Ismul Jalaalah: The Grand Name
Ismul Jalaalah, The Grand Name: Allah الله. This is Allah’s Personal Name. His Identifying Name. This Name only belongs to Allah, no one else can have besides Allah. Allah is the Title, the Name, of the One True Ilaah. The Name of Allah, you cannot play around with: there is no plural, there is no feminine. The Name Allah appears over 3000 times in the Qur’an.
When we mentioned the Name “Allah” linguistically, we don’t say “the word Allah” or “the Name Allah” because it is not appropriate. It is only for Allah ta’ala, so we say: Lafdhul Jalaalah, لفظ الجلالة، the word that is Grand.
There are 4 opinions of the linguistic meaning of lafdhul Jalaalah:
- The first opinion is that it is Allah’s Proper Name and it is not derived from any root, any noun, and has no meaning to it. It is just a Name that has no meaning to it, and this opinion is the minority opinion.
- The second opinion is that it comes from hamza-laam-ha, and the verb from the root is a-li-ha ََََاَلِهَ and it means to astonish, surprise and amaze someone. So Allah, from aliha, is the One who Astonishes and Amazes His Creation. How? Firstly through His Attributes, when you know about Allah, you are amazed. He is Ar Rahmaan (The All Merciful), and yet Al Azeez (The Mighty) and yet Al Jabbaar (The Compellor) all at the same time, it’s amazing! When you know about the Names and Attributes, you are astonished and impressed. Another way how Allah amazes us is through His creation, all that He has created. When we learn about a bird or an ant, we are amazed and we say SubhanAllah (How Perfect is Allah and Far from any imperfection!), because Allah is truly Amazing and He Amazes His creation. Also, He amazes through His Decisions, Words, Rulings, Actions and Planning for us. When things don’t work out the way we planned, or we see great coincidences, we think: how did this happen?! It is Allah, He amazes us by His words and decisions for us. When we practice the ahkaam (rulings), we realize how much benefit there is in them. So truly He is the One who should be submitted too.
- The third opinion is that it is from the same root, hamza laam ha, and the noun is al-la-ha اَلَهَ with a fathah (not li, with a kasrah, as the second opinion) and alaha means to worship, be humble and show dedication to someone. The noun would be ma’looh. Allah is Ma’looh: One who is shown dedication too, One who everyone is humble too, One who is worshipped. Everyone is humble to Allah, and on the Day of Judgment the Mulk (Sovereignty) is only for Allah ta’ala. We also learn from this that Allah is the Only One we should show humbleness too, we should be ‘ebaad, servants, to Allah. In surah Furqaan ayah 43, Allah tells us: أَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَـٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ ara ayta man ittakhatha ilaahahu hawaahu, have you seen the one who takes his desires as his ilaah? This ayah shows us the meaning of taking something as your ilaah, God. It meant that they gave their desires the utmost priority and everything else became unimportant and secondary. Their ilaah is the one whom the person never turns down. It became what they loved and feared the most. Allah is the One we should love most, fear most and give the most importance too. According to some linguists (ibn Manthoor of Sibawyh) this opinion is the strongest. Furthermore, when you attach ‘al’ with aliha and alaha, it becomes al-Ilaah, and that becomes Allah. According to this definition this translation would be: The One Only Worthy of worship, Allah is the Only One worthy of worship. Notice: even His Name has tawheed in it, so how can there be other beings attached to Allah?!
- The last opinion is that this word is from wow-laam-ha, the noun wilaah وِلَه comes. (the way you write ilaah, write a wow instead of hamzah/alif) Wilaah then turns to ilaah (based on an Arabic grammar rule), so wilaah means to turn to for protection. So Allah is the One Whom everyone turns to for help and protection. The One whose help and assistance is sought by the creation. This teaches us in times of difficulty and hardship, we turn to Allah azza wa jal, because the Name of Allah is the One whom ppl turn to for help and worship.
Review of the 4 opinions:
i. There is no meaning, just a Proper Name
ii. From aliha meaning to astonish and amazes, so Allah is the One who Astonishes the creation by His attributes, His creation, His Planning and His Rulings.
iii. Allah is from alaha, so Allah is Ma’looh, One who is Worshipped.
iv. Fourth opinion is from wilaah, so Allah means the One whom everyone turns to for help.
اسم الله الاعظم-Ismul Allahil A’tham: mentioned in hadeeth in Sunan Tirmidhi (saheeh): “To Allah belongs a Grand Name (Ismul A’tham), that, if you make du’a with it, it will be responded to. And if you plead or request with it, it shall be answered.” Several opinions on what this Name is, read Yasir Qadhi’s explanation here. Majority of the scholars say it is the Name “Allah” itself, that this is His Greatest Name. When a person makes duaa through this Name, it will be responded too.
wa Allahu ta’ala alam.
Reference: Ta’leem Al Qur’an course for women: Asma ul Husna class.