Al Jabbar: The Compeller


2233104790_6b2c8d7aa9_bAbu Hurayrah (ra) reported that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Allah has ninety-nine names, one hundred less one. Whoever ‘ahsaaha‘ will enter Jannah.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

According to Shaykh Jamaal Zarabozo, the statement in the hadith “man ahsaaha” means “whoever enumerates them, believes in them, ponders their meanings, worships Allah by them and supplicates with them, and acts by them according to one’s belief in them.”

Many scholars state that one of the best ways to increase one’s iman (faith) is to learn the Names and Attributes of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (glorifed and exalted is He). In an effort to introduce readers to the beauty of His Names and to increase us in our faith and humility, this article will go through one of the Names of Allah. It will provide the meanings of this Name how we can worship Allah through this Name and how we can act upon this Name as well.

Al-Jabbaar is one of the authentic Names of Allah (swt) and it means ‘one who compels or restores.’ Al-Jabbaar, like the majority of the Names of Allah, is of an intensified form so Al-Jabbar not only means ‘one who restores,’ but “the One who restores completely.’

Jabbaar is from the root jabr (ج ب ر or جبر), and this root has several meanings:

a) The first meaning is ‘to pressurize, to compel and force someone to do something.’ From this, it is understood to mean ‘to tyrannize someone and be tyrannical.’ We learn from the Qur’an that:

وَإِذَا بَطَشْتُم بَطَشْتُمْ جَبَّارِينَ

“And when you strike, you strike as tyrants.” (Qur’an, 26:130)

Similarly in Surat al-Maryam, Prophet `Isa `alayhi salaam says:

وَلَمْ يَجْعَلْنِي جَبَّارًا شَقِيًّا

“And He has not made me a wretched tyrant.” (Qur’an, 19:32)

b) Secondly, jabr means ‘to be strong, tall and great.’ ‘Nakhlatun Jabbaarah’ is used to describe a tall date palm tree that is very strong and gives a lot of fruit. Also in the Qur’an, when Bani Isra’eel (the children of the tribe of Isra’eel) were told to enter the city of Jerusalem, they said:

إِنَّ فِيهَا قَوْمًا جَبَّارِينَ

“Indeed within it is a people of tyrannical strength.” (Qur’an, 5:22)

c) The third meaning of jabr is ‘to repair the broken, fix and reform something.’ When something is incomplete and you complete it, that act is called jabr. Furthermore, when there is a deficiency and you make up for it that is called jabr. (Interesting fact: from the same root is the word ‘algebra:’ you ‘fix’ the equation.  The word ‘jabeerah’ is also used for a splint, to help broken bones.)

Proof for this Name

The word ‘Jabbaar’ appears 10 times in the Qur’an, but only once for Allah (swt). This word is used nine times for people who are strong, oppressive, or commit dhulm (injustice), who compel and force others. The last time it is used in the Qur’an in Surat al-Hashr (verse 23) is for Allah (swt).

If Allah is Jabbaar, what does it mean?

a)      According to al Khattaabi, it means: “He is the One who forces His creation upon what He commands and upon what He has forbidden. In other words, whatever Allah wills, His will is executed.” The first meaning of Jabbaar is ‘Compeller,’ so whatever He wills is what happens. He is the One who implements His will.

b)     Secondly, it means ‘al ‘Aali fawqa khalqihi’, the One who is Exalted and High above His creation. In other words, He is the Greatest One. We said ‘nakhlatun jabbaarah’ is the tallest tree in the orchard. Allaah (swt) being al-Jabbaar is the Greatest and there is no one else who is greater than Him. He is the One who is Qawwiy, A’dheem (The Most Strong, The Most Great). He is the One who has ‘tawl’: He owns a lot and can give a lot. The Supreme Power and Authority belongs to Him Alone.

c)      Thirdly, Jabbaar means ‘Al Muslih, the One who Reforms, the One who fixes the situation for His creation. When we find our resources to be incomplete, Allah (swt) completes them. When we are unable to reach our goals, Allah (swt) assists us. He is the One who amends the affairs of His creation. It means if a slave is unable to reach His goal, Al-Jabbaar will enable Him and provide Him with the sources to reach this goal.

Difference when Jabbaar is used for Allah and for people

When Jabbaar is used for people, it is in a negative sense, because they have no right to be tyrannical and oppress others. If Jabbaar is used for humans as ‘one who restores,’ it is negative again because they use their oppressive nature to fix things. When Allah (swt) fixes things, it is not oppressive – it is positive. Jabr does not befit or suit human beings because they are supposed to be servants.

If Allah is Al-Jabbaar, what are we supposed to do?

1)      We must know that He is Al Jabbaar alone, and we cannot imitate Him. For many Names of Allah, we must act upon them in a way most suitable for us. Allah is Ar-Rahman (The Entirely Merciful) so we should have mercy on others. However, because Allah is Al-Jabbaar it does not mean we become jabbaar. Why? Because He has told us to not be jabbaar and He does not like those who are arrogant.

From Surat Ibrahim we learn:

وَاسْتَفْتَحُوا وَخَابَ كُلُّ جَبَّارٍ عَنِيدٍ

“And they requested victory from Allah, and disappointed, [therefore], was every obstinate tyrant.” (Qur’an, 14:15)

Similarly, Allah says:

كَذَٰلِكَ يَطْبَعُ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ قَلْبِ مُتَكَبِّرٍ جَبَّارٍ

‘Thus does Allah seal over every heart [belonging to] an arrogant tyrant.” (Qur’an, 40:35)

So whoever is jabbaar, it leads to their heart being sealed and his ultimate loss in this life and the next.

From a hadith in Sahih Bukhari, we learn that hellfire is for the jabbaareen, those who are jabbaar, Hellfire said: ‘I have been given the privilege of receiving the arrogant and the tyrants.’

We may think that we are not oppressive, and that such a title only belongs to the rulers who kill people and commit injustice, but we are also jabbaar sometimes. In the context of Isa (as), it is said he was righteous towards his mother and he was not a jabbaar (disobedient). So jabbaar means ‘one who is forceful against his parents’ in this context; i.e., when parents tell their child to do something and the child doesn’t listen. Jabbaar is not just a mighty tyrannical ruler, but jabbaar can be any person who refuses to obey, harms and hurts other people and does not listen to the authority. The first lesson for us is that we are ‘ebaad (servants) and we should recognize ourselves as ‘ebaadAllah (servants of Allah).

2)      The second lesson we learn is that if someone is unable to reach their goals, they find constriction in time and ability. We should ask Al-Jabbaar to fix our deficiencies. When we are unable to achieve a goal and find ourselves weak and when we find ourselves in a mess, we should ask for the help of Al-Jabbaar who will make up all of the deficiencies.

Du`a’s with this Name

a)      In between the two sajdahs, there is the du`a’:

Allahumma-ighfirlee warhamnee wahdini warhamnee wajburnee wa ‘aafinee warzuqnee warfa’nee,
‘O Allah, forgive me, have mercy upon me, guide me, enrich me, give me health, grant me sustenance and raise my rank.’

Jabr in this duaa does not mean to compel, but rather it means ‘fix my situation’, in the meaning of muslih (reformer).

b)     There is a sahih hadith in Abu Dawood that mentions a du`a’ that the Prophet ﷺ would recite in sujood and ruku’:

Subhana dhil jabaroot wal malakoot wal kibriyaa’i wal ‘athamah.

Glorified is the the One who possesses jabaroot- which means greatness and power here, wal malakoot is all of His dominion, wal kibriyaa’ and the greatness, wal ‘athamah, and the grandness. (‘How perfect He is, The Possessor of total power, sovereignty, magnificence and grandeur.’)

We should write these du`a’s down and memorize them, so we may benefit from them.

Why are these du`a’s mentioned in sajdah? We are most close to Allah in sujood and mentioning His Greatness expresses our humility.

So Allah (swt) is Al-Jabbaar: The One who Compels, The One who Reforms and The One who is Great.

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14 Comments

  1. Heba Salah says:

    May Allah reward you all good brother Suhaib for such wonderful and inspiring contemplation.
    PLz let me draw your attention to correct the name od Surat Maryam, it is writen as al-Maryam.
    JAK

  2. NAS says:

    As Salamu Alaikum,

    Powerful article. At the RIS conference one speaker spoke about al-jabbar for so long, it made me think it was mentioned numerous time in the Quran. Interesting enough, you just taught us it was only mentioned ONCE to describe Allah. It seems it was mentioned more in the hadith. SubhanAllah, this religion is so deep.

    Jazakum Allahu Khayer, I really benefited.

  3. Gulshadab says:

    Salam
    Oh its really great article. I was really sad and broken
    because of my divorce and i was crying all the time.
    Then my sister sent me this article on my email id.
    Now I read this name of Allah subhan tala And now i am getting some relief. I feel better every time, Whenever i read this.
    I really benefited.

  4. m says:

    subhanallah. i love this name and attribute of Allah azza wajal. Ya JABBAR!!!

  5. Shabraz says:

    As Salam alaikum wa rehmat ullah,

    Maa-sha’Allah brother and jazak’Allah for giving such a in-depth meaning of Allah swt Name Al-Jabbar. May Allah swt bless you and your family. I am just trying to learn the 99 Names of Allah swt and practice them with my 3 year old daughter every other day. Jazak’Allah once again for enlightening us with your work.

    Shabraz

  6. Muhammad says:

    Asalamu Alaikum, please may i refer to your section “Difference when Jabbaar is used for Allah and for people”. The Holy name ‘Jabbar’ can be used to name righteous or Muslim people, but this all depends on the individuals intention.If the intention is pure, then its fine.

  7. jabbaar says:

    So im very interested in my name n decided to look it up and it brought me here?

  8. shakoor says:

    Allah is Al-Jabbar (the Mighty) not al-jabr (the splint) or algebra (math).

  9. shakoor says:

    Since Jabbar جبار means tyrant, wouldn’t the attribute Al-Jabbar الجبار mean God is “The Tyrant”?

  10. shakoor says:

    I’m also going to disagree with the translation of 26:130 “Jabbareen” should be translated as “mighty men” and not specifically “tyrants”.

    I believe the Yusuf Ali translation is better in this specific case.

    26:130
    “And when ye exert your strong hand, do ye do it like men of absolute power (..like mighty men)”….

  11. shakoor says:

    I’m also going to disagree with the translation of 19:32

    Amatullah wrote,
    “Similarly in Surat al-Maryam, Prophet `Isa `alayhi salaam says:
    وَلَمْ يَجْعَلْنِي جَبَّارًا شَقِيًّا

    “And He has not made me a wretched tyrant.”
    ..end quote”

    Allah has not made ‘Ysa (alayhi salam) a tyrant or ruler/potentate at all. Jesus or ‘Ysa was never a king or ruler of the Jews.

    I believe the better translation of “jabaran” جبارا is “arrogant” or “overbearing”.

    When checking the translations of different scholars, the word “tyrant” is only used by the Sahih translation (which happens to not be Sahih (true) in this case at all..

    19:32

    (Sahih International)
    And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched “tyrant”

    (Muhsin Khan)
    “And dutiful to my mother, and made me not “arrogant”, unblest.

    (Pickthall)
    And (hath made me) dutiful toward her who bore me, and hath not made me “arrogant”, unblest.

    (Yusuf Ali)
    “(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not “overbearing” or miserable;

    (Shakir)
    And dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me “insolent”, unblessed;

    (Dr. Ghali)
    And ever benign to my (female) parent; (Literally: She who gave birth to me) and He has not made me “arrogant”, wretched.

    So we see “arrogant” used 3 times in these translations and the other valid translations use the words “insolent” and “overbearing”. We see here that translation of the word “jabbaran” as a “tyrant” is incorrect!

  12. shakoor says:

    Upon second thought, this name Al-Jabbar الجبار could have multiple meanings.. Maybe I’m too focused on just this one definition. Good article Amatullah! :)

    On the same note, جَبَرَ “jabara” means to restore, help, assist, aid, support, console, to splint.

    I also want to point out that jabr جَبْر also means power, strength, might, force, violence, divine decree, fate, destiny, arrogance, insolence, coerce, subjugation, oppression, repression, compulsion, constraint, compensation, conceit, pride, repair, remedy, to make something good..

  13. asiya says:

    May Allah reward you for this article and poster ‘shakoor’, you both have made me understood Al Jabbar better for my studies.

  14. khaled says:

    Asalam wa Alikum brothers and sisters,
    Alhamdulillah whatever I’m trying to do in my life becomes difficult or impossible and lately I’m having problems upon problems, so one of my Muslim brother’s suggested wearing a ring of silver with an inscription Al-Jabbar on it. I’m wearing that since 3 months now, Is that permitted in Islam and does it have any benefits in it, or is it a shirk, please do reply me with hadith references, and do remember this troubled brother in your Duas.
    Jazakallah huma khair
    Asalam wa Alikum.

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