Showing posts with label The Omniscient. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Omniscient. Show all posts

Wednesday 4 September 2019

99 Attributes of Allah: Al Alim - The Omniscient, The All Knowing

Al-'Alīm " ٱلْعَلِيمُ " is one of the dominating attribute of Allah. Al-'Alīm draws upon the unteachable ability of Allah to know everything, for He is The Omniscient, The All Knowing. Nothing happens in the entire universe without His knowledge. Or should we say nothing moves or takes place in the universe unless He makes it to happen, for He is the One who is intuitively aware of all things, even before they happen.  

Allah’s name Al-'Alīm (the All-Knowing) is an emphatic form of the word `alim (knower) and is derived from the root 'a-l-m which means someone who has knowledge, the firmly rooted knowledge of the minutest of particulars.

This attribute has been abundantly used in the Qur'an to forewarn the disbelievers and the hypocrites that Allah is well aware of whatever is in their hearts, for He is the Knower of the unseen:

وَعِنۡدَهٗ مَفَاتِحُ الۡغَيۡبِ لَا يَعۡلَمُهَاۤ اِلَّا هُوَ​ؕ وَيَعۡلَمُ مَا فِى الۡبَرِّ وَالۡبَحۡرِ​ؕ وَمَا تَسۡقُطُ مِنۡ وَّرَقَةٍ اِلَّا يَعۡلَمُهَا وَلَا حَبَّةٍ فِىۡ ظُلُمٰتِ الۡاَرۡضِ وَلَا رَطۡبٍ وَّلَا يَابِسٍ اِلَّا فِىۡ كِتٰبٍ مُّبِيۡنٍ‏  
And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darkness of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record. (Surah Al-An ‘am 6: 59)

Ibn Kathir notes that Al-Bukhari recorded that Salim bin `Abdullah said that his father said that the Messenger of Allah said, (The keys of the Unseen are five and none except Allah knows them: (Verily, Allah! With Him (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain, and knows that which is in the wombs. No person knows what he will earn tomorrow, and no person knows in what land he will die. Verily, Allah is All-Knower, All-Aware)'') [31:34]

Allah's statement, (And He knows whatever there is on the land and in the sea;) means, Allah's honored knowledge encompasses everything, including the creatures living in the sea and on land, and none of it, not even the weight of an atom on earth or in heaven, ever escapes His knowledge. 

Allah's statement, (not a leaf falls, but He knows it.) means, He knows the movements of everything including inanimate things. Therefore, what about His knowledge of the living creatures, especially, those whom the Divine laws have been imposed upon such as mankind and the Jinns. 

In another Ayah, Allah said; (Allah knows the fraud of the eyes, and all that the breasts conceal.) [40:19] 

In the light of the above quoted verse, we should have no an iota of doubt that whatever that  takes place by His decree, and His decree accords with His wisdom:

مَاۤ اَصَابَ مِنۡ مُّصِيۡبَةٍ اِلَّا بِاِذۡنِ اللّٰهِ​ؕ وَمَنۡ يُّؤۡمِنۡۢ بِاللّٰهِ يَهۡدِ قَلۡبَهٗ​ؕ وَاللّٰهُ بِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ عَلِيۡمٌ‏ 
"No kind of calamity can occur except by the leave of Allah: and whoever believes in Allah, then Allah guides their hearts aright, for Allah knows all things." (Surah At-Taghabun 64: 11)

This means that afflictions and hardships do not descend of themselves, nor has anyone in the world the power to cause an affliction to descend on anyone he may like by his own authority. All calamities wholly depend on Allah’s leave. He may allow an affliction to descend upon someone or may disallow it. And Allah’s leave in any case is based on one or other wisdom, directed to some ultimate good, which man neither knows, nor can understand.

That is, it is only belief in Allah which keeps man on the right path even in the face of an onslaught of afflictions and does not let him waver under the most trying circumstances. The one whose heart is devoid of belief either looks upon afflictions as a result of mere chance, or thinks they are brought or prevented by worldly powers, or considers them to be the work of such imaginary powers which human superstition regards as potent in bringing good and causing evil, or believes that God is the real Doer of everything but does not believe so truly and sincerely in all these different cases man degenerates. He endures the affliction, but then yields and bows to every false god, accepts every humiliation, is ready to do any mean thing and commit any wrong act he does not hesitate to abuse God, even commits suicide. On the contrary, the heart of the person who knows and believes sincerely that everything is in the hands of Allah. He alone in the Master and the Ruler of the universe. That only by His permission can an affliction befall and only by His command can it be averted. Such a person is blessed by Allah with the grace of patience and submission and of acquiescing in divine will, and is granted the power to face every circumstance with determination and courage. Even under the most straitened circumstances the candle of the hope of Allah’s bounty lights up his way. No affliction, however severe and trying, can dishearten him as to cause him to swerve from the right path or bow to falsehood, or invoke others than Allah for the redress of his grievances. Thus, every affliction opens up for him a new door to well-being and happiness and no affliction remains an affliction for him. In fact, it becomes, in the final, a blessing in disguise. For whether he falls a victim to it or passes through if safely, in each case he emerges successful from the trial set for him by his Lord. This same thing has been stated by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in a Hadith which has been reported unanimously by all the reporters, saying: Strange is the affair of the believer! Whatever Allah decrees for him is good for him. When an affliction befalls him, he endures it patiently, and this proves good for him. When he is blessed with prosperity, he thanks his Lord, and this too proves good for him. Such a good fortune only falls to the lot of a believer.

In this context this has two meanings: First, that Allah knows who really believes and what is the measure of his belief. So, on the basis of His knowledge, He grants guidance only to that heart, which has belief in it, and grants it guidance precisely in accordance with the measure of belief. Another meaning can also be: That Allah is not unaware of the condition of His believing servants. He has not left them alone after having invited them to faith and subjected them at the same time to severe trials and temptations of the world. He knows exactly what hardships a believer is passing through in the world, and under what circumstances he is fulfilling the demands of his faith. Therefore, O believers, you should rest assured that whatever affliction descends upon you by Allah’s leave, in Allah’s knowledge it must be directed to some ultimate good, which must be for your own well-being. For Allah is well-wisher of His believing servants. He does not will to subject them to afflictions and hardships without good reason. 

The Holy Quran contains the following verses which demonstrate the various meanings and types of knowledge:
  • He knows that there is weakness in you. (8:66) 
  • He knows that there will be sick ones among you. (73:20) 
  • and surely we know that your breast straitens at what they say. (15:97) 
  • Allah knows what every female bears. (13:8)
In the following verse, two attributes of Allah, Al Alim and Al Khabir - both of which mean almost the same attribute of Allah,  have come together:

اِنَّ اللّٰهَ عِنۡدَهٗ عِلۡمُ السَّاعَةِ​ ۚ وَيُنَزِّلُ الۡغَيۡثَ​ ۚ وَيَعۡلَمُ مَا فِى الۡاَرۡحَامِ​ ؕ وَمَا تَدۡرِىۡ نَفۡسٌ مَّاذَا تَكۡسِبُ غَدًا​ ؕ وَّمَا تَدۡرِىۡ نَـفۡسٌۢ بِاَىِّ اَرۡضٍ تَمُوۡتُ ​ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ عَلِيۡمٌ خَبِيۡرٌ 
“Verily Allah [alone] has the knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain and knows what is in the wombs. No soul knows what it will earn tomorrow and no soul knows in what land it will die. Indeed Allah is ‘Alim (All-Knowing), Khabir (All-Aware)” (Surah Luqman 31:34)
As for what is in the womb, many contend today that modern means in ultra sound can help in detecting the gender of the child inside the womb, so this assertion has now been compromised. But the true meaning this verse is that this relates not merely to the identification of the gender of the as yet unborn embryo, but also to the question of whether it will be born at all, and if so, what its natural endowments and its character will be, as well as what role it will be able to play in life; and life itself is symbolized by the preceding mention of rain, and the end of all life in this world, by the mention of the Last Hour. [6]

Here in this verse, 'Alīm denotes knowing with certainty, especially intuitive knowing, omniscience. While Khabīr denotes an understanding of the inner qualities, secrets and true reality.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:[7]
The question of Knowledge or Mystery governs both clauses here, viz.: Rain and Wombs. In fact it governs all the five things mentioned in this verse: viz. (1) the Hour; (2) Rain; (3) the Birth of a new Life (Wombs); (4) our Physical Life from day to day; (5) our Death. 

As regards Rain we are asked to contemplate how and when it is sent down. The moisture may be sucked up by the sun's heat in the Arabian Sea or the Red Sea or the Indian Ocean near East Africa, or in the Lake Region in Central Africa. The winds drive it hither and thither across thousands of miles, or it may be, only short distances. "The wind bloweth where it listeth." No doubt it obeys certain physical Laws established by Allah, but how these Laws are interlocked, one with another! Meteorology, gravity, hydrostatics and dynamics, climatology, hygrometry, and a dozen other sciences are involved, and no man can completely master all of them, and yet this relates to only one of the millions of facts in physical nature, which are governed by Allah's Knowledge and Law. The whole vegetable kingdom is primarily affected by Rain. The mention of Wombs brings in the mystery of animal Life, Embryology, Sex, and a thousand other things. Who can tell-to take man alone-how long it will remain in the womb, whether it will be born alive, what sort of a new individual it will be,-a blessing or a curse to its parents, or to Society?

"Earn" here, as elsewhere, means not only "earn one's livelihood" in a physical sense, but also to reap the consequences (good or ill) of one's conduct generally. The whole sentence practically means; "no man knows what the morrow may bring forth."

The argument is about the mystery of Time and Knowledge. We are supposed to know things in ordinary life. But what does that knowledge amount to in reality? Only a superficial acquaintance with things. And Time is even more uncertain. In the case of rain, which causes vegetable life to spring up, or in the case of new animal life, can we answer with precision questions as to When or How or Wherefore? So about questions of our life from day to day or of our death. These are great mysteries, and full knowledge is with Allah only. How much more so in the case of the Ma'ad, the Final House, when all true values will be restored and the balance redressed? It is certain, but the When and the How are known to Allah alone.

So it is Al Alim Who knows everything that can occur, and others that can never occur. He knows the affairs of all of the creation, in the past, present and future, and nothing is hidden from Him. No matter what we hide, it is known to Allah. We therefore should be truthful to ourselves, to others and to Allah to be successful and rewarded, for those who trust Allah and truly believe in Him are the ones who will be rewarded.

You may refer to our post "99 Attributes of Allah" for complete list of 99 attributes of Allah Almighty with meaning and explanation.

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