By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota
“The resemblance between me and the other prophets is like a beautiful house that is complete except for a last brick. All who see this marvel at its beauty, but they are also shocked by the missing brick. With me, that building of prophethood is completed.” –Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings
It’s well-known that God has many names, at least 99 of them. We also know that learning God’s names is an important way of getting to know Him. Just so, the prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, also has many different names for us to know.
All these names aren’t known to us, as only God knows the Prophet Muhammad fully and completely. None among us can know Muhammad as God knows him. But we can pray for God’s help in knowing Muhammad as the prophet would like to be known, and for help knowing how God would like us to connect to Muhammad.
Part of this journey is learning the Prophet Muhammad’s names.
‘Seal of the Prophets’
One of Muhammad’s titles is “Seal of the Prophets.”
Muhammad once said: “The resemblance between me and the other prophets is like a beautiful house that is complete except for a last brick. All who see this marvel at its beauty, but they are also shocked by the missing brick. With me, that building of prophethood is completed.”
The lives and experiences of all the prophets who came before Muhammad were used to nurture him, and thus, at last, he became the final brick in the building of faith. This happened at the moment when he summoned the souls of all the prophets, upon them peace, to al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. There, all the other prophets, peace and blessings on them all, prayed behind him.
In this way, the beautiful house was sealed.
Another of the Prophet’s names is Abdallah, which means “servant of God.” He was given this name as Muhammad has the honor of being God’s truest servant. Muhammad once said that, when he is resurrected on the Day of Judgment, he will be prostrating before God.
No one else is going to reach the level that Muhammad has reached in serving God. Thus we call him Abdallah, the true and sincere servant of God.
In The Most Beautiful Names, Tosun Bayrak Al-Jerrahi Al-Halveti, notes that Abdallah “is a servant who has received the highest level and honor which is possible to attain within creation. It’s in the chapter Jinn verse 9 that Muhammad is identified as “the servant of God” who “stood up praying to him.”
This name of the Prophet’s means that Muhammad has been chosen by God out of the whole of creation.
Muhammad’s father died before he was born, and his mother died when he was still young. This left Muhammad with no parent to rely on, so that he could rely fully on God. Thus Muhammad was in a state of wandering until he came to God, and his strongest emotional attachment is not to another human or anything else, but solely to God.
This name means “the one filled with solicitude for you,” or “the one filled with care and consideration for you.”
Some so-called religious people talk as though they want to throw every last person into Hell for some transgression or another. But Muhammad is the opposite: he is constantly praying for humanity, pleading with God to pull people from Hell.
From the chapter Tawbah, Verse 128 of the Qur’an:
…It grieves him that ye should perish; ardently anxious is he over you; to the believers is he most kind and merciful.
Ash-Shafi’, or “the intercessor,” is another of Muhammad’s names.
The name al-Shafi’ is related to Haris ‘Alaykum, his care of us. This name means that Muhammad is always worried on behalf of his people. He is concerned about their path, and concerned about getting them to heaven. It pleases Muhammad to intercede with God on our behalf, and thus Muhammad will be able to intercede on behalf of his nation on the Day of Judgment.
The name Taha is made up of two Arabic letters, Ta and Ha.
Some say the name means “the chosen one,” and some say it means “the pure or purified one.” The essence of the name is in the two Arabic letters, Ta and Ha, which come from a chapter in the Qur’an.
Here, Ta stands for purity or blessings, and Ha for hadi, or guide, and thus Taha is something like “the purified guide,” or the one who is purified by God to guide humanity.
The Taha chapter in the Qur’an addresses the intimate relationship between the prophet Muhammad and God. Some commentators say Taha is also one of the names of God. In this way, God honors the Prophet with one of his own names and its attributes.
Muhammad, Ahmed, and al-Mahmoud
The three names Muhammad, Ahmed, and Mahmoud are all very similar, and all three have the same root letters. Their meanings are intertwined.
The name Muhammad means “the most praised one,” the one who is most praised in all the worlds, and who we can never praise enough.
The name Ahmed means that its bearer is constantly praising God. No one praises God as much as Prophet Muhammad, and that’s why he’s also known as Ahmed. In the history of humanity, no one has praised God, or can connect to God, as much as Muhammad.
In the Saff chapter, in verse 6, it says:
And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.”
It becomes clear that Muhammad is truly praising God when God’s revelations stop coming to him. When the revelations stopped, the prophet also stopped. When God didn’t say anything, Muhammad didn’t say anything. Many people attacked the Prophet when he went silent. But during that time, he didn’t respond to his accusers. He didn’t simply shout at them: “I am a prophet and messenger, God loves me.”
Many mocked him, and his spiritual and emotional state grew dark, as the Qur’an talks about in the short Duha chapter:
Consider the bright morning hours, and the night when it grows still and dark. Thy Sustainer has not forsaken thee, nor does He scorn thee: for, indeed, the life to come will be better for thee than this earlier part [of thy life]! And, indeed, in time will thy Sustainer grant thee [what thy heart desires], and thou shalt be well-pleased.
Duha comes right after the darkest moment, when light very gradually begins to rise horizontally in the sky.
But first, Muhammad had to live through the darkness. This he did as one who is truly praising God. If a person truly loves God, and is truly praising him, then they would find time to pause. If God went silent, they would try to discover whether God was displeased, as Muhammad did. It’s just as in a human relationship. If you love another person, and that person goes silent and people tell you this person is displeased with you, what do you do? If you truly love them, you will stop and see if you did or said something to displease them.
Real praise means you’re concerned about whether the person is pleased or not. When the revelations stopped coming, Muhammad stopped and worried: Was God displeased? This worry showed that his love of God was genuine.
Just as Ahmed means its bearer is constantly praising God, Mahmoud means “the praised one” and “God’s beloved.” Mahmoud is also the name by which he’s called in the Psalms of David.
The name Yaseen, made up of the letters “Ya” and “Seen,” which together mean “ya” and “insaan,” or “o man.” This represents the whole man, the perfect man, the master of all men. God gave the prophet this name because he is seen as the perfect man.
As human beings, we know that we’re not perfect. Yet we all seek and search for perfection. In order to come to terms with our flaws, we comfort ourselves by saying “I’m not perfect”—yet the heart always seeks perfection. It’s a normal human desire, and we all love to see perfection. The prophet is that perfect man.
Just as the prophet is the perfect man, his first wife Khadija is a perfect woman. She reached such a station that, it was said, God sent greetings to her. Mary, the mother of Jesus, also reached that station of perfection, as did Assiya, the adoptive mother of Prophet Moses.
This is an excerpt from a forthcoming book, currently titled Reflections of Faith: Lessons from the Prophets.
Fedwa Wazwaz is a Palestinian-American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US. She is a public speaker and writer and lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.
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