The Attributes of Allah

Mubarak Mosque

The interior design of Mubarak Mosque, Islamabad, Tilford, in the UK is unique amongst mosques of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. A beautiful adornment of the attributes of God Almighty decorates the walls of the mosque.

His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, granted special guidance in all the various phases of the construction of the mosque as well as the calligraphy produced inside it. His Holiness (aba) said that the attributes will serve as a means of inspiring the worshippers to reflect and ponder over the meanings of each attribute. The Review of Religions continues with its exclusive new series in which a short commentary of each attribute has been detailed.

The calligraphy was designed by expert calligrapher Razwan Baig. This research has been compiled by the Research Cell Rabwah through Syed Mubashar Ahmad Ayyaz, and translated into English by Shahzad Ahmed, Nooruddeen Jahangeer Khan & Zafir Mahmood Malik of The Review of Religions.

The Powerful (Al-Qawiyy)

کَدَاۡبِ اٰلِ فِرۡعَوۡنَ ۙ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِہِمۡ ؕ کَفَرُوۡا بِاٰیٰتِ اللّٰہِ فَاَخَذَہُمُ اللّٰہُ بِذُنُوۡبِہِمۡ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ قَوِیٌّ شَدِیۡدُ الۡعِقَابِ

‘Their case is like the case of the people of Pharaoh and those before them: they disbelieved in the Signs of Allah; so Allah punished them for their sins. Surely, Allah is Powerful and severe in punishing.’[1]

According to the Arabic lexicon Lisan al-Arab, اَلْقُوَّۃُ (Al-Quwwatu) means might and power and is the antonym of extremely frail and weak. According to Aqrab al-Mawarid, قَوِیَ عَلَی الْاَمْرِ (Qa-wi-ya a’lal Amr) signifies that one has the power to fulfil a task. Another meaning that is derived from this word is to bestow something upon someone. This word is also used as an attribute of God Almighty, for example:

وَکَانَ اللّٰہُ قَوِیًّا عَزِیْزًا

‘And Allah is Powerful, Mighty.’

In a famous tradition of the Holy Prophet (sa), he once stated that there are 99 attributes of God Almighty: one less than a hundred, for God Almighty is Witr and also loves that which is Witr [that which is unique and singular]. Whosoever memorises these names will enter paradise. They are: Allah…Al-Qawiyy… Dhul-Quwwah. [2]

God – The Most Powerful

The Promised Messiah (as) writes, ‘God is One Who is more powerful than all those who possess power. He is the Mighty, Who is Supreme over all. No one can apprehend Him or kill Him. Those who fall into such errors have not a true concept of God’s attributes.’ [3]

The Witness (Ash-Shahīd)

ہُوَ الَّذِیۡۤ اَرۡسَلَ رَسُوۡلَہٗ بِالۡہُدٰی وَ دِیۡنِ الۡحَقِّ لِیُظۡہِرَہٗ عَلَی الدِّیۡنِ کُلِّہٖ ؕ وَ کَفٰی بِاللّٰہِ شَہِیۡدًا

‘He it is Who has sent His Messenger, with guidance and the Religion of truth, that He may make it prevail over all other religions. And sufficient is Allah as a Witness.’ [4]

According to the Arabic lexicon Aqrab al-Mawarid the meaning of the Arabic word شَھِیدٌ (Shaheed) is a witness and trustworthy. Furthermore, Shaheed means the one who’s knowledge encompasses everything and nothing is hidden from him. Another meaning for Shaheed is the one who slain in the way of Allah. According to Lisan al-Arab, الشَّھِیْدُ (Ash-Shahīd) is an attribute of God Almighty and this means that Allah the Almighty is the most truthful as a witness.

There is a famous tradition narrated by the Holy Prophet (sa) which expounds upon the attribute of Ash-Shahīd. The Holy Prophet (sa) once related, ‘A man from among the Bani Israel asked his fellow tribesman to lend him one thousand dinars. The man who was to lend him the money asked him to bring a witness for this transaction, to which the former replied, “Allah alone is sufficient as a witness.” He then was asked to leave something as a guarantee. He replied, “Allah alone is sufficient as a guarantee.” The lender said, “You have spoken the truth,” and lent the money to him for a prescribed period. After taking the loan, the man set off on a journey by sea to complete his work. When the time to repay the loan came near, he was unable to return to his homeland as there was no boat available to return. Since he had placed Allah as his guarantor and witness, he put one thousand dinars into a wooden box alongside a letter addressed to the one to whom he owed the money and placed that box in the sea. The one who had lent the money used to go see if there were any ships returning, in the hope of receiving the repayment of his loan. However, he happened to find a wooden box which he took home to use as firewood. Upon cutting the wood, he discovered the money and the letter addressed to him. After a period of time, the one who had borrowed the money eventually returned home and came to see his friend along with one thousand dinars. However, his friend told him that God Almighty had already ensured the means for that box of money which he had prepared to safely reach him. Therefore, he could be content and return with the money he brought.’ [5]

The Significance of Belief in Allah

The Promised Messiah (as) points out that the only true witness is Allah: ‘In order to embody true virtue, a belief in the existence of God is necessary, for human authorities are not privy to what a person does in their own home or the actions they commit in hiding. Although a person may claim by tongue to be righteous, if they hold contrary beliefs in their heart, they have no fear of being called to account for it by the people. For there is no government on earth whose fear inspires man constantly and equally during the night and day, in darkness and in light, in seclusion and in public, in private and in the open, at home and in the marketplace. Therefore, in order to reform our morals, belief in such a Being is necessary who watches over man in all states and at all times, and who is privy to all the deeds, actions, and secrets of man’s heart. For in actuality, only such a person is truly righteous whose outer and inner state are one, and whose heart accords with his image. Such a person walks on earth like an angel.’ [6]

The Strong (Al-Matīn)

إِنَّ اللهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِينُ

‘Surely, it is Allah Himself Who is the Great Sustainer, the Powerful, the Strong.’[7]

The attribute اَلْمَتِیْنُ Al-Matin is derived from مَتَنَ (ma-ta-na). According to the famous Arabic lexicon Lisan-ul-Arab, مَتَّنَ الشَّیْئَ (mattana al-shaia) means to strengthen something. Similarly, رَجُلٌ مَتْنٌ (rajulun matnun) means a powerful individual who has a strong backbone. اَلْمَتَانَۃُ (al-mataanatu) means one who possesses great power and strength. However, it further states that one can only be deemed powerful when one reaches the peak of their strengths. Allah the Almighty is the most Powerful and Mighty Being and thus when used as an attribute of God Almighty, it means He is the Strong and all-Powerful.

Suwaid bin Ghafala narrates that once Hazrat Ali (ra) was experiencing some very difficult and straitened circumstances. He asked Hazrat Fatimah (ra) if she could present herself before the Holy Prophet (sa) and request help. Subsequently, Hazrat Fatimah (ra) went to the Holy Prophet (sa), and at the time, Hazrat Umme Aiman (ra) was in the company of the Holy Prophet (sa). When Hazrat Fatimah (ra) knocked on the door of the Holy Prophet (sa), he stated, ‘From the manner of the knock, this is surely Fatimah.’ Hazrat Fatimah (ra) was visiting at a time in which she would not normally visit the Holy Prophet (sa). Hazrat Fatimah (ra) submitted, ‘O Messenger (sa) of Allah! The Tasbih, Tahleel and Tamheed [i.e. to affirm the Oneness of Allah the Almighty and to offer praise to Him] is indeed the nourishment of the angels, however what are our means of sustenance?’ The Holy Prophet (sa) replied, ‘By Him, Who has sent me with the truth, the stove in the house of Muhammad (sa) has not been lit for the last thirty days. However, some goats have arrived and if you like, I can grant you five goats from them, or on the other hand, if you like, I can teach you five sayings which were taught to me by Gabriel (as).’ Hazrat Fatimah (ra) submitted, ‘Teach me the five sayings which Gabriel (as) taught you.’ The Holy Prophet (sa) stated, ‘Recite “O Thou, Who is the First of the first! O Thou Who is the Last of the last! O Thou, the most Powerful and Strong! O Thou Who bestows mercy on the poor! O most Merciful of all.”’ Thereafter, Hazrat Fatimah (ra) left and returned to Hazrat Ali (ra). Hazrat Ali (ra) enquired, ‘What is behind you [i.e. what is it that you have brought with you]?’ Hazrat Fatimah (ra) replied, ‘I left you in pursuit of worldly wealth but I return to you with provisions for the hereafter.’ Hazrat Ali (ra) replied, ‘Most surely this day of yours is amongst the best of the days.’ [8]

God – the All-Powerful

The Promised Messiah (as) states, ‘And I was in a state of great anxiety. I would have lost my life had the powerful God not been with me. God Almighty is our Master; the disbelievers have no master. He it is Who accepts my prayers, listens to our cries, and comes towards us when we go towards Him in distress.’ [9]

The Praiseworthy (Al-Ḥamīd)

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا لُقْمَانَ الْحِكْمَةَ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِلَّهِ وَمَنْ يَشْكُرْ فَإِنَّمَا يَشْكُرُ لِنَفْسِهِ وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ حَمِيدٌ

‘And We bestowed wisdom on Luqman, saying, “Be grateful to Allah,” and whoso is grateful, is grateful only for the good of his own soul. And whoso is ungrateful, then surely Allah is Self-Sufficient, Praiseworthy. [10]

According to the Arabic lexicon Lisan al-Arab, اَلْحَمِیْدُ (Al-Ḥamīd) is derived from حَمَدَ – حَمِدَ (ha-ma-da orha-mi-da) which means to find someone worthy of praise. The phrase اَحْمَدُ اِلَیْکَ اللّٰہَ (Ahmadu ilaik Allaha) has multiple meanings; for example, ‘I join with you to offer praise to Allah the Almighty’ or ‘I praise Allah in your presence and recount His favours upon me.’

اَلْحَمْدُ رَأْسُ الشُّکْرِ (Alhamdu ra’su ash-shukri) means that Alhamdu [all praise] is the most excellent form of shukr [praise or gratitude].

Expanding on the wisdom of why hamd is a greater form of praise than shukr, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) states the following in At-Tafsīr-ul-Kabīr – The Grand Exegesis:

Ḥamd means praise. In the Arabic language, several words are used to convey the meaning of praise: حمد ḥamd, مدح madḥ, شكر shukr, and ثناء thanā’. Allah the Almighty has not chosen the word ḥamd without reason. Shukr means to acknowledge and appreciate a favour. However, when this word is used in reference to Allah the Almighty, it only means appreciation. It is evident that the word ḥamd is more comprehensive than shukr because it does not merely signify acknowledgement of the favour; rather, it signifies the recognition of, expression of pleasure for, and appreciation for, all the intrinsic beauties of the praised object. Thus, it is a more comprehensive word on account of its meanings.’[11]

Hazrat Jabir (ra) relates that the Holy Prophet (sa) once said, ‘It is incumbent upon those who believe in Allah and the Last Day to offer the Friday prayers, with the exception of the one who is sick, on a journey, women, children and slaves. Allah the Almighty is Self-Sufficient. Thus, whosoever shows negligence in offering the Friday prayer owing to worldly pursuits or trade, Allah the Almighty will abandon him, for He is Self-Sufficient, the Praiseworthy. [12]

Everything in the Heavens and Earth Glorifies God

But it is not just humans that glorify God. Rather, as the Promised Messiah (as) writes, ‘every particle of heaven and earth glorifies and proclaims the holiness of God and everything in them is engaged in His glorification and praise. The mountains remember Him, the rivers remember Him, the trees remember Him and many righteous people are occupied with His remembrance. Anyone who does not remember Him with his heart and tongue and does not humble himself before God is humbled by diverse types of torment and chastisement, as a result of divine decree.’ [13]

The Protector (Al-Waliyy)

أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللهَ لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا لَكُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللهِ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ

‘Dost thou not know that the kingdom of the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah alone? And there is no protector or helper for you beside Allah.’ [14]

According to Imam Raghib, وَلِیَ الشَّیْئُ الشَّیْئَ (Wali ash-shaiu ash-shaia) means for something to be attached or fixed to another. [15] According to Lisan al-Arab, تَوَالَی الشَّیْئَ (tawaala ash-shaia) means to follow behind something. Similarly it states thatاَلْوَلِیُّ (Al-Waliyy) means a friend or a helper.

Al-Waliyy is an attribute of God Almighty and with regards to this attribute, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) stated in a Friday sermon:

‘According to lexicon, it means a helper, a Being who takes care of all matters of the entire universe and all creation. It also connotes a friend who is compliant. It is stated in Surah Al-Baqarah that “Allah is the friend of those who believe…” God is the Helper of believers and fulfils their needs, guides them and establishes their reasoning and proofs. The complete verse is thus: “Allah is the friend of those who believe: He brings them out of every kind of darkness into light. And those who disbelieve, their friends are the transgressors who bring them out of light into every kind of darkness. These are the inmates of the Fire; therein shall they abide.” (2:258). The truth is that God is the Friend of the believers, whose belief is free from worldly contamination and continues to traverse stages of development. Their belief takes them out of darkness and into light. God thus declares here that He will bless those who believe, with spiritual and physical success on an individual as well as communal level and will release them from troubles. This is conditional to continual spiritual advancement after the initial belief. Those who seek this through abiding by God’s commandments, God truly becomes their Friend and no opposition, no force on this earth can destroy them.’ [16]

Related to this attribute, Hazrat Abdullah (ra);says that the Holy Prophet (sa) said, ‘Every Prophet has a Wali [friend] from among the prophets. MyWali is my father [patriarch] Abraham, the Friend of Allah.” Then he recited: ‘Surely, the nearest of men to Abraham are those who followed him, and this prophet and those who believe; and Allah is the friend of believers.’[17]

Allah – The Most Excellent Protector

The Promised Messiah (as) explains this attribute of Allah’s in this way: ‘The fact of the matter is that the True Helper and Supporter is that Being Whose greatness is extolled in the Qur’anic appellations describing Him to be an excellent Protector (ni’mal-mawla), an excellent Helper (ni’man-naseer) and an excellent Guardian (ni’mal-wakeel). In the eyes of the godly, this world along with its support is like the dead. They do not consider it to be worth even a dead insect. However, in order to teach the world a fundamental rule of prayer, they adopt this worldly method as well. In reality, they consider God Almighty to be the one who takes care of their ministry; that is the absolute truth.’ [18]

The Promised Messiah (as) once suffered from a boil on his right cheek, which was causing him great pain. On supplication he received the sentences given below as revelation. By supplicating in these terms, he was immediately relieved of his trouble:

بِسْمِ اللّٰہِ الْکَافِیْ۔ بِسْمِ اللّٰہِ الشَّافِیْ۔ بِسْمِ اللّٰہِ الْغَفُوْرِ الرَّحِیْمِ۔ بِسْمِ اللّٰہِ الْبَرِّ الْکَرِیْمِ (1)۔ یَاحَفِیْظُ ۔ یَا عَزِیْزُ۔ یَا رَفِیْقُ۔ یَا وَلِیُّ اشْفِنِیْ

‘In the name of Allah, the Sufficient, in the name of Allah, the Healer, in the name of Allah, the Most Forgiving, the Ever Merciful, in the name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Noble. O Protector, O Mighty, O Companion. O Guardian, bestow healing on me.’ [19]

[1] The Holy Qur’an, 8:53.

[2] Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab ad-Du’a, Hadith No.3861.

[3] Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2017), p. 98.

[4] The Holy Qur’an, 48:29.

[5] Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Kifalah, Hadith No.2291

[6] Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Malfuzat – Volume 2 (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2019), p. 33.

[7] The Holy Qur’an, 51:59.

[8] Kanzul Ummal, Kitab-ul-Azkar, Hadith no. 5019.

[9] Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), Minan-ur-Rahman (Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission Nigeria, 1963), 72.

[10] The Holy Qur’an, 31:13.

[11] Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), At-Tafsīr-ul-Kabīr, Volume 1, p.18 (See The Review of Religions, November 2019, for further details).

[12] Dar Qutni, Kitabul Jumu’ah, Hadith no. 1560.

[13] Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), Noah’s Ark (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2018), 52.

[14] The Holy Qur’an, 2:108.

[15] Mufridaat, Imam Raghib.

[16] Summary of Friday Sermon, 23rd October 2009.

[17] Jami’ at-Tirmidhi Tafsir al-Qur’an ‘An Rasulillah, Hadith no. 2995

[18] Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as),Malfuzat – Volume 1 (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2018), 166.

[19] Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as),Tadhkirah (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2009), 687.