Rizwan Khan, Missionary, USA
78. Yā Jāmi‘ – O Gatherer! – يا جامع
The root of jāmi‘ means to collect or gather together. Al-Jāmi‘ means The Collector of created beings for the Day of Reckoning, or the One who combines things of similar or contrary natures in existence. (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: جمع Entry: جمع، جَامِعٌ)
While the name al-Hasīb (The Reckoner) describes reckoning in this world and the next, the name al-Jāmi‘ (The Gatherer) brings to mind the reckoning of mankind altogether in the hereafter. (Lisan al-‘Arab, Ibn Manzur, Root: جمع, See “الجامعُ؛ قال ابن الأَثير: هو الذي يَجْمع الخلائق ليوم الحِساب”)
Use in Prayer
The name al-Jāmi‘ (The Gatherer) brings to mind the day when Allah Almighty will bring together people of all eras and all lands. Being examined is difficult, but it becomes more difficult if it is held before a gathering. (The Holy Quran with English Translation and Commentary, Āl-e-‘Imrān 3:10, p. 459) When we cannot tolerate being humiliated in front of a small gathering in this world, we will not be able to bear humiliation in front of a gathering of all mankind. (Haqāiq al-Furqān, Āl-e-‘Imrān 3:10, Vol. 1, p. 449) When we say Yā Jāmi‘ (O Gatherer!), we pray that Allah Almighty covers our faults from being seen by anyone else.
The name al-Jāmi‘ (The Gatherer) brings to mind our innate awareness of how we are seen and how we compare with others. If our grade in a class is 70%, it feels one way if we don’t know anyone else’s grade. That 70% feels different if we find out everyone else in the class got 80-90%, and that same 70% feels very different if we find out everyone else got 50-60%. When we say Yā Jāmi‘ (O Gatherer!), our competitive spirit is motivated to extend beyond just the circle of people we know, and we pray that we excel among all mankind in gaining nearness to Allah Almighty.
79. Yā Muqaddim – O He Who Brings Forward! – يا مقدّم
80. Yā Mu’akhkhir – O He Who Keeps Back! – يا مؤخّر
The root of muqaddim means to put forward, to make foremost, to advance, or to promote. Al-Muqaddim is He who advances things and puts them in their places, He who puts forward, or He who promotes. The root of mu’akhkhir means to make something go back, to place behind or after or last, or to postpone or delay. Al-Mu’akhkhir means He who postpones things and puts them in their places, He who keeps back, or He who degrades. (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: اخر Entry: أخّر، المُؤَخِّرُ, Lane’s Lexicon, Root: قدم Entry: قدّم)
Al-Muqaddim (He Who Brings Forward) and al-Mu’akhkhir (He Who Keeps Back) are opposites.
Al-Muqaddim (He Who Brings Forward) and al-Mu’akhkhir (He Who Keeps Back) are sometimes interpreted as meaning al-Awwal (The First) and al-Ākhir (The Last). (‘Umdat al-Qari, Al-‘Ayni, Kitab at-tahajjud, Bab at-tahajjudi bi l-layl, See “قَوْلُهُ: ”أَنْتَ الْمُقَدِّمُ وَأَنْتَ الْمُؤَخِّرُ“ قَالَ ابْنُ التِّينِ: أَنْتَ الْأَوَّلُ وَأَنْتَ الْآخِرُ”)
Al-Mu’akhkhir (He Who Keeps Back) and al-Ākhir (The Last) come from the same root.
Use in Prayer
The names al-Muqaddim (He Who Brings Forward) and al-Mu’akhkhir (He Who Keeps Back) describe how Allah Almighty places some people ahead or behind others in rank or dignity. We are naturally sensitive to what our rank is compared to others. For example, being held back a year in school is a painful setback for a student, and being promoted at work is a euphoric experience for an employee. Being promoted or demoted is so significant because we are social creatures who see ourselves as relative to others. This reality is just as true in spirituality.
The names al-Muqaddim (He Who Brings Forward) and al-Mu’akhkhir (He Who Keeps Back) bring to mind how Allah Almighty brings some people nearer to Him and makes others distant. (The Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God, al-Ghazali, pp. 132-133; Kashf al-Ma’na ‘an Sirr Asma Allah al-Husna, Ibn Arabi, (71, 72) al-Ism: al-Muqaddim, al-Mu’akhkhir) We don’t just want to be close to Allah Almighty; we naturally want to be closer than other people. When we say Yā Muqaddim (O He Who Brings Forward!) and Yā Mu’akhkhir (O He Who Keeps Back!), we pray that Allah Almighty promotes us in rank and grants us nearness to Him, and saves us from being demoted in rank and becoming distant from Him.
The Holy Prophetsa prayed, “Grant me forgiveness for the faults that I made in the past and those that I may commit in the future, whether done in privacy or publicly. You are the One who brings forward (al-Muqaddim) or puts back (al-Mu’akhkhir). There is no god but You.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab at-tahajjud, Bab at-tahajjudi bi l-layl)
81. Yā Sabūr – O Patient! – يا صبور
The root of sabūr means restraint and patience. Sabūr means having great patience. As-Sabūr means The Clement, or Forbearing, who does not hurry in inflicting retribution on the disobedient. (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: صبر Entry: صبر، صَابِرٌ)
While al-Muntaqim (Inflictor of Retribution) describes the retribution of Allah Almighty, as-Sabūr (The Patient) describes how retribution only comes after a long period of forbearance. (Lisan al-‘Arab, Ibn Manzur, Root: صبر, See “صبر: في أَسماء الله تعالى: الصَّبُور تعالى وتقدَّس، هو الذي لا يُعاجِل العُصاة بالانْتقامِ”)
This name is also mentioned under al-Halīm (The Forbearing).
Use in Prayer
The Holy Prophetsa said, “None is more patient (asbar) than Allah against the harmful words He hears from the people: They ascribe children to Him, yet He bestows upon them health and provision.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab at-tawhid, Bab qawlillahi ta‘ala innallaha huwa r-razzaqu dhu l-quwwati l-matin) If Allah Almighty were to punish us instantly for our wrongdoing, He would not have spared us, but He gives us respite until an appointed term so that we can make amends. (Holy Quran, Surah al-An’am, Ch.16: V.62) When we say Yā Sabūr (O Patient!), we express gratitude to Allah Almighty for delaying the retribution we may deserve, and we pray that He gives us the opportunity to repent and make amends before that punishment may come.
82. Yā Halīm – O Forbearing! – يا حليم
The root of halīm means managing one’s temper on the occasion of anger. It means forgiving and concealing offences and being patient. Halīm means having forbearance or clemency. Al-Halīm means The Forbearing, or Clement, or He Whom the disobedience of the disobedient does not anger, but Who has appointed to everything a term to which it must finally come. (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: حلم Entry: حلم، حَلِيمٌ)
As-Sabūr (The Patient) and al-Halīm (The Forbearing) are synonymous. The difference is that a sinner is not as secure from punishment in the meaning of as-Sabūr (The Patient) as he is secure in the meaning of al-Halīm (The Forbearing). (Lisan al-‘Arab, Ibn Manzur, Root: صبر) As-Sabūr delays punishment until an appointed term, whereas al-Halīm additionally has the meaning of forgiving sins. (Sharh al-Nawawi ‘ala Muslim, al-Nawawi, Kitab Sifat al-Qiyāmah, Bab Lā Ahada Asbar)
The meanings of “forgiveness” and “mercy” in al-Halīm (The Forbearing) are synonymous with al-Ghafūr (The Most Forgiving) and ar-Rahīm (The Merciful). (Friday Sermon, 14 Mar 2008, Khutbat-e-Masroor, Vol. 6, p. 110)
Use in Prayer
The name al-Halīm (The Forbearing) creates both hope and fear in our hearts because it reminds us that Allah Almighty is forgiving while fully having the power to punish. When we say Yā Halīm (O Forbearing!), we pray that Allah Almighty delays the consequences of our wrongs through His mercy, and that He accepts our repentance through His forgiveness.
83. Yā Ghāfir – O Forgiver! – يا غافر
84. Yā Ghafūr – O Most Forgiving! – يا غفور
85. Yā Ghaffār – O Oft-Forgiving! – يا غفَّار
The root of ghāfir means to cover or conceal. It also means to forgive or pardon, or preserve someone from being touched by punishment. Al-Ghāfir means He who forgives and covers sins or offences. The words ghafūr and ghaffār are intensive forms of ghāfir. (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: غفر Entry: غفر، غَافِرٌ)
The name al-Ghāfir (The Forgiver) describes the basis of forgiveness. The name al-Ghafūr (The Most Forgiving) is in the intensive fa’ūl (فَعُوْل) form. This form describes the excellence and completeness of the quality in the root meaning. al-Ghafūr describes the perfection and the highest level of forgiveness. It describes forgiveness in relation to many offences, because someone who forgives only one kind of offence is not ghafūr. The name al-Ghaffār (The Oft-Forgiver) is in the intensive fa’’āl (فَعَّال) form. This form describes the multiplicity and frequency of the action described in the root meaning. al-Ghaffār describes repeated forgiveness. It describes forgiving all of someone’s offences time after time, because one who forgives all of someone’s offences only the first time, but does not forgive those who repeatedly commit offences, would not be called ghaffār. (The Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God, al-Ghazali, pp. 25, 100-101)
This name is also mentioned under al-Halīm (The Forbearing), al-Afuww (The Efacer of sins), at-Tawwāb (The Oft-Returning), and ash-Shakūr (The Most Appreciating).
Use in Prayer
The true meaning of istighfār (seeking forgiveness) is to pray that no human weakness be manifested. The root of istighfār is ghafara, which means to cover up. Istighfār means asking that God cover up our natural weaknesses with His power. This meaning includes covering up a sin that has been committed, but the true meaning is that God should safeguard us against our natural weakness and bestow on us power, knowledge, and light. (Essence of Islam, Vol. 2, pp. 241-242) Thus, only one aspect of istighfār is to cover what we have already lost; its primary application is to prevent us from missing what we can gain. When we pray to Allah Almighty by means of the names al-Ghāfir, al-Ghafūr, and al-Ghaffār, we don’t just pray for our past sins to be forgiven, we primarily pray that Allah Almighty covers our weaknesses and saves us from future loss.
When we think of a particular offence or mistake, we say Yā Ghāfir (O Forgiver!) and pray that Allah Almighty forgive that offence.
When we think of all our shortcomings and offences, we may feel overwhelmed by how far we fall short. At that time, the name al-Ghafūr (The Most Forgiving) reassures us that Allah Almighty can forgive every sin if we are sincere. We say Yā Ghafūr (O Most Forgiving!) and pray that Allah Almighty forgives all our shortcomings. Allah Almighty says, “O My servants who have committed excesses against their own souls! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, surely Allah forgives (yaghfir) all sins. Verily He is Most Forgiving (al-Ghafūr), Merciful.” (Holy Quran, az-Zumar 39:54)
When we think of how we keep falling into the same faults again and again, we may feel despair and think we are too sinful to ever be forgiven. At that time, the name al-Ghaffār (The Oft-Forgiving) reassures us that as long as we keep trying, Allah Almighty will keep forgiving us no matter how great our sins are. When we say Yā Ghaffār (O Oft-Forgiving!), we pray that Allah Almighty forgives all our sins again and again. However, a prerequisite for repeated forgiveness is that we are sincere and are continuously making progress. Allah Almighty says, “But surely I am Oft-Forgiving (Ghaffār) to those who repent and believe and do good deeds, and then stick to guidance.” (Holy Quran, TaHa 20:83)
86. Yā ‘Afuww – O Eraser of Sins! – يا عفوّ
The root of ‘afuww means to efface or erase. al-‘Afuww means The one who passes over sin and leaves punishing it. (Lisan al-‘Arab, Ibn Manzur, Root: عفا; Lane’s Lexicon, Root: عفو Entry: عفو، عَفُوٌّ)
The root of ‘afuww means to completely wipe something clean. ‘Afuww means turning away as if one has not seen a sin, despite having seen it being committed. The name al-Ghafūr (The Most Forgiving) goes one stage beyond al-‘Afuww (The Eraser of Sins) and signifies that when a person commits a wrong to the extent that it warrants punishment, then the name al-Ghafūr comes into effect and saves the person if he seeks forgiveness. (Friday Sermon, 13 Jan 1984, Khutbat-e-Tahir, Vol. 3, pp. 15-16) When contrasted, al-‘Afuww applies to wrongs that can be overlooked, and pardoning them means erasing them. Al-Ghafūr applies to wrongs that cannot be overlooked, and forgiving them means saving us from their punishment.
In the Holy Quran, we are taught to pray, “and efface (wa’fu) our sins, and grant us forgiveness (waghfir) and have mercy (warham) on us.” (Holy Quran, al-Baqarah 2:287) Here, we ask for progressively greater blessings. First, we ask Allah Almighty to pardon (Afuww) our negligence, then we ask Him to forgive (Ghafūr) our errors, then we ask Him not just to remove negatives but to show positive mercy (Rahīm) to us. (The Holy Quran with English Translation and Commentary, 2:287, p. 441)
Use in Prayer
The Holy Prophetsa taught us to pray, اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي “O Allah, You are the Pardoner (‘Afuww), you love pardoning, so pardon me.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab ad-du’a, Bab ad-du’a bil-‘afwi wal-‘afiyah) When we say Yā ‘Afuww (O Eraser of Sins!), we pray that Allah Almighty erases our sins and overlooks them as if we had never done them.
87. Yā Tawwāb – Oft-Returning – يا توَّاب
The root of tawwāb, when applied to a person, means his returning to Allah from sin, or repenting. When applied to Allah Almighty, it means His returning to a person with forgiveness, or accepting his repentance. At-Tawwāb means He who returns forgivingly towards the servant who returns to Him. (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: توب Entry: توب، تَوَّابٌ)
Both al-Ghafūr (The Most Forgiving) and at-Tawwāb (The Oft-Returning) have the meaning of forgiveness because Allah’s acceptance of our repentance is a result of His forgiveness. (Lisan al-‘Arab, Ibn Manzur, Root: توب, See: “وتابَ اللّٰهُ عليه أَي عادَ عليه بالـمَغْفِرة”) The name al-Ghafūr is broader because Allah Almighty continuously covers our weaknesses and forgives us even if we don’t seek forgiveness, but at-Tawwāb is more specific because it is only in response to our returning to Him. (Friday Sermon, 10 Feb 1984, Khutbat-e-Tahir, Vol. 3, p. 86)
From one point of view, seeking forgiveness (istighfār) has priority over repentance (taubah). Seeking forgiveness (istighfār) is the help and strength we obtain from Allah, and repentance (taubah) means standing on our own feet. The strength for repentance (taubah) is acquired after seeking forgiveness (istighfār). Without seeking forgiveness (istighfār), the strength for repentance (taubah) dies. (Essence of Islam, Vol. 2, p. 245) The blessings in the names al-Ghafūr (The Most Forgiving) and at-Tawwāb (The Oft-Returning) are sequentially connected.
Use in Prayer
Our turning to Allah Almighty is with remorse and humility, and Allah’s turning to us is with mercy and forgiveness. The word taubah (repentance) means ‘returning,’ which is why Tawwāb (Oft-Returning) is a name of Allah. This means that when a person leaves sin and turns to Allah Almighty with a sincere heart, Allah turns even more to him. (Essence of Islam, Vol. 2, p. 239) When we say Yā Tawwāb (Oft-Returning), we humbly express remorse for our faults and ask Allah to accept our repentance and turn to us with His mercy and forgiveness.
The Holy Quran teaches us to pray, وَتُبۡ عَلَيۡنَا اِنَّکَ اَنۡتَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيۡمُ “And turn (tub) to us with mercy; for You are Oft-Returning (at-Tawwāb) and Merciful.” (Holy Quran, al-Baqarah 2:129) The Holy Prophetsa would frequently pray, رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَتُبْ عَلَىَّ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ التَّوَّابُ الْغَفُورُ “O my Lord, forgive me, and turn (tub) to me. Verily, You are the Oft-Returning (at-Tawwāb), the Most Forgiving.” (Jami‘ at-Tirmidhi, Kitab ad-da’wat ‘an rasul-il-lahisa, Bab ma yaqulu idha qama minal-majlis)
88. Yā Shākir – O Appreciating! – يا شاكر
89. Yā Shakūr – O Most Appreciating! – يا شكور
The root of shakūr means to thank, praise, or be grateful. Shukr (appreciation) is of three kinds: with the heart, with the tongue, and with action. When used for Allah, shukr (appreciation) means His commending a person, or forgiving him, or regarding him with contentment, or rewarding him. Ash-Shakūr means He who gives large rewards for small works. (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: شكر Entry: شكر، شَكُورٌ)
Like the words ghafūr and ghāfir, shakūr is the intensive form of shākir. The name ash-Shākir (The Appreciating) describes the basis of appreciating. The name ash-Shakūr (The Most Appreciating) is in the intensive fa’ūl (فَعُوْل) form. This form describes having excellence and completeness of the quality in the root meaning. Ash-Shakūr describes the perfection and highest level of appreciation.
In the Holy Quran, when the name Shākir (Appreciating) is mentioned, it is paired with the name ‘Alīm (All-Knowing) (Holy Quran, 2:159, 4:148), and when the name Shakūr (Most Appreciating) is mentioned, it is paired with the names Ghafūr (Most Forgiving) and Halīm (Forbearing). (Holy Quran, 35:31, 35:35, 42:24, 64:18) This indicates that, when contrasted, the name ash-Shākir emphasises the meaning of appreciation with the heart, which, when applied to Allah Almighty, means appreciation in His knowledge. The name ash-Shakūr emphasises the meaning of appreciation with action.
One aspect of ash-Shakūr (The Most Appreciating) has the meaning of “forgiveness,” which is synonymous with al-Ghafūr (The Most Forgiving). (Lisan al-‘Arab, Ibn Manzur, Root: شكر, See, “والشَّكُور: من صفات الله جل اسمه، معناه: أَنه يزكو عنده القليلُ من أَعمال العباد فيضاعف لهم الجزاء، وشُكْرُه لعباده مغفرته لهم”)
This name is also mentioned under al-Hamīd (The Praiseworthy).
Use in Prayer
The name ash-Shakūr (The Most Appreciating) reminds us that the reward for our efforts is never wasted. Rather, we are liberally rewarded for the most insignificant action. When we say Yā Shakūr, we acknowledge that our actions are insignificant, and we pray that Allah accepts our unworthy efforts.
90. Yā Hamīd – O Praiseworthy! – يا حميد
The root of hamīd means praise. Al-Hamīd means He who is praised, or praiseworthy. (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: حمد Entry: حمد، حَمِيدٌ)
The intensive fa’īl (فَعِيْل) form of hamīd describes permanent possession of the quality of being praiseworthy. For example, a person is only mahmūd (praised) for as long as people praise him, but hamīd (praised) describes being praiseworthy in essence, whether people praise him or not. This is similar to how a person is only mahbūb (loved) for as long as people love him. However, the word habīb (loved), in the intensive fa’īl (فَعِيْل) form, describes the intrinsic quality of being worthy of love, whether people love him or not. (Jalā’ al-Afhām, Ibn Qayyim, Fasl 9)
The roots of ash-Shakūr (The Most Appreciating) and al-Hamīd (The Praiseworthy) are synonymous. Shukr (appreciation), when used about a person, means thankfulness for favours, whereas Hamd (praise) not only means thankfulness for favours, but also means praise for the intrinsic beauties of the praised object. (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 1, p. 18) ash-Shakūr describes how Allah Almighty praises our actions, whereas al-Hamīd describes how Allah Almighty is praised by us, and also how He is intrinsically praiseworthy.
This name is also mentioned under al-Majīd (The Ever-Noble).
Use in Prayer
The worship of Allah Almighty must be from a passion and a strong attraction. Our hearts cannot be filled with love for Allah Almighty unless we know He possesses such perfect excellences that spontaneously inspire the heart with praise. Praise is inspired by two qualities, the perfection of beauty and the perfection of beneficence. When we know that Allah Almighty combines both these excellences, our heart melts and yearns for Him with fervent devotion. By teaching us to say Alhamdulillah (all praise belongs to Allah), The Holy Quran aims at impressing these two excellences of Allah Almighty on us so that we are drawn to Him and worship Him with fervent devotion and yearning. (Ayyam-us-Sulh, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 14, p. 247) The name al-Hamīd (The Praiseworthy) brings to mind the beauties of Allah Almighty and inspires a yearning to worship Him. When we say Yā Hamīd (O Praiseworthy!), we worship Allah Almighty with that attraction and pray that He shows us more of His beauty.