Dear Brothers and Sisters, AsSalam Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakaatuhu
What is the difference between names and attributes of Allah?
Question: I would greatly appreciate if you explain me the difference between the names of Allah and the attributes of Allah. I am confused because, for instance, Karîm is a name of Allah, but isn't it also considered an attribute or quality of Allah too?
Answered by Sheikh Rashîd al-Hasan, professor at King Khâlid University
The relationship between the names and the attributes of Allah can be understood by referring to the principles we use to know these names and attributes. One of the best books in this regard is Sheikh Muhammad Salih al-`Uthaymîn's short book entitled al-Qawâ'd al-Muthla fî Sifât Allah wa Asmâ'ih al-Husna
[ Exemplary Foundations Concerning the Beautiful Names and Attributes of Allaah - Shaik Uthaimeen - 8p [PDF ]
Excerpts from the exemplary book al-Qawaa'idul-Muthlaa (The Lofty Principles) fee Asmaa'illaahi Ta'aalaa wa Sifaatihil-'Ulaa. ]
In this book, he explains that Allah's names are both proper names and attributes at the same time. They are proper names in their indicating Allah Himself and they are attributes in that they indicate meanings that are applicable to Allah. As names, they are like synonyms that mean the same thing - in this case Allah Himself - but as attributes each one conveys a unique and distinct menaing.
Therefore, al-Hayy, al-`Alîm, al-Qadîr, al-Samî`, al-Basîr, al-Rahmân, al-Rahîm, al-`Azîz, al-Hakîm are all names of one being – Allah. However, the meaning of al-Hayy (the Living) is different than the meaning of al-`Alîm (the All-Knowing) and the meaning of al-`Alîm is different than the meaning of al-Qadîr (the All-Capable).
It should be noted that our knowledge of Allah's attributes is vaster than our knowledge of His names, since each name implies an attribute, but not all of His attributes double as a name. For example, Allah has attributes indicate some of His numerous actions like coming, going, taking, catching, and using force. We attribute to Allah these actions but we do not refer to Him by names that indicate those actions.
And Allah knows best.
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