(A) Knowing Allah, the Individual’s God, Lord and Creator

The greatest benefit of becoming a Muslim and growing in Islam is that the individual is able to truly know Allah. The believer knows Allah not in some vague, dry, philosophical sense. Instead, for example, the believer knows Allah in detail via His Names and Attributes, the knowledge of which Allah has graciously provided in the Quran and Sunnah. Every one of Allah’s names should lead a person to greater love of Allah as well as greater fear of Him, accompanied by attempting to get closer to Him with those great attributes by performing righteous deeds.109<.sup>

Ibn Taimiyyah noted, “Whoever knows the names of Allah and their meanings, believing in them, will have a more complete faith than the one who does not know them but just believes in them in general.”110 Ibn Saadi also noted, “Whenever a person’s knowledge of Allah’s beautiful names and attributes increases, his faith also increases and his certainty is further strengthened.” 111 If one has a good knowledge of Allah’s names and attributes, one will then have an opening to understanding what takes place in this creation. This fact was beautifully expressed by ibn al-Qayyim when he said, “Whoever knows Allah, knows everything other than Him. Whoever is ignorant of his Lord is even more ignorant of everything other than Him.”112

Indeed, the effect of this knowledge should be so great that a true understanding of those names and living according to their implications should lead one directly to Allah’s pleasure and paradise. In fact, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) clearly told this Muslim nation, “Allah has ninety-nine names, one hundred less one. Whoever memorized them all by heart will enter Paradise.”113

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) described the type of transformation that takes place when the individual really knows Allah and has thereby truly tasted the sweetness of faith. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “[There are] three characteristics that if a person has them, he has tasted the sweetness of faith: that Allah and His Messenger are more beloved to him than anything else; that he loves a person and he only loves him for the sake of Allah; and that he hates to return to unbelief in the same way that he hates to be thrown into the Fire.”114

There is still another further very important and fascinating aspect. This is an aspect that some seem to overlook although Allah has mentioned it in various places in the Quran. This Islam engenders in the human a special type of relationship with his Creator and God. It is a relationship which, as Allah Himself describes it, leads the individual to be pleased with his Lord. In other words, the person develops an appreciation of Allah. Allah becomes dear to Him. The individual becomes pleased with Allah because he begins to understand the beauty, excellence and perfection of Allah and all that Allah wills. It becomes no longer a matter of submitting to the One who deserves such submission and obedience. It becomes a matter of appreciating who Allah is, what Allah has decreed, what Allah has commanded and what Allah will do to the humans.

The individual realizes that he can experience nothing but pleasure with Allah. Islam, thus, allows the person to truly understand and appreciate his Lord and Creator, such that he becomes very happy with his Lord, leading him in turn to want to become pleasing as well to his Lord. Thus, Allah says, for example: “And the first to embrace Islam of the Emigrants and the Helpers and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success” (9:100); Allah will say: ‘This is a Day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: theirs are Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise) - they shall abide therein forever. Allah is pleased with them and they with Him. That is the great success (Paradise)’” (5:119); (see also 58:22 and 98:8).

110 Ahmad ibn Taimiyyah, Majmoo Fatawaa Shaikh al-Islaam ibn Taimiya (Collected by Abdul Rahmaan Qaasim and his son Muhammad, no publica on informa on given), vol. 7, p. 234. Also see Fauz bint Abdul Lateef al-Kurdi, Tahqeeq al-Uboodiyyah bi-Ma’rifah al-Asmaa wa al-Sifaat (Riyadh: Daar Taibah, 1421 A.H.), p. 163.

111 Quoted in al-Kurdi, p. 164.

112 Ibn al-Qayyim, Madaarij al-Saalikeen bain Manaazil Iyyaaka Na’budu wa Iyyaaka Nasta’een (Beirut: Daar al-Kitaab al-Arabi, n.d.), vol. 3, p. 351.
113 Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim. The above is Muhammad Muhsin Khan’s translation of the hadith. He also added the following footnote, “Memorizing Allah’s Names means to believe in those Qualities of Allah derived from those Names and should be accompanied by good deeds which Allah’s Names inspire us to do. Just knowing Allah’s Names by heart will not make a vicious man enter Paradise. Therefore, the word ‘memorized’ in the Hadith means to behave in accordance with the implications of Allah’s Names.” Muhammad Muhsin Khan, The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih al-Bukhari (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers and Distributors, 1997), vol. 9, p.296.

114 Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.