Category Archives: Asmaa-was-Sifaat

Who is Allah? What are His names and Attributes, and how do we understand them properly?

Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem Together

Allah introduces himself in Surah Fatiha as Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem, both. Both of these names derive their meaning from the word mercy (rahmah).

In classical Arabic, rahmah represents the mercy of a mother for her child. As the child grows, it causes the mother to be sick and weak; it eats nutrition from the mother; in the later trimesters, the child even stretches, punches, or kicks the mother’s ribs! But still, the mother cares for, takes care of, and protects the child.

Similarly, both of these names mean something merciful. They have a difference through.

The name Ar-Rahman means:
– Allah is extremely merciful
– Allah is not just merciful, but is being very merciful right now.
– Allah’s mercy is not permanent; it can leave you if you do wrong.

In contrast, the name Ar-Raheem means:
– Allah’s mercy is permanent
– Allah’s mercy is not necessarily happening right now
– Allah’s mercy is not the same level of extremely merciful

Ibn Abbas used to say that Ar-Raheem is only for believers, while Ar-Rahman is for all the creatures and everything on earth — because permanent mercy is what you need for Jannah, and that’s only for believers.

By combining these two names together, we get the total meaning of Allah being extremely and permanently merciful, both immediately (right now) and in the future!

And this is why we start with “Bismillahi Ar-Rahmaani Ar-Raheem” when we do something good; because we want Allah’s mercy and blessings (barakah) both immediately and in the future.

And this is how Allah introduces himself in Surah Fatiha, as Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem. (But too much mercy can also lead people astray — they’ll do whatever they want — so Allah adds “Maalik al-yawm ad-deen” to keep us balanced between hope and fear.)

As a corollary of this, whenever Allah mentions only one of these names (eg. Ar-Rahman), He’s intentionally highlighting a very specific type of mercy — such as in Surat Ar-Rahmaan (Allah revealed the Qur’an right now to us).

May Allah allow us to understand and actualize His great names (ameen).

Source: Bayyinah – Qur’an: Cover to Cover, by ustadh Nouman Ali Khan. Videos for Surah Fatiha, parts 1d and 2. Retrieved February 18, 2016.


His Complete Oneness – Part 2


Continuing in our explanation of the poem and our discussion of the branches tawheed, we now move into the second branch which is the oneness, uniqueness, and exclusiveness of Allah’s Names and Attributes (tawheed al-asma was-sifat). There are five points we will discuss; three points in this post and the remaining two in the next post.

1) All of Allah’s Names are taken from the Sacred Texts

The beautiful names and attributes of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala are those that have been revealed to us in the Qur’an or through the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam. It is not correct for anyone to make additions and call Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala by a Name that He has not named Himself with.

2) The Names and Attributes are Understood according to their Apparent Meaning

We do not re-interpret the names of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to give them a meaning that goes beyond that which is obvious and apparent. For example, Allah says:

 And [that] He may punish the hypocrite men and hypocrite women, and the polytheist men and polytheist women – those who assume about Allah an assumption of evil nature. Upon them is a misfortune of evil nature; and Allah has become angry with them and has cursed them and prepared for them Hell, and evil it is as a destination. [Surah Fath V. 6]

It is not correct to use our intellects and assume that anger in the above verse means punishment since anger is a sign of weakness in man. Allah uses different words for ‘punishment’ (‘adzaab) and ‘anger’ (ghadab) and thus they cannot be the same. Rather, we accept that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has an attribute of anger, which is perfect and majestic, without asking the how of it and without making it similar to anger of creation.

3) We do not create New Names for Allah

It is clear that Allah has an attribute of anger however we cannot give him a name such as: ‘The Angry One’ (al-ghadib) because to do so would not be befitting His Majesty and neither is it found in the sacred texts. An important principle to keep in mind is that every name of Allah denotes an attribute. For example, Allah is the Most Merciful (ar-rahman) and thus He has the attribute of mercy (rahma). However, as we already saw above, not every attribute denotes a name of Allah.

Stay tuned for part 3…


Allah’s Knowledge

We take it for granted that Allah has infinite knowledge. But what does this mean? Let’s take a “tour,” if you like, of some of the things Allah knows.

There are 6-8 billion people on the face of the earth. That’s 6 * 1000 * 1000 * 1000. That’s a lot of people! Can you imagine learning 6 names? Or 60? Or 6000? But Allah knows their names–all 6,000,000,000 of them. And He knows everything they’re going to do today. And tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after THAT.

And the day after THAT. In fact, every day, up to the end of their life. If they live ~63 years, that’s about 23,000 days. Multiplied by 6 billion people, that’s a lot of days!

And that’s just humans! Allah knows every creature on the face of the earth–every squirrel running in a tree, every bird soaring in the air, every fish, worm, turtle, squid, octopus, and even things we don’t know about, in the ocean! Wow! How many is that? A lot!

What about weather? Every snowflake is unique! How many snowflakes do you get in a snowstorm? Billions! Each created, crafted uniquely; each flying through a particular path and landing in a particular place. How many times does it rain or snow all over the world in a day? A lot!

Not to mention He knows every plant–every leaf of every plant or petal of every flower; every root of every tree!

وعنده مفاتح الغيب لا يعلمها إلا هو ويعلم ما في البر والبحر وما تسقط من ورقة إلا يعلمها ولا حبة في ظلمات الأرض ولا رطب ولا يابس إلا في كتاب مبين

Translation: And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record. [Surah Al-An’aam, verse 59]

This is Allah! This is our Lord–Al-‘Aleem and Al-Khabeer! Subhanallah!

And subhanallah, Allah’s knowledge is even more than this. Check out these two verses:

وَلَوْ تَرَىَ إِذْ وُقِفُواْ عَلَى النَّارِ فَقَالُواْ يَا لَيْتَنَا نُرَدُّ وَلاَ نُكَذِّبَ بِآيَاتِ رَبِّنَا وَنَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
بَلْ بَدَا لَهُم مَّا كَانُواْ يُخْفُونَ مِن قَبْلُ وَلَوْ رُدُّواْ لَعَادُواْ لِمَا نُهُواْ عَنْهُ وَإِنَّهُمْ لَكَاذِبُونَ

Translation: If you could but see when they are made to stand before the Fire and will say, “Oh, would that we could be returned [to life on earth] and not deny the signs of our Lord and be among the believers.” But what they concealed before has [now] appeared to them. And even if they were returned, they would return to that which they were forbidden; and indeed, they are liars. [Surah Al-An’aam, verses 27-28]

What does this have to do with Allah’s knowledge? And why is Allah calling them liars? Because Allah knows everything that WOULD happen, if it DID happen, and how it would happen!

What does that mean? It means Allah knows, if they sent them back, what they would do–down to every second, down to every atom that moves, He knows. He could send them back–and He knows that if He did, they wouldn’t do what they said–they would just deny Allah again!

Subhanallah! Can anyone know what Allah knows? No! So can anyone be as wise as Allah? No! Because wisdom comes from knowledge, and nobody can match Allah’s knowledge!


Yasir Qadhi. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Light Upon Light: Fundamentals of Faith 102. Metro Toronto Convention Center, July 2007.


ar Rahman and ar Raheem


Ar-Rahman: The Entirely Merciful, Ar-Raheem: The Especially Merciful

Both of the names Rahman and Raheem come from the root Ra-ha-meem (ر ح م), these names are similar so they require a parallel explanation. What is Rahmah? Rahmah is mercy. In the dictionary it means: compassion, kindness and gentleness. Also when a person is kind, compassionate and tenderhearted towards the other. So Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem: The One who has a lot of Rahmah, The One who shows a lot of rahmah, He expresses a lot of Rahmah. There are two Names of Allah with the same root, to emphasize that Allah is really the MOST Merciful, there is no one else who is more merciful than Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

Ar-Rahman is structure of fa’laan, Ar-Raheem is structure of fa’eel. They both have mubaalaghah (intensification). What is the difference? Rahman has more mubaalagah (intensification) than Raheem. So ar Rahmaan indicates the One who has extensive and great mercy. Who is Ar Raheem then? He is the One who has extensive and great mercy but He expresses it on the ones whom He chooses. So Ar-Rahman extends to all of His creation including disbelievers, and Ar-Raheem extends to Allah’s special mercy only for the believers.

Examples from the Qur’an

20: 5->Ar Rahman ‘alal ‘arsh istawaa’. The Most Merciful, upon the throne He rose. He established His throne and showed Mercy towards all His creation.

55:1-5->  Ar Rahman, Who is He? ‘alamal Qur’an, He taught the Qur’an,  khalaqal insaan and He created mankind. This mercy is not just for the believers, but for everyone (insaan).

Raheem only to the believers: 33:43-> wa kaana bil mu’mineena raheema. One who is especially merciful to the believers.

2:37-> Innahu huwa at-Tawwaabur Raheem. Indeed He is the Greatest Acceptor of Repentance, the especially Merciful. Tawwaab is for those who turn to Allah, ie the believers.

Combinations of these Names:

These Names appear many times together. First example, the basmalah, and second verse of Fatihah. They appear together to express a lot of Mercy, Allah is the One who is  THE MOST Merciful.

When we look at Ar-Raheem, it appears with other Names:

At-Tawwaabur Raheem, Ar-Raoufur Raheem, Ghafoorur Raheem, Al-Azeezur Raheem (surah Shu’ara). Remember His mercy, but also remember His might.


Appeared many times in surah Maryam and Furqan. Why so many times? These surahs were makkee surahs and they were introductions to the deen, so one of the first ways of how Allah Introduces Himself is by which attribute? The attribute of Rahmah, which is why the Qur’an opens up with these Attributes as well (Basmalah and Faatihah). Why, what’s so important about them? First of all, when people learn about Allah, they shouldn’t learn He is the One who puts them into hellfire but that Allah is Ready to accept people and forgive people. This is why messengers are basheerun (giver of glad tidings) and natheer (warner). Of the first ways to introduce Allah ta’ala in da’wah is by His Mercy. Specifically for the believers, they should remember His Mercy then they should abstain from wrong actions. Think: ‘If Allah is SO Merciful to me, why should I disobey Him and do wrong? Allah is so Rahman and I am so disobedient.’ The siffah (characteristic) of Rahman and Raheem remind the believers that they should remain firm on Allah’s Obedience. Allah is So Merciful, So kind towards you, so why won’t you obey Him?

A Hadeeth in Bukhari states: “Verily Allah created Mercy. The day He created it, He made it into one hundred parts. He withheld with Him ninety-nine parts, and sent its one part to all His creatures.” Allah has saved the 99 parts for His true believers on the day of judgment, that is when Allah will be ar Raheem. Allah will say to the disbelievers: do not even speak to Me, remain in hell-fire (23:108). Why? Because they do not deserve the rahmah of Allah.   So if a person does not not benefit from His Mercy in this world, they do not receive in the aakhirah. To benefit is not to just receive it in this world, but to accept the guidance and stay away from disobedience.

How to Receive Allah’s Special Mercy?


Ismul Jalaalah


Ismul Jalaalah, The Grand Name: Allah الله. This is Allah’s Personal Name. His Identifying Name. This Name only belongs to Allah, no one else can have besides Allah. Allah is the Title, the Name, of the One True Ilaah. The Name of Allah, you cannot play around with: there is no plural, there is no feminine. The Name Allah appears over 3000 times in the Qur’an.

When we mentioned the Name “Allah” linguistically, we don’t say “the word Allah” or “the Name Allah” because it is not appropriate. It is only for Allah ta’ala, so we say: Lafdhul Jalaalah, لفظ الجلالة، the word that is Grand.

There are 4 opinions of the linguistic meaning of lafdhul Jalaalah:

  1. The first opinion is that it is Allah’s Proper Name and it is not derived from any root, any noun, and has no meaning to it. It is just a Name that has no meaning to it, and this opinion is the minority opinion.
  2. The second opinion is that it comes from hamza-laam-ha, and the verb from the root is a-li-ha ََََاَلِهَ and it means to astonish, surprise and amaze someone. So Allah, from aliha, is the One who Astonishes and Amazes His Creation. How? Firstly through His Attributes, when you know about Allah, you are amazed. He is Ar Rahmaan (The All Merciful), and yet Al Azeez (The Mighty) and yet Al Jabbaar (The Compellor) all at the same time, it’s amazing! When you know about the Names and Attributes, you are astonished and impressed. Another way how Allah amazes us is through His creation, all that He has created. When we learn about a bird or an ant, we are amazed and we say SubhanAllah (How Perfect is Allah and Far from any imperfection!), because Allah is truly Amazing and He Amazes His creation. Also, He amazes through His Decisions, Words, Rulings, Actions and Planning for us. When things don’t work out the way we planned, or we see great coincidences, we think: how did this happen?! It is Allah, He amazes us by His words and decisions for us. When we practice the ahkaam (rulings), we realize how much benefit there is in them. So truly He is the One who should be submitted too.
  3. The third opinion is that it is from the same root, hamza laam ha, and the noun is al-la-ha اَلَهَ with a fathah (not li, with a kasrah, as the second opinion) and alaha means to worship, be humble and show dedication to someone. The noun would be ma’looh. Allah is Ma’looh: One who is shown dedication too, One who everyone is humble too, One who is worshipped. Everyone is humble to Allah, and on the Day of Judgment the Mulk (Sovereignty) is only for Allah ta’ala. We also learn from this that Allah is the Only One we should show humbleness too, we should be ‘ebaad, servants, to Allah. In surah Furqaan ayah 43, Allah tells us: أَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَـٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ ara ayta man ittakhatha ilaahahu hawaahu, have you seen the one who takes his desires as his ilaah? This ayah shows us the meaning of taking something as your ilaah, God. It meant that they gave their desires the utmost priority and everything else became unimportant and secondary. Their ilaah is the one whom the person never turns down. It became what they loved and feared the most. Allah is the One we should love most, fear most and give the most importance too. According to some linguists (ibn Manthoor of Sibawyh) this opinion is the strongest. Furthermore, when you attach ‘al’ with aliha and alaha, it becomes al-Ilaah, and that becomes Allah. According to this definition this translation would be: The One Only Worthy of worship, Allah is the Only One worthy of worship. Notice: even His Name has tawheed in it, so how can there be other beings attached to Allah?!
  4. The last opinion is that this word is from wow-laam-ha, the noun wilaah وِلَه comes. (the way you write ilaah, write a wow instead of hamzah/alif) Wilaah then turns to ilaah (based on an Arabic grammar rule), so wilaah means to turn to for protection. So Allah is the One Whom everyone turns to for help and protection. The One whose help and assistance is sought by the creation. This teaches us in times of difficulty and hardship, we turn to Allah azza wa jal, because the Name of Allah is the One whom ppl turn to for help and worship.

Review of the 4 opinions:

i.      There is no meaning, just a Proper Name

ii.      From aliha meaning to astonish and amazes, so Allah is the One who Astonishes the creation by His attributes, His creation, His Planning and His Rulings.

iii.      Allah is from alaha, so Allah is Ma’looh, One who is Worshipped.

iv.      Fourth opinion is from wilaah, so Allah means the One whom everyone turns to for help.

اسم الله الاعظم-Ismul Allahil A’tham: mentioned in hadeeth in Sunan Tirmidhi (saheeh): “To Allah belongs a Grand Name (Ismul A’tham), that, if you make du’a with it, it will be responded to. And if you plead or request with it, it shall be answered.” Several opinions on what this Name is, read Yasir Qadhi’s explanation here. Majority of the scholars say it is the Name “Allah” itself, that this is His Greatest Name. When a person makes duaa through this Name, it will be responded too.

wa Allahu ta’ala alam.

Reference: Ta’leem Al Qur’an course for women: Asma ul Husna class.


How to Receive Allah’s Special Mercy


We know that Allah ta’ala Name’s Ar-Raheem is specifically for the believers, so how is it that one can receive this special Mercy from ar Raheem?

  • Obedience to Allah and His Messenger. and obey Allah and His Messenger so that you all may receive Mercy.” [3:132]
  • Taqwa of Allah ta’ala, fear and consciousness of Allah. “And this is a book, We have sent it down as one blessed, so follow it and fear Allah so that you all may receive Mercy.[6:155]  Similarly Allah says: and My Mercy encompasses all things, so soon I will write it for those who have taqwa.” [7:156]
  • Doing ihsaan (utmost good) towards Allah and the creation. “Indeed the Mercy of Allah is near to those who do utmost good.” [7:156]
  • Praying four rak’aat before ‘Asr prayer. The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said: “May Allah have mercy on one who prays 4 raka’aat before the ‘Asr Prayer.” Narrated by at-Tirmidhi no. 395 and he declared it a hassan, Al-Albany rated the Hadith as hassan in Sahih al-Jami’ No. 3493.
  • Listening to the Qur’an attentively and remaining silent. “And when the Quran is recited, listen to it with attention, that you may receive Mercy.” [7:204]
  • Having rahmah towards the creation of Allah. A hadith in Musnad Ahmad states, Show mercy so that you may be shown mercy, forgive and Allah will forgive you.” There is another hadith narrated in Sunan Abi Dawood that states, “The merciful will be give mercy by the Most Merciful. Have mercy to those on earth and the one in the heavens will have mercy upon you.”  Also Allah ta’ala says in the Qur’an, Do you not love that Allah should forgive you?  [24:22] So if you want mercy, you want knowledge of the Qur’an, you want Jannah, you want Guidance? Show mercy to others.

May Allah ta’ala shower His mercy upon us, Ameen.


The Elite 99 Names of Allah

Having already discussed the unlimited number of Allah’s names and attributes, we turn now to an authentic hadith that seems to clash with what we said before.

The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said:

إِنَّ لِلَّهِ تِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ اسْمًا مِائَةً إِلاّ وَاحِدًا مَنْ أَحْصَاهَا دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ .

Translation: Indeed, Allah has 99 names (one hundred minus one); whoever memorizes them will enter Jannah. [Saheeh Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim]

This hadith is talking about the elite 99 names of Allah. Although all of Allah’s names are husna, some of them stand out above others.

So which names are the elite 99? Virtually every single scholar of Islam has a different opinion on this. And realize that the common version that we know–like the one in this nasheed–is da’eef.

Why is it da’eef? It comes from the same hadith as we stated above–except at, at some point, one narrator added “And this is what I think those names are.” So it’s someone’s opinion.

And realize that most of the names they’ve mentioned there are ok–but some are definitely negative (which goes against Allah’s names being husna), and some are definitely not Allah’s names.

But the good thing is, about 80-90% of the names there are ok. And even among the scholars of Islam, they agree on the vast majority of which names are THE elite 99–but they differ in a few names.

And why is this important to know–aside from for tawassul? Because this is your key to jannah! Another wording of this hadith, instead of using hadifha (to memorize, to protect), uses the word “hisaa” (with saad). The root word has something to do with intelligence and intellect; the meaning is that whoever knows and acts upon these names will enter Jannah.

Having said all that–if these 99 names are so important, why didn’t Allah just tell us which are His 99 names?

But think about it–if He (سبحانه وتعالى) told us–would anyone bother with the other names? Probably not. Would anyone try to investigate the meanings of and learn the names? Not really–we’d just have a common list of names passed around, and nobody would do more than memorize.

Instead, by not telling us, He (سبحانه وتعالى) has created a situation like Laylatul-Qadr. Nobody knows when Laylatutl-Qadr is, except Allah–so people strive the last ten days of Ramadan, doing extra nawafil acts, in the hopes that it’s Laylatul-Qadr.

And these elite 99 names are like that–you have to work hard, and strive above and beyond just learning 99, if you want to know them for sure.

So learn these names–with their meanings! Subhanallah, nothing will increase your eman quite like this will.

To start you off, you can check our List of Allah’s Names post, and also check God Names, a site that details 99 names, with a great explanation of meaning.

May Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) help us to learn and memorize and act upon His 99 names, and become those of Jannah by it–ameen ya rabbi!


Yasir Qadhi. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Light Upon Light: Fundamentals of Faith 102. Metro Toronto Convention Center, July 2007.


Real Love


There are many words in Arabic that translate as “love” in English; two of them are hubb and wudd. What is the difference between hubb (حَبَّ) and wudd (وَدَّ)? Hubb, which is from ح ب ب ، means to love. It is a love that you have for someone or something that you keep inside of you–inner feelings of admiration and fondness. While wudd, from و د د، is a more intense form of hubb, a whole-hearted and deep love. Wudd is the purest form of love, an intimate love, and this love–affection that is more stronger than hubb–turns into actions. Wudd is to express those feelings of love in your conduct, in your actions,in your demeanor, and wudd maintains consistency and persists even if obstacles are in the way.

Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) describes Himself as “Al-Wadood” (الودود) and this is usually translated into English as “The Most Loving.” This Love is constant and spreads to all of Allah’s creation, but a special form of this love is for His righteous servants. He says:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ سَيَجْعَلُ لَهُمُ الرَّحْمَانُ وُدّاً

Translation: Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds, Ar-Rahman will appoint for them affection. [Surah Maryam, verse 96]

The Name of Allah, Al-Wadood, comes twice in the Qur’an, firstly, Prophet Shuy’ab (عليه السلام) tells his people:

وَاسْتَغْفِرُواْ رَبَّكُمْ ثُمَّ تُوبُواْ إِلَيْهِ إِنَّ رَبِّي رَحِيمٌ وَدُودٌ

Translation: And ask forgiveness of your Lord and turn unto Him in repentance. Verily, my Lord is Most Merciful, Most Loving.” [Surah Hud, verse 90]

And, in Surah Al-Burooj, ayah 14, Allah says:

وَهُوَ الْغَفُورُ الْوَدُودُ

Translation: And He is Al-Ghafuwr, Al-Wadood (the Affectionate). [Surah Al-Burooj, verse 14]

In Arabic grammar, “Wadood” falls under the fa’ool (فعول) pattern, which denotes Allah’s Love as constant and lasting, as well as intense. Allah is Al-Wadood, He loves the believers, and the believers love Him more than anything and anyone. His love is a love that is continual, ample, and vast, and translates into the blessings He gives us, from a simple breath we take to the greatest blessing of Islam.

So how can we live by Allah’s Name, Al-Wadood? There are three important factors we have to fulfill:

  1. To know that Allah loves you a lot.
  2. To fill your hearts with the love of Allah and make our hearts only for Him, and remove from them everything else, such as the love of the dunya.
  3. To show the love that Allah is showing you to others–to your spouse, your family, your friends, your community.

Imam Safi Khan. Lecture. Dar-us-Salaam Masjid. College Park, Maryland.



Of Allah’s names, is Al-Haleem (الحليم). What does Al-Haleem mean?

It’s a very very deep name—like all of Allah’s names, it’s very deep. It comes from the root hilm, and hilm means a wisdom and a forebearance that allows a person to control their anger. Hilm is an intelligence that, in our terms, allows someone to control their anger, even if their anger is justified. It allows you to, when you are justifiably angry, to control it and not manifest it. It’s usually translated as “forbearing”, which murders the concept of hilm.

So Al-Haleem is the one who has characteristics:

  • of them, is knowledge, to know what happend
  • of them, is wisdom, to control that which makes you angry
  • of them, is that you must be justifiably angry; only a foolish person gets angry for no reason.
  • of them, is that the person who’s angry justifiably COULD TAKE REVENGE on you; but doesn’t. (For example, if a cop gives you a ticket, you can’t get angry at him, and you can’t take revenge.) Hilm is when you can SHOW your anger and get it out, but still hold it back.

The effects of this name—knowing Allah is Al-Haleem—we affirm that He overlooks the faults of His servants, even though He has the right to become angry at them. Still, He doesn’t call them to task, and delays accounting and punishing, wanting us to repent. We appreciate this, knowing Allah is FULLY AWARE of what we do, but doesn’t take us to task.

This name occurs 11 times in the Qur’an. 6 of those times, it’s in combination with Al-Ghafuwr. Once, it’s combined with Ash-Shakuwr. Once, it’s combined with Al-‘Aliym. Thrice, with Al-Ghaniy. When combined, the meaning is:

  • Combined with Al-Ghafuwr: not only does He overlook our actions and not get angry, He forgives and covers them up and protects us from the effects of them!
  • Combined with Ash-shakur: not only will your sins be overlooked, you will be rewarded with more then you deserve!
  • Combined with Al-‘Aliym: not only does He know what you’re doing, He’s still controlling His anger, he’s still controlling that anger, even though you deserve to be shown His anger.
  • Combined with Al-Ghaniy: He doesn’t need ANYTHING from you, yet He is controlling that anger and forgiving
  • you.

So remember Al-Haleem and call unto Him in your du’as, and ask Him to forgive you–because only He can protect you from His anger (an anger that is justified)!


Al-Ghafuwr and Al-Ghaffaar

Of Allah’s greatest names is Al-Ghafuwr (الغَفُور). It’s one of the most common names mentioned in the Qur’an (91 times). The name itself is on the pattern that denotes a very powerful doer of an action.

Linguistic Meaning: The root of Al-Ghaffuwr and Al-Ghaffar is the verb is ghafara (غَفَرَ), which does NOT mean “to forgive”; rather, it means to shield and protect and cover. Like a helmet, which, in Arabic, is called a “mighfaar.”

Islamic Meaning: Islamically, Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), Al-Ghaffuwr is the one who shields and protects YOU form the consequences of your own actions. One of the connotations is, you shield and cover something based upon knowledge. So when Allah does maghfirah, he’s covering your sins, being fully aware of what they are. So we say he’s the one who FORGIVES, regardless of how large the sin his. That’s what Al-Ghaffuwr is—the one who does the concept of ghafara to a higher level. Even if it’s a large quantity—a HUGE sin—Al-Ghafuwr will cover it up. It’s a QUALITY of covering.

In contrast to Al-Ghaffuwr, Al-Ghaffaar is only mentioned about four times in the Qur’an. Al-Ghaffaar is the one who CONTINUES to forgive, again and again and again and again and again. So Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) forgives you REGARDLESS of how many times you sin—again and again, he gives you continuous forgiveness. It’s a QUANTITY forgiveness.

Combined Names
This great name of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), Al-Ghafuwr, is mentioned in combination with several other names of Allah.

  • Ar-Raheem: 72 times, Allah mentions Al-Ghafuwr with Ar-Raheem, one of the most common sets of pairs of Allah’s names—signifying that he COVERS these sins because he’s merciful to us.
  • Al-Haleem: 6 times, Allah pairs Al-Ghafuwr with Al-Haleem—and Al-Haleem means the one who is able to restrain his anger after being justifiably angry. He is capable of being angry with us, but he restrains and forgives us.
  • Al-‘Afuww: 4 times, Allah pairs Al-Ghaffuwr with Al-‘Affuw, meaning he is the one who covers our sins, and also wipes them out, utterly obliterates them, with his forgiveness.
  • Ash-Shakuwr: 3 times, he pairs this with As-Shakuwr (الشكور), the one who appreciates what you’ve done and rewards you with more then you deserve. Pairing this with Al-Ghafuwr, you get the one who forgives you, and gives you more then you deserve for your good deeds. And Suratush-Shuraa, the people of Jannah say: “we made it because Allah is Ghafuwr and Shakuwr—He forgave us, and gave us more then we deserve.”
  • Al-Aziz: 2 times, Allah pairs Al-Ghafuwr with Al-Aziz (العزيز), and Al-Aziz is, the one who has honour and power, and the one who has power in himself so he cannot be harmed, and the all-powerful. These are the meanings of Aziz. By combining with Al-Ghafuwr, Allah is saying, “I’m forgiving you DESPITE the fact that I’m all-powerful.” Because if a bully comes and hits you, you might forgive him, because there’s nothing you can do—you’re weak and incapable—but Allah says “no, I forgive even though I am Al-Aziz.” And that is the HEIGHT of forgiveness.
  • Al-Waduwd: 1 time, Allah pairs Al-Ghafuwr with Al-Waduwd (الوَدُود)–the one who shows extra love, the caring type of love (Arabic has over 10 verbs to describe different types of love). And Al-Waduwd has connotations of caring and loving and protecting. Allah is saying “I forgive you because I love you with that type of love”–best described as a parent’s love (wudd) for her child.

And this is Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), our Lord, the one whom we worship alone–not some man-god or pious person, but rather, the one who is Al-Ghaffuwr and Al-Ghaffaar.

And remember–if you’ve sinned or wronged somebody, or even wronged yourself, call upon Al-Ghafuwr, call upon Al-Ghaffaar, to forgive you–because unlike humans, He (سبحانه وتعالى) never, ever tires of forgiving us.


Yasir Qadhi. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Light Upon Light: Fundamentals of Faith 102. Metro Toronto Convention Center, July 2007.