Chapter On The Meanings of the Names of Allah and their Derivatives

A group of our people has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid from al-Qasim ibn Yahya from his grandfather al-Hassan ibn Rashid from 'Abdallah ibn Sinan who has said the following.

"I asked abu 'Abdallah (a.s.) about the interpretation of the verse of the holy Quran, 'In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.' The Imam replied, "The first letter B in the Arabic version signifies Baha 'Ullah means beauty of Allah. The second letter S' signifies Sana 'Ullah means radiance of Allah. The third letter M signifies Majdullah means the Grandeur of Allah or according to some other narrators, Mujdullah means Kingdom of Allah.

Allah means; Lord of all things. And al-Rahman means the Beneficent to all of His creatures in general. Al-Rahim means the Most Merciful to the believers in particular."

H 310, Ch. 16, h 2

Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from his father from an-Nadr ibn Suwayd from Hisham ibn al- Hakam who has said that he asked abu 'Abdallah (a.s.), about the names of Allah and their derivations and roots.

"What is the root from which the word Allah is derived?" The Imam replied, "O Hisham, the word Allah is derived from 'ilah, that is, the One Who is worshipped and the One who is worshipped is supposed to be worth worshipping. The name of Allah is different from His Own self. 

Whoever worships the name not the meaning has become a heathen and has, in fact, worshipped nothing. Whoever worships the name and its meaning jointly, he becomes a polytheist because of worshipping two gods.

Whoever worships the meaning of the word Allah only he, in reality, has worshipped the One Allah (God). O Hisham, did you grasp it?" Hisham requested, "Kindly enlighten me more." The Imam added, "Allah has ninety-nine names. If each name had a separate meaning then each meaning would have been a god.

Allah is One only and all His names stand for just One reality and all these names are other than Allah Himself. O Hisham, bread is the name of something to eat. Water is the name of something to drink. Dress is the name of something to wear on.

Fire is the name of something that burns. O Hisham, did you fully grasp the point so you can defend your belief and contest successfully against our opponents, who, along with Allah, the Exalted, the Great, except things other than Him?" Hisham replied, "Yes, I did understand." The Imam said, "O Hisham, may Allah benefit you thereby and grant you steadfastness." Hisham (the narrator) says, "I swear by Allah, no one has ever defeated me on the issue of the Oneness of Allah until now."

H 311, Ch. 16, h 3

A group of our people has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad from al-Barqi from al- Qasim ibn Yahya from his grandfather al-Hassan ibn Rashid from abul Hassan Musa ibn Ja'far (a.s.), who was questioned about the meaning of the word Allah. The Imam replied, "He (Allah) dominates all things small or big."

H 312, Ch. , h

Ali ibn Muhammad has narrated from Sahl ibn Ziyad from Ya'qub ibn Yazid from al-'Abbass ibn Hilal who has said the following.

"I asked Imam al-Rida (a.s.), about the words of Allah, 'Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth'" (24:35). The Imam replied, "Allah is the Guide for all that is in the heavens and the Guide for all that is on the earth."

According to another Hadith narrated by al-Barqi,(the Imam said), "Allah has guided everyone in the heavens and every one on the earth."

H 313, Ch. 16, h 4

Ahmad ibn Idris has narrated from Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Jabbar from Safwan ibn Yahya from Fudayl ibn 'Uthman from ibn abu Ya'fur who has said the following.

"I asked abu 'Abdallah (a.s.), about the words of Allah, The Majestic, the Glorious, 'He (Allah) is the first and the last.' (57:3) We have understood His being the first but explain for us the meaning of His being the last." The Imam said, "There is nothing in the universe, but that is subject to annihilation, alteration, change, decay, transition from one color to another, from one shape to another and from one quality to another.

They increase, decrease and change from decrease to increase, except He, Who is the Lord of the worlds. He alone is eternal and in one state. He is the first, before every thing and the last eternally. His attributes and names do not change as they do in the case of others. A man at one time is dust, at other time flesh and blood, then turns into decaying bones and finally becomes dust. A piece of date at one time is raw, at another time ripe, mature and then it dries up. With every change, the names and attributes also change. Allah, the Majestic, the Glorious is different from all such things."

H 314, Ch. 16, h 5

Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from his father from ibn abu 'Umayr from ibn 'Udhaynah from Muhammad ibn Hakim from Maymun al-Ban who has said the following.

"I heard abu 'Abdallah (a.s.) saying to a question about Allah being the first and the last." The Imam replied, "His being the first means there was no first before Him and no beginning preceded Him at all. His being the last means that He has no end because it is an attribute of the created and He is eternal, the first and the last. He has always been and He will always be without any beginning and any end. Nothing new happens to Him and does not change from one state to another. He is the Creator of all things."

H 315, Ch. 16, h 6

Muhammad ibn abu 'Abdallah in a marfu' manner, has narrated from abu Hashim al-Ja'fari who has said the following.

"I was in the company of abu Ja'far al-Thani, the 2nd (a.s.), when a person asked him, "The names and attributes of the Lord, the Most Holy, the Most High, mentioned in His book (the Holy Quran) are they He Himself?"

The Imam replied, "Your question has two aspects. If you say that they are His Own Self, meaning that He has plurality and multiplicity, then Allah is far exalted from being as such. If you mean that names and attributes of Allah had eternally been there, this also has a double meaning. (Firstly) if you mean, that names and attributes have eternally been in the knowledge of Allah and He eternally deserved them, it is true and quite right.

If you mean that the letters, pictures, spellings and syllables of names and attributes were eternal, then we seek refuge from Him against such belief. Allah existed but there were no creatures. He created names and attributes as a means between His Own-self and the creatures. Through these means they pray to Him and ask Him for help and names are the means to speak of Him.

Allah existed without being mentioned. The One mentioned through names is Allah the eternal, Who will be there eternally. Names and attributes are created their meaning and what they indicate is Allah, Who is far above plurality and combination, which happens only to the moving things. You can not say that Allah is compiled. He is a great deal or very little. He His Own-self is eternal. What is other than the Only One, it is divisible. Allah is not divisible.

Not even in one's imaginations He can be though of as more or less. Every divisible or being thought of as less or more, in one's imagination, is created which is the sign of the existence of the Creator. When you say Allah has power you in reality say that He does not become frustrated due to weakness. In this way you negate weakness from Him and consider it other than Him.

The same is the meaning of your saying that He is all knowing. With this, you negate ignorance from Him and have considered it other than Him. When Allah will destroy all things the form, spelling and syllables will all be destroyed. Allah is and will eternally be there."

The man then said, "Why do we call our Lord All-hearing? The Imam said, "Because every thing that can be heard is not hidden from Him. We do not ascribe to Him the hearing ability that exists in the heads. In the same way we call Him All-seeing. It is because every thing that can be seen like colors or individuals etc., are not hidden from Him. We do not call Him Allseeing because of blinking eye.

In the same way we call Him Subtle because of His knowledge of delicate things such as insects, etc., or even more delicate things. (It is because of His knowledge of) that, wherefrom such things emerge and of the intelligence, desires for reproduction, compassion for their offspring, their guarding each other, their carrying food and drink to their offspring in the mountains, wilderness, valleys and desolate places.

From this we know that their Creator is Subtle but without the condition of subtlety. Such conditions are for the creatures, who are conditioned with conditions.

We also call our Lord powerful but not because of the aggressiveness that the creatures display. If so, there a similarity would have existed as well as degrees of decrease that would involve increases. Whatever would decrease is not eternal and is weak. To our Lord, the Most Holy, the Most High, no one is similar, no contrary, no resemblance, no conditions, no end and no seeing of eyes.

It is unlawful for the hearts to analogize Him. It is unlawful for the Awham (intuitive power) to limit Him. It is unlawful for one's consciousness to contain Him. He is far Glorious and Majestic and above coming within the reach of the means of His creatures or have the sings of His servants. He is High and Great and far above such matters."

H 316, Ch. 16, h 7

Ali ibn Muhammad has narrated from Sahl ibn Ziyad from Ibn Mahbub from those he mentioned from abu 'Abdallah (a.s.) who has said the following.

"A man said, Allahu Akbar (Allah is Greatest) in his presence." The Imam asked, "Allah is Greatest than who?" The man replied, "Greatest than everything." The Imam said, "You have considered Him limited." The man asked, "Then, how should I say it?" The Imam replied, "Say, 'Allah is Greatest beyond description.'"

H 317, Ch. 16, h 8

Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn 'Isa from Marwak ibn 'Ubayd from Jumay' ibn 'Umayr who has said the following.

"Imam abu 'Abdallah (a.s.) asked me, 'What is Allah is Greatest?" I replied, "Allah is Greatest of all things." The Imam further asked, "Were there other things so Allah would be considered the greatest of them?" I then asked, "What then is the meaning thereof?"' The Imam replied, "Allah is far greater than all descriptions."

H 318, Ch. 16, h 9

Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from Muhammad ibn 'Isa ibn 'Ubayd from Yunus from Hisham ibn al-Hakam who has said the following.

"I asked abu 'Abdallah (a.s.) about the words Glorious is Allah." The Imam said, "It means Distinction of Allah (His being free of all shortcomings)."

H 319, Ch. 16, h 10

Ahmad ibn Mihran has narrated from 'Abd al-'Azim ibn 'Abdallah al-Hassani from Ali ibn Asbat. From Sulayman Mawla Tirbal from Hisham al-Jawaliqi who has said the following. "I asked abu 'Abdallah (a.s.) about the meaning of the words of Allah, the Majestic, the Glorious, Glorious Allah (Qur'an, 12:108, 23:91, 28:68, 37:159, 52:43, 59:23). The Imam replied, "They denote Allah's being above all things in perfection."

H 320, Ch. 16, h 11

Ali ibn Muhammad and Muhammad ibn al-Hassan has narrated from Sahl ibn Ziyad and Muhammad ibn Yahya from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn 'Isa all of them from abu Hashim al- Ja'fari who has said the following.

"I asked abu Ja'far al-Thani, the 2nd (a.s.), "What is the meaning of the One?" The Imam replied, "It means the unanimity of all tongues in speaking of Allah's Oneness. If you ask them as to who has created them, they all say it is Allah, Who has created them."