99 names of Allah

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The Quran talks about "beautiful names of Allah" and the hadiths further specify that there is exactly 99 names. Muslims are supposed to learn these names of Allah, but there is a problem, because Muhammad didn't offer the full list of these names. Islamic scholars had to rely on ijtihad to find these names in the Quran and sunnah and different scholars came up with different lists. Out of the supposed 99 names of Allah, they together found at least 276 names.

The phrase "beautiful names of Allah" mentioned in the Quran

The Quran says that Allah has beautiful names (الأسماء الحسنى, al-asmaa' ul-husnaa), but doesn't specify what these names are and how many.

And to Allah belong the best names (الأسماء الحسنى), so invoke Him by them. And leave [the company of] those who practice deviation concerning His names. They will be recompensed for what they have been doing.
Say, "Call upon Allah or call upon the Most Merciful. Whichever [name] you call - to Him belong the best names (الأسماء الحسنى)." And do not recite [too] loudly in your prayer or [too] quietly but seek between that an [intermediate] way.
Allah - there is no deity except Him. To Him belong the best names (الأسماء الحسنى).
He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor, the Fashioner; to Him belong the best names (الأسماء الحسنى). Whatever is in the heavens and earth is exalting Him. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.

حسنى (husnaa) is translated as "beautiful", "best", "excellent" or "finest" [1]. The phrase "beaufiful names of Allah" and the word pig (خنزيير) were both mentioned exactly 4 times in the Quran - for more word count "miracles" click here.

Hadith

There are many hadith claiming Allah has 99 names, this is one of them from Sahih Bukhari:

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "Allah 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.

Some apologetic sources (including Wikipedia) claim that according to the hadith, there are at least 99 names. But the hadith doesn't say "at least". It says simply ninety-nine (تِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ) and even adds that it's one hundred minus one, which seems to emphasize, that it is exactly 99 and not 100 or more. And the hadith also says that who memorizes all these names would go to paradise - such a task would be hard in the time of Muhammad, considering that in that time the ummah was illiterate. And even today, as we'll see, it seems impossible to find exactly 99 names.

The popular list

Source

The most popular list of 99 names of Allah among Muslims (which is also used on the English Wikipedia) seems to be a list from a weak (da'if) hadith from the collection of Tirmidhi.

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Indeed, Allah has ninety-nine Names, one hundred less one, whoever counts them shall enter Paradise. He is Allah, the one whom there is none worthy of worship except for Him (Allāhu Lā Ilāha Illā Huwa), the Most Merciful (to the creation) (Ar-Raḥmān), the Most Beneficent (to the believers) (Ar-Raḥīm), the King (Al-Malik), the Free of Deficiencies (Al-Quddūs), the Granter of Safety (As-Salām), the Granter of Security (Al-Mu’min), the Watcher (Al-Muhaimin), the Mighty (Al-`Azīz), the Compeller (Al-Jabbār), the Supreme (Al-Mutakabbir), the Creator (Al-Khāliq), the Originator (Al-Bāri’), the Fashioner (Al-Muṣawwir), the Pardoner (Al-Ghaffār), the Overwhelming (Al-Qahhār), the Giving (Al-Wahhāb), the Provider (Ar-Razzāq), the Opener (Al-Fattāḥ), the Knowing (Al-`Alīm), the Taker (Al-Qābiḍ), the Giver (Al-Bāsiṭ), the Abaser (Al-Khāfiḍ), the Exalter (Ar-Rāfi`), the One who grants honor (Al-Mu`izz), the One who humiliates (Al-Mudhil), the Hearing (As-Samī`), the Seeing (Al-Baṣīr), the Judge (Al-Ḥakam), the Just (Al-`Adl), the Kind (Al-Laṭīf), the Aware (Al-Khabīr), the Forbearing (Al-Ḥalīm), the Magnificent (Al-`Aẓīm), the Oft-Forgiving (Al-Ghafūr), the Grateful (Ash-Shakūr), the Most High (Al-`Aliyy), the Great (Al-Kabīr), the Guardian (Al-Ḥafīẓ), the Powerful (Al-Muqīt), the Reckoner (Al-Ḥasīb), the Glorious (Al-Jalīl), the Generous (Al-Karīm), the Watcher (Ar-Raqīb), the Responder (Al-Mujīb), the Liberal Giver (Al-Wāsi`), the Wise (Al-Ḥakīm), the Loving (Al-Wadūd), the Majestic (Al-Majīd), the Reviver (Al-Bā`ith), the Witness (Ash-Shahīd), the Truth (Al-Ḥaqq), the Guarantor (Al-Wakīl), the Strong (Al-Qawiyy), the Firm (Al-Matīn), the One Who Aids (Al-Waliyy), the Praiseworthy (Al-Ḥamīd), the Encompasser (Al-Muḥṣi), the One Who Begins things (Al-Mubdi’), the One Who brings things back (Al-Mu`īd), the One Who gives life (Al-Muḥyi), the One Who causes death (Al-Mumīt), the Living (Al-Ḥayyu), the Self-Sufficient (Al-Qayyūm), the One Who brings into existence (Al-Wājid), the Illustrious (Al-Mājid), the One (Al-Wāḥid), the Master (Aṣ-Ṣamad), the Able (Al-Qādir), the Powerful (Al-Muqtadir), the One who hastens (Al-Muqaddim), the One who delays (Al-Mu’akhkhir), the First (Al-Awwal), the Last (Al-Ākhir), the Apparent (Aẓ-Ẓāhir), the Inner (Al-Bāṭin), the Owner (Al-Wāli), the Exalted (Al-Muta`āli), the Doer of Good (Al-Barr), the Acceptor of repentance (At-Tawwāb), the Avenger (Al-Muntaqim), the Pardoning (Al-`Afuww), the Kind (Ar-Ra’ūf), the Owner of Dominion (Mālikul-Mulk), the Possessor of Glory and Generosity (Dhul Jalāli wal Ikrām), the One who does justice (Al-Muqsiṭ), the Gatherer (Al-Jāmi`), the Rich (Al-Ghaniyy), the Enricher (Al-Mughni), the Preventer (Al-Māni`), the Harmer (Aḍ-Ḍār), the One who benefits (An-Nāfi`), the Light (An-Nūr), the Guide (Al-Hādi), the Originator (Al-Badī`), the Lasting (Al-Bāqi), the Inheritor (Al-Wārith), the Guide (Ar-Rashīd), the Tolerant (Aṣ-Ṣabūr).”

This hadith is weak. Tirmidhi wrote about it:

"This (version of the) hadith is gharib [unusual, scarce]; it has been narrated from various routes on the authority of Abu Hurairah, but we do not know of the mention of the Names in the numerous narrations, except this one."
Tirmidhi comment on the list

Ibn Taimiyya said:

"Al-Walid (one of the narrators of the hadith) related the Names from (the saying of) one of his Syrian teachers ... specific mention of the Names is not from the words of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), by the agreement of those familiar with Hadith."
Ibn Taimyya

The list

The list (which is based on a weak hadith) probably looks attractive, because it contains references to the Quran. However it gets less amazing when you find out that in some of these references the word is not actually present in the Arabic Quran. When there is more verses containing the name, only one exemplary verse is mentioned. But if there is more verses and none of them actually mentions the name, all of them are mentioned in the list with the addition "(it's not there)".

Num. In Arabic Transliteration Offical translation Actual translation Reference Notes
1 الرحمان ar-rahmaan The Most Gracious The Gracious Qur'an 1:1
2 الرحيم ar-raheem The Most Merciful The Merciful Qur'an 1:1
3 المالك al-maalik The King The Posessor [2] Qur'an 59:23 Some translations say "sovereign" [3]
4 القدوس al-quddoos The Holy The Holy Qur'an 59:23
5 السلام as-salaam The Peace Free from defect Qur'an 59:23 Ibn Kathir understands it as "free from defect" [4]
6 المؤمن al-mu'min The Granter of Security The Believer [5] Qur'an 59:23 Mu'min in all other verses means "believer" [6]
7 المهيمن al-muhaymin The Controller The Controller Qur'an 59:23
8 العزيز al-'azeez The Powerful The Honorable [7] Qur'an 3:6
9 الجبار al-jabbar The Strong The Forceful [8] Qur'an 59:23
10 المتكبر al-mutakabbir The Supreme The Arrogant/The Boaster [9] Qur'an 59:23
11 الخالق al-khaaliq The Creator The Creator Qur'an 6:102
12 البارئ al-baari The Maker The Maker Qur'an 59:24
13 المصور al-musawwir The Fashioner The Fashioner Qur'an 59:24
14 الغفار al-ghaffaar The Repeatedly Forgiving The Forgiving Qur'an 20:82
15 القهار al-qahhaar The Subduer The Despot / The Conqueror Qur'an 12:39
16 الوهاب al-wahhaab The Bestower The Provider [10] Qur'an 38:9 Also a name of the founder of Wahhabism.
17 الرزاق ar-razaaq The Provider The Provider Qur'an 51:58
18 الفتاح al-fattaah The Opener The Opener Qur'an 34:26 "fath" (opening) is a euphemism for Islamic conquests (futuhaat islamiyya, literally "islamic openings").
19 العليم al-'aleem The Knowing The Knowing Qur'an 2:158
20 القابض al-qaabid The Restrainer The Grabbing [11] Qur'an 2:245 (it's not there) قبضة qabda is fist
21 الباسط al-baasit The Extender The Extender Qur'an 2:245 (it's not there) It should be actually باصط.
22 الخافض al-khaafid The Humiliator The Lessener/Lowerer Qur'an 56:3 (it's not there)
23 الرافع ar-raafee The Exalter The Raiser Qur'an 56:3 (it's not there)
24 المعز al-muiz The Giver of Honor The Honored Qur'an 3:26 (it's not there) المعز also means "The Goat"
25 المذل al-mudhil The Giver of Dishonor The Humiliating [12] Qur'an 3:26 (it's not there)
26 السميع as-samii The Hearing The Hearing Qur'an 2:127
27 البصير al-baseer The All-Seeing The Seeing Qur'an 4:58
28 الحكم al-hakam The Judge The Judge Qur'an 22:69 (it's not there)
29 العدل al-adl The Just The Justice Qur'an 6:115 (it's not there)
30 اللطيف al-lateef The Subtly Kind The Kind Qur'an 22:63
31 الخبير al-khabeer The All-aware The Informed [13] Qur'an 6:18
32 الحليم al-haleem The Forbearing The Forbearing Qur'an 2:235
33 العظيم al-'azeem The Great The Great Qur'an 2:255
34 الغفور al-ghafoor The Much Forgiving The Forgiving Qur'an 2:173 The list already contains Ghaffar, which means the same.
35 الشكور ash-shakoor The Grateful The Thankful Qur'an 35:30
36 العلى al-aliyy The Sublime The Exalted Qur'an 4:34
37 الكبير al-kabeer The Great The Great Qur'an 13:9 Not akbar (اكبر) - the Greatest??
38 الحفيظ al-hafeez The Preserver The Preserver Qur'an 11:57
39 المقيت al-muqeet The Nourisher The Nourisher Qur'an 4:85
40 الحسيب al-haseeb The Bringer of Judgment The Accountant Qur'an 4:6 حساب hisaab means account
41 الجليل al-jaleel The Majestic The Majestic Qur'an 55:27 (it's not there), Qur'an 7:143 (it's not there)
42 الكريم al-kareem The Bountiful The Bountiful Qur'an 27:40
43 الرقيب ar-raqeeb The Watchful The Watchman Qur'an 4:1
44 المجيب al-mujeeb The Responsive The Responsive Qur'an 11:61
45 الواسع al-waasie The Vast The Vast Qur'an 2:268
46 الحكيم al-hakeem The Wise The Wise Qur'an 31:27
47 الودود al-wadood The Affectionate The Affectionate Qur'an 11:90
48 المجيد al-majeed The Glorious The Glorious Qur'an 11:73
49 الباعث al-baaith The Resurrector The Resurrector Qur'an 22:7 (it's not there)
50 الشهيد ash-shaheed The Witness The Witness Qur'an 4:166
51 الحق al-haqq The Truth The Truth Qur'an 22:6 Allah in the Quran claims that the Earth is flat.
52 الوكيل al-wakeel The Trustee The Trustee Qur'an 3:173
53 القوي al-qawee The Strong The Strong Qur'an 22:40
54 المتين al-mateen The Firm The Firm Qur'an 51:58
55 الولي al-walee The Friend The Friend Qur'an 4:45
56 الحميد al-hameed The All Praiseworthy The Praiseworthy Qur'an 14:8 Muhammad (محمد) is derived from the same root.
57 المحصى al-muhsee The Accounter The Accounter Qur'an 72:28 (it's not there), Qur'an 78:29 (it's not there) إحصىء means "statistics"
58 المبدئ al-mubdi The Initiator The Initiator Qur'an 10:34 (it's not there), Qur'an 27:64 (it's not there), Qur'an 29:19 (it's not there), Qur'an 85:13 (it's not there)
59 المعيد al-mueed The Restorer The Lecturer [14] Qur'an 10:34 (it's not there), Qur'an 27:64 (it's not there), Qur'an 29:19 (it's not there), Qur'an 85:13 (it's not there)
60 المحي al-muhee The Giver of Life The Giver of Life Qur'an 30:50
61 المميت al-mumeet The Bringer of Death The Deadly [15] Qur'an 3:156 (it's not there), Qur'an 7:158 (it's not there), Qur'an 15:23 (it's not there), Qur'an 57:2 (it's not there)
61 الحى al-hayy The Living The Living Qur'an 2:255
63 القيوم al-qayyum The Subsisting The Subsisting Qur'an 2:255
64 الواجد al-waajid The Perceiver The Angry [16] Qur'an 38:44 (it's not there)
65 الماجد al-maajid The Illustrious The Illustrious Qur'an 11:73
66 الواحد al-waahid The Single The Single Qur'an 13:16
67 الأحد al-ahad The One The One Qur'an 112:1
68 الصمد as-samad The Eternal The Eternal Qur'an 112:2
69 القادر al-qaadir The All-Powerful The Able Qur'an 6:65
70 المقتدر al-muqtadir The Determiner The Able Qur'an 18:45
71 المقدم al-muqaddim He Who Brings Forward The Donor Qur'an 16:61 (it's not there)
72 المؤخر al-muakhir The Delayer The Delayer Qur'an 71:4 (it's not there)
73 الأول al-awwal The First The First Qur'an 57:3 The first what?
74 الآخر al-aakhir The Last The Last Qur'an 57:3 The last what?
75 الظاهر az-zaahir The Apparent The Apparent Qur'an 57:3
76 الباطن al-baatin The Inner The Inner Qur'an 57:3
77 الوالي al-waali The Patron The Patron Qur'an 13:11 "And there is not for them besides Him any patron." - is it really a name?
78 المتعالي al-mutaali The Most High The Arrogant [17] Qur'an 13:9
79 البر al-barr The Good The Good Qur'an 52:28
80 التواب at-tawwaab The Ever-Returning The Merciful Qur'an 4:64
81 المنتقم al-muntaqim The Avenger The Revenger Qur'an 32:22 It's in plural form.
82 العفو al-'afuu The Pardoner The Pardoner Qur'an 4:43
83 الرؤف ar-rauf The Kind The Kind Qur'an 9:117
84 مالك الملك maalik ul-mulk The Owner of all Sovereignty The Owner of all Dominion Qur'an 3:26
85 ذو الجلال والإكرام dhul jalaal wal ikraam The Owner, Lord of Majesty and Honour The Owner, Lord of Majesty and Honour Qur'an 55:27
86 المقسط al-muqsit The Equitable The Equitable Qur'an 3:18 (it's not there)
87 الجامع al-jaami The Gatherer The Gatherer Qur'an 3:9
88 الغني al-ghaani The Rich The Rich Qur'an 57:24
89 المغني al-mughni The Enricher The Enricher Qur'an 9:28 (it's not there)
90 المانع al-maani The Preventer The Preventer Qur'an 67:21 (it's not there) It's not there at all.
91 الضار ad-daar The Harmer The Harmer Qur'an 6:17 (it's not there)
92 النافع an-naafi The Propitious The Propitious Qur'an 30:37 (it's not there) It's not there at all.
93 النور an-noor The Light The Light Qur'an 24:35
94 الهادي al-haadi The Guide The Guide Qur'an 22:54
95 البديع al-badee The Originator The Originator Qur'an 2:117
96 الباقي al-baaqi The Immutable The Remaining Qur'an 55:27 (it's not there) "And there will remain the Face of your Lord..." - not a name.
97 الوارث al-waarith The Heir The Heir Qur'an 15:23 It's in plural
98 الرشيد ar-rasheed The Guide to the Right Path The ِRightly Guided Qur'an 72:10 (it's not there) "And we do not know [therefore] whether evil is intended for those on earth or whether their Lord intends for them a right course (رشدا)."
99 الصبور as-saboor The Patient The Patient Qur'an 2:153 (it's not there), Qur'an 3:200 (it's not there), Qur'an 103:3 (it's not there)

Layers of wrongness

It is based on a weak hadith

Memorizing the list should make Muslims go to paradise, but since the hadith is unreliable, Muslims cannot rely on going to heaven for memorizing it.

Anybody can realize that it is not wise of Allah to offer Muslims a go to paradise and not to give them the list.

Some names are not actually beautiful

Some of the names, like "The Harmer", even with apologetic translation by Muslims, doesn't seem to be beautiful.

Some names are strange

Why is one of his names "The Believer" (المؤمن)?

Duplicates

Why is the verse 55:27 considered as an instance of both "ذو الجلال والإكرام" and "الجليل"? And what is the difference between الغفور and الغفار? And what about "مالك" and "مالك الملك"?

Are they all really names?

Arabic doesn't use capital letters for names. So a noun could be understood both as a proper noun or as a regular noun. For example the Arabic name Abdullah (عبد الله) could be understood as the name "Abdullah", but it could also be understood literally "slave of god". In the same way some of the "names of Allah" could be simply his characteristics, not names. In the same way we can understand "الله الرحيم" as both "Allah, The Merciful" and "merciful Allah". That is also a reason why finding the names in the Quran by ijtihad is practically impossible.

Some names are not actually mentioned in the Quran

Many of the names in the column "In Arabic" are not actually in the Arabic Quran. These names were marked with "(it's not there)" in our table.

Let's analyze, for example, the last name of Allah, الصبور (The Patient).

First, it's supposed to be in the verse 2:153:

O you who have believed, seek help through patience (بالصبر) and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.


The word الصبور doesn't exist in the verse. The word الصبر exists there, but it means "patience", not "the patient one". And if based on this verse "Patience" is a name of Allah, then why not "The Prayer"? The verse talks about patience and prayer in the same context.

The next verse that supposedly includes the word الصبور is this one:

O you who have believed, persevere and endure (اصبروا وصابروا) and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful.

What? This was a verb and it was a command for the believers, not a name of Allah.

Next verse:

Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience (بالصبر).

Again it's the word الصبر (the patience), not الصبور (the patient one) and it's not a name of Allah. It's just a command for believers to advise each other to be patient.

So nowhere in the Quran it mentions الصبور being the name of Allah, that means the 99th name in this list is wrong and therefore the whole list is unreliable. We could analyze many more of these supposed "names" how they are not actually in the Quran. They are even easier ones to debunk, for example The Preventer (المانع) doesn't exist in the verse 67:21, not even a verb derived from the same root منع. Although the word "Preventer" exists in the Quran (50:25 and 68:12), but it is written as مناع, not مانع and it says "preventer of good" about disbelievers.

Other names not mentioned in the list

Analyzing the list, we see that some of the "names of Allah" don't seem to be proper names, but just simply nouns like "patience". And also sometimes the "name of Allah" is derived from a verb occurring in the Quran. Using the same tactics, we could find many more names of Allah in the Quran. For example, the verse 8:17 says Allah killed people, so why not take this verb and say that Allah's name is القاتل (al-qaatil, The Killer)?

And you did not kill them, but it was Allah who killed them. And you threw not, [O Muhammad], when you threw, but it was Allah who threw that He might test the believers with a good test. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.


The Qur'an also terms Allah as The Best of Deceivers (khayru al-makireena). For obvious reasons, this name is not there in the above list.

Arabic: ومكروا ومكر الله والله خير الماكرين

Transliteration: Wamakaroo wamakara Allahu waAllahu khayru almakireena

Literal: And they cheated/deceived and Allah cheated/deceived, and Allah (is) the best (of) the cheaters/deceivers.[18]

We could find many other names of Allah in the Quran. The list doesn't even contain the word "Allah" (الله).

Other lists

As we've seen, the popular list based on the weak hadith is wrong on many levels. Arabic Wikipedia article contains more than 10 different lists by various Islamic scholars. Some of those lists even contain the name "Best of deceivers" (خير الماكرين). The lists together contain 276 names of Allah and we can assume that there are other lists with even more names.

References