Rizwan Khan, Missionary, USA
47. Yā Mājid – O Noble! – يا ماجد
48. Yā Majīd – O Ever-Noble! – يا مجيد
The words mājid and majīd come from the same root, which has the meaning of honour, nobility, glory, and generosity. (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: مجد Entry: مَجْدٌ) These two words are synonymous, but majīd is in the intensive fa’īl form. This form describes continuous adherence to and permanent possession of the quality in the root meaning.
What is the difference between the fā’il (فاعل) and fa’īl (فعيل) forms of a name of Allah?
When contrasted with one another, the names Mājid (ماجد) and Majīd (مجيد) have a difference between them that is similar to other pairs of names that are in both the fā’il (فاعل) and fa’īl (فعيل) form. In the Holy Quran, where a name of Allah Almighty is in the emphatic fa’īl (فعيل) form, its application is broader than when the same root is used for Allah in the fā’il (فاعل) form.
For example, in nearly all instances in the Holy Quran, the word Qadīr (قدير) broadly describes Allah Almighty having power over all things, but instances of the word Qādir (قادر) always describe Allah Almighty specifically possessing the power to do certain things.
When the word Hafīz (حفيظ) is used for Allah Almighty, it describes Him broadly being the Preserver of all things or over a people, (Holy Quran, 11:58, 34:22, 42:7) but the word Hāfiz (حافظ) is used to describe Him specifically as The Preserver of the Holy Quran or of certain individuals. (Holy Quran, 12:65, 15:10, 21:83) The word Malīk (مليك) is used broadly, (Holy Quran, 54:56) but the word Mālik (مالك) is used specifically about the day of judgement or about the kingdom. (Holy Quran, 1:5, 3:27)
In nearly all instances, the word ‘Alīm (عليم) broadly describes Allah Almighty as being The All-Knowing or having knowledge of all things. However, since anyone can be a knower, or ‘ālim (عالم), of certain things, wherever Allah Almighty is described with the word ‘Ālim (عالم), the Holy Quran always specifies Allah Almighty as the ‘Ālim (عالم) of the unseen.
Considering this context, we come to the names al-Mājid (The Noble) and al-Majīd (The Ever-Noble). The word mājid (ماجد) brings to mind the respect that noble people belonging to noble families inspire and how people respect their honour. The concept of honour and glory that we are familiar with is very limited, and the name al-Mājid (الماجد) reminds us how the honour and glory of Allah Almighty are much greater.
The name al-Majīd (المجيد) describes the honour and glory of Allah Almighty in a way that is independent of comparison with anyone. It broadly describes honour and glory as qualities only Allah Almighty can truly possess. When contrasted with one another, the name al-Mājid (الماجد) is more specific and implies a comparison or a context, whereas the name al-Majīd (المجيد) is broad. al-Majīd (المجيد) describes honour as a continuous quality Allah Almighty possesses that does not need to imply a comparison or a context.
The meanings of honour and generosity in the roots of al-Majīd (The Ever-Noble) and al-Karīm (The Generous) are synonymous. A difference is that, when applied to a person, one who has majd (مَجْد) must be noble and generous and also have ancestors who were noble and generous. However, while one who has karam (كَرَم) must be noble and generous, he does not necessarily need to have ancestors who were noble and generous. (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: مجد Entry: مَجْدٌ) The word Majīd (Ever-Noble) emphasises honour as a characteristic of both one’s essence and actions. (Lisan al-‘Arab, Ibn Manzur, Root: مجد, See “إذا قارن شرف الذات حسن الفعال سمي مجدا”) When contrasted, the word karīm (generous) is more specifically about honour in one’s actions.
The names Hamīd (Praiseworthy) and Majīd (Ever-Noble) are said together at the end of durūd. When contrasted, Hamīd means Allah Almighty is Praiseworthy in all His actions and statements, and Majīd means He is praised and glorified in His attributes and His essence. (Tafir Ibn Kathir, 11:74)
Use in Prayer
Allah Almighty said, “If […] each person among you were to ask all he could hope for, and I were to give each what he asked for, that would diminish no more from My dominion than if one of you were to pass by an ocean and dip a needle into it and then remove it. That is because I am Generous (Jawād) and Noble (Mājid). I give with a word.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab az-zuhd, Bab zikri t-tawbah)
The name al-Mājid (The Noble) brings to mind the glory of the vast dominion of Allah Almighty, the nobility in His being above any need for us, and the generosity with which He gives. When we say Yā Mājid (O Noble), we are reminded that the honour of Allah Almighty is far greater than any ruler, and we pray knowing that He fulfils every desire for whom He pleases with only a word.
The name al-Majīd (The Ever-Noble) brings together the meanings of al-Jalīl (The Majestic), al-Wahhāb (The Bestower), and al-Karīm (The Generous). (Lisan al-‘Arab, Ibn Manzur, Root: مجد, See “فكأنه يجمع معنى الجليل والوهاب والكريم”) When we say Yā Majīd (The Ever-Noble), we pray to the one who is Majestic, who gives generously, and whose honour is above expecting any compensation.
49. Yā Wahhāb – O Bestower! –
The root of wahhāb means to give a thing as a free gift and not for any compensation. Al-Wahhāb means He who gives freely, without constraint, and for no compensation. (Friday Sermon, 17 May 2002; Lane’s Lexicon, Root: وهب Entry: وهب، وَاهِبٌ)
This name is also mentioned under al-Majīd (The Ever-Noble).
Use in Prayer
Since some of our relationships are inevitably transactional, we can sometimes approach Him similarly. We may hesitate to openly pray because we feel we are asking for a favour that we will not be able to pay back. The name al-Wahhāb (The Bestower) reminds us that Allah Almighty gives as a gift. He does not need to hold it over our heads afterwards. When we say Yā Wahhāb (O Bestower), we ask that He give us freely and for no compensation, as a mother gives to her child.
When we ask Allah Almighty by means of His name, al-Wahhāb (The Bestower), we naturally should try to have this quality in us as is the case with other attributes. Giving someone a gift for any personal gain, whether to be praised or avoid blame, is a transaction, not a gift. (The Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God, al-Ghazali, p. 75) We must try not to be transactional with the people we love because we would also not like to receive a gift as a transaction.
50. Yā Jalīl – O Majestic! – يا جليل
The root of jalīl means large in size. It also means great in estimation, rank, or dignity. When applied to Allah Almighty, it refers to His supreme greatness. (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: جل Entry: جَلِيلٌ، جلّ)
The opposite of kabīr (large) is the word saghīr (small), whereas the opposite of ‘azīm (great) is the word haqīr (of no weight or worth). (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: عظم Entry: عَظِيمٌ) The opposite of jalīl (majestic) is the word daqīq (small in size or little in estimation). The word daqīq includes the meaning of both saghīr (small) and haqīr (worthless). (Lisan al-‘Arab, Ibn Manzur, Root: دقق, See “وقد يُوقَع الدّقيق من صفة الأمر الحقير الصغير فيكون ضدّه الجليل”) The name al-Jalīl (The Majestic) is synonymous with the names al-Kabīr (The Most Great) and al-‘Azīm (The Incomparably-Great).
This name is also mentioned under al-Jamīl (The Beautiful), Dhul-Jalāli wal-Ikrām (Possessor of Majesty and Bounty), and al-Kabīr (The Most Great).
Use in Prayer
The name al-Jalīl (The Majestic) refers to the majesty that is too great to be perceived by our senses. It also refers to Allah Almighty creating the great things that are indicative of Him. (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: جل Entry: جَلِيلٌ) We know of many things in the universe that are so large that their size is difficult to comprehend. For example, when we look down at the Earth from an aeroplane and take in how large it is, we are in awe of its size. However, the Earth is just a fraction of the size of the Sun. It is overwhelming to think of how large the Sun is, but what’s really overwhelming is that there is a black hole that is 40 billion times the mass of the Sun and has a diameter the size of the entire Solar System. There is an awe that overcomes our hearts when we visualise an object so massive; we suddenly realise how small and insignificant we are. These creations of Allah are an indication of His attribute of incomprehensible greatness described in al-Jalīl (The Majestic). When we say Yā Jalīl (O Majestic!), we realise our nothingness in front of that greatness, and we present our insignificance as a personified prayer to Him.
51. Yā Jamīl – O Beautiful! – يا جميل
The root of jamīl means beauty and goodness in one’s person and actions. It also refers to the goodness that one conveys to others. The name al-Jamīl (The Beautiful) describes how Allah Almighty is beautiful in His actions, and that He is an abundant bestower of good things. (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: جمل Entry: جمل، جَمِيلٌ)
There are two types of names of Allah. Some emphasise His Majesty (jalālī), and others emphasise His Beauty (jamālī). (Essence of Islam, Vol. 1, pp. 203-4, See “the knowledge of the Greatness of God and of His Unity and of His attributes of Glory (جلالي) and Beauty (جمالي) is basic for everything.”) The names of Majesty (jalālī) relate to His glory and power. The names of Beauty (jamālī) relate to His mercy and benevolence.
Use in Prayer
The names related to Majesty (jalāl) have a different effect on us than those related to Beauty (jamāl).
When Allah Almighty manifests His Majesty (jalāl) on someone, that person is so overwhelmed that his self is erased and disappears. The Majesty (jalāl) of Allah Almighty leaves him so astonished that it brings on him a type of death and self-effacement. On the other hand, when Allah Almighty manifests His Beauty (jamāl) on someone, that person is brought to a new life and is awakened. The Beauty (jamāl) of Allah Almighty makes him thirsty to see more of the beauty of Allah Almighty. (Sharh al-Asma’ Allah al-Husna, al-Qushayri, Bab fi ma’na ismihi ta‘ala 40, 41; al-Jalil, al-Jamil, pp. 159-160)
The appropriate reaction to the Majesty (jalāl) of Allah Almighty is sometimes not to pray. To even say a word in front of a manifestation of His Majesty (jalāl) would be inappropriate. The natural reaction is to be dumbfounded into silent submission. That is why specific prayers are not suggested under some names of Allah under the “Use in Prayer” section. Rather, it simply suggests being humbled into silence in front of His Majesty (jalāl).
On the other hand, it is the Beauty (jamāl) of Allah Almighty that permits us to speak and pushes us to ask for more. When we say Yā Jamīl (O Beautiful!), we bring to mind the beauty in Allah Almighty and ask Him to quench our thirst to see more.
52. Yā Dhal-Jalāli wal-Ikrām – O Possessor of Majesty and Bounty! – يا ذا الجلال والإكرام
As was covered before, the root of al-Jalīl (The Majestic) means greatness, and the root of al-Karīm (The Generous) means honour and generosity.
The name Dhul-Jalāli wal-Ikrām (Possessor of Majesty and Bounty) brings together the meanings of al-Jalīl (The Majestic) and al-Karīm (The Generous).
This name is also mentioned under Dhul Quwwah (Possessor of Strength).
Use in Prayer
The name Dhul-Jalāli wal-Ikrām (Possessor of Majesty and Bounty) describes Allah Almighty as Jalīl (Majestic) in His essence and Karīm (Generous) in His actions. (Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Surah ar-Rahmān 55:78, See “ذِي ٱلْجَلاَلِ وَٱلإِكْرَامِ : جليل في ذاته، كريم في أفعاله”) The Majesty (jalāl) of His essence is outside our reach, but the Generosity (ikrām) in His actions does reach us.
When we say Yā Dhal-Jalāli wal-Ikrām (O Possessor of Majesty and Bounty!), we prepare our heart for prayer. The Majesty (jalāl) of Allah fills our heart with the respect and awe needed as an etiquette for prayer, and the Generosity (ikrām) of Allah fills our heart with the hope needed to ask of Him unreservedly.
The Holy Prophetsa said, “Recite frequently: Yā Dhal-Jalāli wal-Ikrām (O Possessor of Majesty and Bounty!)” (Jami‘ at-Tirmidhi, Kitab ad-da‘wat ‘an rasulillahsa) The Holy Prophetsa once heard a man saying, “Yā Dhal-Jalāli wal-Ikrām (O Possessor of Majesty and Bounty!),” and he said, “Your prayer is answered, so ask.” (Ibid.)
53. Yā ‘Azīm – O Incomparably-Great! – يا عظيم
The root of ‘azīm means great or large, or great in estimation, rank or dignity. The word ‘azīm means huge, enormous, or vast. When applied to a person, it means of great magnitude, importance, or gravity.
When the words ‘azīm (great) and kabīr (great) are contrasted, ‘azīm signifies that which is esteemed great by others, and kabīr signifies great in itself. (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: عظم Entry: عظم، عَظِيمٌ) The word ‘azīm describes the greatness of a thing subjectively, whereas kabīr describes the greatness of a thing objectively.
We can more easily understand this with the opposite of each word. The opposite of kabīr is the word saghīr (small), whereas the opposite of ‘azīm is the word haqīr (of no weight or worth). For example, if we say a tafsīr (book of commentary) is kabīr, it means it is large in its size; this is a simple observation. If we say a tafsīr is saghīr (small), it means that it is small in its size. We are not necessarily criticising it; we are just making an observation. If we say that a tafsīr (commentary) is ‘azīm, now we are speaking from our experience and are praising its grandeur; we are saying that it is esteemed as great. If we were to say that a tafsīr is haqīr (of no weight or worth), we would have to be criticising it. The word haqīr (of no weight or worth) is sharper in its criticism, whereas the word saghīr (small) is broader. Similarly, the word ‘azīm is more specific in describing the manifestation of greatness, whereas the word kabīr is broader.
The name al-Kabīr (The Most Great) describes the greatness of Allah Almighty in and of itself, whether we see that greatness or not. It describes it in a matter-of-fact way. However, when we say that Allah Almighty is al-‘Azīm (The Incomparably-Great), we speak more based on our experience of the magnitude of that greatness. We describe how enormous the manifestation of His grandeur is.
When we compare al-‘Azīm (The Incomparably-Great) with the rest of the names of Allah, a unique quality of this name appears. The name al-‘Azīm is the only name that can be applied to all other names. We would generally not say that Allah Almighty is the Gracious (Rahmān) Inflictor of Retribution (Muntaqim) or the Forgiving (Ghafūr) Inflictor of Retribution (Muntaqim). But we can say that Allah is the Incomparably-Great (‘Azīm) Inflictor of Retribution (Muntaqim), or the Incomparably-Great (‘Azīm) Forgiver (Ghafūr), or the Incomparably-Great (‘Azīm) Manifest (Zāhir). This cannot be done in the same way with any other name. The word ‘Azīm manifests each name of Allah in a new glory. We can link every name with al-‘Azīm. (Friday Sermon, 20 December 1985, Khutbat-e-Tahir, Vol. 4, pp. 996-997) Whenever we personally experience the manifestation of any name of Allah, we witness its incomparable greatness. The name al-‘Azīm expresses our living experience with every name of Allah Almighty.
This name is also mentioned under al-Mutakabbir (The Great in Majesty) and al-A‘lā (The Most Exalted).
Use in Prayer
Al-‘Azīm (The Incomparably-Great) is a greatness that must be seen from up close. For example, if we know how high the summit of a mountain is and all of its dimensions, then we objectively know that it is kabīr (great).
However, ‘azīm has an awe and a manifestation in it that is seen from up close. Until we reach the foot of a mountain, we cannot understand what it means for it to be ‘azīm. (Friday Sermon, 26 July 1991, Khutbat-e-Tahir, Vol. 10, pp. 619-624) Although we know it to be kabīr, we can only feel it to be ‘azīm when we stand in front of it, look up, and are in awe of its tremendous size. The name al-‘Azīm (The Incomparably-Great) brings to mind the overwhelming awe we felt whenever we experienced an attribute of Allah Almighty in our life.
The name al-‘Azīm (The Incomparably-Great) is deeply connected with rukū’ (bowing), which is a symbol of obedience. That is why we say this name in the posture that expresses obedience. When we say Yā ‘Azīm (O Incomparably-Great!), the awe of Allah’s greatness makes us bow down to Him and pray that He makes us obedient.
54. Yā Kabīr – O Most Great! –
The word kabīr, when applied physically, means large in body or advanced in years. When not applied physically, it means great in estimation, rank or dignity. (Lane’s Lexicon, Root: كبر Entry: كبر، كَبِيرٌ) Allāhu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest) and Allāhu Kabīr (Allah is the Most Great) are similar in meaning, as Akbar and Kabīr are mostly synonymous. (Friday Sermon, 10 May 2002) Al-Kabīr means The Most Great.
When their meanings of “greatness” are contrasted, al-Jalīl (The Majestic) refers to the perfection in Allah Almighty’s attributes, and al-Kabīr (The Most Great) refers to the perfection in His essence. (Lisan al-‘Arab, Ibn Manzur, Root: جلل, See “هو الجليل المطلق، وهو راجع إلى كمال الصفات، كما أن الكبير راجع إلى كمال الذات، والعظيم راجع إلى كمال الذات والصفات”) Seeing the greatness of the creation of Allah leads us to look for the greatness of His attributes, and seeing the greatness of His attributes leads us to look for the greatness of His essence.
This name is also mentioned under al-Mutakabbir (The Great in Majesty) and al-Muta‘āl (The Supremely Exalted).
Use in Prayer
While the name al-‘Azīm (The Incomparably-Great) focuses more on our experience of the manifestations of His greatness, the name al-Kabīr (The Most Great) describes His greatness in such an objective and matter-of-fact way that it makes our experience of it feel irrelevant. For example, our appreciation of the Sun neither adds nor detracts anything from its greatness. It would still have shone with all its magnificence if we had never seen it. It was great (kabīr) before we ever saw it, and it will continue to be so, long after we are gone. The name al-Kabīr (The Most Great) reminds us that we are not the centre of the universe and our perspective is insignificant. The majesty of Allah Almighty is a reality far greater than the small part of His grandeur that we observe from our perspective. When we say Yā Kabīr (O Most Great!), we let go of all our perspectives and pray that He shows His greatness to us.
At each change of posture in salat, we restlessly search for Allah Almighty and say, “Allah is the Greatest” (Allāhu Akbar). This is a reminder that He is still greater than what we have understood of Him so far. It reminds us that we have not reached our destination in salat yet, but that the grandeur of His essence is greater still. When we say Yā Kabīr (O Most Great!), we ask Allah Almighty to show us that greatness.