Names of Allah Series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI |
Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem
In the Name of God, Most Merciful, Most Beneficent
“He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor, the Fashioner; to Him belongs the best names. Whatever is in the heavens and earth is exalting Him. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” [Qur'an, 59:24]
I hope that this article will be short in words, but longer in reflection. In order to truly understand these names of Allah, we have to contemplate and think about the universe and ourselves.
Al-Khaaliq, al-Baari’, al-Musawwir
Allah is the Creator, the Producer and the Fashioner. These Names might seem synonymous but al-Ghazali explains the difference:
“God – may He be praised and exalted- is creator [khaliq] inasmuch as He is the planner [muqaddir], producer [bari’] inasmuch as He initiates existence, and fashioner [musawwir] inasmuch as He arranges the forms of things invented in the finest way.”
Perhaps the most pertinent way to experience this is the gift of life itself. It is important to just take a few moments to think of our existence and how Allah brought us into this world. Allah says:
“Has there [not] come upon man a period of time when he was not a thing [even] mentioned?” [Qur’an, 76:1]
At one point there was nothing, but now there are extraordinary, complex beings. Allah told the Angels:
“I am going to create a human being from clay.” [Qur’an, 38:71]
After that we were produced from nothing, and then we were fashioned—all of us with our physical differences, our unique fingerprints, and our characters and personalities. And this is simply on a human realm. Think of all of the animals, the plants and the microcosms that exist. As al-Ghazali points out: “He is Creator by virtue of planning these things, Fashioner by virtue of originating according to the planning, and Producer by virtue of sheer origination and invention from nothing into existence. For sheer origination is one thing, and origination according to planning is another.”
I’ve always found these verses in Surat al-Qiyaama incredible:
“I swear by the Day of Resurrection
And I swear by the reproaching soul [to the certainty of resurrection].
Does man think that We will not assemble his bones?
Yes. [We are] Able [even] to proportion his fingertips.” [75:1-4]
This verse is amazing because Allah says that on the Day of Judgment, He will bring us back as we were even to the extent of our banaan. Banaan are the tips of the fingers. And it was only in the past couple of hundred years that it was recognized that every human being has his own unique fingerprint. Subhan’Allah (glory be to God), the Creator, Producer and Fashioner!
Look at this short 1-minute video on how the face develops in the womb, it’s brilliant:
The Importance of Reflection
In order to truly understand these Names of Allah, reading about them is not enough. They require reflection. It is the act of pondering deeply—tafakkur—that brings about certainty in Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). And this is because you truly witness His dominion.
Um Ad-Dardaa, the wife of the companion Abu Ad-Dardaa (may Allah be pleased with them), was asked what the greatest act of worship was that her husband used to do. She replied, “At-tafakkur,” meaning reflecting deeply. The great scholar, al-Hasan al-Basri said: “An hour’s contemplation is better than a year of qiyaam (the night prayer),” and one of the tabi’een (the generations following the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ, peace be upon him) said: “Reflection is the light of worship.” If we do not reflect, we take things for granted. Even praying without reflecting and devotion becomes monotonous.
When the Prophet ﷺ used to go to the Cave of Hiraa, he used to reflect. He would reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth. He would reflect on his own creation and his purpose. As Allah says:
“Do they not contemplate within themselves? Allah has not created the heavens and the earth and what is between them except in truth and for a specified term. And indeed, many of the people, in [the matter of] the meeting with their Lord, are disbelievers.” [Qur’an, 30:8]
“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], ‘Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.’” [Qur’an, 3:190-191]
So the practical exercise to understand these Names is to take some time and truly reflect on the beauty and creation of this world. One way is by stepping outside and simply seeing. And the second way is to understand how things work. I’ve posted a link to one video, but there are many more:
Inside a cell:
Finally, since He is The Creator, The Inventor, and The Fashioner, then He also knows best how we work. He created things in a beautiful order. Scientists still discover more and more about how the world works and one can only say Subhan Allah. He created us, and thus He knows us. When the Prophet ﷺ says, for example, “No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath,” [Ahmad] it is because he knows what is good for us. The Prophet ﷺ does not speak out of his own desires. So another point of reflection is the advice that is given to us in the Qur’an and by the Prophet ﷺ. Allah wants good for us, so we should reflect on the wisdom of His commandments.