Names of God in Islam
The Names of God in Islam is called asmāʾ allāh al-ḥusnā (Asma Ul Husna which in Arabic means ‘The Most Beautiful Names‘, أسماء الله الحسنى), 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.
Abu Hurairah reported that God has ninety-nine Names, i.e., one hundred minus one, and whoever believes in their meanings and acts accordingly, will enter Paradise; and God is witr (one) and loves ‘the witr’ (i.e., odd numbers).— Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 8, Book 75, Hadith 419
There is another Sahih Muslim Hadith:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “God has ninety-nine Names, one-hundred less one; and he who memorized them all by heart will enter Paradise.” To count something means to know it by heart.— Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 9, Book 93, Hadith 489
The Quran refers to God’s Most Beautiful Names (al-ʾasmāʾ al-ḥusná) in several Surahs. Gerhard Böwering refers to Surah 17 (17:110) as the locus classicus to which explicit lists of 99 names used to be attached in tafsir. A cluster of more than a dozen Divine epithets which are included in such lists is found in Surah 59. Sunni mystic Ibn Arabi surmised that the 99 names are “outward signs of the universe’s inner mysteries”.
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” (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.
The All-Beautiful Names of God
Main article: The All-Beautiful Names of God
Since the time of the Last Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, the All-Beautiful Names of God, exalted is His Majesty, have been a right-guiding source for knowing and recognizing the Divine Being in accordance with His Attributes of Majesty and Grace, and for protecting those who have been able to study and understand them correctly from straying, and for pouring forth true knowledge about the truth of Divinity to those who have been so protected. Everyone who has set off to acquire true knowledge of God has advanced toward deepening in belief in the bright light of the All-Beautiful Names and in their areas of manifestation. In pursuit of true knowledge and love of God Almighty and in pursuit of spiritual pleasures, they have given these Names into the hands of their outer and inner faculties, like so many mysterious keys that will open the doors of knowing Him in accordance with His “true Nature or Identity;” thus they have advanced toward the horizon of “seeing,” knowing, and experiencing Him in the light of the truth that radiates through these doors.
Some verifying scholars have divided the Divine Names into the categories such as the Names indicating the Divine Essence, the Names originating in the Affirmative Divine Attributes, and the Names indicating the Divine Acts. They have also regarded some Names as being the leaders or foundations of all the Names, and have made another categorization under the titles of the Names of Majesty and the Names of Grace. They have considered all the Names to be the foundation or source in which the truths of things originate or even these truths themselves, as well as being the means of all things being transferred from the Realm of the Unseen to the visible or manifest world through the Divine Knowledge, Wisdom, Will, and Power. Such scholars have stressed that these all-blessed Names are veils before the All-Sacred One Who is called by them. It is He alone Who knows the exact truth of everything, and what we must do is to believe in whatever He teaches us.
You will find below the most widely known Divine Names only with just brief definitions.
The Names Indicating the Divine Essence
The Names Originating in Divine Attributes of Glory
The Names Indicating Divine Acts
The Foundational Names
The Names of Majesty
The Names of Grace
Lists of God’s names
Main article: God’s 99 Names in Islam
List of 99 Names of God as found in the Qur’an
|#||Arabic||Transliteration||Translation (can vary based on context)||Qur’anic usage|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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
|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|
|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|
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. More than 1000 names of God are listed in the Jawshan Kabir (جَوْشَنُ ٱلْكَبِير – literally “the Great Cuirass or The Big Shield“) 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-Rahman, Abdul-Aziz, Abdul-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
- List of Arabic theophoric names
- Names of God
- Names of God in Judaism
- “The Nine Billion Names of God“, a short story by Arthur C. Clarke.
- Sahasranama, the Hindu lists of 1000 names of God.
- Morgan, Diane (2010). Essential Islam: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice. ABC-CLIO. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-313-36025-1.
- “al-Quran (القرآن) :: Online Quran Project :: Translation and Tafsir”. Archived from the original on 2009-01-29. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
- “Hadith: Book of Invocations – Sahih al-Bukhari – Sunnah.com – Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)”. sunnah.com. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
- “Hadith – Book of Oneness, Uniqueness of Allah (Tawheed) – Sahih al-Bukhari – Sunnah.com – Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)”. sunnah.com. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
- See the Surah “al-A’raf” (7:180 ), “Al-Isra” (17:110 ), “Ta-Ha” (20:8 ) and “al-Hashr” (59:24 ).
- http://quran.com/59/22-24 (59:22–24)
- Schimmel, Annemarie (1993). The Mystery of Numbers. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. p. 271. ISBN 0-19-508919-7.
- Momen, Moojan (2000). Islam and the Bahá’í Faith. George Ronald. p. 241. ISBN 978-0-85398-446-7. The endnote states: “Ibn Májah, Sunan, 34. (Kitáb ad-Du’á), ch. 9, no. 3856, vol. 2, p. 1267. See also: Ad-Dárimí, Sunan, 23 (Fada’il al-Qur’án), ch. 15, no. 3296, vol. 2, pp. 324–325. Similar statements in Shi’i tradition include: Majlisí, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 26. p. 7.
- Taymiyyah, ibn, Taqī ad-Dīn Ahmad (2003). The Goodly Word: al-Kalim al-Ṭayyib. Islamic Texts Society. p. 72. ISBN 1-903682-15-0.
- Bruce Lawrence The Qur’an: A Biography Atlantic Books Ltd, 02.10.2014 ISBN 9781782392187 chapter 8
- Ayman Shihadeh Sufism and Theology Edinburgh University Press, 21.11.2007 ISBN 9780748631346 pp. 54-56
- Lambden, Stephen (1993). “The Word Baháʼ: Quintessence of the Greatest Name”. Baháʼí Studies Review. 3 (1).
- Smith, Peter (2000). “greatest name”. A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá’í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 167–8. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
- Khadem, Dhikru’llah (March 1976). “Bahá’u’lláh and His Most Holy Shrine”. Baháʼí News (540): 4–5. Archived from the original on 2017-06-20.
- ʾIbrahīm bin ʿAlī al-Kafʿamī (1436–1500 CE), al-Maqām al-asnā fī tafsīr al-asmāʼ al-ḥusnā. Beirut: Dār al-Hādī (1992) (WorldCat listing).
- Al-Rahman al-Rahim. Problems of Interpretation and Translation
- Richard Shelquist, The Beautiful Names of Allah (wahiduddin.net)
- 99 Names of Allah (ul.org.au). 01715463574 DNA ASMAUL
- Oil paintings of all the 99 names of Allah.
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia