The rules pertaining to understanding Allah"s Beautiful Names and Supreme Attributes
1-All of Allah"s Names and Attributes are husna (beautiful). Allah says: "To Allah belong the most beautiful names" (Al-A"râf: 180).
Allah introduced His Supreme self to us so that we can worship, glorify, love, fear and pray to him. "There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing" (Ash-Shûra: 11).
2-The Most Beautiful Names and Supreme Attributes of Allah are authenticated from two major sources: the Book of Allah, the Qur"an, and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and nothing else beside them. So we attribute to Allah the names and attributes that Allah the Exalted and His Prophet (peace be upon him) attributed to Him, and we say that He does not possess the attributes which Allah and His Prophet told us He does not possess but at the same time affirm that the perfect form of its exact opposite is attributed Allah. As for any names or attributes of Allah which have not been attributed to Him, or for which Allah or the Prophet did not state that He does not possess, it is compulsory to refrain from mentioning them - so we cannot attribute to Allah what has not been authentically attributed to Him, or state that He does not possess any attribute which has not been authentically stated that He does not possess. Pertaining to the meaning of each name and attribute which anybody has explained, it must be considered if the explanation is true and befits Allah (mighty and majestic is He). If it is found that the explanation is true and befits the majesty of Allah then it is accepted, but if not then it is rejected.
3-Any discussion about the Supreme Attributes of Allah has the same problem as a discussion about Him (mighty and majestic is He). This is because just as we do not know the nature of the Sacred Essence, we do not know the true nature of the Supreme Attributes, but we still firmly believe and recognize them without distorting, nullifying, changing or likening them to His creation.
4-The Beautiful Names and Supreme Attributes of Allah have literal and not metaphoric or ambiguous meanings. They indicate the Essence of Allah and His Attributes of Perfection, such as: Al-Qadr (the All-Capable), Al-"Aleem (the All-Knowing), Al--Hakeem (the All-Wise), Al-Samea" (the All- Hearing) and Al-Baseer (the All-Seeing). All of these names and attributes indicate the Essence of Allah and what that Essence contains regarding capability, knowledge, wisdom, hearing and sight.
5-When we deny that Allah (mighty and majestic is He) has any deficiencies, we do this without denying any of His Attributes. And denying that Allah has any deficiencies covers all types of deficiencies in general (without enumerating any particular defect), while affirming His perfection refers to the perfection in every detail of every Name and Attribute (and to affirming every single attribute). Allah the Exalted says: "There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing" (Ash-Shûra: 11).
6-Iman in Allah"s Beautiful Names: Iman in Allah"s Names and the Attributes included in the Names requires Iman in the effect that is related to each name. The Name of Allah Ar-Raheem (the Most Compassionate) includes the attribute of Rahma (compassion) which indicates that Allah is Raheem (Compassionate) towards His slaves.
Here are some important observations that help us understand Allah"s Beautiful Names and Supreme Attributes:
1-The names and attributes are not limited to a certain number. It is mentioned in the Hadeeth below that: "I invoke you by every Name that You called Yourself by, sent down in Your Book, taught to any of Your creatures, or kept with You in the knowledge of the unseen that is with You" (Narrated by Ahmad).
2-Some of the Beautiful Names and Supreme Attributes of Allah are specifically related to Allah and are not shared by anyone or anything else (in any degree), and it is not permissible to use such names and attributes except with Allah, such as: Allah, Al-Rahman (the Most Merciful). Other names and attributes can be used to describe others- though of course when the names and attributes are ascribed to Allah they are complete and in the most perfect form, but when they are used to describe His creation they refer to them having the attribute to only a limited degree.
3-Attributes are derived from the Names of Allah. Each name includes an attribute, but no names are derived from the attributes. We can say, for instance, that Allah gets angry, but we cannot say that He is Al-Ghadoub (The Most Angry), Exalted and Glorified is He.