By Sheikh Yassin Roushdy
Things may exist at three levels: If they are sighted they have original true existence; if they are imagined by us (i.e. seen by the eye of the mind) they have formative, acknowledged existence; and if they are expressed in words (i.e. verbally) they have verbal referential existence.
Verbal referential existence expresses the formative acknowledged existence that embodies the original true existence.
If things were not sighted they would not have been imagined, and if they had not been imagined they would not have been acknowledged by the human being and hence not expressed in words.
The Word, the Knowledge, and the Known
These three things, though ostensibly different, are identical and parallel; each one has its specific characteristics, and so are the name, the named, and the naming.
God’s name is Allah; the named, Glory be to Him, is the Exalted Being; as for the naming, either it has been done by the people or by Him, and in either case the name has been known and acknowledged since eternity. When Allah inspired the people to utter His name, the verbal existence was thus established; His Name is eternal, as far as the formative acknowledged existence is concerned because it has been known to Him since eternity, but as far as the verbal existence is concerned it is incidental when it is uttered by the people.
Divisions of the Known
Verbal referential existence leads necessarily to the formative acknowledged existence. The word (Allah) connotes God’s existence in minds; any word denotes a Known that is divided as follows:
1) The Impossible in Itself: Is that whose non-existence is not due to any cause save the impossibility of itself, such as the impossibility of the existence of any two contradictory elements at the same time, i.e. we cannot assume the existence and the non-existence of one thing at the same time, this is not accepted by the mind. The Impossible does not exist in minds or in reality.
2) The Possible by Itself: Is that whose existence and non-existence are due to cause. All the existing things perceptible by our senses are an example for the Possible by itself; they need a cause to exist and another to cease to exist. The existence of the cause must precede the existence of the Possible, and anything that is preceded by non-existence is incidental, hence the Possible is incidental because it is preceded by non-existence.
Possible things not only need a cause to exist but they also need a cause to continue to exist. This cause is the originator, the donor of existence, and the true doer; it grants existence to these possible things.
As long as the Possible needs a cause to exist, then they need a finder; this finder can neither be an Impossible nor another Possible, so it could only be the Necessary Being, whose existence is the true cause of all existence.
3) The Necessary Being: Is that who is self-existent and whose existence is not due to any other cause save its true presence and epithets; i.e. if this Being is imagined by the mind in an absolute manner, it cannot be anything other than what is imagined.
The Necessary Being must have the following epithets:
Thereupon, the Necessary Being could only be one, having no partner; unique with no equal; self-existent having no opponent. It must be the first with no beginning, subsisting without cessation, eternal and everlasting with no end. Moreover, it is not a formed body and does not resemble bodies neither in form nor in nature.
This Necessary Being is ever-living, never seized by slumber or sleep; it can never be affected by death, non-existence or annihilation. It has absolute power, having the ability to create and invent; it is omniscient where its all-inclusive knowledge encompasses every single thing. This perfect knowledge is eternal and is neither altered nor corrected according to events. What occurs is only what the Necessary Being wills, and what it does not will never occurs because its will overwhelms its creatures; it accomplishes everything where nothing can escape its all-inclusive knowledge, nor is anything beyond its power.
Thereupon, the mind must perceive the essential inter-relation between the creator of existence and every existing created being. By knowing this co-relation every human being eventually comes to know his creator, his duties, and the wisdom behind his existence. This co-relation must take place through a mediator because it is difficult for the ephemeral to perceive or communicate with the eternal.
The mediator must be selected and qualified by the Necessary Being, and must be of the same race as the people to whom he is sent to instruct. This proves the necessity of sending messengers so that God’s existence is revealed to human beings through legislation and conveyance, after His presence is perceived by logic and mental abilities.
After the truthfulness of the messenger is proved by the mind through evidences, manifestations, and miracles, then he should be believed and listened to, so that what he has to convey is properly understood; here the mind’s role comes to an end and the believer must totally entrust his soul to Allah and submit to His Guidance.
Prophet Muhammad, Allah’s Prayers and Peace be upon him, revealed to us some of Allah’s attributes in which we should believe, such as (the All-Hearing and the All-Seeing Powers, Speaking, and the Firm Establishment on the Throne), as was inspired to him by Allah, “…there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees all things.” (Surah Ash-Shura’: 11), “…and to Moses God spoke direct” (Surah An-Nisaa’, 164), “…and is firmly established on the Throne” (Surah Al-A’raf, 54).
The Epithet of the All-Seeing Power: Through this epithet all what is seen is revealed to Allah.
The Epithet of the All-Hearing Power: Through this epithet all what is heard is revealed to Allah.
The first verse proves the epithets and attributes them to Allah and negates that these two divine epithets can resemble His creatures’. These two divine epithets do not need an organ but they are two divine epithets of perfection. This is proved in the Qur’an by the story of Abraham, “…why worship that which heareth not and seeth not and can profit thee nothing?” (Surah Maryam: 42). Nothing can ever escape His All-Seeing and His All-Hearing Powers.
The Epithet of Speaking: Allah, Praise and Glory be to Him, is still speaking His Divine Word through His Divine Will and Power. What is said by Allah is self-existent and cannot be separated from the Exalted Self. Allah’s Word follows His Will; it does not resemble His creatures’ words.
The Establishment on the Throne: Allah is firmly established on the Throne in a manner far above settlement, location or movement. The Throne doesn’t bear Him but the Throne along with the angels that bear it are subdued by His Omnipotent Grip. We can say what may seem paradoxical: The establishment is not unknown to us, the modality is beyond our logic, yet we must have faith in it.
Prophet Muhammad, Allah’s Prayers and Peace be upon him, instructed us to other epithets that are mentioned in the Qur’an, “Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him.” (Surah Ikhlas: 1- 4)
The One and Only (AL-AHAD): Is that Who is too exalted to be compound, multiple, or what these two epithets may require, such as being corporal, space-limited or having a partner. The word Al-Ahad denounces from every aspect that anyone or anything could resemble Allah as a Being, in His Epithets, or in His Divine Acts; Al-Ahad also denotes that epithets of perfection could only be attributed to Him. That is why only Allah could be named Al-Ahad.
The Eternal, Absolute, Besought of all (AL-SAMAD): Allah, Praise and Glory be to Him, is Self-Existent and Besought of all. He depends on no person, but all beings and all things depend on Him.
He begetteth not: Allah does not need anyone to help or succeed Him.
Nor is He begotten: This is because He needs nothing, had not been preceded by non-existence, and had been derived from nothing.
And there is none like unto Him: All epithets of supremacy, perfection and might are attributed to Him.
Moreover, Allah describes Himself as the Ever-Living and the Self-Existent. The word (the Ever-Living) includes all epithets of perfection of the Supreme Being; the word (the Self- Existent) includes all epithets of perfection of His Divine Acts.
Let us delve in an attempt to reveal lights of the Divine meanings of the Most Beautiful Names of Allah, Praise and Glory be to Him.