What are Allah's attributes? How many groups are they divided into?

Divine attributes are divided into two as sifat dhatiyah (essential attributes) and sifat subutiyah (positive attributes).

Sifat Dhatiyah (Essential Attributes):
1- Wujud (Existence)
2- Qidam (Pre-eternity),
3- Baqa (Everlastingness),
4- Wahdaniyyah (Oneness, having no partners),
5- Qiyam bi Nafsihi (Self-existence),
6- Mukhalafa lil-Hawadith (Non-resemblance to the creatures)

Allah's essential attributes belong to Allah only; they are not owned by any other being. For instance, the attribute qidam is not in question for any other being.The essential attributes have no relation with other beings.

Existence (Wujud):

That attribute expresses that Allah exists. The existence of Allah does not depend on any other being; it is His necessary attribute. That is, His existence is based on His own being and is an obligatory attribute of His being. Therefore, the attribute of “Necessary Being” is used for Allah. Some Kalam scholars call the attribute of wujud the personal attribute.  

The opposite ofexistence, that is, non-existence (adam), cannot be considered about Allah.

To claim the non-existence of Allah necessitates denying the universe and the beings in the universe because it is He who creates everything.

Qidam (Pre-eternity):

It means Allah, the Exalted, has no beginning. Allah, the Exalted, is pre-eternal. He has always existed. He was not created afterwards.

It is impossible to imagine a moment that Allah did not exist. In fact, it is He who created time and place. Allah is free from the conditions of time and place. He is the pre-eternal Lord of Majesty.   

Huduth (origination in time) which is the opposite of pre-eternity is not in question for Allah, the Exalted.

Baqa (Everlastingness):

Allah’s existence is without ending; He is always present.

As Allah’s existence has no beginning, it has no ending. He is both pre-eternal and everlasting. In fact, a being that is definite to be pre-eternal has to be everlasting.  

The opposite ofbaqa,that is, fana, means to have an ending. It is out of question for Allah.

Mukhalafa lil-Hawadith (Non-resemblance to the creatures):

It means Allah’s non-resemblance to the creatures that were created later.

Allah does not resemble any of His creatures in person or in terms of His attributes.

No matter what we think of Allah, He is different from whatever we can imagine. For, what we can imagine are things that were created later out of nothing. Allah is a divine and blessed being whose existence is obligatory, pre-eternal and everlasting, who does not need anything or anybody, who is free from all deficiencies and who has all attributes of perfection.

Doubtlessly, such a lofty being does not resemble the beings that had been non-existent but were created later and that will disappear again.

As a matter of fact, Allah defines His personality as follows in the Quran:

“There is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things).” (ash-Shura 11)

Our Prophet states the following confirming that meaning:

“Allah is other than what comes to your mind.”

Qiyam bi Nafsihi (Self-existence):

It means Allah continues to exist without needing any other beings or places.

All of the beings originated afterwards. Therefore, they need a Creator and a place. However, the existence of Allah, who is the Creator of everything, is a necessity of His personality; He is not dependent on anything.

If Allah had needed another being in order to exist, then, he would have been a creature and would not have been the Creator of everything.

However, He is the Creator of everything. Everything other than Him is a creature. The Creator never needs His creatures. 

Wahdaniyyah (Oneness):

It means the oneness of Allah.

Oneness is the most important one of Allah's attributes of perfection. For, this attribute expresses that Allah is one in his personality, attributes and actions and that He has no partners in His sovereignty and activities.

The opposite of that attribute, taaddud (being more than one) and tasharruk (having a partner) cannot be thought about Allah.

In Islam, even in all of the true religions, the belief of oneness of Allah (tawhid) forms the base of all of the religious beliefs. No belief or deed is valid unless one has the belief of oneness in his heart. Therefore, first of all, Islam presents the mankind with the belief of oneness and calls the mankind to accept that Allah is one and to make Him free from any associates. The most important point that true religions differ from wrong religions is this point because wrong religions also accept the existence of Allah but they go wrong regarding divine attributes, especially the attribute of oneness; they associate partners with Allah.  

In this context, the most important truth after accepting the existence of Allah is the belief of oneness. Belief in Allah has no significance and value without the belief of oneness.

Some of the verses that mention the oneness of Allah and the belief of tawhid in the Quran are as follows:

“Say: He is Allah the One and Only.” (al-Ikhlas, 1).

“Is there a Creator, other than Allah, to give you Sustenance from heaven or earth?” (Fatir, 3).

“Nor is there any god along with Him: (if there were many gods), behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have lorded it over others.(al-Mu’minun, 91)

“If there were in the heavens and the earth, other gods besides Allah, there would have been ruin in both!” (al-Anbiya, 22)

Sifat Subutiyah (Positive Attributes):

1- Hayah (Allah is alive.)
2- Ilm (Allah knows everything pre-eternally.)
3- Irada (Allah is free to do anything He wishes.)
4- Qudrah (Allah has power over everything.)
5- Sam' (hearing) (Allah hears everything.)
6- Basar (seeing) (Allah sees everything.)
7- Kalam (Allah speaks without needing any organs or voice.)
8- Takwin (creating) (Allah creates out of nothing.)

Unlike His essential attributes, Allah’s positive attributes are not completely different from the other beings and beyond the beings in the realm of visibility. For instance, the attribute of hayah is also present in human beings though it is different in terms of its content and nature. Allah has will; man has will, too. However, there are differences between these two wills. Allah's will is unlimited and absolute; man's will is limited. Men's will came into being as a result of Allah's will. All of the other positive attributes are shared by angels, jinn and human beings.  

Hayah (Life):

It means Allah Almighty has life and is qualified with the attribute of life.

That attribute, which is obligatory for Allah Almighty, is not like the one that originates from the combination of matter and spirit seen in the creatures and it is pre-eternal and post-eternal. It is the real life that is the origin of all lives.

The attribute of life is closely connected with the attributes of perfection like Knowledge, Will and Power. The being that has those attributes must have life because a dead being cannot have attributes like knowledge, will and power.

Therefore, the attribute of life is defined as a pre-eternal attribute that enables Allah Almighty to be qualified with attributes like knowledge, will and power. 

The opposite of the attribute of life is death. It is impossible for Allah.

Ilm (Knowledge):

It means Allah knows everything, and His knowledge surrounds everything.

The Creator that created this world in the best way and perfect order and that rules it must know the things that He created including the finest details. How can something whose benefit, necessity and wisdom are not known be created? Then, it is necessary for the Creator first to know something then to create it in accordance with the necessities of knowledge in order to create it. In addition, to reward people with belief and good deeds and punish people who disobey and go astray is only possible through knowing the details of what those people do.

The opposite of knowledge is ignorance, heedlessness and forgetfulness. They cannot be thought about Allah.

Iradah (Will):

It means Allah wishes something to happen like that and not happen like this; it means He determines everything as He wishes.

Allah has a perfect will. He created this universe in accordance with His pre-eternal will.

Everything that happened and will happen in the universe happened or will happen through the wish or will of Allah. Whatever he wishes takes place; whatever he does not wish never takes place. The following is stated in the Quran regarding the issue: 

“Allah createth what He willeth; when He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it `Be', and it is!” (Aal-i-Imran, 47) In a hadith, the following is stated: “Whatever Allah willed took place; whatever He did not will did not take place.”

There is no other independent attribute than will called desire.

For, will is synonymous with desire. As a matter of fact, desire is used synonymously with will in the Quran and hadiths.   

Qudrah (Power):

Power means that Allah Almighty does things on beings in accordance with His will and knowledge; it means He has the power to do and to create everything.

The universe that we see and the beauties and the unerring order it has is the greatest proof that Allah has endless power and He has power over all things.

Takwin (Creating):

Takwin means inventing and creating. Takwin is defined as creating something out of nothing, bringing into existence.

Sam’ (Hearing) and Basar (Sight):

They mean that Allah hears everything and sees everything.

The concepts like distance – nearness, secrecy – openness, darkness – light do not act as barriers for the hearing and sight of Allah.

He hears the whispers in us and the prayers that we say in our hearts. He answers them in accordance with His wisdom.

It is mentioned many times in the Quran that Allah Almighty is Sami’ (the All-Hearing) and Basir (the All-Seeing).

The opposites of the attributes of hearing and sight are blindness and deafness, which are impossible for Allah.

Kalam (Speech):

It means Allah, the Exalted, speaks without needing letters and voice. 

Allah has the attribute of kalam, that is, saying, speaking. That attribute is pre-eternal and post-eternal. Therefore, Allah is also called al-Mutakallim (the Speaker). The Quran is called Kalamullah, meaning the word of Allah.

The revelations that Allah sent to His prophets, the divine books He sent to them and the inspirations He sends to His creatures are all the manifestations of His attribute of kalam.

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