Category Archives: III – Other Principles
Calling People by the Names of Allah
Is Calling People by the Names of Allah Regarded as Shirk?
The names of Allaah, insofar as they are applied only to Him – fall into two categories:
1. Names that only belong to Him, may He be glorified and exalted, and cannot be given to anyone but Him, such as the names Allaah, al-Rabb (the Lord or Cherisher), al-Rahmaan (the Most Gracious), al-Ahad (the Unique), al-Samad (the Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, He neither eats nor drinks), al-Mutakabbir (the Majestic), and so on. It is not permissible to call any human being by these names, according to scholarly consensus.
2. Names which do not apply only to Him, and which may be applied to human beings, so it is permissible to call people by them, such as Samee’ (hearing), Baseer (seeing), ‘Aliy (high, exalted), Hakeem (wise), Rasheed (wise). Some of the most well known Sahaabah were called by these names, such as ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib and Hakeem ibn Hizaam (may Allaah be pleased with them).
What is forbidden is only the names which apply only to the Lord, such as Allaah and al-Rahmaan.
It says in the commentary on Asna al-Mataalib Sharh Rawd al-Taalib (4/243), which is a Shaafa’i book:
It is permissible to call people by those names of Allaah which do not apply only to Him. As for those which apply only to Him, it is haraam (to call people by them). This was clearly stated by al-Nawawi in his commentary on Muslim. End quote. Some Hanafi fuqaha’ confirmed that when they said: Calling people by names of Allaah which are found in the book of Allaah, such as al-‘Aliy (high, exalted), al-Kabeer (great), al-Rasheed (wise), al-Badee’ (innovator or originator), is permissible, because they are names that may be shared by Allaah and people, but their meaning when used for people is different from their meaning when used for Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted. See: Bareeqah Mahmoudiyyah (3/234), quoting from al-Tatarkhaaniyyah.
This is what may be understood from the words of Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) when he said:
Names which it is forbidden to give to people include the names of the Lord, may He be blessed and exalted, so it is not permissible to call people by names such as al-Ahad (the Unique), al-Samad (the Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, He neither eats nor drinks), al-Khaaliq (the Creator) or al-Razzaaq (the Provider), or any of the other names that apply only to the Lord, may He be blessed and exalted. And it is not permissible to call kings al-Qaahir (the Subduer) or al-Zaahir (the Most High or the Manifest), or to call them al-Jabbaar (the Compeller), al-Mutakabbir (the Majestic), al-Awwal (the First), al-Aakhir (the Last), al-Baatin (the Most Near or the Hidden), or ‘Allaam al-Ghuyoob (Knower of the unseen). Tuhfat al-Mawdood (p. 125).
Based on this, there is nothing wrong with using the name Maalik and the like, and it is not necessary to add the words ‘Abd (“slave of”) before it, as the brother who asked this question thinks.
Similarly, there is nothing wrong with calling a person whose name is ‘Abd al-Hakeem by saying “Hakeem”, as it is one of the names which it is permissible to give to people, and it does not belong only to Allaah. But it is better to call him by the name that he likes and that his father called him by.
We do not know of any scholar who accused those who use these names of shirk and kufr. Our advice to the brother who asked this question is not to rush to accuse Muslims without proof, and not to fall into that which he is criticizing