Tawheed / Aqidah is one of the most essential knowledge that all Muslims must have, for without learning it, or even learning it through incorrect sources, will inevitably deviate a Muslim from the straight path. Tawheed means believing in Allah alone as God, and attributing to Him alone all the attributes of:
- Lordship (rububiyyah) i.e. believing in Allah as One and Unique with regard to His actions such as creation, sovereignty, giving life and death, and so on;
- Divinity (uluhiyyah) i.e. devoting all acts of worship to Allah Alone, and not worshipping anything else other than Allah; and
- Names and Attributes (al-asma wal-sifat) i.e. affirming the Names and Attributes of Allah, and believing that there is none like unto Allah in His Names and Attributes.
Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah rahimahullah said that the knowledge of Al-Asma Al-Husna is the foundation / basis of all other knowledge. Meaning that whatever ‘ilm we are learning – be it regarding the Deen, the worldly affairs, and everything that is contained in the cosmic universes – they must all be based upon the knowledge of Al-Asma Al-Husna, otherwise that ‘ilm may bring harm than good. For how many have studied science, yet is convinced that there is no Creator (Al-Khaliq)?
This is why one of THE most important ‘ilm that a Muslim must have is ma’rifatullah (i.e. knowing Allah SWT), and one of the best ways in trying to achieve this is through learning Al-Asma Al-Husna.
I mentioned the word ‘trying’ in this context because we will never be able to achieve a 100% full completion in learning Al-Asma Al-Husna; because we will never be able to comprehend the majestic and perfection of Allah SWT. And how could we, for He SWT is beyond our limited intellectual ability. Subhanallah.
With the importance of Aqidah in mind, insya Allah we will begin a new series on this website regarding the most beautiful Names and Attributes of Allah SWT, i.e. Al-Asma Al-Husna.
Adab In Learning Al-Asma Al-Husna
Since we will never be able to comprehend the majestic and perfection of Allah SWT, my teacher always reminds us to make tasbih (subhanallah) and istighfar (astaghfirullah) when learning Al-Asma Al-Husna, because there will always be shortcomings on our part in this endeavour. Even Rasulallah ﷺ, the man who is the most beloved to Allah SWT, would still recite the following:
“…I cannot praise You (Allah) enough, You are as You have praised yourself.”
So who are we to think that our understanding, expectations, praises and glorification of Allah SWT are sufficient and perfect for Him SWT? May Allah SWT forgive our shortcomings.
The Importance of Learning Al-Asma Al-Husna
1. It is a knowledge that stems from the branch of Aqidah / Tawheed, and basis of all knowledge as mentioned earlier.
2. It is the best way to learn about Allah SWT as much as humanly possible based on daleel from the Qur’an and sahih ahadith.
When we were young, we were probably mostly taught to be afraid of Allah SWT; that He is The Most Severe in Punishment, that we will receive His Wrath and be thrown into the Hellfire when we did something wrong. We were mostly focused on that one aspect – fear. Then growing up, we began to focus on another one aspect – (false) hope, such as “It’s okay if I drink alcohol / don’t wear hijab / etc, I’ll make tawbah later, Allah is The Most Forgiving, He will forgive me.”
So we grew up either having misunderstood fear about Allah SWT – and life will certainly be full of despair! – or false hope in Allah SWT.
This is why it is important to learn Al-Asma Al-Husna, because it is mandatory upon every Muslim to both fear AND love Allah SWT. It was reported that Abu Bakr RA said:
“Allah’s worshippers should always be in a state of hope and fear,
they shouldn’t wish flimsy wishes about Allah
and neither should they despair of Allah’s mercy.”
[Refs: Abu Nu’aym, Hilyah Al-Awliya’ Vol.1 p18; Ibn Al-Jawzi, Sifah Al-Safwah]
It was also narrated that Rasulallah ﷺ entered upon a young man who was dying and asked: “How do you feel?” He said: “I have hope in Allah, O Rasulallah, but I fear my sins.” Rasulallah ﷺ said:
“These two things (hope and fear)
do not coexist in the heart of a person in a situation like this
except that Allah will give him that which he hopes for
and keep him safe from that which he fears.”
[Sunan Ibn Majah]
Instilling both love and fear of Allah SWT are achievable through learning Al-Asma Al-Husna, insya Allah.
3. So that we may be as those whom Allah SWT calls those who have knowledge that fear Allah. Allah SWT says in the Qur’an:
“…It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah…”
Ibn Kathir rahimahullah wrote that it means “only those who have knowledge truly fear Him as He should be feared, because the more they know about the Almighty, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Who has the most perfect attributes and is described with the most beautiful Names, the more they will fear Him.”
Thus whoever truly learns and knows Al-Asma Al-Husna will surely fear Allah SWT.
4. So that we may instill good characters through learning Al-Asma Al-Husna. Rasulallah ﷺ said,
“The Compassionate One has mercy on those who are merciful.
If you show mercy to those who are on the earth,
He Who is in the heaven will show mercy to you.”
[Sunan Abu Dawud]
Allah SWT is Ar-Rahman, The Most Merciful. He is Al-Ghafur, The Most Forgiving. These are some beautiful characteristics that we should try to emulate in our own human capacity, seeking and hoping for reward from Allah SWT.
5. So that we may correctly utilize Al-Asma Al-Husna as tawassul for our supplications. Tawassul refers to something that one mentions in his supplication that he hopes will be a reason for the supplication to be answered. One of the prescribed ways for tawassul in our Deen is through Al-Asma Al-Husna, for Allah SWT says:
وَلِلَّهِ ٱلۡأَسۡمَآءُ ٱلۡحُسۡنَىٰ فَٱدۡعُوهُ بِہَاۖ
“And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them…”
Allah SWT Himself has commanded us to call Him by His Al-Asma Al-Husna. It is not merely about whether we can or we should do, but rather we must! From the adab of this method is using the suitable Name for the specific supplication one is asking. One example is the following supplication of Rasulallah ﷺ:
“Allahumma, You are The Most Forgiving, and You love to forgive;
so forgive me.”
We will continue with the series in the next post, insya Allah.