What are the attributes of Allah? How many types of attributes are there?

The Answer

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Attributes of Allah

Belief in Allah means knowing Him, knowing His attributes of perfection, which are His dhati (essential) and thubuti (positive) attributes, believing in Him like that and saying that He is free and away from any incomplete attributes. Allah is qualified with all attributes of perfection that are worthy of His glory, and is free from incomplete attributes.

All attributes of Allah are pre-eternal and post-eternal attributes. His attributes have no beginning and end. The attributes of Allah do not resemble to those of His creatures.

All attributes of Allah are pre-eternal and post-eternal attributes. His attributes have no beginning and end. The attributes of Allah do not resemble those of His creatures. Although there is a similarity in naming, Allah’s knowledge, will, life and speech do not resemble our knowledge, will, life and speech. We know Him by His names and attributes because we cannot know and comprehend the essence and nature of Allah.

It is stated in the Quran that it is impossible to realize the essence of Allah and to know His nature as follows: 

"No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things ".1

The Prophet (pbuh) states the following regarding the issue:

"Meditate on the creatures of Allah but do not meditate on the essence of Allah. Indeed, you cannot do it".2

Man’s mind is something that was created. It cannot grasp its creator. For that reason, it is forbidden to think about the essence of Allah.

Allah’s attributes are divided into two groups: SifatDhatiyah (Essential Attributes) and SifatThubutiyah (Positive/Immutable Attributes).

 

a-His Essential Attributes  (Attributes of Negation or Sifat Dhatiyah)

They are the attributes that belong to the essence of Allah only and that are impossible and impermissible to be attributed to any of His creatures. The opposites of the essential attributes cannot be thought about Allah. In other words, Allah is free and away from the attributes that express deficiency, finitude and deficiency. Those attributes are also called salbi and tanzihi attributes since it is necessary to say that Allah is free from incomplete attributes. The essential attributes of Allah are as follows:

The opposites of the essential attributes cannot be thought about Allah. In other words, Allah is free and away from the attributes that express deficiency, finitude and deficiency.

 

1. Wujud: (Existence)

Allah exists. His existence does not originate from any other being. It is His necessary attribute. Allah is wajib al-wujud (necessarily existent). His existence is necessary. The opposite of existence, that is, non-existence cannot be thought about Allah.

 

2. Qidam: (Pre-eternity)

The non-existence of Allah is unthinkable. No matter how far you go back in history, a time when he does not exist is unthinkable; it cannot be found. For, it is He who created time too. Allah is not a being that came into being afterwards. He is a pre-eternal being. Huduth (origination in time), which is the opposite of the attribute of pre-eternity, cannot be thought about Allah.

 

3. Baqa: (Everlastingness)

Allah has no ending. It is compulsory for the one that is pre-eternal to be post-eternal too. The opposite of baqa, that is, fana, (having an ending) cannot be thought about Allah. No matter how far you go in the future, there will be no moment in which Allah will not exist. The following is stated in the Quran, about the pre-eternity and post-eternity of Allah:  eternal and eternal:

        "He is the First and the Last..."3; "...Everything (that exists) will perish except His own Face...".4

 

4. Mukhalafatunlil-hawadith (Non-resemblance to the things created later)

Every being other than Allah came into being afterwards. Allah is in no way similar to any of the things that came into being afterwards. The opposite of this attribute resembling what came into being afterwards cannot be thought about Allah. The following is stated in the Quran regarding the issue:

 "...There is nothing whatever like unto Him...".5

 

5. Wahdaniyyah: (Allah’s being the only one in terms of His essence, attributes and deeds, and having no similar one and no partner)

The opposite of wahdaniyyah that is, being more than one, having a partner (shirk) are attributes that cannot be thought about Allah. The chapters of al-Ikhlas and Kafirun and many verses of the Quran reveal the oneness and uniqueness of Allah and reject shirk (polytheism).6

 

6. Qiyam bi Nafsihi: (Self-existence)

Allah is self-existent. He does not need a creature, place, time and reason to exist. Needing any other being cannot be thought about Allah. The following is stated in the Quran regarding the issue:

 "Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;...";7

"O ye men! It is ye that have need of Allah: but Allah is the One Free of all wants, worthy of all praise".8

 

b-His Positive/Immutable Attributes (Sifat Thubutiyah)

The characteristics that are the opposites of immutable are unthinkable about Allah. These attributes are pre-eternal and post-eternal; they did not come into being afterwards like the attributes of His creatures. They are the attributes that are the requirements of His existence.

They are the attributes that are obligatory to exist and that express perfection. The characteristics that are the opposites of immutable are unthinkable about Allah. These attributes are pre-eternal and post-eternal; they did not come into being afterwards like the attributes of His creatures. They are the attributes that are the requirements of His existence.

Although there is a similarity in naming, immutable attributes are in no way similar to the attributes of creatures. For, Allah’s knowledge, power and will... are infinite, absolute, pre-eternal and post-eternal. The attributes of His slaves are finite, conditioned, limited, created later, incomplete and inadequate. There are eight immutable attributes:

 

1. Hayah: (Life)

Allah has life. He is the one that gives life to everything. He has a pre-eternal and post-eternal life. Being dead (mamat), which is the opposite of the attribute life cannot be thought about Allah. The following is stated in the Quran about this attribute:

"And put thy trust in Him Who lives and dies not..."9; "(All) faces shall be humbled before (Him) - the Living, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal...".10

 

2. Ilm: (Knowledge)

Allah is the one that knows everything. He knows what happened, what happens, what will happen, the past, the future, the secret and the open. The knowledge of Allah does not resemble that of His creatures. It does not increase or decrease. He knows everything with His pre-eternal knowledge. Ignorance, which is the opposite of the attribute of knowledge, is an attribute that is impossible to think about Allah.The following is stated in some of the verses related to Allah’s attribute of knowledge:

 "He knoweth whatever there is on the earth and in the sea. Not a leaf doth fall but with His knowledge...".11

"Seest thou not that Allah doth know (all) that is in the heavens and on earth?...".12

 

3. Sami’: (Hearing)

Allah is the Hearer. He hears anything that is said, whether it is secret in a whisper or open, whether in a slow voice or aloud.  He hears without any means or directions. Hearing something does not prevent him from hearing something else at that moment. Not hearing and deafness are unthinkable about Allah.

 

4. Basar: (Sight).

Almighty Allah sees everything. Nothing is hidden from the sight of Allah. Allah sees what is hidden, open, bright and dark. Not seeing (blindness) is unthinkable about Allah. The following is stated in a verse regarding the issue:

"(Allah) knows of (the tricks) that deceive with the eyes, and all that the hearts (of men) conceal. And Allah will judge with (justice and) Truth: but those whom (men) invoke besides Him, will not (be in a position) to judge at all. Verily it is Allah (alone) Who hears and sees (all things)."13

 

5. Iradah: (Will)

Allah wills. Whatever Allah wills takes place; what He does not will does not take place. 

 The following is stated in the Quran regarding the issue:

"Say: "O Allah! Lord of Power (And Rule), Thou givest power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off power from whom Thou pleasest: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest...".14

"To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills (and plans)...".15

 

6. Qudrah: (Power)

Allah has infinite power and strength. Weakness, which is the opposite of the attribute of power, is unthinkable about Allah. There is nothing that His power cannot reach. Everything happening in the universe takes place with the power and strength of Allah. Many-few, big-small are no different for the power of Allah. There is no difference between creating an atom and creating the universe. Stars, galaxies, all space, all living and non-living beings are clear evidences of Allah’s power.

The following is stated in the Quran about the power of Allah:

"… Allah creates what He wills for verily Allah has power over all things."16

 

7. Kalam: (Speech)

Allah sent down books to His prophets and spoke to some of His prophets with this attribute. The nature of the attribute of kalam, which is eternal, cannot be known by us. The following is stated in the Quran about this attribute: "When Moses came to the place appointed by Us, and his Lord addressed him, He said: ‘O my Lord! show (Thyself) to me, that I may look upon thee.’"17

 

8. Takwin: (Creation, making something that does not exist existent)

Almighty Allah is the only Creator. He created everything he knew with His pre-eternal knowledge with His infinite power and strength. To create, to provide, to resurrect, to kill, to give boons, to punish and to give shape are the results of the attribute takwin. The following is stated in a verse:

"Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the Guardian and Disposer of all affairs.".18

 

1.al-An’am, 103. .
2.Suyuti, al-Jami’us-Saghir, I, 132; Ajluni, Kashful-Khafa, I, 311.
3.al-Hadid, 3.
4.al-Qasas, 88.
5.ash-Shura, 11.
6.seeal-Anbiya, 22; al-Isra, 42; az-Zumar, 4.
7.al-Ikhlas, 1-2.
8.Fatir, 15.
9.al-Furqan, 58.
10.Taha, 111.
11.al-An’am, 59.
12.al-Mujadala, 7.
13.al-Mu’min, 19-20.
14.Aal-iImran, 26.
15.ash-Shura, 49.
16.an-Nur, 44-45.
17.al-A’raf, 143.
18.az-Zumar, 62.

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