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E-Group Letter #9

DR.PASHA | January 19, 2006 | Section: Articles | 757 reads

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Where Did it Come From?

But did you ever think how we Muslims came by that most amazing form of greeting? Who invented it? And how we came to own it?

Thereby hangs another one of those “little” miracles that Islam is so full of. One of those living, everyday miracles of Islam.

That means no matter how you look at it, Assalamu Alaikum is probably the most wonderful greeting there is in this world — most meaningful, most comprehensive and most in keeping with any place, time or mood that you may be in.

But where did it come from?

Well, to say the least, one more time, it came directly from Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. It was he who gave it to us. It was he who used it and it was he who taught it to his companions, who practiced it all their lives and taught it to those who came after them, … , and so on, till it came down to us.

Until the End of Time

And we shall pass it on, Inshallah, to the next generation, who will then pass it on to the next generation, … , and so on, … , until the end of time.

In other words, this little custom, greeting, expression, social nicety, public prayer, general blessing or whatever else you want to call it, is at least 1400 years old on this earth, and it has been exactly the same all this time.

It is one of the most authentic ancient things on the face of this earth. One of those living, ongoing, plentiful, superabundant miracles of Islam.

I don’t know how this may strike others, but to me it is the most wonderful thing. It makes me feel special, happy, proud, humble and incredibly grateful to God for having given us a gift like that — all at the same time.

Every Muslim A Walking Miracle

And what does all this make a Muslim? And what does it make the Muslim Ummah as a whole?

In my view, as the custodian, practitioner and embodiment of a living and eternal miracle like this, it makes every Muslim — man and woman, as the Qur’an would say in a most miraculous display of gender parity — a walking, talking, breathing miracle under the sun.

Or is it over the sun? Need to ask someone who understands these things better.

Just as it makes the entire Muslim Ummat a most amazing collective miracle at any given time or place. If you want to call it a most unusual and remarkable sociological phenomenon instead, it is fine with me. Just so long as you keep those superlatives coming.

Back to Al-Asmaa’ Al-Husnaa

Let us now return, one more time, to our ongoing review of Allah’s most glorious and beautiful names: Al-Asmaa’ Al-Husnaa.

We said that the name Ar-Rahmaan alone should be enough to fill this world, for ever and ever, with all that this world needs or could ever need. But Allah so many times couples that name in the Qur’an with another powerful name Ar-Raheem, which, in its turn, should be enough to fill this world with all the most wonderful things all by itself.

And Allah does so, every time — whenever these two names occur together — without separating them by even so much as a little “Wau.”

But the blessings, mercy and love of Allah, Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala, for his world do not stop with these two most generous gifts. They go on to highlight and accentuate more specific aspects of his mercy and love in the form of a number of other names and attributes of Allah.

Let us take a look at some of them.

Let’s Get Ready for Another Miracle Along the Way!

It is important to know that several of the attributive names of Allah are all superlative formulations of the underlying attributes that they represent. In Arabic language, such a phenomenon is called Mubaalagha.

And this, all by itself, is yet another miracle of Islam — and the Qur’an.

Thus, Rahmaan is not just “Merciful,” but “Most Merciful.”

So also Raheem — the Most Merciful.

So also ‘Aleem — the All-Knowing, the Most Knowledgeable.

So Also Khabeer — the one who is aware of everything.

So also Qadeer — the one who has power over everything.

So also ‘Aliyy, and ‘Azeem, and Kabeer, and Naseer, and Waliyy, and Jaleel, and Wakeel — all of these names are scaled to Fa-‘eel, which is one of the superlative scales in the Arabic language. You can refer to your sources for their meaning.

Another one of those superlative Arabic scales being Fa’laan, which Rahmaan represents.

Yet another superlative formulation is the Fa’aal scale which frames such names of Allah as Qahhaar and Jabbaar and Sattaar and Ghaffaar.

Yet another superlative scale is Fa’ool on which are formulated names of Allah such as Saboor and Shakoor and Ghafoor and Ra’oof.

What can I say? It is one endless explosion of the most brilliant light, colour and fireworks from all sides — these glorious and beautiful names of Allah, Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa.

As the Qur’an puts it: Wa Lahul Asmaa’ul Husnaa — to him indeed belong all beautiful names and attributes. Who else can they possibly belong to if not him? Who else can possibly lay claim to any of them if not he?

Not Just Rahmaan and Raheem, But also Ghafoor and Ghaffaar!

So, the story does not end with Ar-Rahmaan and Ar-Raheem. It just keeps on moving and unfolding.

It moves to Al-Ghafoor: the most forgiving — mercy and love that take the form of forgiveness.

And to Al-Ghaffaar — even more of the most forgiving.

And to At-Tawwaab: the greatest accepter of repentance — mercy and love that manifest in eagerness to give sinners a chance.

And to As-Sattaar: the one who covers up the sins, failures, shortcomings and vulnerabilities of his slaves — mercy and love that will not let his slaves suffer public exposure and humiliation.

And to Al-Hannaan: the compassionate one — mercy and love showing as the tenderness of a mother for the baby.

And to Ar-Razzaaq.

And to Al-Mannaan.

And to Al- Wahhaab.

And to Al-Barr.

And to Al-Lateef.

And to Al-Muhsin.

And to Al-Muqeet.

And to Ar-Ra-oof.

And so on. Look up your references for their meaning.

Don’t ask me what they are. I gave up long time ago any pretence of keeping up with them.

Maybe some day, when Allah knows I am ready, and when his Rahmah envelops me totally and completely, he will bring me close to them and he will open my heart and mind to them. Till that time, I am going to leave them alone — and just continue using and reciting them as Allah gives me the ability and opportunity to do so.




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