The names of Allaah and His attributes that are mentioned in the Book and Sunnah, signify Allaah’s absolute perfection from all angles.
Knowledge of Allaah leads to love of Him, fear and reverence of Him, hope in Him and sincerity of action for Him alone. There is no way towards knowing Allaah except by way of knowledge of His names and attributes and to acquire the understanding of their meanings.
Allaah created creation so that they may know and worship Him. This is the purpose that is demanded of them. Thus, to occupy oneself with this is in effect to occupy oneself with that which one was created for. To leave and make waste of this, is none other than a disregard for that which one was created for.
The level of the slave’s eemaan lies in proportion to the knowledge he has of his Lord. The more he knows of his Lord, the more his eemaan will increase. Likewise, the less he knows of his Lord, the less his eemaan will be. The closest way that will lead him to this is by contemplating over His attributes and names.
If the servant realizes that Allaah hears, sees and knows, and the fact that not a single atom in the heavens and earth escape Him, and that He knows the secret and hidden, and what the treacherous eyes behold and what the breasts conceal, this will make him preserve his tongue, limbs, and the notions of his heart from anything which displeases Allaah. He will make these limbs devoted to what Allaah loves and is pleased with.
If he knows that Allaah is rich, generous, kind, merciful and is enormously benevolent, this will create a strength of optimism, and this optimism will give birth to many types of hidden and apparent servitude, all in proportion to his understanding and knowledge.
Likewise, if he is aware of the perfection and beauty of Allaah, this will grant him a specific love and a great longing to meet Him; this in turn, produces several forms of servitude.
A report from the Prophet – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam – has been ascertained, which relates that (a particular set of) ninety-nine names belong to Allaah and as for whosoever enumerates them, this will be a reason for his entry into paradise. Recorded in the Saheehayn, is the hadeeth of Aboo Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, in which he says, ‘The Messenger of Allaah – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam – said: “To Allaah belong ninety-name names, one hundred less one, whoever enumerates them will enter Paradise.” Related by al-Bukhaaree (5/354, 11/214 & 12/377, al-Fath) and Muslim 4/2063
“The meaning of’ enumerate’ (here) is not just counting them, as an unrighteous person is able to count them. The meaning is none other than acting by them.” Fath al-Baari’, 11/226. this statement was made by al-Aseelee
Aboo ‘Umar at-Talamankee states: “From the perfection of the knowledge of Allaah’s names and attributes that the supplicant and memorizes is required to know, which the Messenger of Allaah – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam – said is the knowledge of the names and attributes, the benefits they embody and realities they indicate. Whoever does not know of this, is not one who has knowledge of the meanings of the names or who has benefited from the realities they indicate when mentioning them.” Fath al-Baari’, 11/226
Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned three levels of enumerating the names of Allaah:
• The first level, to memorize their words and number.
• The second level, to understand their meanings and implications.
• The third level, to make du’aa (i.e., supplicate) to Allaah with them, this encompasses both supplication of worship and supplication of request.” Badaa’i’ al-Fawaa’id, 1/164
Ibn Sa’dee says in explanation of the phrase ‘enumerates them’ found in the aforementioned hadeeth of Aboo Hurayrah: “i.e., whoever memorizes them, understands their meanings, believes in them and worships Allaah with them, will enter Paradise. Since it is only the believers who will enter Paradise, it becomes apparent that this is the greatest source and constituent towards the attainment of eemaan and it’s strength and stability. Knowledge of Allaah’s names is the foundation of eemaan and eemaan traces back to it.” At-Tawdeeh wa al-Bayaan, page 26
Allaah says: “It is only those who have knowledge amongst His slaves who fear Allaah. Verily, Allaah is All-Mighty, Oft-Forgiving.” Soorah Faatir (35):28
Ibn Jareer at-Tabaree states in his commentary to this aayah: “Allaah, may his mention be exalted, says, ‘Those who fear Allaah and shield themselves from His punishment by being obedient to him, are none other than those who have knowledge of His capability over anything that He desires and that He does what He likes: The reason being that whoever is certain of Allaah’s retribution as a consequence of disobedience to Him, he will fear and dread Him for fear of being punished by Him.” Tafseer at-Tabaree, 12/132
Ibn Katheer writes: “i.e., those who truly fear Him as He should be, are none other than the learned, who know Him. The reason being that the more the knowledge of al-‘Adheem, al-‘Aleem, the One characterized with attributes of perfection and depicted with the most beautiful names is, the greater and more complete is the knowledge of Him, the greater and more will be the fear of Him.” Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 3/553
Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy upon him, says: “There does not exist a need of the souls that is greater than their need for the knowledge of their Maker and Originator, and for possessing love of Him, mentioning Him, being delighted at Him, and for seeking a means and position with Him. However, there is no route to this except by way of knowledge of His characteristics and names. Thus, the more knowledgeable the slave is of these names and attributes, the more knowledgeable he will be of Allaah, the more will be his quest of Him, and the nearer he will be to Him. Likewise, the more averse he is to the names and attributes, the greater ignorance he will have of Allaah, the more will be his dislike for Him and the further away he will be from Him. Allaah affords the slave a status with Him that is in accordance with the status that the slave gives to Allaah with himself…” Al-Kaafiyah ash-Shaafiyah, pg 3-4
“The substance of all this is that your heart witnesses the Lord, in ascension above His Throne, speaking with his commands and prohibitions, seeing the movements of the world, its celestial part and earthly part, its figures and its essences; hearing their voices, observant of their consciences and secrets.
The decrees of the kingdoms being under His disposal and order, they descend from Him and rise back up to Him. His angels are at His service; they execute His orders across the regions of His kingdoms.
He is characterized with attributes of perfection and described with qualities of magnificence. He is elevated above defects, deficiencies and having any like. He is as He has described Himself in His Book, and over and above what His creation depicts Him with.
He is ever living and will not die. He is self-sustaining, supports all and does not sleep. He is fully cognizant; not a single atom in the Heavens or the Earth escapes Him. He is an All-seer; He views the crawling of a black ant upon a massive rock on a pitch-dark night. He is an All hearer; He hears the cries of the voices with the diversity of languages concerning their multifarious needs.
His words are complete and perfect in truthfulness and justice. His attributes are too majestic to be likened or equated to the attributes of His creation. His essence is highly exalted above any likeness to other essences outright. His creatures are all-embraced by His actions with justice, wisdom, mercy, benevolence and favor.
To Him belong the creation and command. To Him belong all-blessings and favor, the whole dominion and all-praise, and commendation and glory.
He is first, there being nothing before Him and He is last, there being nothing after Him. He is Dhaahir ( Indicates the greatness of His attributes and the insignificance of every single creation in respect to His greatness and Highness, for He is above all of His creation with regard Hisessence and attributes), there being nothing above Him and He is Baatin (Indicates His awareness and knowledge of all secrets, of that which is in the hearts and the most intimate of things just as it indicates His closeness and nearness to all in a manner that benefits His majesty), there being nothing closer than Him.
His names are all names entailing commendation, praise and glory; this is why they are termed ‘the most beautiful. His attributes are all attributes of perfection, His characteristics are all characteristics of splendor, and His actions are all wise, merciful, of benefit and just.
Every single creation points to Him and directs one who sees Him with the view of insight, towards him.
He did not create the Heavens, the Earth and that between them without purpose, nor did He leave man neglected and void (of any purpose). Rather, He created creation in order for them to establish Tawheed of Him and worship of Him.
He showered them with His bounties so that they can employ the expression of gratitude of these bounties to attain even more of His generosity.
He introduced Himself to His servants in many different ways. He explains His signs in various ways and diversified for them the indications.
He called them to love Him from all doors and extended between Himself and them the strongest of means of His covenant.
Hence, He completed His ample favors upon them, established His perfect proof on them, poured His bounties upon them, wrote upon Himself mercy, and insured in His Book, which He wrote, that His mercy overpowers His anger.” Madaarij as-Saalikeen, 1/124-125. Refer to Madaarij again, 3/252-253 and al-Waabil as-Sayyib of Ibn al-Qayyim, pages 125-129
* selected texts from the book Causes behind the Increase and Decrease of Eeman by Shaykh ‘Abdur-Razzaak al-’Abbaad