Islamic Heritage of South Asia

Asma Wa Sifaat (The Names and Attributes of Allah)

A Commentary on Awarif wal Muarif of Shaikh Shihabuddin Suhrwardy (d 1191 CE)

By Mawlana Syed Moeenuddin Shah Qadri; Hyderabad, Deccan, India

Translated from Urdu and summarized by

Prof. Dr. Nazeer Ahmed

Vocabulary for this article:

Asma’: Plural of Ism; the Names; the Names of Allah

Asma’ ul Husna: The Most Beautiful Names of Allah of which there are 99 in the Qur’an

A’rifeen: Plural of Arif; People of inner knowledge; Awliyah

Ayan e Thabita (Ilm e Ilahi, the knowledge of Allah)

Ayan e Mumkinat (the world of contingencies)

Baqa: Restoration; Recreation (antonym of fana)

Dhat (or Zat): Reality; Self

Fana: Destruction; annihilation (antonym of baqa)

Hayat: Life as opposed to Maut or death

Hasti: Being

Hijab: Curtain; Veil; a Partition; that which hides the Reality of Allah swt from human perception

Ijtemal: the dependency of one Sifet on another

Ishara: A Signal; A Sign; An allusion

Ijtemal: Conditionality; dependency

Ism(pronounced issm): Name; a Noun; a Name of Allah swt such as Al Wadud (the loving), al Rahman (the Compassionate), al Rahim (the Merciful), al Ghafoor (the Forgiving)  and so on.

Jame’: Sum total

Jism e Anseri: Body made up of elements

Kashaf: Lifting of veil (that separate Asma e Husna from the human)

Saba’ Masani: The seven Ayahs of Surah al Fateha

Shamil: Included; contained

Shuhood: Witness; to be present; to see

Sifat: Plural of Sifet; attributes; an adjective

Sifat e Saba’ Dhatiya: The seven foundational Sifaat. These are Hayat (life), Ilm (knowledge), Qudrat (power), Irada (Intent), Sama (hearing), Basar(seeing) and Kalam (speech).

Tajaddud e Amthal: Renovation of appearances; The atomistic cycle of fana (destruction) and baqa (restoration); the unfolding of Allah’s will from moment to moment

Ummahat e Asma (the root or basis of the Names). They are: Hayat (life), Ilm (knowledge), Qudrat (power), Iradah (intent), Sama (hearing), Basar (Seeing) and Kalam (speech).

Summary

Asma ul Husna are the most beautiful Names of Allah. The 99 Asma ul Husna in the Qur’an capture the essence of all the names (Asma) in the universe..  

Ism (pronounced i-ss-m) is a word or description used to allude (ishara) towards Allah. The allusion (ishara) is towards His dhat (Reality) without reference to any attribute. Ism defines His Being while Sifaat describe His condition. Asma is the plural of Ism.

The Reality of Ism is the dhatSifaat are attributes that point to the one who has the Sifaat (the Ism). Safaat define an Ism.

The Reality of Sifaat is Ilahiyet (attributes of the One who is worthy of worship). The Reality of Asma is Rububiyet (an attribute of Allah, the Sustainer).

The Dhat (Reality or Essence) of Asma wa Sifat is only Allah. Asma wa Sifat are pointers, signs, ishara. Whenever they are mentioned, they refer to Allah swt.

Asma wa Sifat are endless. They are condensed into 99 Asma ul Husna in the Qur’an. The Jame’ (compendium) of all the Asma wal Husna is the Name “Allah”.

Ummahat e Asma: There are seven Ummhat e Asma, namely, Hayat, Ilm, Irada, Qudrat, Sama, Basar and Kalam.

Ummahat e Sifat: They are called the Saba’ Masani. These are the seven Ayahs of Surah al Fateha. Every Ayah in Surah al Fateha is a deep ocean which has no shores. It is the Reality of the Qur’an. The Sifat are also Saba Sifat.

Ijtemal e Asma: The conditionality of Asma (Names). For instance, when there is Hayat, there is Ilm. When a man has no Hyat (when he is dead), where is the knowledge?

The Sifat of Allah are also given to the human except that our Ujub is not Dhati (our existence is not real). We are dependent on Allah for our existence.

The difference in the attributes of Allah and those of the human is that He is Khaliq, we are Makhluq. We are dependent on our senses for physical perception. We need our eyes to see, ears to hear and tongue to speak. Allah is beyond any need whatsoever.

Asma wa Sifat are hidden. They are the hijab (curtain) that hide the Reality of the Ism. When a human being progresses beyond the Asma wa Sifat, he catches a glimpse of the Light of Reality.

Discussion

The subject matter for this session is Asma wa Sifaat. The more you know about this subject matter, the greater are the blessings.

Ism (pronounced i-ss-m) is a word or description used to allude (ishara) towards Allah. The allusion (ishara) is towards His dhat (Reality) without reference to any attribute. The dhat (Reality) that is referred to is only that of Allah swt. Ism defines His Being while Sifaat describe His attributes. Asma is the plural of Ism.

In classical Arabic, ism is a noun and it connotes a name, an adjective and an adverb. The Asma ul Husna of Allah swt connote His Names, Attributes and Adverbs. In our presentation today, we will use Ism to mean the Reality (the Names) of Allah and Sifaat to mean His attributes (the attributes of His Names). For instance, al Rahim is a Name (ism) of Allah whose attribute is rahma (an attribute of the Name al Rahim). Allah swt is al Rahim whose Sifet is Rahma (divine Grace).

Another way to state this is to say that we call Allah by His Beautiful Names (Asma ul Husna) but we do not know His Reality. We know Him only by the attributes of His Beautiful Names (His Asma ul Husna).

Question: Can you have a dhat without a Sifet?  Answer: If there is dhat, there is a Sifet. No human being is bereft of Sifaat. Every human being has Sifaat. Dhat and Sifaat are lazim and malzum (necessary and sufficient). The two cannot be separated.  However, we use the two terms to gain a deeper understanding of both.

As applied to Asma ul Husna (the Beautiful Names of Allah) the reality of Sifaat is Ilahiyet. The reality of Asma is Rububiyet. You worship Allah swt because He is Ilah. None but He is worthy of worship. He is so exalted that He is worthy of worship. The Shariah commands us to worship Him. This is the meaning of Ilahiyet.

The meaning of Rububiyet is sustenance. Allah is the Rabb, the Sustainer of all the worlds. The Asma ul Husna are His Names. Allah is al Rahman, al Rahim, al Razzaq, al Ghaffar and so on for His makhluq (His creation).

So, one must understand that the reality of Asma ul Husna is Rububiyet. The source or origin of all Asma ul Husna (the beautiful Names) is Allah.

The Asma (Names of Allah) are jamali and jalali veils to His dhat (His Reality). Jamal and jalal are two hijabs (veils) in which the dhat of Allah swt is hidden. Whoever looks at these hijabs, he is confronted with the Sifat and Signs of Asma ul Husna. And he who looks beyond these veils (if he is granted permission by Allah to do so) transcends the stations of Ilahiyet and Rububiyet and arrives at the station of al Haq (the Truth): Wahdahu La Shareeka Lahu (He is One. No Associate has He).

This concept needs elaboration. Dhat e Ilahi is hidden behind the curtains of Asma wa Sifat. It is impossible to know anything about dhat (Reality) unless the curtains of Asma wa Sifat are lifted. Such lifting (kashaf) can happen only by the authority, permission, and Grace of Allah swt.  Only the most accomplished A’rifeen (people of inner knowledge) can venture any further and aspire to be that close to Allah.

Here is an example. Let us say that Bakr is a person. How do you describe Bakr? With reference to his hands? His feet? His eyes? His ears? The hands, feet, eyes and ears collectively are not Bakr. Why do we say this? Our body of which the hands, feet, eyes and ears are a part, is like a house. It is called “jism e anseri” (the body of elements). The inhabitant of this house is Bakr. If you live in a house, you are its resident and it is your house. One cannot say that you are the house. You are only staying in it. Similarly, if we refer to the body of Bakr, we are saying that it is his house; the one who lives in it is Bakr. The house and its resident cannot be one and the same. If Bakr were to pass away, his body cannot move. His hands and feet are still. It has no pulse and it cannot breathe. So, you will not call this dead body Bakr. You would call it the corps of Bakr and you will say that Bakr has passed away, returned to Allah or moved on to the hereafter. The “house” or the body is still there but it is not listening to you, talking to you or interacting with you.

The body is “jism e anseri”, meaning, it is made up of the elements. This is our home and our Ruh (spirit) is “resident” in it. If the pulse is active, you conclude that Bakr is alive. If he is able to see you, he looks at you through his eyes which are like the “windows” of his house or his body. He exercises his attribute of seeing and experiences your “tajalli” (appearance). You realize that he is looking at you. Then he wishes to speak to you. He uses his attribute of speech to say something to you. Speech is the “tajalli” of the tongue. Then, to listen to your words, he turns to his attribute of hearing. You realize that he hears you. You recognize that he is alive through the exercise of his attributes (seeing, speaking, hearing).

Even though Bakr is interacting with you through his attributes, you do not see the dhat (Reality) of Bakr. You do not see his hayat (life). You witness only his attributes. You see the impact of his Hayat on his pulse and other signs and conclude that Bakr is alive and present. But you have no knowledge of Bakr’s self-perception of his own being (hasti).  When the capabilities that are with Bakr are exercised and their effects become manifest, you observe them and your attention is drawn to the hidden person (Bakr) in whom those capabilities are present.  You do not know anything more. Specifically, you do not know anything about the dhat or Reality of Bakr. Seeing, speaking, hearing, intent, power (sama’, basar, kalam, irada, qudrat) are the attributes (sifaat) of Bakr.  Therefore, we say that the dhat of Bakr is hidden behind the curtains of his attributes. The effect of these attributes is to make the curtains manifest.

One other comment: If Bakr’s hearing and sight are gone and his hands and feet are cut off, even then Bakr remains Bakr and you would call his dhat (his Reality) Bakr. The elements that constituted his body in his childhood are not there in his youth. What he had in his youth is transformed in old age. But there was no change in his dhat (Self).

The dhat (Reality) does not change when the attributes change.  The human body changes as you grow old, from childhood to adulthood to old age. But there is no change in the dhat of the person even though the attributes undergo a transformation. 

An exercise of Qiyas (reasoning by analogy) helps us understand how the dhat of Allah swt is hidden behind the hijab of His Asma wa Sifat. What you know and witness are the attributes or Sifat of Allah. For instance, He is Rahman, Rahim, Ghaffar, Ghafoor, Khaliq and Malik. But you do not have knowledge of dhat e Ilahi. That is not possible. Unlike the human who is imprisoned in his own body, Allah swt is beyond corporeal and space-time constraints. He is Khaliq, we are makhluq. What is the difference between the two? The attributes are similar except the attribute of existence. The human is dependent on his attributes, namely, his eyes, tongue, ears, hands and feet to reveal himself. Allah swt is not dependent on anything. He is al Samad (Self Sufficient).

Allah swt is not dependent on any attribute or instrument to reveal His Qudrat (power). All of His attributes were always in His dhat. They are present now and will always be present in the future. When we say that Rububiyet is dependent on Marbub and Khaliqiyet is dependent on Makhluq, we only mean that when the Makhluq comes into existence, His Khalqiyet expresses itself and when Marbub comes into existence His Rubibiyet becomes manifest.

This is a subtle point. Allah is Khaliq; we are Makhluq. We are dependent on our faculties to show our capabilities. We depend on our tongue to speak, our eyes to see, our hands to do work, our legs to walk. Allah is beyond such needs. He does not need anything to express His power. But there is a subtle point to consider. His Khalikhiyet is manifest through His Makhluk. If He had not created you, then how would you call him Khaliq? He created us and He became a Khaliq. If He had not created us then how would His Khaliqiyet manifest itself? If it was not manifest then how would He be recognized? He is the Sustainer and He fulfills all our needs. So, we call Him Rabb and we become Marbub. If we had no needs then His Rububiyet would not be manifest. He provides rizq (sustenance) to the whole world. So, we call Him al Razzaq. The Rabbil alameen is recognized through the Marbub whom He himself creates.  The Marbub is recognized through his Rabb. This is a subtle idea in Tasawwuf that has been elaborated in Khususul Hikam of Ibn al Arabi. As the Hadith explains: “I was a hidden treasure. I willed that I be known. So, I created.”

Summarily, the attributes of Allah have always existed but they were hidden and not seen. He created us so that we become the mirror for reflecting His attributes.

The Asma wa Sifat of Allah swt are infinite; so are His commands and His works.  However, all the Asma wa Sifat as well as commands originate from a Single Source. He is at once Rahman and Rahim, Khaliq and Bari, Malik and Razzaq, Qahhar and Qabiz. The multiplicity of Asama wa Sifat make no difference to His Wahdat (Unicity). We studied under Wahdat al Wajud that there were innumerable objects in creation, the stars, galaxies, planets, trees, birds, humans, animals and insects.  But this enormous multiplicity does not violate the Wahdat (Unicity) of the Creator. The multiplicity is in Ilm e Ilahi (knowledge of Allah), not in His dhat (Reality). The multiplicity that is apparent in this world and in the hereafter does not affect His Wahdat (Unicity). There are an infinite number of living and non-living things as well as objects and thoughts in His ilm (knowledge). As He deems it fit, He brings them into being (creates them) in space-time. But the Creator is One. He is the qadir e mutlaq (the established power or authority). He creates as He will.

The Asma are infinite. However, they are assembled into the 99 Names revealed in the Qur’an to facilitate human comprehension. 

The root of these 99 Names is set in seven principles. These seven principles are called Ummahat e Asma (the root or basis of the Names). They are: Hayat (life), Ilm (knowledge), Qudrat (power), Iradah (intent), Sama (hearing), Basar (Seeing) and Kalam (speech).  Some of these Ummahat are conditional upon others. For instance, if there is no Hayat (life), there is no Ilm (knowledge). Ilm is conditional upon Hayat. Similarly, Irada (intent) is not useful in the absence of Qudrat (power). Thus, there is no knowledge without life. There is no kalam (speech) without Irada (intent). This dependency of one Sifet on another is called Ijtemal. These explanations are offered for human understanding; Allah is beyond such conditionality.

Allah is Ism e Jame’. The infinity of Asma was condensed into 99 Asma e Husna.  Then, the origin of the Asma e Husna was condensed into seven principles. In reality, all seven principles have a single source and that Source is Allah. Allah is the jame’ (sum total) of all the asma’. He is also shamil, meaning “in” the asma’. So, He is both Jame’ and shamil. Therefore, the name Allah is called Ism e Jame’. He is in the Names, surrounds them and He has complete power over them.

There is taqabul and takassur in the Asma’. It means the Asma may contrast, negate and supersede one another. For instance, ya Munim and ya Muntaqil seem to negate each other. Ya Munim means the one who gives the ne’mat ( bounty). Ya Muntaqil means the one who extracts a revenge. Allah is both the bestower and withholder of bounties. He is both Qabiz (the extractor or contractor) and Basith (restorer or expander), Dhar (one who causes a loss or pain) and Nafe’ (one who provides a benefit).

Tajaddud e Amthal is derived from this tension between the Asma.  Since eternity, life is followed by death which is followed by life. The changes happen every moment so rapidly that the common man does not perceive them. The A’rifeen, people of inner knowledge, witness the rapid cyclic change from life to death to life. The world is destroyed (fana) and recreated (baqa) every moment. This is called tajaddud e amthal (renewal of appearances).

Commanding the transformations between the Asma e Mutaqabila (the contrasted Names) is Dhul Wajhain (The Owner of Causes). He (Allah swt) brings on some difficulty, then relieves it and acts as the bridge in between. The difficulty is of infinite grades; so is the relief. Similarly, every Ism (Name) can have many degrees.

Ayan e Thabita and Ayan e Mumkinat: What is Ayan e Thabita? Allah’s infinite knowledge contains our potential faces and forms. The forms in which Asma e Ilahi manifest themselves in the created world are called Mazaher e Asma. The appearances that are only in the knowledge of Allah are called Ayan e Thabita knowledge of Allah). They are also called Suwwar e ilmiya (faces, forms and shapes that are known only in the knowledge of Allah). The faces, forms and shapes that become manifest externally are called Ayan e Mumkinat. The faces that we see are Ayan e Mumkinat (contingent or possible manifestation). They are also called Wujud e Aynee (existence that can be seen) or A’lam e Shahadat (the world that we can see)

We, as human beings, have two “faces” (existences). One existence was the one we had with Ilm e Ilahi (knowledge of Allah). This is the Suwwar e Ilmiya, the way Allah swt conceived us. All the people who will ever be born till the Judgment Day are in Ilm e Ilahi. The question is: Is our existence in the ilm e Ilahi (Suwwar e Ilmi) the same as what we have in this world? No. The earthly existence is material. The external existence (form, shape, face) that we have is different. The Suwwar e Ilmiya was bereft of materials. It was light and it had no impurity in it. Then He created us in this world from the elements. We went through the stages of Mutga, Alga and some of the attributes of the parents entered into it and our material forms were constructed. That is how we came into being as Ayan e Mumkinat.

The human is Mumkin (contingent). Allah is Wajib (necessary and sufficient). So, the human creation follows the stages of Arada (intent of Allah), Mansha’Allah (will of Allah), Ayan e Thabita (Ilm e Ilahi), Ayan e Mumkinat.

Ahsa e Asma (Encapsulating all the Asma): The Prophet sas said: Allah swt has 99 Names. Whoever encapsulates them (makes them his own) goes to Jannah. Ahsa e Asma means you witness the Asma e Husna through your spirituality and the lifting of the veils. When a person lifts the curtains and looks at the Names of Allah, al Rahman, al Rahim, Al Razzaq and so on, the light of His Names falls upon him and he becomes an Arif in the true sense of the word. A person who merely heard the Asma e Husna and understood their meaning receives the least portion of light. In accordance with what he has earned we cannot say that this knowledge will be the means of his (spiritual) success. Merely hearing the Names confirms his ability to hear. The second stage is to understand the grammatical meaning of the Asma in Arabic. This only confirms that the person knows the Arabic language and he is the equivalent of an ignorant Arab. If the person believes that the Names represent the attributes of Allah, but his belief is not based on investigation and reflection, he is the equivalent of a believing child. One cannot deny that such a person is higher in rank as compared to those in the first two categories. But it is also correct to say that it is insufficient to take this person to the perfection of Meraj (ascension to heaven).

The way to earn the blessing of His Names and to achieve the Irfan (inner knowledge) of the Asma wa Sifat of Allah swt through kashaf (lifting of veils) and shuhood (witness)and “seeing” His Rahma (Grace). It is to see the tajalli (manifestation) of Asma wa Sifat. When a person achieves this position, he moves from the station of Ilm ul Yaqeen (certainty of knowledge) to Ahl ul Yaqeen (a person who has attained certainty) and then advances to the station of Haq ul Haqeen (certainty of Truth). Until you arrive at this station, you cannot say that you are a Mutahaqqaq (one who has investigated and confirmed) of Asma wa Sifat.  Such a station is achieved only by persons of high rank, that too in an Ijmali (macro or gross) manner, not in a Tafseeli (micro or detailed) manner. This is so even if the Asma are reflected in his own behavior and character. This is how we grade the rank of the Awliyah. The more the Wali has witnessed the tajalliyat (manifestations) Allah’s Asma wa Sifat, the higher his/her rank.

The word Arif is used for the person who has lifted the veils and has witnessed the Tajalliyat. A person who is an Arif of the Dhat (the Reality of Asma wa Sifat) is called a Muwahhid.  There is a tremendous difference between a person who has achieved such a station and has witnessed the Tajalliyat and one who has merely learned about them from his parents and teachers. Musa (Moses pbuh) witnessed a Tajalli, which was merely the reflection of a single ray of light from the infinitude of His light. When Musa (as) was at the station of Talween (multiplicity), [NA1] he did not witness the Tajalli because Allah was at the station of Tamkeen (fixity). When the Tajalli did descend, the mountain shattered and Musa (as) swooned. When he woke up, he was taken to a higher station so he could “speak” to Allah.

The summary is that the Asma wa Sifaat that we witness are a Tajalli. As an example, the word Kun can be said by anyone. One may even know its grammatical meaning. But what is its Reality? The word Kun is revealed only as a Sign so that people can understand something. The inner meaning of it, the Tajalli, is known only to Allah. When He says Kun, there is “being”; when He says Fa Yakun, there is “becoming”. Kun is a command to create or destroy; fa yakun is when that creation or destruction has already happened. The words are used so that we can understand something of Asma wa Sifat.

The dhat or reality of the Asma wa Sifat is Noor. It is Light. It transcends space, time, body, shape, form or conception. As the Qur’an says: Allahu Noorus Samawat e Wal Ard (Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth). The Arifeen witness the Noor (Light). The higher their rank, the greater is the Noor (divine Light) they witness.

The created world can be segmented into three ranks. The first rank is that of the Malaeka (the angels). The second rank is the human. The third is Bahaem (animals etc.).

Keeping in mind the correct purpose of life, we examine what each category of beings is capable of doing according to its intelligence and ability to comprehend. We also ask what each category is created for and what it does in the scheme of life. The animals are given to their passions. They do not have the ability to differentiate between good and evil.  They just stuff their bellies and serve as beasts of burden. What they can do is very limited. By contrast, the angels are bereft of animalistic passions. They carry out the commandment of Allah and are constantly seeking proximity to His presence. Their lives are pure and free of sins. They have the highest comprehension and their domain is vast and expansive. They even comprehend what is beyond spatial constraints.

The human is a compendium of animalistic and angelic attributes. At the lowest level, the human is a servant of his ego and pursues the animalistic pleasures that are readily available to him. As he advances from this level, the light of intellect shines in him. Riding on the wings of their intellect, some people acquire the Ikhtiar or capability to transcend spatial constraints without the aid of conveyances. These are the Prophets, their Companions, the Awliyah, who are fountains of spirituality. By contrast, we are subservient to our desires. We walk with our earthly feet, see with our material eyes and remain beholden to our basal desires. But when a person’s Ruh is illuminated by the Grace of Allah, his actions become angelic. Then, his Nafs (Self) abandons base thoughts and feelings and he becomes synchronized with angelic thoughts and actions. As you move closer to divine presence, you distance yourself from animalistic attributes (animalistic Sifaat) and move higher and higher in the angelic domain (acquire more and more angelic Sifaat) until you become a companion of the higher angels and enter into the circle of the beloveds of God. You can comprehend this journey of the soul only through a comprehension of Asma wa Sifat.

Fatehtul Kitab (Surah al Fateha) is a summary of the Qur’an.  It is a compendium and gist of Ayat e Quran. The other name for Fatehatul Kitab is Saba’ Masani.  These are the seven Ayahs that are repeated in every prayer. Similarly, there are seven Sifat in the Martab e Ilm (stations of knowledge) of Allah which are known as E’tebarat e Kulli (sum total of His E’tebar or conception), also called Sifat e Saba’ Dhatiya (The seven foundational Sifat). These are Hayat (life), Ilm (knowledge), Qudrat (power), Irada (Intent), Sama (hearing), Basar(seeing) and Kalam (speech). The totality of Dhat e Haq (the Reality of the Truth) as well as the entire meaning of Asma wa Sifat is dependent on these seven Sifat.  These seven Safat are the foundational stations of ma’rifat. The ma’rifat of these seven Sifat is a deep ocean of hidden and manifest secrets that has no shores.  It contains the limitless knowledge and ma’rifat of His tajalliyat similar to the limitless knowledge and ma’rifat of His Wajh or existence. The depths of this ocean contain pearls for those who dive into it while those who stand on the shores only see clear waters.

What is pointed out here is that Fatehatul Kitab (Surah al Fateha) is the gist or summary of the entire Qur’an. Every word of it is like a deep ocean. Hazrat Ali (r) said: If I were to write a tafseer of this Surah, it will take seventy camels to carry the written documents. It is also pointed out that Ummahatul Sifat, the foundational Sifat are also seven.

Insan (the human) is a summary of creation. If we consider the meaning of words, the similarity of the human to creation is that of the Ruh to the body. One looks in the mirror to examine one’s true self.  God willed that He would create a reflector (a mirror) in which He could see the Shuyun e Ilahi (His own powers).  In other words, He desired to look at Himself in the mirror. He desired to create a being who had the capacity to reflect His partaw (light or shadow). So, He created the cosmos and He made Adam His khalifa (representative) on earth as His mirror so that He would witness Himself in the mirror.  This is Sunnat e Ilahi (the way of Allah). He fashioned the human body in perfection. When the body has the ability to accept it, the Ruh is “blown” into it. Fa Iza Sawwaytuhu wa Nafaqtu Feehi Minhu Roohi (When I fashioned it into perfection, I infused My Ruh into it).  Adam’s Nafs (Nafs includes the body, mind and heart) had to have the capacity to accept and reflect the powers of the Ruh. So, He fashioned it, corrected it, molded it, completed it and decided that the human Self indeed had the capacity to accept the Ruh. Then, he breathed His Ruh into Adam. When the Ruh was infused into Adam, he became Ruh e Alam (The Spirit of the cosmos). The meaning of Nafaqtu Feehi Minhu Rooohi (infused into it My Rooh) is that the reflection (pertaw) of Asma wa Sifat fell on Adam. Adam (the archetype of the human) accepted this burden and became a custodian of Amanet e Ilahi (the Trust from Allah). Nothing in the cosmos had this capability to be a custodian of this Amanat (Trust). Thus, the Asma wa Sifat became manifest in the human who acquired all the high and low stations (of honor and dishonor).

The Sifat of Allah are reflected in the human except for one, namely, Wujub e dhati (Necessary Reality or Essence of Existence). We, as human beings, are not Wajib (necessary). Our existence is conditional. Only He, Allah swt is Wajjib ul Wujud (the Necessary Existence). We are only Mumkin ul Wujud (Possible Existence or Contingent Existence). When He wills, He creates us. He was always there, is there and will always be there. He is the Living, the Hearing and the Seeing. The human also is alive and has the faculties of hearing and seeing but he is dependent on Allah for these faculties. Allah is self-sufficient; He is not dependent on anyone for anything. He is the Khaliq (Creator); we are the Maqhlooq (Created). He created us as a Mithal (simile) not as Mithl (identical; exactly the same). Our capabilities are only a gift from Allah. He can take them back anytime He so desires (along with our lives).

The Books that Allah sent down to humankind are cast in the attributes of the mold that are also present in the Nafs (soul) of the human. Example: You knew Arabic.  Therefore, the Qur’an was revealed in Arabic so that you could understand it. Similar was the case with the earlier revelations; they were revealed in the language of the people to whom they were sent.

The Hayat, Sama and Basar of Allah is different from our Hayat, Sama and Basar. Allah is Wajubul Wujud (essential, necessary existence). Lam Yakun Lahu Kufuan Ahad (There is none like unto Him). He is Qadim (timeless, eternal). By contrast, the human is Haadith (created).

Allah glorified His own Sifat both as Zahir (manifest) and Batin (hidden). We are Zahir (manifest), Ahdiyet (Oneness of Allah) is Batin (hidden). Further, He divided the cosmos into what is manifest (shahada) and what is hidden (gaib). He is Alimul Gaib (Knower of the unseen). For instance, He knew us before we were born and were in Alamul Gaib (hidden world). We live in Alam e shahada (the manifest world.  He placed the world between hope and fear, between acceptance and rejection. He is happy with some things and He is not happy with others. We are sometimes hopeful; at other times we are fearful. He exalted Himself with jalal and jamal (magnificence and beauty). He created us with awe and love in our hearts. Such is the condition of all things (with internal tensions).

The tension between the attributes is referred to as “the two hands”, the right and the left. As explained in the Qur’an, when Allah swt asked Shaitan: “Who forbade you from bowing before Adam whom I made “with my two hands”? What are the two hands? There is a difference of opinion on this issue. Some say it is Jalal wa Jamal.  In addition, the opposed Asma were consolidated within Adam. The “two hands” also refer to this consolidation of opposed Asma which show themselves with the “face” of Haq (spirituality) and the “face” of creation (duniya).  Adam (as had a material face in his external self; in his internal self he had the face of Truth (the face of Haq, a spiritual face). This integration made him worthy of Khilafat (representative of God on earth).

Truth is manifest in every atom of creation. Certainly, the human is material in his external appearance and spiritual in his internal appearance. If this contrast was not there, then there would have been no material existence. Every atom exhibits the attributes of Allah according to its ability but the higher attributes show up only in the human. We are “la A’yn wa la Ghair” (we are not in Him nor outside of Him). We existed in Ilm e Ilahi (knowledge of Allah). So, we are not separate from him. When His Mansha (will) became Mafhoom (cognizant) we became separated. Thus, Adam has a Surat e Haq and a Surat e Khalq (spiritual face and a material face). The same is true of us. We have said earlier that He made us the Khalifa, made the cosmos a mirror and looked at Himself. Now, if I put some ink on the mirror does the face get stained with ink? No. If you stain the mirror, does it stain your face. No. If I break the mirror, does it change my face? No. The meaning is that the mirror is separate from me. The mirror is “ghair” (different, separate). Your reflection in the face is separate from you. If you withdraw from the mirror, there is nothing to be seen in the mirror. We are not “ghair”. When He showed His “face” we became visible. When He withdrew, the reflection disappeared. That is “la Ayn wa la Gair”. We also studied Wahdat al Wujud. Allah swt reveals His attributes in every atom in accordance with the capability of the atom to show the attribute. The Wujud or Existence is One.

The human is the seal of all attributes. Except for the human, no other creation has been endowed with all the attributes. We said that every atom reflects Allah’s attributes. If that reflection is not there, then that creation does not exist. That is Wahdat al Wujud, namely, Allah is the reason for our existence. He is the Living. He is the life-giving attribute of every atom. He said: Allahu Noorus Samawati wal Ard. Then He said: Fa Aynama Tawallaw Fa Samma Wajhulla ( No matter which direction you look you see the “Face” (existence) of Allah). Is there any place where Allah is not present?

Allah made us manifest and He hid Himself. At first, we were hidden. Then, he created us in the world and made us visible and He became hidden. We exist because of Him. Our existence is His “shadow” or “reflection”. There is no “shadow” without Him.

Subhana Rabbika Rabbil I’zzati A’mma Yasifun. Wa Salamun Alal Mursaleen. Wal Hamdu Lillahi Rabbil A’lameen.


 [NA1]