Ebrahim Moosa – Cii Broadcasting | 13 September 2012
Growing up as a kid, I recall it being an essential ingredient in everyday dinner just as indispensable as the salt in the food being served: The collective recitation of the 99 Beautiful Names of Allah or Asmaa ul Husnaa from memory had become routine practice in the Moosa family home every evening, even though, as impatient children, there was seldom any comprehension and quite often even a niggling irritation that its rendition prevented us from pouncing on the enticing meal any faster.
At the forefront of my parent’s rationale when introducing the practice must have been the Hadith that promised the Ultimate reward for memorsing the Blessed Names. And what easier way to streamline the process than by codifying its recital into a daily household routine. But, as with so much else in life, the full bouquet of benefits from parental practices sometimes only manifest themselves much later on.
Abu Hurayrah (RA) narrated that the Prophet Muhammed (SAW) said: “Allah has ninety-nine names. Whosoever memorises them shall enter Paradise. And verily Allah is [an] odd [number] and He loves odd [numbers]. (Sahih Muslim with Sharh al-Imam al-Nawawi, Hadith: 2677). During a recent conversation with visiting Tasawwuf scholar Ustadh Yahya Rhodus of the United States, I took the liberty to ask him about the mystique behind the 99 Names of Allah as I understood them to be a pet-subject(even formulated into a 12-week course which he presents for Seekers Guidance).
With great eagerness, he began to expound why he considered these most Blessed Names to be a prism that would connect the human being to the cosmos.
Memorisation, he explained, was just one facet of the Arabic ‘man ahsahaa’ as mentioned in the Hadith. A higher spiritual level involved coming to know their meanings and, probing even deeper, one could take on the personal share of what can humanly implemented from these names.
Shaykh Yahya reveals that Allah has Names which He has not even made apparent to His Creation. However, the choice to convey a specified 99 Names through the blessed tongue of Mohammed SAW can only serve to underscore their speciality.
“There’s something about these 99 Names; that we see them manifesting around us, they are apparent,” illustrates Shaykh Yahya. He locates their mystique in their unique ability to transcend the gap between the human being and the cosmos.
“When you come to know these 99 Names, in them are Names of Beauty (Jamaal), and in them are Names of Majesty (Jalaal) that once you start to know the 99 Names, you will have a perspective to understand that everything that is happening around you – the good or bad actions of human beings, evil…you’ll be able to understand what it means when it’s a nice beautiful day and you’re enjoying the waves at the beach. You would also be able to understand natural disasters and make sense of what it means when you see a hurricane, or tornado, or earthquake.”
Being Divine in origin, the Asmaa ul Husnaa, he says, have no difficulty explaining both minor and major natural phenomena. “The 99 Names assist us to understand things even like Quantum mechanics. We can understand the apparent randomness of Quantum mechanics at the macro level, as well as understand the uniform nature of the micro world – this is very simple for us because we have a paradigm for understanding this through the Jamal and Jalaal attributes of the 99 Names.”
Shaykh Yahya demonstrates how the 99 Names can even provide a perspective on the concepts of God in previous Divine religions. “We can understand the Judeo-Christian concept of a personal God; we can also understand the God of Force mentioned in the eastern tradition – for us we understand how when we hear a beautiful Name we feel close to God and when it is a majestic Name we can feel very distant.”
The 99 Names of Allah, says Shaykh Yahya, “gives us a framework, to understand other religions, cosmic events and human events and that is why it is so important to not only memorise them but learn them, and then strive to understand the manifestations of what is happening in the world through the lens of the 99 names.”
A journey with the Asmaa ul Husnaa is a fail-proof route towards attaining higher levels of faith and certainty – even if it may have as its beginning, the unceremonious spectacle of a greedy youngster grimacing at a tempting dinner meal through a pair of hungry eyes.99 Names of Allah, Asmaa ul Husnaa, Ebrahim Moosa, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus