III-Deviation Concerning His Names
And to Allah belong the Most Beautiful Names, so invoke Him by them. And leave [the company of] those who practice deviation [ilhad] concerning His Names. They will be recompensed for what they have been doing. [7:180]
Linguistically, ilhad is to incline, to turn aside. It is used in this and other contexts to denote inclining towards some falsehood.
Thus, ilhad concerning All?h’s Names is to deviate from the correct beliefs concerning them.
Ilhad in Allah’s Names can be divided into the following categories (Refer to: ibn `Uthaymin, Sharh al-Wasitiyyah (1/119-123)):
To reject Allah’s Names or some of them
To derive names for Allah that do not befit him, such as “Father.”
To deny (ta`til) or distort their meanings (tahrif, ta’wil), or claim they have no meaning (tafwid).
To consider them to be like human attributes (tajsim, tamthil, tashbih).
To name idols or other beings with the names of Allah or their derivatives, such as al-`Uzza from al-`Aziz, al-Manat from al-Mannan, etc.
Having understood the categories of deviation in belief concerning Allah’s Names, we can better understand the true way of understanding them, the way of Ahl al-Sunnah.
Towards the beginning of al-`Aqidah al-Wasitiyyah, Shaykh al-Islam ibn Taymiyyah states:
One aspect of faith in Allah is to believe in those Attributes with which He has described Himself in His Noble Book (al-Quran) and those Attributes with which His Messenger Muhammad (sal-Allahu ‘alayhi was-Sallam) has described Him, without distortion (tahrif), denial (ta`til), modality (takyif), or likeness [to the creation] (tamthil). Rather, they (Ahl al-Sunnah) believe concerning Allah that “There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Seeing, the Hearing.” [42:11]