“And to Allah belong the Most Beautiful Names, so invoke Him by them. And leave [the company of] those who practice deviation concerning His names. They will be recompensed for what they have been doing. And among those We created is a community which guides by truth and thereby establishes justice.”Quran 7:180–181
In my book, Love Is Deeper Than Words, I began this chapter with verses from Chapter 7, The High Place or The Heights. Review these verses, find scholarly commentary, and reflect on them and their essential message.
Here is a scholarly commentary that I reflected on for myself. Find one you trust:
Here people are warned in a style which combines admonition with censure against some basic wrongs. People are here being warned particularly against denial combined with mockery which they, had adopted towards the teachings of the Prophet, upon him peace and blessings. The name of a thing reflects how it is conceptualized. Hence, inappropriate concepts are reflected in inappropriate names, and vice versa.
Moreover, the attitude a man adopts towards different things is also based on the concepts he entertains of those things. If a concept about a thing is erroneous, so will be man’s relationship with it. On the other hand, a right concept about a thing will lead to establishing, the right relationship with it. In the same way, as this applies to relationships with worldly objects, so it applies to relationships with God.
If a man is mistaken about God – be it about His person or attributes – he will choose false words for God. And the falsity of concepts about God affects man’s whole ethical attitude. This is understandable since man’s whole ethical attitude is directly related to man’s concept of God and God’s relationship with the universe and man. It is for this reason that the Qur’an asks man to shun irreverence in naming God.
Only the most beautiful names befit God, and hence man should invoke Him by them. Any irreverence in this respect will lead to evil consequences. The ‘most excellent names’ used of God express His greatness and paramountcy, holiness, purity, and the perfection and absoluteness of all His attributes. The opposite trend has been termed ilhad in this verse. The word ilhad literally means ‘to veer away from the straight direction’.
The word is used, for instance, when an arrow misses the mark and strikes elsewhere. (See Raghib al-Isfahani, al-Mufradat, q.v. ilhad – Ed.) The commitment of ilhad in naming God mentioned in the verse consists of choosing names which are below His Majestic Dignity (Al Aziz) and which are inconsistent with the reverence due to Him; names which ascribe evil or defect to God, or reflect false notions about Him.
Equally blasphemous is the act of calling some creature by a name which befits God alone, The Qur’anic exhortation in the above verse to ‘shun those who distort God’s names’ implies that if misguided people fail to see reason, the righteous should not engross themselves in unnecessary argumentation with them.
For such men will themselves suffer dire consequences.
“The similitude of those who were charged with the (obligations of the) Mosaic Law, but who subsequently failed in those (obligations), is that of a donkey which carries huge tomes (but understands them not). Evil is the similitude of people who falsify the Signs of Allah: and Allah guides not people who do wrong.”Quran 62:5
|Fadwa Wazwaz | Fəd-wə Wəz-wəz is a Palestinian-American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US. Currently, she lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. She is an author of God Intervenes Between A Person And Their Heart and Love Is Deeper Than Words: Key Lessons From The Prophets.|