99 names of Allah
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.
- 1 The phrase "beautiful names of Allah" mentioned in the Quran
- 2 Hadith
- 3 The popular list
- 3.1 Source
- 3.2 The list
- 3.3 Layers of wrongness
- 4 Other lists
- 5 References
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.
حسنى (husnaa) is translated as "beautiful", "best", "excellent" or "finest" . 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.
There are many hadith claiming Allah has 99 names, this is one of them from Sahih Bukhari:
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
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.
This hadith is weak. Tirmidhi wrote about it:
Ibn Taimiyya said:
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 ||Qur'an 59:23||Some translations say "sovereign" |
|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" |
|6||المؤمن||al-mu'min||The Granter of Security||The Believer ||Qur'an 59:23||Mu'min in all other verses means "believer" |
|7||المهيمن||al-muhaymin||The Controller||The Controller||Qur'an 59:23|
|8||العزيز||al-'azeez||The Powerful||The Honorable ||Qur'an 3:6|
|9||الجبار||al-jabbar||The Strong||The Forceful ||Qur'an 59:23|
|10||المتكبر||al-mutakabbir||The Supreme||The Arrogant/The Boaster ||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 ||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 ||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 ||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 ||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 ||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 ||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 ||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 ||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)?
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:
What? This was a verb and it was a command for the believers, not a name of Allah.
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 almakireenaLiteral: And they cheated/deceived and Allah cheated/deceived, and Allah (is) the best (of) the cheaters/deceivers.
We could find many other names of Allah in the Quran. The list doesn't even contain the word "Allah" (الله).
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.
- 3. Ali-Imran - The Family Of 'Imran (سورة آل عمران) - Revealed in Madinah (English: Literal) - IslamicNature, accessed August 25, 2011