Why are the names al-Awwal (the First) and al-Akhir (the last), az-Zahir (the Manifest One) and al-Batin (the Hidden one) used together in Quran?


The name al-Awwal indicates that Allah is eternal, that its existence has no beginning; and the name al-Akhir refers to the eternity of Allah’s self and attributions and that He is free from transience and that He is immortal. The name az-Zahir indicates that Allah’s existence is more obvious than the existence of this world and the name al-Batin indicates that we are incapable of comprehending His holy essence. Elmalili Hamdi Yazir puts this reality into words very nicely with this gnomic expression:



 



“He is az-Zahir, who is felt through anything and He is al-Batin, who is not known through anything.” (Hak Dini Kur’an Dili) Every being created in this universe has an “antecedent”, because every creature was created afterwards. And every being has a “consequent”, because every being is mortal. Then, when everything that happened before and that will happen afterwards are considered together, we see that this world is knitted up with the manifestations of both of those names.



 



The names az-Zahir and al-Batin are similar. The manifestations of those four names are explained in a perfect way in Asa-yi Musa (Moses’ Stick) from Nur Collection. It is explained that all the seeds are the mirrors of the name al-Awwal and all the fruits are the mirrors of the name al-Akhir; physical bodies of plants are the mirrors of the name az-Zahir and their inner worlds, each of which is like a factory are the mirrors of the name al-Batin. We can generalize this nice example and broaden our contemplation. Then, we will see that the manifestations of four names exist in all creation.



 



Every person is in the batin of the Solar System, in the zahir of the earth and is the akhir of his ancestors and the awwal of his descendants. And the universe, like us, is in the akhir or the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) in the batin of the sky and the awwal of the hereafter.



 



Allah, who is alAwwal, al-Akhir, az-Zahir and al-Batin, creates so many beings in mysteries with their own mysteries and later takes them out to surface. He created all of us from an awwal called “drop of water” (i.e. sperm). It happened in our mother’s batin, i.e. womb. And He placed many organs such as the heart, livers, veins, nerves and systems in our batin, i.e. inside us. Later He took us out of that batin called the womb to the zahir called the world. Then we found ourselves in the batin of the universe.





Other perfect manifestations of those four names exist in our soul. Soul is awwal, for there was not body while it existed. It is also akhir, for it will pursue its existence after the body dies and decays. It is zahir, for its existence is more obvious than the body’s existence; each action happening in the body hints its existence. It is batin, for mind is incapable of comprehending its essence.

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