Names of God in Islam

The 99 Names of God (أسماء الله الحسنى‎ ʾasmāʾ allāh al-ḥusnā), are the Names of God (specifically, attributes) by which Muslims regard God and which are described in the Qur’an, and Sunnah, amongst other places. There is, according to hadith, a special group of 99 names but no enumeration of them. Thus the exact list is not agreed upon, and the Names of God (as adjectives, word constructs, or otherwise) exceed 99 in the Qur’an and Sunnah. According to a hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Mas’ud some of the names of God have been hidden from mankind, therefore there are not only 99 names of God but there are more.

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Origin

According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad is said to have invoked God by a number of Names. According to a Sunni hadith, Sahih Muslim:

Abu Hurairah reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: There are ninety-nine names of Allah; he who commits them to memory would get into Paradise. Verily, Allah is Odd (He is one, and it is an odd number) and He loves odd number. And in the narration of Ibn ‘Umar (the words are): “He who enumerated them.”

—Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj Nishapuri, Sahih Muslim

Over time it became custom to recite a list of 99 Names, compiled by al-Walid ibn Muslim as an addendum to the hadith.

Mahmoud Abdel-Razek (2005) compiled an alternative list, endorsing only 69 from the list of al-Walid.

The Qur’an refers to the Attributes of God as God’s “most beautiful Names” (Arabic: al-ʾasmāʾ al-ḥusnā) (see the following sura, Al-A’raf 7:180, Al-Isra 17:110, Ta-Ha 20:8, Al-Hashr 59:24). According to Gerhard Böwering,

They are traditionally enumerated as 99 in number to which is added as the highest Name (al-ism al-ʾaʿẓam), the Supreme Name of God, Allāh. The locus classicus for listing the Divine Names in the literature of Qurʾānic commentary is 17:110, “Call upon God, or call upon The Merciful; whichsoever you call upon, to Him belong the most beautiful Names,” and also 59:22–24 q 59:22-4, which includes a cluster of more than a dozen Divine epithets.

Lists of names

List of 99 Names of God as found in the Qur’an

#

Arabic

Transliteration

Translation (can vary based on context)

Qur’anic usage

1

الله

ʾAllāh

The God

 

2

الرحمن

Ar-Raḥmān

The Exceedingly Compassionate, The Exceedingly Beneficent, The Exceedingly Gracious

Beginning of every chapter except one, and in numerous other places. Name frequently used in surah 55, Ar-Rahman

3

الرحيم

Ar-Raḥīm

The Exceedingly Merciful

Beginning of every chapter except one, and in numerous other places

4

الملك

Al-Malik

The King

59:23, 20:114, 23:116

5

القدوس

Al-Quddūs

The Holy, The Pure, The Perfect

59:23, 62:1

6

السلام

As-Salām

The Peace, The Source of Peace and Safety, The Savior

59:23

7

المؤمن

Al-Muʾmin

The Guarantor, The Affirming

59:23

8

المهيمن

Al-Muhaymin

The Guardian

59:23

9

العزيز

Al-ʿAzīz

The Almighty, The Invulnerable, The Honorable

3:6, 4:158, 9:40, 48:7, 59:23

10

الجبار

Al-Ğabbār

The Irresistible, The Compeller, The Lofty

59:23

11

المتكبر

Al-Mutakabbir

The Majestic, The Supreme

59:23

12

الخالق

Al-Ḫāliq

The Creator

6:102, 13:16, 39:62, 40:62, 59:24

13

البارئ

Al-Bāriʾ

The Evolver, The Fashioner, The Designer

59:24

14

المصور

Al-Muṣawwir

The Fashioner of Forms

59:24

15

الغفار

Al-Ġaffār

The Repeatedly Forgiving

20:82, 38:66, 39:5, 40:42, 71:10

16

القهار

Al-Qahhār

The Subduer

12:39, 13:16, 14:48, 38:65, 39:4, 40:16

17

الوهاب

Al-Wahhāb

The Bestower

3:8, 38:9, 38:35

18

الرزاق

Ar-Razzāq

The Provider

51:58

19

الفتاح

Al-Fattāḥ

The Opener, The Victory Giver

34:26

20

العليم

Al-ʿAlīm

The All Knowing, The Omniscient

2:158, 3:92, 4:35, 24:41, 33:40

21

القابض

Al-Qābiḍ

The Restrainer, The Straightener

2:245

22

الباسط

Al-Bāsiṭ

The Extender / Expander

2:245

23

الرافع

Ar-Rāfiʿ

The Exalter

58:11, 6:83

24

المعز

Al-Muʿizz

The Giver of Honour

3:26

25

المذل

Al-Muḏill

The Giver of Dishonour

3:26

26

السميع

As-Samīʿ

The All Hearing

2:127, 2:256, 8:17, 49:1

27

البصير

Al-Baṣīr

The All Seeing

4:58, 17:1, 42:11, 42:27

28

الحكم

Al-Ḥakam

The Judge, The Arbitrator

22:69

29

العدل

Al-ʿAdl

The Utterly Just

6:115

30

اللطيف

Al-Laṭīf

The Gentle, The Subtly Kind

6:103, 22:63, 31:16, 33:34

31

الخبير

Al-Ḫabīr

The All Aware

6:18, 17:30, 49:13, 59:18

32

الحليم

Al-Ḥalīm

The Forbearing, The Indulgent

2:235, 17:44, 22:59, 35:41

33

العظيم

Al-ʿAẓīm

The Magnificent

2:255, 42:4, 56:96

34

الغفور

Al-Ġafūr

The Much-Forgiving

2:173, 8:69, 16:110, 41:32

35

الشكور

Aš-Šakūr

The Grateful

35:30, 35:34, 42:23, 64:17

36

العلي

Al-ʿAlī

The Sublime

4:34, 31:30, 42:4, 42:51

37

الكبير

Al-Kabīr

The Great

13:9, 22:62, 31:30

38

الحفيظ

Al-Ḥafīẓ

The Preserver

11:57, 34:21, 42:6

39

المقيت

Al-Muqīt

The Nourisher

4:85

40

الحسيب

Al-Ḥasīb

The Bringer of Judgment

4:6, 4:86, 33:39

41

الجليل

Al-Ğalīl

The Majestic

55:27, 39:14, 7:143

42

الكريم

Al-Karīm

The Bountiful, The Generous

27:40, 82:6

43

الرقيب

Ar-Raqīb

The Watchful

4:1, 5:117

44

المجيب

Al-Muğīb

The Responsive, The Answer

11:61

45

الواسع

Al-Wāsiʿ

The Vast, The All-Embracing, The Omnipresent, The Boundless

2:268, 3:73, 5:54

46

الحكيم

Al-Ḥakīm

The Wise

31:27, 46:2, 57:1, 66:2

47

الودود

Al-Wadūd

The Loving

11:90, 85:14

48

المجيد

Al-Mağīd

All-Glorious, The Majestic

11:73

49

الباعث

Al-Bāʿiṯ

The Resurrecter

22:7

50

الشهيد

Aš-Šahīd

The Witness

4:166, 22:17, 41:53, 48:28

51

الحق

Al-Ḥaqq

The Truth, The Reality

6:62, 22:6, 23:116, 24:25

52

الوكيل

Al-Wakīl

The Trustee, The Dependable, The Advocate

3:173, 4:171, 28:28, 73:9

53

القوي

Al-Qawwī

The Strong

22:40, 22:74, 42:19, 57:25

54

المتين

Al-Matīn

The Firm, The Steadfast

51:58

55

الولي

Al-Walī

The Friend, Patron and Helper

4:45, 7:196, 42:28, 45:19

56

الحميد

Al-Ḥamīd

The All Praiseworthy

14:8, 31:12, 31:26, 41:42

57

المحصي

Al-Muḥṣī

The Accounter, The Numberer of All

72:28, 78:29, 82:10-12

58

المبدئ

Al-Mubdiʾ

The Originator, The Producer, The Initiator

10:34, 27:64, 29:19, 85:13

59

المعيد

Al-Muʿīd

The Restorer, The Reinstater Who Brings Back All

10:34, 27:64, 29:19, 85:13

60

المحيي

Al-Muḥyī

The Giver of Life

7:158, 15:23, 30:50, 57:2

61

المميت

Al-Mumīt

The Destroyer, The Bringer of Death

3:156, 7:158, 15:23, 57:2

62

الحي

Al-Ḥayy

The Living

2:255, 3:2, 25:58, 40:65

63

القيوم

Al-Qayyūm

The Subsisting, The Guardian

2:255, 3:2, 20:111

64

الواجد

Al-Wāğid

The Perceiver, The Finder, The Unfailing

38:44

65

الماجد

Al-Māğid

The Illustrious, The Magnificent

85:15, 11:73,

66

الواحد

Al-Wāḥid

The One, The Unique

2:163, 5:73, 9:31, 18:110

67

الاحد

Al-ʾAḥad

The Unity, The Indivisible

112:1

68

الصمد

Aṣ-Ṣamad

The Eternal, The Absolute, The Self-Sufficient

112:2

69

القادر

Al-Qādir

The Omnipotent, The All Able

6:65, 36:81, 46:33, 75:40

70

المقتدر

Al-Muqtadir

The Determiner, The Dominant

18:45, 54:42, 54:55

71

المقدم

Al-Muqaddim

The Expediter, He Who Brings Forward

16:61, 17:34,

72

المؤخر

Al-Muʾakhkhir

The Delayer, He Who Puts Far Away

71:4

73

الأول

Al-ʾAwwal

The First, The Beginning-less

57:3

74

الأخر

Al-ʾAḫir

The Last, The Endless

57:3

75

الظاهر

Aẓ-Ẓāhir

The Manifest, The Evident, The Outer

57:3

76

الباطن

Al-Bāṭin

The Hidden, The Unmanifest, The Inner

57:3

77

الوالي

Al-Wālī

The Patron, The Protecting Friend, The Friendly Lord

13:11, 22:7

78

المتعالي

Al-Mutaʿālī

The Supremely Exalted, The Most High

13:9

79

البر

Al-Barr

The Good, The Beneficent

52:28

80

التواب

At-Tawwāb

The Ever Returning, Ever Relenting

2:128, 4:64, 49:12, 110:3

81

المنتقم

Al-Muntaqim

The Avenger

32:22, 43:41, 44:16

82

العفو

Al-ʿAfū

The Pardoner, The Effacer, The Forgiver

4:99, 4:149, 22:60

83

الرؤوف

Ar-Raʾūf

The Kind, The Pitying

3:30, 9:117, 57:9, 59:10

84

مالك الملك

Mālik-ul-Mulk

The Owner of all Sovereignty

3:26

85

ذو الجلال والإكرام

Dhū-l-Ğalāli
wa-l-ʾikrām

The Lord of Majesty and Generosity

55:27, 55:78

86

المقسط

Al-Muqsiṭ

The Equitable, The Requiter

7:29, 3:18

87

الجامع

Al-Ğāmiʿ

The Gatherer, The Unifier

3:9

88

الغني

Al-Ġanī

The Rich, The Independent

3:97, 39:7, 47:38, 57:24

89

المغني

Al-Muġnī

The Enricher, The Emancipator

9:28

90

المانع

Al-Māniʿ

The Withholder, The Shielder, The Defender

67:21

91

الضار

Aḍ-Ḍārr

The Distressor, The Harmer, The Afflictor

6:17

92

النافع

An-Nāfiʿ

The Propitious, The Benefactor, The Source of Good

30:37

93

النور

An-Nūr

The Light

24:35

94

الهادي

Al-Hādī

The Guide, The Way

22:54

95

البديع

Al-Badīʿ

The Incomparable, The Unattainable

2:117, 6:101

96

الباقي

Al-Bāqī

The Immutable, The Infinite, The Everlasting

55:27

97

الوارث

Al-Wāriṯ

The Heir, The Inheritor of All

15:23, 57:10

98

الرشيد

Ar-Rašīd

The Guide to the Right Path

2:256, 72:10

99

الصبور

Aṣ-Ṣabūr

The Timeless, The Patient

2:153, 3:200, 103:3

Islamic mysticism

There is a tradition in Sufism to the effect the 99 names of God point to a mystical “Most Supreme and Superior Name” (ismu l-ʾAʿẓam (ٱلْإِسْمُ ٱلْأَعْظَم). This “Greatest Name of God” is said to be “the one which if He is called (prayed to) by it, He will answer.”

According to a hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Masud, some of the names of God have also been hidden from mankind.[10] More than 1000 names of God are listed in the Jawshan Kabir (جَوْشَنُ ٱلْكَبِير – literally “the Great Cuirass”) invocations.

Theophoric given names

The Arabic names of God are used to form theophoric given names commonly used in Muslim cultures throughout the world, including non-Arabic speaking societies.

Because the names of God themselves are reserved to God and their use as a person’s given name is considered religiously inappropriate, theophoric names are formed by prefixing the term ˁabd (عَبْدُ – “slave/servant of”) to the name in the case of male names; in the case of female names, the prefix amat is used in place of ˁabd.

This distinction is established out of respect for the sanctity of Divine names, which denote attributes (of love, kindness, mercy, compassion, justice, power, etc.) that are believed to be possessed in a full and absolute sense only by God, while human beings, being limited creatures, are viewed by Muslims as being endowed with the Divine attributes only in a limited and relative capacity. The prefixing of the definite article would indicate that the bearer possesses the corresponding attribute in an exclusive sense, a trait reserved to God.

Quranic verse 3:26 is cited as evidence against the validity of using Divine names for persons, with the example of Mālik ul-Mulk (مَـٰلِكُ ٱلْمُلْكُ – “Lord of Power” or “Owner of all Sovereignty”):

“Say: “O God! Lord of Power, You give power to whom You please, and You strip off power from whom You please. You endue with honour whom You please, and You bring low whom You please. In Your hand is all Good.” Verily, over all things You have power.” [Qur’an 3:26]

The two parts of the name starting with ˁabd may be written separately (as in the previous example) or combined as one in the transliterated form; in such a case, the vowel transcribed after ˁabdu is often written as u when the two words are transcribed as one: e.g., Abdur-RahmanAbdul-AzizAbdul-Jabbar, or even Abdullah (عَبْدُ ٱللّٰه – “Servant of God”). (This has to do with Arabic case vowels, the final u vowel showing the normal “quote” nominative/vocative case form.)

Examples of Muslim theophoric names include:

  • Rahmān, such as Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais (عَبْدُ ٱلْرَّحْمَان ٱلْسُّدَيْس) – Imam of the Grand Mosque of Makkah, KSA
  • Salām, such as Salam Fayyad (سَلَام فَيَّاض) – Palestinian politician
  • Jabbār, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (كَرِيم عَبْدُ ٱلْجَبَّار) – American basketball player
  • Hakīm, such as Sherman “Abdul Hakim” Jackson (عَبْدُ ٱلْحَكِيم – ˁabdu ʼl-Ḥakiym) – American Islamic Studies scholar
  • Ra’ūf, such as Ra’ouf Mus’ad (رَؤُوف مُسَعد) – Egyptian-Sudanese novelist
  • Mālik, such as Mālik bin ʼAnas (مَـٰلِك بِن أَنَس) – classical Sunni Muslim scholars after whom the Maliki school of fiqh was named
  • Abdul Muqtedar as in Muhammad Abdul Muqtedar Khan (مُحَمَّد عَبْدُ ٱلمُقْتَدِر خَان) – Indian-American academic

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