The 20 attributes of Allah (Sifāt Allāh).

Wednesday28 February 2018, by Madani


The first joy that every Muslim should enjoy is to know his Lord (sovereign master), Allāh, subhānahu wa ta‘ālā. We can not adore Allah, profess the faith or claim Islam without knowing, understanding and believing in Allah’s Sifāt (divine attributes). The expression « sifāt » is the plural of « sifa » that refers to the attributes and the properties that characterize Allah, subhānahu wa ta‘ālā . Muslim theologians have been ingenious in extracting these « sifāt » from the Qur’an and the Sunnah. This reflection was elaborated by the great scholar and skilful Abū al-Hasan al-Aš’arī. who has devoted himself to clarify the aqīda ( the Islamic creed ) in which every Muslim must believe. This highbrow says that Allah, subhānahu wa ta’ālā, has 20 “main” attributes. Other attributes branch out from it. Generally , these attributes mean that Allah is exalted and above all imperfection unworthy of his Transcendence.

Like all Sunni ways, the madaniyya way is based on the work of this scholar and advocates for all Faqir to know, understand and strongly believe in these « Sifāt ». For this reason they have classified them into four categories:

I - Essential attribute (Sifa Nafsiyya):

1 – The existence (al-Wujūd). Allāh is the Existent par excellence. Everyone must believe that there is no doubt about His existence. Allah says : « There is no doubt about the existence of Allah » (Ibrahim v 10).

II - Negative attributes ( sifāt Salbiyya ):

1- Without beginning (Eternal/ eternity) (Azal): Allāh existed without beginning. That means the pre-existence which characterized him, without point of beginning. No one could imagine a temporal beginning to the existence of Allah. He says, “He is the first and He is the last”, (Surat al-Hadid, v. 3).

2- Endless (Abad): Allāh will exist endlessly. It is the All-Eternity that characterizes him. No one could imagine a temporal end to the Existence of Allah. “And your Lord will remain, owner of Majesty and Honor.”, (Surat Ar-Rahman, v. 27).

3- Non-likeness to his creatures (Mukhālafa li-l-hawādith): Allāh differs from all His creatures. No one could imagine any resemblance to the things created. He does not resemble to his creatures in so far as he does not resemble any of His creatures, neither in his Selfsame , nor in His attributes, nor in His deeds. Allah says, “There is nothing like unto Him”, (Surah Ach-Shura, v. 11).

4- He is subsistent (not in need) (al-Ghina): Allāh is self-sufficient. He does not need anything or anyone. Allah does not need anything from His creatures however they all need Him Allah says: “Allah is the one whose creatures need”, (al-Ihklās, v. 2).

5- Unique (al-Wahdāniyya): Allāh is Unique. No divinity exists with Him. He has no partner in divinity. He is unique by Himself, by His attributes and by His deed. Allah says : « Say : He is Allah, Unique » (Surat Al-’Ikhlās, v. 1).

III - Positive attributes (sifāt ma’ānī) :

Their number is seven :

1- Omniscience: Allah knows all about everything. Nothing escapes His Science . Allah says, “He knows all things”, (Surat Al-Baqarah,)

2- The Will: Everything in this world exists by the will of Allah. Allah says, “And you do not will except that Allah wills” (Surat At-Takwīr, v. 29).

3- Omnipotence: Allah is able to do everything. Nothing is difficult for Him (hie is potent) . Allah says, “Surely his power has no limits.” (Surat Al-Baqarah, v. 20).

4- The Life : Allah is alive without soul nor flesh nor heart. His life does not looks like our life. And He is « Al-Hayy » the Living One and He does not die. Allah says, “Allah, there is no god but Him, the living One, the One who does not annihilate”, (Surat Al-Baqarah, v. 255).

5- Hearing: Allah hears all that is audible without ear or any other organ or tool Allah says: “He is the hearing, the seeing”, (Surah, Ach-Shura, c. 11).

6- The sight : Allah sees all that is visible without an organ or tool. Allah says : “He is the hearing, the seeing”, (Surah, Ach-Shura, c. 11).

7- The Word : Allah speaks without tongue or organs. His word does not translate into any human language. It does not look like those of humans. Allah says : “Surely, Allah spoke to Musa” (Surat An-Nisa , v. 164).

IV- The involved attributes (sifāt ma’nawiyya):

These are the 7 inherent attributes . They are necessarily involved by the seven preceding (previous) 2Attributes. For example, life implies that Allah is alive. It is indeed unthinkable to imagine a Divine Attribute without Allah being qualified; as it is inconceivable to think of the Will without Allah being Wanting.

This reasoning applies to the other seven Attributes.

1- Omniscient : He knows everything and no one escapes His Omniscience.

2- Wanting: He wants everything; All is the product of His Will.

3- Omnipotent : He has the power to do everything.

4- Living : He lives of a Life that goes beyond human understanding, without beginning or end. 5- Hearing : He hears everything audible.

6- Seeing : He sees everything visible.

7- Speaking : He speaks of a word that differs from human speech.




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