Monday, September 11, 2006

Has as Sweet a Fragrance

bismillah

in the name of God

The Names of God in Islam

Any endeavor undertaken by an observant muslim begins with
the invocation, whether spoken aloud or remembered silently,
"bismillah", in the name of god.

This bismillah represents a shortened form of the most frequently recurring phrase in the Qur'an,

Bismillah ar Rahman ir Rahim

in the name of God the Compassionate the Merciful

bismillah:

bi ~ in
ism ~ name
i ~ of
llah ~ God

bismillah ~ in the name of God

Strictly speaking, the word Allah is not a name.

It is simply the word used in Arabic to connote the God,
as opposed to a god.

The word is found in both forms in the first part of the shahadah,
the muslim profession of faith:

la ilaha illa llah ~ there is no god but god.

Some argue that the word allah is a contraction of al-ilah
[literally "the god"], since eliding the initial article is conventional in Arabic, thus forming the “name” allah.

Call it a word or a name, as you will.

Either way it means God, the one.

la ilaha illa llah ~ there is no god but god.

in arabic there are no capital letters,
not even for proper names,
so the use of capitalization below
represents a convention of orthography
of the English language.

in arabic the word is allah.

Allah, or aLlah, is simply the word for God used by
Arabic-speaking Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike when they pray.

It simply means God.

Just God.

The most common male name in Arabic is
Abdullah, which means “Servant of God.”

No muslim man may take one of the proper names of God, thus a man may be known as Latif (subtle), but never al Latif (the subtle).

Most often the prefix root “abd” is added to one of the names of God, as in Abdul Latif (servant of the subtle). This is always acceptable.

Never may a man take one of the unique names Malik al Mulk, Allah, or other names uniquely reserved as divine appellations.

The tradition of ninety-nine names of God is derived from the Qur’an.
While the names are cast in the masculine,
the attributes are cast in the feminine,
beautifully demonstrating that God is beyond gender,
even in the original arabic.

Less common, but more esoterically, most sufis also refer to
God in prayer simply by the third person singular pronoun "hu" [literally He
in English]. Hu is intoned or breathed silently in this manner almost as
a prayerful mantra ~ a primordial breath or form of om.

Remembrance or repetition of one of the names in such a way is known as dhikr or zikr, remembrance, or dhikrullah,
remembrance of God.

[A much fuller discussion of each of the 99 beautiful names of GOD,
along the lines below, can be found in The Name & the Named
by Shayk Tosun Bayrak al Jerrahi al Halveti
from Fons Vitae Press.]

Muslims consider Allah to be the greatest name of God.

Following are “al asma al husna,” the divine names,

the 99 “most beautiful names” of God:

ar Rahman ~ the Compassionate
ar Rahim ~ the Merciful

ar Rahman is the most frequent name of God used
in the Qur’an. It, along with ar Rahim, the second
most frequent name in the Qur’an, are both derived
from the Semitic root RHM, meaning “womb.”

al Malik ~ the Owner
al Quddus ~ Purity
as Salam ~ Peace
al Mumin ~ the Inspirer of Faith
al Muhaymin ~ the Protector
al ‘Aziz ~ the Victorious
al Jabbar ~ the Repairer, the Completer
al Mutakabbir ~ the Owner of Pride
al Khaliq ~ the Creator
al Bari ~ the Maker of Harmony
al Musawwir ~ the Shaper of Beauty
al Ghaffar ~ the Forgiving
al Qahhar ~ the Subduer
al Wahhab ~ the Giver
ar Razzaq ~ the Sustainer
al Fattah ~ the Opener
al ‘Alim ~ the Knower
al Qabid ~ the Constrictor
al Basit ~ the Releaser
al Khafid ~ the Abaser
ar Rafi’ ~ the Exalter
al Mu’izz ~ the Bestower of Honor
al Mudhill ~ the Humiliator
as Sami’ ~ the Hearer
al Basir ~ the Seeing
al Hakam ~ the Judge
al ‘Adl ~ the Just
al Latif ~ the Subtle
al Khabir ~ the Aware
al Halim ~ the Forebearing
al ‘Azim ~ the Absolute
al Ghafur ~ the Forgiving
ash Shakur ~ the Rewarder of Gratitude
al ‘Ali ~ the Most High
al Kabir ~ the Greatest
al Hafiz ~ the Preserver
al Muqit ~ the Nourisher
al Hasib ~ the Reckoner
al Jalil ~ the Sublime
al Karim ~ the Generous
ar Raqib ~ the Watcher
al Mujib ~ the Responder to Prayer
al Wasi’ ~ the Comprehending
al Hakim ~ the Wise
al Wadud ~ Love
al Maajid ~ the Glorious
al Ba’ith ~ the Resurrector
ash Shahid ~ the Witness
al Haqq ~ the Truth
al Wakil ~ the Trustee
al Qawi ~ the Inexhaustible
al Matin ~ the Forceful
al Walii ~ the Friend of Servants
al Hamid ~ the Praised
al Muhsi ~ the Quantitator
al Mubdi ~ the Originator
al Mu’id ~ the Restorer
al Muhyi ~ the Giver of Life
al Mumit ~ the Taker of Life
al Hayy ~ the Ever Living
al Qayyum ~ the Self-Existing
al Wajid ~ the Finder
al Majiid ~ the Majestic
al Wahid ~ the One
al Ahad ~ the Only
as Samad ~ the Satisfier of Needs
al Qadir ~ the All Powerful
al Muqtadir ~ the Creator of All Power
al Muqaddim ~ the Advancer
al Muakhkhir ~ the Delayer
al Awwal ~ the First
al Akhir ~ the Last
az Zahir ~ the Manifest
al Batin ~ the Hidden
al Wali ~ the Governor of Creation
al Muta’ali ~ the Supreme
al Barr ~ the Doer of Good
at Tawwib ~ the Turner to Repentance
al Muntaqim ~ the Avenger
al ‘Afu ~ the Forgiver, the Redeemer
ar Rauf ~ the Clement
Malik al Mulk ~ Eternal Owner of All
Dhul Jalali wal Ikram ~ Lord of Majesty and Bounty
al Muqsit ~ the Distributor
al Jami’ ~ the Gatherer
al Ghani ~ the Rich
al Mughni ~ the Enricher
al Mani’ ~ the Averter of Harm
ad Darr ~ the Causer of Harm
an Nafi’ ~ the Creator of Good
an Nur ~ Light
al Hadi ~ the Guide
al Badi’ ~ the Originator
al Baqi ~ the Everlasting
al Warith ~ the Inheritor
ar Rashid ~ the Righteous Teacher
as Sabur ~ the Completely Patient One

la ilaha illa llah

A Rose by Any Other Name...

Names of God in Judaism

In Judaism, the name of God represents the Jewish conception of the divine nature.

Generally speaking, the various names of God in Judaism represent God as known by men, that is to say some of the divine aspects, or attributes of God that may be apprehended.

(parts of this first section contain edited excerpts from wiki)

In awe at the sacredness of the names of God, and as a means of showing respect and reverence for them, the scribes of sacred texts took pause before copying them, and used terms of reverence so as to keep the true name of God concealed. Various questions are raised as to why a priestly class such as the rabbinate would want to keep the names of God concealed...

The numerous names of God have been a source of debate among biblical scholars and, later, Qur'anic scholars, though generally the muslim approach is one of inclusion and openness, rather than exclusion. In the Qur'an are referenced 99 names of the Almighty. Other esoteric muslim traditions speak of a thousand names.

Infinity itself must, by definition, contain infinite names and attributes.

Others have advanced the theory that the variety of names for the Divine provides proof that the Torah has many authors. As noted, on a deeper level of understanding, different aspects of God have different names, depending on the context in which God is being referred to and the specific aspects which are being emphasized.

The most important and most often written name of God in Judaism is the Tetragrammaton, the four-letter name of God transliterated without vowels as YHWH or YHVH.

This name is first mentioned in the book of Genesis and is usually translated as 'the LORD'. Because Judaism forbids pronouncing the name outside the Temple, the correct pronunciation of this name has been lost, as the original Hebrew texts included only consonants.

Some scholars conjecture the name was pronounced "Yahweh". Others suggest that it never had a pronunciation, which is considerd extremely unlikely given that it is found as an element in numerous Hebrew names.

The Hebrew letters are named Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh: note that Hebrew, as Arabic, is written from right to left, rather than left to right as in English. In English, depending upon the transliteration convention used, the name is written as either YHWH, YHVH, or JHVH ~ hence the Latinized name "Jehovah".

The Tetragrammaton was written in contrasting Paleo-Hebrew characters in some of the oldest surviving square Aramaic Hebrew texts, and it is speculated that it was, even at that period, read as Adonai, "My Lord", when encountered.

In appearance, YHWH is the third person singular imperfect of the verb "to be", meaning, therefore, "He is".

Similarly in Arabic, the most concise name for God used in prayer and remembrance is hu ~ literally, "he".

These verbal bases for the name are consistent with the meaning of the name given in Exodus 3:14, where God is represented as speaking, and hence as using the first person ~ "I am."

It stems from the conception of monotheism that God exists by himself, of himself, without cause, the cause of causes, the uncreated Creator who doesn't depend on anything or anyone else.

Thus the answer to Moses: “I am that I am.”

Abraham knew God as El Shaddai, literally translated as El of the Mountain, but more commonly abstracted in modern times as God Almighty.

When Abraham, or Ibrahim, appears in the Qur'an, God is called by the Arabic allah, literally the god.

The word El appears in other northwest Semitic languages such as Phoenician and Aramaic. In Akkadian, ilu is the ordinary word for god. It is also found in Old South Arabian and in Ethiopic. As in Hebrew, it is often used as an element in proper names. In northwestern Semitic texts it often appears to be used to speak of one single god, perhaps the head of the pantheon, sometimes specifically said to be the creator.

El is used in both the singular and plural, both for other gods and for the God of Israel.

As a name of God, however, it is used chiefly in poetry and prophetic discourse, rarely in prose, and then usually with some epithet attached, as "a jealous God."

Other examples of its use with some attribute or epithet are:
El `Elyon ~ "Most High God", El Shaddai ~ "God Almighty",
lit. "El of the Mountain", El Hai ~ "Living God",
El Ro'i ~ "God of Seeing", El Gibbor ~ "God of Strength".

Compare El Hai ~ Living God, in Hebrew
with al Hayy ~ the Everliving, in Arabic
one of the ninety-nine beautiful names of God from the Qur'an.

Semitic names such as Gabriel ~ Strength of God, Michael ~
Who is Like God, [Jibri'il and Mika'il in Arabic],
Raphael ~ Medicine of God, and Daniel ~ God is My Judge
incorporate this name of God in a similar fashion.