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Muslim Information For Christians – 99 Names of God

The Quran says that Allah has the most beautiful names: "Allah! there is no god but He! To Him belong the most Beautiful Names." (Quran 20:8, Yusufali's translation) "Say: "Call upon Allah, or call upon Rahman [the Merciful One]: by whatever name ye call upon Him, (it is well): for to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names." (Quran 17:110, Yusufali's translation) "The Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah: so call on Him by them" (Quran 7:180, Yusufali's translation).

There is a hadith (a story about Muhammad) which says that Allah has ninety-nine names. All the versions of this hadith are narrated from Abu Huraira, one of Muhammad's companions, but there are some differences between the versions narrated through the different chains of narrators. Imams Al-Bukhari and Muslim compiled the most famous books of hadiths and included only those hadiths that are considered authentic (sahih). They give the following versions of this hadith:

"Narrated by Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "Allah has ninety-nine names, i.e. one-hundred minus one, and whoever knows them will go to Paradise." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 50, Number 894, translated by M. Muhsin Khan)

"Narrated by Abu Huraira: Allah has ninety-nine Names, i.e., one hundred minus one, and whoever believes in their meanings and acts accordingly, will enter Paradise; and Allah is Witr (one) and loves 'the Witr' (i.e., odd numbers)." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 75, Number 419, translated by M. Muhsin Khan)

"Narrated by Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "Allah has ninety-nine Names, one-hundred less one; and he who memorizes them all by heart will enter Paradise." To count something means to know it by heart." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 489, translated by M. Muhsin Khan)

"Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: There are ninety-nine names of Allah; he who commits them to memory will get into Paradise. Verily, Allah is Odd (He is one, and it is an odd number) and He loves odd numberss. And in the narration of Ibn 'Umar (the words are):" He who enumerated them." (Sahih Al-Muslim, Book 035, Number 6475, translated by Abdul Hamid Siddiqui)

Other Imams who compiled books of hadiths included not only the hadiths that are considered authentic, but also those that are considered less reliable. At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja, and some others give a longer version of Abu Huraira's hadith which includes the list of Allah's 99 names. The most famous of them is in At-Tirmidhi's book:

"Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "Allah Most High has ninety-nine names. He who retains them in his memory will enter Paradise. He is Allah, other than whom there is no god, the Compassionate, the Merciful, the King, the Holy, the Source of Peace, the Preserver of Security, the Protector, the Mighty, the Overpowering, the Great in Majesty, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner, the Forgiver, the Dominant, the Bestower, the Provider, the Decider, the Knower, the Withholder, the Plentiful Giver, the Abaser, the Exalter, the Honourer, the Humiliator, the Hearer, the Seer, the Judge, the Just, the Gracious, the Informed, the Clement, the Incomparably Great, the Forgiving, the Rewarder, the Most High, the Most Great, the Preserver, the Sustainer, the Reckoner, the Majestic, the Generous, the Watcher, the Answerer, the Liberal, the Wise, the Loving, the Glorious, the Raiser, the Witness, the Real, the Trustee, the Strong, the Firm, the Patron, the Praiseworthy, the All-Knowing, the Originator, the Restorer to Life, the Giver of Life, the Giver of Death, the Living, the Eternal, the Self-sufficient, the Grand, the One, the Single, He to Whom men repair, the Powerful, the Prevailing, the Advancer, the Delayer, the First, the Last, the Outward, the Inward, the Governor, the Sublime, the Amply Beneficent, the Accepter of Repentance, the Avenger, the Pardoner, the Kindly, the Ruler of the Kingdom, the Lord of Majesty and Splendour, the Equitable, the Gatherer, the Independent, the Enricher, the Depriver, the Harmer, the Benefactor, the Light, the Guide, the First Cause, the Enduring, the Inheritor, the Director, the Patient." (Sunan At-Tirmidhi, 724)

All the Sunni theologians consider Bukhari's and Muslim's versions as authentic. However, there are disagreements among them regarding the At-Tirmidhi's version. Some of them consider this version good and acceptable. The traditional and most popular list of Allah's 99 names come from it. However, some theologians consider this version as unreliable. Some of them composed their own lists of Allah's 99 names, based either, only on the Quran, or on the Quran and hadiths, that are considered authentic. In any case, Muslim theologians agree that Allah has more than 99 names.

Mostly, the 99 names of Allah match God's attributes as revealed in the Bible. It means that the Islamic concept of God is not completely different from the Christian concept of God. On the other hand, Muslims do not believe in the Trinity and do not believe that Jesus is God. So, their concept of God is, of course, different from the Christian concept of God.

Surah 1 and Its Use in Prayer

1 In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
2) All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.
3) The Beneficent, the Merciful.
4) Master of the Day of Judgment.
5) Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help.
6) Keep us on the right path.
7) The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors. Not (the path)
of those upon whom Thy wrath is brought down, nor of those who go astray.
(Quran, Surah 1, Shakir's translation)

Muslims repeat, at least, 17 times a day in their prayers, Surah 1 (chapter 1) of the Quran. It is mandatory to recite it in each prayer. Muslims have an obligation to pray 5 times a day (if they want to pray more, there are additional prayers, but they are optional). In each prayer, there are 2 or more cycles called "rakat", "rakah" or "raka'ah": 1) standing, 2) bowing, 3) straightening, 4) prostration, 5) sitting, 6) prostration. In each rakat, when they are standing, Muslims are required to recite Surah 1.

The total number of mandatory rakats is 17:

1) in the morning prayer - 2;
2) in the noon prayer - 4;
3) in the afternoon prayer - 4;
4) in the evening prayer - 3;
5) in the night prayer - 4.

Many Muslims add additional rakats to their prayers and make the following number of rakats in each prayer:

1) in the morning prayer: (2 +) 2;
2) in the noon prayer: (4 +) 4 (+ 2);
3) in the afternoon prayer: (4 +) 4;
4) in the evening prayer: 3 (+ 2);
5) in the night prayer: (4 +) 4 (+ 2) (+ 3).

I put the additional rakats in parentheses. Thus the total number of rakats
becomes 40.

Some Muslims perform other numbers of additional rakats, for example, they do not perform the first 4 rakats in the 3rd and 5th prayers. Some add more additional rakats.

So, Muslims recite the first surah (it is called Al-Fatiha), at least, 17 times a day, but many of them do this more times.


by Robert

See also Some Information About Islam for Christians by Robert