Tuesday, 21 July 2020

The Greatest Name of Allah اسم الاعظم

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
يا الله لا اله الا انت
هو الله لا اله الا هو
Allah Holy and Exalted is He, has many beautiful Names, and from the beautification of worship is to call upon Him by these Names in utter humility. Allah Most High loves to listen to His devotee calling upon Him with desperation and emotion, and through such heartfelt supplications, the devotee is raised very high in spiritual rank, attaining nearness to his or her Lord.

The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم revealed to us that out of all of Allah’s beautiful Names, there is one Name which is the greatest of them all, the اسم الاعظم ‘Greatest Name’. There is considerable confusion and difference of opinion among the Muslims on this matter. There are some who have fallen into a great error in outright denying the fact that Allah has a ‘Greatest Name’, for they wrongly imagine it to be impossible that one of Allah’s Names be greater than another. On the contrary, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم stated after hearing someone supplicate a beautiful prayer to the Lord:

دَعَا اللَّهَ بِاسْمِهِ الأَعْظَمِ الَّذِي إِذَا دُعِيَ بِهِ أَجَابَ وَإِذَا سُئِلَ بِهِ أَعْطَى
“He has called upon Allah with His Greatest Name, the one which when He is called upon by it, He responds, and when He is asked by it, He grants”

Now let us examine the exact words of the man’s beautiful supplication which contains the Greatest Name:

اللَّهُمَّ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ الْمَنَّانُ بَدِيعُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ ذَا الْجَلاَلِ وَالإِكْرَامِ

And in another version:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ أَنِّي أَشْهَدُ أَنَّكَ أَنْتَ اللَّهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ الأَحَدُ الصَّمَدُ الَّذِي لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ

These narrations are present in the four Sunan (Abi Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Nasa’i) and are authentic, being narrated by the two companions sayyidina Anas bin Malik and Buraydah bin al-Husayb رضى الله عنهما

The common words in both these narrations, which must logically contain the Greatest Name, are:

اللهم لا اله الا انت

Allahumma! There is no elah (deity) except You
Sayyidatuna Asma’ bint Yazid narrates that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم said:

اسْمُ اللَّهِ الأَعْظَمُ فِي هَاتَيْنِ الآيَتَيْنِ ‏{‏ وَإِلَهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الرَّحْمَنُ الرَّحِيمُ ‏}‏ وَفَاتِحَةُ سُورَةِ آلِ عِمْرَانَ ‏{‏ الم * اللَّهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْحَىُّ الْقَيُّومُ ‏}‏

The Greatest Name of Allah is in these two Verses: ‘And Your God is One God, there is no god except HE, the Rahman, the Rahim’ and the opening of Surat Aal Imran ‘Alif, Lam, Mim. Allah, there is no god except HE, the Living, the Self-Subsisting. (Sunan Abi Dawud and Jami’ at-Tirmidhi)

Both Albani and Zubair Ali Zai have graded this Hadith hasan.

These two Verses are Surah 2:163 and Surah 3:2. In yet another Hadith, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم said:

اسْمُ اللَّهِ الأَعْظَمُ الَّذِي إِذَا دُعِيَ بِهِ أَجَابَ فِي سُوَرٍ ثَلاَثٍ الْبَقَرَةِ وَآلِ عِمْرَانَ وَطَهَ

The Greatest Name of Allah with which He is called upon and answers is in three Surahs: al-Baqarah, Aal Imran, and Ta Ha (Sunan Ibn Majah)

In this Hadith, the first two Verses are confirmed, but it is mentioned that the Greatest Name can be found in a third Surah, which is the 20th chapter. I am inclined to believe that it is this proceeding Verse:

اللَّـهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ
Allah, there is no god except HE. To Him belongs the best Names
(Surah 20:8)

The fact that the word ‘Names’ are mentioned in this Ayah, and as we shall see it contains some identical wording to the first two Verses that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم confirmed as containing the Greatest Name, leads me to conclude that this is definitely our third Verse.

And those identical words in all three Verses are:

لا اله الا هو
There is no god but HE

So now we can deduce the Greatest Name of Allah from these two wordings لا اله الا انت and لا اله الا هو. In both of these, Allah is being referred to with the pronouns YOU and HE. But as we shall see, these are not simply pronouns, they are the Greatest Name of Allah!

And once again it is no coincidence that in Surat Ta Ha, where the account is given of prophet Moses receiving speaking directly with Allah as the holy valley of Tuwa at the “burning bush”, Allah uses the pronoun ME as His Name, as though it is a noun and not a pronoun:

إِنَّنِي أَنَا اللَّـهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا
Verily, I am ME, Allah, there is no god except ME
(Surah 20:14)

And this is the fourth Verse which undoubtedly contains the Greatest Name of Allah. So it is not a coincidence that all the passages that are said to contain the Greatest Name of Allah are referring to Allah with the three pronouns هو and انت and انا all preceded by لا اله الا

So it is the Tahlil which contains the Greatest Name of Allah.

And there is also an indication of the Greatest Name in the Torah:
וַיֹּ֨אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶל־הָֽאֱלֹהִ֗ים הִנֵּ֨ה אָנֹכִ֣י בָא֮ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ וְאָמַרְתִּ֣י לָהֶ֔ם אֱלֹהֵ֥י אֲבֹותֵיכֶ֖ם שְׁלָחַ֣נִי אֲלֵיכֶ֑ם וְאָֽמְרוּ־לִ֣י מַה־שְּׁמֹ֔ו מָ֥ה אֹמַ֖ר אֲלֵהֶֽם
וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה וַיֹּ֗אמֶר כֹּ֤ה תֹאמַר֙ לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה שְׁלָחַ֥נִי אֲלֵיכֶֽם

וַיֹּאמֶר֩ עֹ֨וד אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה כֹּֽה־תֹאמַר֮ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ יְהוָ֞ה אֱלֹהֵ֣י אֲבֹתֵיכֶ֗ם אֱלֹהֵ֨י אַבְרָהָ֜ם אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִצְחָ֛ק וֵאלֹהֵ֥י יַעֲקֹ֖ב שְׁלָחַ֣נִי אֲלֵיכֶ֑ם זֶה־שְּׁמִ֣י לְעֹלָ֔ם וְזֶ֥ה זִכְרִ֖י לְדֹ֥ר דֹּֽר
And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. (Exodus 3:13-15, KJV)

In this passage, which, like Surah 20:14, is an account of prophet Moses meeting with God at the “burning bush”, the personal Name of God is given as אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה Ehyeh and יְהוָ֞ה Yahweh. And this sounds similar to هُوَ Howa, while the meaning of אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה Ehyeh asher Ehyeh ‘I am who I am’ is similar to the meaning of إِنَّنِي أَنَا ‘I am Me’.

Interestingly, Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani has mentioned, in his discussion on the Greatest Name, fourteen different opinions on what exactly it is, but the very first of them is that the Greatest Name is هُوَ Howa (Fath al-Bari; v.14, p.481)

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