the Commendable
- The One who the count of things are known to him.
- The Counter
- The One who started the human being. That is, He created him.
- The Beginner, the Creator, The Originator
- The One who brings back the creatures after death.
- The Restorer, the Resurrector.
- The One who took out a living human from semen that does not have a soul. He gives life by giving the souls back to the worn out bodies on the resurrection day and He makes the hearts alive by the light of knowledge.
- The Bestower, the Life Giver.
- The One who renders the living dead.
- The Bringer of Death. The Death Giver.
- The One attributed with a life that is unlike our life and is not that of a combination of soul, flesh or blood.
- The Living. The Alive, the ever living.
- The One who remains and does not end.
- The Self-Subsistent, The Eternal, the Self Sustaining.
- The Rich who is never poor. Al-Wajd is Richness.
- The all perceiving, the Opulent, the Finder.
- The One without a partner.
- The One, the Unique.
- The One who is Majid.
- The Noble, the illustrious.
- The only, the Unique.
- The Master who is relied upon in matters and reverted to in ones needs.
- The Perfect, the Eternal.
- The One attributed with Power.
- The Able, the Capable, the Omnipotent.
- The One with the perfect Power that nothing is withheld from Him.
- The Capable, The all Powerful
- He makes ahead what He wills.
- The Presenter, The Advancer, The Expediter
- The One who delays what He wills.
- The Fulfiller, the keeper behind, The Deferrer
- The One whose Existence is without a beginning.
- The First
- The One whose Existence is without an end.
- The Last
- The Apparent, the Exterior, The Manifest
- The One that nothing is above Him and nothing is underneath Him, hence He exists without a place.
- The Hidden, the Interior, the Latent
- The One who owns things and manages them.
- The Governor, The Ruler, The Master
- The One who is clear from the attributes of the creation.
- The Exalted, The most high, one above reproach.
- The One who is kind to His creatures, who covered them with His sustenance and specified whoever He willed among them by His support, protection, and special mercy.
- The Benefactor, The Beneficent, the Pious.
- The One who grants repentance to whoever He willed among His creatures and accepts his repentance.
- The Acceptor of Repentance, The Forgiver, the Relenting.
- The One who victoriously prevails over His enemies and punishes them for their sins. It may mean the One who destroys them.
- The Avenger
- The One with wide forgiveness.
- The Forgiver, the effacer, the Pardoner
- The One with extreme Mercy. The Mercy of Allah is His will to endow upon whoever He willed among His creatures.
- The merciful, the Ever Indulgent.
- The One who is Just in His judgment.
- The Just, the Equitable
- The One who gathers the creatures on a day that there is no doubt about, that is the Day of Judgment.
- The Collector, the comprehensive, Gatherer
- The One who does not need the creation.
- The rich, the all sufficing, Self-Sufficient
- The One who satisfies the necessities of the creatures.
- The Enricher, sufficer, the bestower.
- The Supporter who protects and gives victory to His pious believers. Al-Mu’tiy
- The Withholder
- The Preventer, the prohibiter, the defender.
- The One who makes harm reach to whoever He willed.
- The Distresser , The afflictor, the bringer of Adversity.
- The One who gives benefits to whoever He wills.
- The Beneficial Benefactor
- The One who guides.
- The Light
- The One whom with His Guidance His believers were guided, and with His Guidance the living beings have been guided to what is beneficial or them and protected from what is harmful to them.
- The Guide
- The One who created the creation and formed it without any preceding example.
- The Wonderful, the maker, Incomparable
- The One that the state of non-existence is impossible for Him.
- The Enduring, the Everlasting, the eternal
- The One whose Existence remains.
- The Inheritor, The Heir
- The One who guides.
- The Rightly Guided, The Conscious, the Guide
- The One who does not quickly punish the sinners.
- The most Patient, the Enduring.
- Malik Al-Mulk
- The One who controls the Dominion and gives dominion to whoever He willed.
- The Ruler of the Kingdom, king of the Universe
- Zul-l-Jalal wal-Ikram
- The One who deserves to be Exalted and not denied.
- Lord of Majesty and Generosity
Anyone who memorizes the Names of Allah will enter Jannah?
Q: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Allah has ninety-nine names; anyone who memorizes them will enter Jannah (Paradise). Does this mean that anyone who memorizes the Names of Allah will enter Jannah?
A: This is one of the Hadiths that promise Jannah and speaks of virtues and good deeds. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah has ninety-nine names, one hundred less one. Anyone who learns them will enter Jannah. According to another narration: Anyone who memorizes them will enter Jannah. (Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
This Hadith urges us to consider carefully, ponder over, memorize and learn the Names of Allah, so that we can benefit from their great meanings, gain Khushu` (the heart being submissively attuned to the act of worship), obey Allah and fulfill our duty towards Him(Glorified and Exalted be He).
Anyone who memorizes the Names of Allah, fulfills their duties towards Him, and shuns the major sins will be admitted to Jannah while those who commit major sins subject themselves to Allah’s Wrath and their fate is left to His Will: He may punish them or admit them to Jannah. Memorizing and learning the Names of Allah is one means to enter Jannah if a person does not commit major sins. Attaining Jannah has certain conditions that must be fulfilled and certain obstacles that must be avoided. Committing sins is one of the obstacles which prevent one from entering Jannah with those who will enter first. A Muslim who commits sins and does not repent before death will eventually enter Jannah after being punished and purified.
Also, Allah may forgive and admit them to Jannah without punishment. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The Fve (Obligatory Daily) Prayers, from one Jumu’ah (Friday Prayer) to the next and from one Ramadan to the next are expiation for (sins committed) in between, as long as major sins have been avoided. Major sins include those prohibited acts for which a warning of severe punishment is given. These include all those which incur Allah’s Wrath, and are cursed by our Prophet (peace be upon him) such as Zina (sexual intercourse outside marriage), consuming Khamr (intoxicant), undutifulness to parents, involvement in Riba (usury/interest), Ghibah (backbiting), Namimah (tale-bearing), etc.
These are some major sins whose committers will be left to Allah’s Will: He may forgive and admit them to Jannah due to their belief in His Oneness and their Islam or punish them in a manner commensurate with their sins and eventually bring them out of the Fire and into Jannah after purifying them of their sins. There are various Hadiths Mutawatir (Hadiths reported by a significant number of narrators throughout the chain of narration, whose agreement upon a lie is impossible) reported from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) that indicate that many disobedient Muslimswill enter the Fire because of their sins and will be punished in a manner commensurate with these sins.
Afterwards, the disobedient will be taken out of the Fire due to the Shafa`ah (intercession) of the Prophet (peace be upon him), angels, other prophets, and the children who died before they reached the age of puberty while others will be granted forgiveness due to Allah’s Mercy. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says: Verily, Allâh forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills .
Those disobedient Muslims are subject to Allah’s Will: He may forgive them and admit them to Jannah, or punish them in a manner commensurate with their sins and then take them out of the Fire as they will not stay therein forever. None will abide eternally in the Fire except the Kafir (disbeliever) and Mushrik (one who associates others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) who will not be forgiven.
Therefore, disobedient Muslims will not remain eternally in the Fire, according to Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah (adherents to the Sunnah and the Muslim mainstream) unlike the Khawarij (separatist group that believes committing a major sin amounts to disbelief) and Mu`tazilah (a deviant Islamic sect claiming that those who commit major sins are in a state between belief and disbelief) who believe that the disobedient will stay eternally in the Fire. However, Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah hold the view that the disobedient who have died as Muslims believing in the Oneness of Allah, but have not repented of their sins shall be subject to Allah’s Will. May Allah grant us all success!
Q: Will the one who memorize the Magnificent Names of Allah be admitted to Jannah (Paradise)?
A: It is reported in a Hadith Sahih (authentic Hadith) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah has ninety-nine names, one hundred less one. Anyone who learns them will enter Jannah. According to another narration: Anyone who memorizes them will enter Jannah. These ninety-nine Names were not reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) in any Hadith Sahih. However, the Muslim who is guided to learning them, by heart and put into action – and they are ninety-nine Names, is promised that goodness.
The above is one of the Hadiths which speak of the virtues of memorizing the ninety-nine Names of Allah, provided that one does not die while insisting on committing major sins because they are one of the causes that deprive a person from entering Jannah and cause him to be thrown into the Fire, unless one attains Allah’s Forgiveness.
The basic principle is that unrestricted Ayahs (Qur’anic verses) and Hadiths should be interpreted in light of restricted ones, because neither the Ayah nor the Hadith contradicts each other. They rather confirm one another.
Allah (Glorified be He) says: If you avoid the great sins which you are forbidden to do, We shall expiate from you your (small) sins, and admit you to a Noble Entrance (i.e. Paradise). Therefore, Allah indicates that avoiding major sins is a condition for expiating sins and entering Jannah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stated, The Five (Obligatory Daily) Prayers, from one Jumu’ah (Friday Prayer) to the next and from one Ramadan to the next are expiation for (sins committed) in between, as long as major sins have been avoided.
Those who memorize the ninety-nine Magnificent Names of Allah but commit Zina or consume Khamr are subject to Allah’s punishment and will be thrown into the Fire unless they repent and Allah forgives them.Contrary to the belief of Khawarij and Mu`tazilah, Muslims who believe in the Oneness of Allah will not abide eternally in the Fire for committing major sins. Those sinful people will be punished in a manner commensurate with their sins and then Allah will take them out of the Fire due to His Grace and Kindness. None will abide forever in the Fire except those whom the Qur’an and the Hadith rule as Kafir.
A disobedient person such as a fornicator, a thief, and those who are undutiful to their parents etc., will not abide eternally in the Fire. The disobedient, who did not repent of their sins before death, will not abide in the Fire forever. They are threatened to suffer the torment of the Fire. If Allah forgives them, He (Glorified and Exalted be He) is the Source of Generosity and Benevolence; otherwise He will punish them to a degree commensurate with their sins and will eventually take them out of the Fire after being purified.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) informed us in many concurrent Hadiths that the disobedient will be taken out of the Fire and he (peace be upon him) will intercede several times for them as will the angels, the believers, and the children who died before reaching the age of puberty. This is the truth which Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah follow and which differs from the view of Khawarij and Mu`tazilah. The view of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah is supported by Allah’s statement in His Noble Book: Verily, Allâh forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) states that if one commits sins, the matter is subject to His Will but He will not forgive whoever dies as a Mushrik.
Anyone who dies as Mushrik will not be forgiven and will reside eternally in the Fire. A Mushrik is not considered to be one of Ahl-ul-Fatrah (people having no access to Divine Messages) or those who come under the same ruling as them, we seek refuge with Allah!
Whoever dies before repenting of their sins shall be subject to Allah’s Will; if He wills, He can pardon themout of His Grace, and if He wills He can punish them in a manner commensurate with their sins and then take them out of the Fire by His immense Bounty and Mercy after they have been purified. Khawarij and Mu`tazilah hold a different view, as they believe that the disobedient will remain eternally in the Fire but according to the followers of the Truth, this is false.
Q: Your Eminence, it was reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) stated: Allah has ninety-nine Names, one hundred less one. Anyone who ‘ahsaha’ will enter Jannah. Does the word ‘ahsaha’ mentioned in the Hadith mean memorizing or just reading them? Please advise me, may Allah reward you with the best!
A: This Hadith was related in the Two Sahih (authentic) Books of Hadith (i.e. Al-Bukhari and Muslim) from the Prophet (peace be upon him). It was reported in two different wordings: first, “ahsaha” and second, anyone who memorizes them, will enter Jannah. The word ‘ahsaha’ means to memorize by heart and to act according to them. Thus, whoever learns the Names of Allah by heart and acts accordingly will be admitted to Jannah.
However, if one memorizes the Names of Allah by heart, but does not act or believe in them, they will be of no avail. The word ‘ahsaha’ means to memorize and act upon them. Therefore, it is Wajib upon whoever memorizes Allah’s Names to act accordingly. For example, a person should be ‘Rahim’, i.e. show mercy to others and should also believe that Allah is Al-`Aziz (the Ever-Mighty), Al-Hakim (the Most Wise), Al-Ra’uf (the Most Compassionate), Al-Rahim (the Most Beneficent), Al-Qadir (the All Powerful) Who has unlimited knowledge of all things.
Such a person should fear Allah and remember that He is watching them and should not persist in committing sins of which HisLord knows. They should avoid sins and all forms of Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship).
One should exert all his efforts to memorize and act upon the Names of Allah, believe in Him and His Messenger, affirm the Names and the Attributes which Allah has affirmed for Himself in a manner befitting His majesty without Tahrif (distortion of the meaning), Ta`til (negation of the meaning or function of Allah’s Attributes), Takyif (descriptive designation of Allah’s Attributes), or Tamthil (likening Allah’s Attributes to those of His Creation) and believe that Allah is Perfect in His Essence, His Names, His Attributes and His Deeds, with no peer, equal or rival. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says in His Noble Book: Say (O Muhammad sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam): “He is Allâh, (the) One. “Allâh-us-Samad [Allâh the Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, (He neither eats nor drinks)]. “He begets not, nor was He begotten. “And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him.” .
One must believe that Allah is the Self-Sufficient, Who is similar to nothing and nothing is comparable to Him; Whom all creatures need, Who is Perfect in His Essence, Who neither begets nor was He begotten, and Whom none is co-equal or is similar to Him. Allah (Exalted be He) says: There is nothing like Him; and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer. And: Do you know of any who is similar to Him? And: So put not forward similitudes for Allâh (as there is nothing similar to Him, nor He resembles anything).
There is nothing equal, comparable, or that can rival Allah (Exalted be He). He is Perfect in all things; His Knowledge, His Essence, His Wisdom, His Mercy, His Honor, His Power, and in all His Names which if one memorizes and acts accordingly, will allow them admission to Jannah.
However, if the disobedient memorize and enumerate the Names of Allah, they will be subject to Allah’s Will; if He wills, He may forgive them, and if He wills He may punish them and eventually admit them to Jannah after they are taken out of the Fire and are purified provided that they have died as Muslims believing in the Oneness of Allah. Allah (Glorified be He) says: If you avoid the great sins which you are forbidden to do, We shall expiate from you your (small) sins
Major sins include all forms of Shirk, Kufr (disbelief), and the sins that were forbidden by Allah and their doers cursed, and warned of a severe punishment and Allah’s Wrath. The servant to Allah, male and female, must shun them for Allah (Glorified be He) says: If you avoid the great sins which you are forbidden to do, We shall expiate from you your (small) sins i.e., the minor sins and admit you to a Noble Entrance (i.e. Paradise).
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The Five (Obligatory Daily) Prayers, from one Jumu’ah (Friday Prayer) to the next and from one Ramadan to the next are expiation for (sins committed) in between, as long as major sins have been avoided. According to another narration: …so long as major sins are not committed. Major sins include Zina, theft, undutifulness to parents, severing the ties of kinship, consuming Riba, Ghibah, Namimah, fleeing during battle, and magic, in addition to other sins which Allah forbids.
Therefore, memorizing the Magnificent Names of Allah is one means of true happiness and being admitted into Jannah provided that one acts according to them, remains steadfast in obeying Allah and His Messenger, and does not persist in committing major sins
Abu Huraira relates that Allah’s Messenger, peace be upon him, said:
لِلَّهِ تِسْعَةٌ وَتِسْعُونَ اسْمًا مَنْ حَفِظَهَا دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ
Allah has ninety-nine names. Whoever comprehends them will enter Paradise.
[Sahih Muslim, Book 35, Number 6476]
In some narrations of this Hadith, these names are enumerated as follows, “He is Allah besides whom there is no God: the Beneficent, the Merciful, the Sovereign, the Holy…” until ninety-nine names are listed.
This additional text is found in Sunan al-Tirmidhi and Sunan Ibn Majah with different chains of transmission. However, scholars of Hadith are agreed that this addition is not from the words of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
There are a number of important things this Hadith tells us about our belief in Allah’s names.
Allah Has Many Names
Allah says in the Quran:
قُل لَّوْ كَانَ الْبَحْرُ مِدَادًا لِّكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّي لَنَفِدَ الْبَحْرُ قَبْلَ أَن تَنفَدَ كَلِمَاتُ رَبِّي وَلَوْ جِئْنَا بِمِثْلِهِ مَدَدًا
Say: If the ocean were ink (wherewith to write out) the words of my Lord, the ocean would be used up before the words of my Lord would be exhausted, even if we added another ocean like it to help us.
[Surah al-Kahf 18:109]
Allah also says:
وَلَوْ أَنَّمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مِن شَجَرَةٍ أَقْلَامٌ وَالْبَحْرُ يَمُدُّهُ مِن بَعْدِهِ سَبْعَةُ أَبْحُرٍ مَّا نَفِدَتْ كَلِمَاتُ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
If all the trees in the earth were pens, and the sea, with seven more seas to help it (as ink), the words of Allah could not be exhausted. Lo! Allah is Mighty, Wise.
[Surah Luqman 31:27]
The various modes of Allah’s praise, all the numerous aspects of His glory, perfection, greatness, might, and power, are beyond human comprehension. Our minds can never conceive a limit to His nature. Therefore, we should not understand this Hadith to be limiting Allah’s names to ninety-nine.
Indeed, it is authentically related from Ibn Mas’ud that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, while supplicating his Lord:
أَسْأَلُكَ بِكُلِّ اسْمٍ هُوَ لَكَ سَمَّيْتَ بِهِ نَفْسَكَ أَوْ عَلَّمْتَهُ أَحَدًا مِنْ خَلْقِكَ أَوْ أَنْزَلْتَهُ فِي كِتَابِكَ أَوْ اسْتَأْثَرْتَ بِهِ فِي عِلْمِ الْغَيْبِ عِنْدَكَ
I ask You by every name You have, by which You have named Yourself, or have revealed in Your Book, or taught any of Your creatures, or preserved in the knowledge of the unseen that is with You…
[Musnad Ahmad, Number 3704]
Also, in a Hadith describing the Prophet’s intercession on the Day of Judgment, the Prophet, peace be upon him, foretells that he will prostrate beneath the Throne, and then Allah will reveal to him words of praise that had never before been taught to anyone. [Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]
Our Lord has names that He has attributed to Himself. Some of these he has revealed in His Books, like those that are mentioned the Quran. Up to eighty-one names for Allah have been identified in the Quran. Allah has revealed some of His names to a select few of His creatures, like the prophets and the angels.
There are, however, names the knowledge of which Allah has withheld for Himself, names He has taught to no one. This is because Allah cannot be fathomed by His creatures. There are an infinite number of glorious meanings which we as His creatures simply cannot comprehend. His truth is absolute, and His majesty is boundless. His beauty, power, and perfection are without limit. As a consequence, only He can comprehend all of the meanings and names that apply to Him.
As for the ninety-nine names mentioned in the Hadith, these are merely a fraction of His names which have a special significance attached to them. Among what is special about them is that “whoever comprehends them all will enter Paradise.”
Allah’s Names Are Known Only By Revelation
We cannot make up names for Allah. People may certainly extol the praise and glory of their Lord in various ways. There is tremendous creative scope for doing so, as we can see in the speech of scholars, literary masters, and poets. Indeed, sometimes even those who are illiterate, or uneducated, or new believers come up with the most exquisite and eloquent ways to praise and glorify their Lord, inspired as they are by their deep heartfelt love. This is perfectly alright, since it is part of what it means to communicate about Allah, whose deeds are most worthy of being extolled.
It is a different matter when we are talking about Allah’s names. It is impermissible for us to turn what we say about Allah into new names for Him – by which we then call out to Him and invoke Him in our prayers. We can only attribute to Him the names that He has revealed to us in scripture.
This applies even to meanings about Allah that we can ascertain from the Quran. For example, the Quran informs us that Allah speaks and that He declares things. However, it does not give Him names like, “The Speaker,” and “The Declarer.”
What we have as Allah’s names are limited to what is cited in the Qur’an and Sunnah in the form of names, like: The Creator, The Former, The Fashioner, The King, The Holy, The Peace, The Mighty, The Wise, The Sublime, The Great…
I recall reading in Sheikh Hasan al-Banna’s Islamic Creed that he rejected the idea of naming Allah, “The Engineer of the Universe.” It is good that he criticized this tendency.
The Meaning of the Word “Comprehend” is Multi-Faceted
In the statement, “Allah has ninety-nine names, one hundred less one, whoever comprehends them all will enter Paradise” the word encompasses a number of concepts:
First, it conveys the meaning of simply knowing these names and committing them to memory. A number of scholars have made efforts to deduce these names from the Qur’an and authentic Sunnah and to enumerate them. These scholars including al-Zajjaj, Ibn Mandah, Ibn Hazm, al-Ghazali, Ibn al-Arabi, al-Qurtubi, and among contemporary scholars al-Uthaymin and Umar al-Ashqar.
Knowing these names is certainly part of what it means to “comprehend” them. It is certainly a virtue for a Muslim to know these names, invoke them, and call upon Allah with them. It is a good idea, therefore, for a Muslim to write these names down somewhere conspicuous for easy reference, like in the care or in a room as a reminder and to facilitate their memorization.
Secondly, part of “comprehending” Allah’s names is to have knowledge of their meanings. These names are not mere symbols or abstract signifiers of Allah. Neither are they obscure and difficult to comprehend. They are clear Arabic words which are intended to be readily understood. Therefore, it is essential for a Muslim to at least read a short book that explains the meanings of Allah’s names.
When we invoke Allah by His names, the different words we utter should have meaning for us. We should not be simply uttering by rote a string of syllables that we do not understand. Understanding Allah’s names is in itself a great blessing which elevates our hearts, our minds, and our spirits.
Thirdly, we should invoke Allah by these names when we beseech Him in supplication. Allah says:
وَلِلَّهِ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ فَادْعُوهُ بِهَا وَذَرُوا الَّذِينَ يُلْحِدُونَ فِي أَسْمَائِهِ
Allah’s are the most beautiful names, so call on him by them; and leave the company of those who His names in profanity.
[Surah al-A’raf 7:180]
Fourthly, we should recall the meanings of Allah’s names to mind. The worst thing that we are afflicted with in life is heedlessness of Allah and becoming totally immersed in our material concerns. The best medicine for our hearts is to remain aware of Allah’s greatness.
We should strive to bring ourselves to ever higher levels of awareness and faith, until we attain the level the Prophet describes as, “to worship Allah as though you see him.”