Al-Quddous _The Holy

Professor Mohammad Ratib En- Nabulsi

Now we go to the second of Allah’s Beautiful Divine Names and Attributes, Al-Quddous (The Holy). Allah, Most Gracious, says, “He is Allah: There is no god but Him, the King, the Holy, the One Free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures, the All-Mighty, the Compeller, the Supreme. Glory be to Allah! (High is He) above all that they associate as partners with Him.” [LIX; 23] He also says, “Whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth glorifies Allah. His is the Kingdom , and to Him belong all the praises and thanks , and He is Powerful over all things.” [LXIV; 1]


But before we set out to talk about this Great Divine Name of Allah, I would like to stop for a short time at a very important fact:


All of you know that solid bodies constitute entities that occupy certain spaces, for they have length, breadth, height, weight and mass... A point does not have a mass, but if it moves, it makes a line. If the line moves, it makes a surface. If the surface moves, it makes a size… a point, a line, a surface, a size.


A solid body has a mass, i.e. it has length, breadth, height, and weight. A plant has a mass and grows. An animal has a mass, grows and moves. Man, however, has a mass, grows, moves and thinks. The moment he disuses his mind, he cancels his humanity and deteriorates to brutality. In other words, he whose life is mere eating and drinking, permissible and impermissible enjoyments, work and money, without thinking of the One Who created him, the One Who brought him into existence, without thinking where he has come from, where he shall end, or why, is a great loser. What is the value of a person who disuses his mind or uses it in things he has not been created for? It means: if you buy a highly developed computer for tens of millions of pounds, but you put it in the corner of the house and put your things on it, as if it were a table. Isn’t this a kind of disuse or misuse of such priceless apparatus?! To use a highly sophisticated apparatus, which can give you – if you use it properly – very accurate operations and information, but you use it as if it were a mere table to put things on?!


He who disuses his mind or misuses it for things it has not been created for is someone who cancels his humanity and is dominated by brutality.


In fact, I have mentioned this introduction so that you know that Allah, Glorified and All-High, has endued man with an ability to conceive things. But what should he conceive? What are the things he should conceive? This is the question.


I have recently read that what is printed in one day all over the world and in only one language can not be read in less than two hundred years. In other words, there are countless topics and publications. But what should I read? And what shouldn’t I read? What should I care for? And what shouldn’t I care for? Such are serious questions.


Therefore, selectivity is indispensable. You must select the serious topic and the important issue which have to do with your end.


A man in a room whose walls are full of books from the floor to the ceiling, and after a few days he is going to take a vital examination: If he passes such exam, he will achieve so may benefits. In such room there is only one book relevant to the exam, so it is wise and normal to leave all other books and study most carefully this particular book.


Man has been given the ability to conceive; and he has been endued with an intelligent mind.


If you ask me what is the most important thing that Allah has created in the universe, I say that it is the human mind. This is because the human mind is the essence of religious obligation. In other words, unless you had such human mind, Allah wouldn’t hold you responsible for your deeds. Moreover, the human mind is the means whereby you get to know Allah, Most Gracious.


We have previously said that there is a problem that can be solved only by seeking knowledge. Since all mankind share the same human nature, anyone who, after being heedless of Allah, All-Mighty, Most Merciful, got to know the things that a believer knows, he would certainly turn to Allah with true love and sincere devotion, just as a true believer does. Should anyone know what the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, (PBUH), knew, he would love Allah as much as His Messenger did. All humans are certainly of the same nature. Allah, Most Gracious, says, “O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women. And fear Allah through Whom you demand (your mutual rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” [IV; 1]


Therefore, all mankind share the same human nature. They have the same human qualities. But in what do they differ from one another? … They differ in Knowledge…


That is why it has been said: An ignorant person can do more harm to himself than his enemies can ever do to him.


Due to his ignorance, a farmer who had very profitable green houses bought a chemical which he used without reading the proper instructions of the producer. He used double the amount required and, therefore, all his plants died immediately, and he incurred heavy losses. Such an ignorant person, who did not read or follow the producer’s instructions, did more harm to himself than his enemies could ever do to him.


Hence, the problem is simply a problem of knowledge; and the more serious issue is that when man is visited by death, he will get to know everything; and all things will be clear to him. He will certainly get to know the truth; and everything will be unveiled to him. Pharaoh did see the truth that Moses, (PBUH), had already seen, but only after it was too late.


So the problem is that knowledge should be in the proper time, i.e. you should know the proper thing in the proper time. In other words, you should select from among all human knowledge and information that which is proper; and you should know it in the proper time.


Now, the question is: Why should we get to know Allah? Is He not in no need to be known? Allah, All-Mighty, All-High, says, “…If you disbelieve, you and all that is on the earth together, then verily Allah is Rich (Free from all needs), Owner of all Praise.” [XIV; 8] He also says in a Divine Hadith, “O My slaves! If the first and the last ones of you, and the jinn and humans from among you, had the heart of the most dutiful and pious one from among you, that would not increase a thing in My Kingdom. O My slaves! If the first and the last ones of you, and the jinn and humans from among you, had the heart of the most rebellious and irreligious one from among you, that would not decrease a thing from My Kingdom….” [narrated by Muslim and At-Tirmithi]


Why should we know Allah? We know Him simply in order to worship Him; and we shall never worship Him unless we know Him. But why should we worship Him? In order to be happy with Him, and in order to achieve the purpose of His creating us. Allah, Most Gracious,, says, “Except him on whom your Lord has bestowed His Mercy, and for that did He create them. And the Word of your Lord has been proved true: ‘Surly, I shall fill Hell with jinn and men all together.” [XI; 119]


Therefore, we know Him, then we worship Him and be happy with Him. That is why our Lord, All-Mighty, All-High, also says, “And I created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).” [LI; 56]


Be careful not to forget the above Quranic Verse all your life!


As you know, worship is voluntary obedience mixed with sincere love based on definitive knowledge and leads to eternal happiness.


From among billions and billions of issues and topics, what is the most important topic or issue? It is simply to know Allah, Glorified and Exalted, because, as it has been mentioned in Prophetic Tradition, it is called out to a deceased person  who has just been buried:

“O My slave! They have gone back and left you alone; and in the earth have they buried you. And if they stayed with you, they would avail you nothing. No one has remained for you except Me; and I am the Ever-Living, Who never passes away.”


You have to know that your end and final return will be to Him, because you shall inevitably return to Him, and you shall come alone and by yourself unto Him and leave everything. All the things you have achieved in your lifetime will be lost in one second; and there will be Allah, Alone, with you.


The Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), said, “O Qais! You have a companion that will be buried alive with you, and you will be buried dead with it. If it is noble, it will honor you; but if it is evil, it will let you down. Verily, it is your work.”


Therefore, from among the billions and billions of topics and issues, there is only one most important topic and issue: to know Allah, All-Mighty, Most Majestic. And perhaps you have already known that He is the Creator, you have already known that He is the Lord, you have already known that He is the True God, and you have already known some of His Beautiful Divine Names and Attributes. And this lecture, by Allah’s Grace and Help, contains a little tour round one of Allah’s Beautiful Divine Names: Al-Quddous (The Holy).


At the university, we learned that a good teacher is someone who can speak not only eloquently and attractively but also interestingly and for a long time without preparation, because he has a lot of relevant information concerning things he has experienced and stored in his mind. Whenever he desires to speak about something, his tongue goes fluently and attractively. Therefore, don’t you think that if you are asked, “What do you know about your Lord, Allah, Who has created you and brought you into existence?”, you should give a clear answer?! Allah, Most Gracious, says, “Has there not been over man a period of time when he was not a thing worth mentioning?” [LXXVI; 1]


It is He Who has provided you with sustenance and survival. It is He Who gave you the air; He gave you the water; He gave you the food; He gave you your family; He gave you children; He gave you your mind whereby you acquire knowledge and earn money among many other things; He also provided you with enlightenment and guided you to Him. If you were asked, “What do you know about Allah?”, shouldn’t your answer be attractive and interesting?! This is the question.


When by Allah’s Help I decided to cover in every two lectures one of Allah’s Beautiful Names and Attributes, my intention was to know Allah, All-Mighty, All-High, because such knowledge must necessarily be conducive to good manners and strict adherence to Allah’s religion. I do not believe that man’s knowledge brings him no good, because when man reads something, he reacts; and when he learns something, he wishes to reap the fruits of such knowledge.


The Beautiful Divine Name of Allah, which we are going to talk about is Al-Quddous (The Holy). This Name occurs in two Quranic Verses, first of which is: “He is Allah: There is no god but Him, the King, the Holy, the One Free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures, the All-Mighty, the Compeller, the Supreme. Glory be to Allah! (High is He) above all that they associate as partners with Him.” [LIX; 23] The second is: “Whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth glorifies Allah. His is the Kingdom , and to Him belong all the praises and thanks , and He is Powerful over all things.” [LXIV; 1]


The Arabic word “Al-Quddous” denotes holiness and purity. “Al-Qudus” means cleanliness and purity; and “At-Tattheer” is purification. “Al-Ard Al-Muqaddasah” is the holy land. Paradise is called “Hatheerata-l-Quds” because it purifies from sins and misdeeds of the resent world. Gabriel is called “The Holy Spirit” because he is pure from any defects in communicating Divine Revelation. And in Allah’s Words about His holy angels, we read, “And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels, ‘Verily, I am going to place (mankind) generations after generations on the earth.’ They said, ‘Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood, while we glorify You with praises and thanks and purify ourselves for You.’ He (Allah) said, ‘I know that which you know not.’” [II; 30]

The above Verses show that the angels purify and sanctify themselves in order to be well-prepared to turn to Allah with obedience and devotion, which is also man’s duty in the life of the present world. In other words, man has to purify himself in order to attain a laudable position with Allah, the All-Mighty King.


You all know that when someone is invited to an important high-leveled meeting, he takes special care of his apparel: his clothes, colors of his clothes…etc. He is also very careful about his movements and gestures. That is why the angels here say, “while we glorify You with praises and thanks and purify ourselves for You.”


Do you believe that man’s mission in the life of the present world is strictly to purify himself so that he becomes well-qualified to be near Allah in Paradise. This is because Allah is pure, and therefore, He does not accept in His Company except those who are pure.


In the Divine Hadith, Allah, Most Gracious, says, “My slave! You have purified your apparel before other humans for years. Why don’t you purify your apparel before Me for one hour?!” Man paints and decorates his house, beautifies the entrance to his house and his reception room. He adorns his car. He wears elegant clothes. Why? Such is man’s apparel before other humans. But man’s apparel before the Lord is his heart: “…while we glorify You with praises and thanks and purify ourselves for You.”


Thus, you should take special care of the apparel of your own inner self (i.e. your heart and soul) so that you may be allowed to be with the holy Prophets, true believers, martyrs and righteous people on the Day of Judgment. What a good company!


The accurate point which needs special elaboration in this lecture is that in defining this Beautiful Divine Name of Allah, Al-Quddous (The Holy), it is taken to mean that Allah is free from any attribution of perfection. This is a problematic notion! What is this? It is indeed a serious and unfamiliar notion to say that Allah is free from any perfection as conceived by the human mind. The answer to this is that when man conceives himself, he sees in himself qualities of both perfection and imperfection. Knowledge is perfection and so are patience, forbearance, hearing, seeing, will, and life. All such qualities denote perfection, while ignorance, blindness, deafness, muteness, impatience, malice, and wickedness are all qualities of imperfection. Thus, man sees that there are qualities of perfection and others of imperfection. Therefore, when he desires to praise and glorify Allah, All-Mighty, All-High, he attributes to Allah qualities of perfection that he himself knows. But Allah, Al-Quddous (The Holy) is Free from all anthropomorphic qualities of perfection that man attributes to himself or imagines. In other words, whatever qualities of perfection you might think of do not apply to Allah, for He is far above them. To this effect, Allah, All-Mighty, says, “The Creator of the heavens and the earth. He has made for you mates from yourselves, and for the cattle (also) mates. By this means He creates you (in the wombs). There is nothing like Him; and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.” [XLII; 11]


Allah, All-Mighty and Exalted, is not like one’s father, nor is He like a teacher. He is far Exalted above all anthropomorphic qualities or attributes. Is Allah merciful as a father is to his son? No! Sometimes a father has mercy on his son in an ignorant way that causes him harm and destruction. But Allah is Merciful and All-Knowing; and His Divine Mercy is associated with His Absolute Divine Wisdom and Knowledge.


Therefore, when man desires to praise Allah, All-Mighty, All-High, he attributes to Him his anthropomorphic qualities of perfection. He says: Allah, Glorified and Exalted, is Quddous (Holy) in the sense that He is Free from any anthropomorphic attribute of human perfection. He is far Exalted above that; and He is Free from all perfect qualities of human beings, and more fitting for Him is that He is Free from any attributes or qualities of imperfection, whether human or non-human. He is even far above any quality or attribute that human beings can ever imagine. In other words, Allah, Most Gracious, is Free from any attributes or qualities that human beings can ever imagine.


For example, one of the meanings of the Arabic words “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is The Greatest) is that whatever you know about Allah, All-Mighty, All-Majestic, Allah is far Exalted above that. He is far above whatever you know about Him. That is one meaning. Also, the words “Al-Quddous” (The Holy) mean that Allah is Free from, and far Exalted above, all attributes or qualities that man can ever imagine. He is Free from, and far Exalted above all anthropomorphic elements or qualities. Moreover, unless Allah, Most Gracious, allows man to give anthropomorphic attributes of perfection to Him, attributing such anthropomorphic qualities and attributes to Allah would have been sinful and censured. You say, “Allah is “Raheem” (Merciful), Allah is “‘Adil” (Just), Allah is “Lateef” (Kind), Allah is “Haleem” (Forbearing). When you say “Allah is “Haleem” (Forbearing), you might think that He is like man, and He forbears when He is angered… He is “Quddous” (Holy) in the sense that He is Far Exalted Above such imagined notions and attributes. I hope I have made the point clear enough. Is it clear? Have you got it?


A knowledgeable holy person addressed another knowledgeable holy one: “O so and so! Don’t you yearn for Allah, All-Mighty, All-Majestic?” “No. I swear by Allah that I do not yearn for Him. I take refuge with Allah! What is that you are saying?! When was He away from me so that I yearn for Him? When was He away from me?!” He replied.


Another holy knowledgeable person was asked, “O Imam! When was Allah (i.e. came into existence)?” He replied, “When wasn’t He?”, i.e. “When was He not existing so that you ask me ‘When was Allah?’”


Now, another more advanced meaning of Allah’s Name “Al-Quddous” (The Holy) is that He is Free from any quality or attribute that can be conceived or imagined by the human mind or perceived by the human senses. But to say “He is far Exalted above any imperfection” is almost impolite to Allah, All-Mighty, All-Majestic.


If you were in the presence of a great man, and you said to him, “O Master! I have told people about you.” He asks you, “What did you tell them?” And you say, “I told them that your Majesty is not a liar!” What is this? Does he accept that from you? Would you praise a king as not being a liar? Scholars say that if you do this, it would be impolite. Couldn’t you see in the king anything positive when you negated his being a liar?! Moreover, there is a rule which says that negation of something is part of conceiving it, i.e. if you negate a defect or an imperfection from a person, then it means that there is a possibility that he may have such a defect or imperfection. Therefore, it is impolite to say: Allah, Glorified and All-High, is Free from any defects or imperfection. Such a saying would be impolite.


One of the definitions of “Al-Quddous” (The Holy) is that He is Free from any needs. But you, human being, are in need of countless things. You are poor: all your personality, intelligence, knowledge, power over other people, patience, endurance…all vanish before a drink of water when you are thirsty.


A wise man addressed a Caliph, “O Commander of the Faithful! How much would pay for this glass of water if it were withheld from you?” “Half of my kingdom!” The Caliph replied. “And if it were prevented from going out from you (i.e. if you were prevented from urinating it), how much would you pay?” The man asked. The Caliph said, “I pay the other half of my kingdom!”


You are in need of air; and if it were withheld from you, you would buy it for the treasures of the present world.


A traveler was once crossing the desert on a camel on which he had his food and drink. When he felt tired, he sat down for some rest. But he suddenly fell asleep. When he woke up, he couldn’t find his camel, on which he had put his food and drink. He felt sure that he was going to die, and he began to cry in sorrow. He fell asleep once again. But after some time, he woke up to find a tree in the distance and was, therefore, filled with hope. He hurried to the tree to find beside it a spring of fresh water. He drank some water and sat in the shade of the tree. Suddenly, he found a purse which he thought was full of food. He was very happy, but, alas, when he opened the purse, he found some jewels in it. He cried out in sorrow, “What a pity! These are jewels!” What’s the good of jewels when one is in bad need of food? Jewels are valuable in the city, but not in the desert when one is in bad need of food and drink. He cried out, “If only there were food in the purse! What a pity! There are only jewels in the purse! What shall I do with them in the desert?!”


It is said that in World War II, a dough of bread was sold for a Guinea of gold.


Therefore, man is weak. He needs air, water, food, family, entertainers, lovers, …etc. To this effect, Allah, All-Mighty, says, “O mankind! It is you who stand in need of Allah. But Allah is Free from all needs, Worthy of all Praise.” [XXXV; 15]


“Al-Quddous” (The Holy) is He Who is Pure from all needs, Who is Self-Sufficient, Whom all creatures need, and Who is Free from all kinds of imperfection.


“Al-Quddous” (The Holy) is He Who is not confined by place or is worn out by time. No human mind could ever imagine or conceive Him; and no hand or power is stretched in His Kingdom without His Decree and Foreordainment.   


He is “Quddous” (Holy) in Himself, but He makes holy His obedient devoted slaves.


When we say that someone is holy, it means that he is pure, because holiness without purity is nonsense. Someone is holy means that he is straightforward, he is chaste, he is pure, he is kind-hearted and magnanimous, he has good intentions, there is no hatred or malice in his heart, he never cheats, his eyes do not look at indecent or unlawful things, he always watches his tongue, and he never utters indecent or unlawful words. In other words, a person is not holy unless he is free from impurities or qualities of perfection.


It has been said that “Al-Quddous” (The Holy) is He Who sanctified the souls of the dutiful and obedient from sins and misdeeds and took the evil ones by the forelock.


“Al-Quddous” (The Holy) is He Who purified the hearts of His friends. In other words, each and every human being must necessarily have a heart, which must be either as precious as a jewel or as worthless as a stone. Allah, Most Gracious, says, “And surely We have created for Hell many of the jinn and mankind. They have hearts therewith they understand not; and they have eyes therewith they see not; and they have ears therewith they hear not. They are like cattle; nay they are even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones.” [VII; 179]


But the more man gets near to Allah, All-Mighty, All-Majestic, the more magnanimous and kind-hearted he becomes and the more pure his heart is, because it is filled with love for Allah, Most Gracious.


In other words, there is a very big difference between one human heart and another: one that is as elevated as the sky, and another that is as low as the earth; one is as pure as a diamond and another is as blurred and contaminated as dirty water. Hearts are of different types; and the human heart is the Lord’s house and the total sum of man’s faith. To this effect, Allah,. Most Gracious, says, “The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, except him who brings to Allah a clean pure heart.” [XXVI; 88,89]


By the Grace of Allah, Most Gracious, this lecture is intended to help man clean and purify his heart from all defects and impurities and motivate him to strive to adorn his heart with all kinds of perfection and purity.


Scholars hold that “Al-Quddous” (The Holy) is He Who purifies the hearts of His friends from feeling at home or relying on familiar things of the life of the present world. This is because man is always in a state of being consumed and worn out: his food and drink, his home, his children, his sustenance, his shop and storehouse, his factory and workshop, his job, his position, his health, his heart, his veins and arteries – man is consumed in every sense of the word. Worries of the life of the present world consume him. But the heart of a true sincere devoted worshipper consumes and is not consumed. This is because he consumes the present world by knowing Allah; and he never allows the present world to consume him. A true believer dominates over his desires and is never dominated by them. A true believer controls his own self, and does not allow his own self to control him. A true believer adheres to good moral values and never disdain or abuse them. A true believer enjoys  a high moral standard to which he sticks and has an elevated level of knowledge that he never deviates from. He has an exalted ethical and aesthetic standard. A true believer has a unique personality.


Scholars also say that “Al-Quddous” (The Holy) is He Who purifies the souls of His worshippers by keeping them away from sinful deeds or following lusty evil desires and caprices. “Al-Quddous” (The Holy) is He Who purifies the hearts of true believers from love for the present world. “Al-Quddous” (The Holy) is He Who purifies the hearts of those who know Him and are conscious of Him from everything except Him. He purifies the hearts of worshippers, the hearts of true believers and the hearts of those who know Him and are conscious of Him.


Worshippers are qualified by their being obedient to Allah. They turn to Him with faithful worship and sincere devotion. And true believers look forward to Allah’s Good Promise and Generous Recompense and shun all things that make them lose His Love.


If you desire to be the richest of all people, be more confident in that which is in Allah’s Hands than that which is in your own hands. If you desire to be the noblest and most honorable of all people, be dutiful and obedient to Allah. And if you desire to be the strongest of all people, trust in Allah. To this effect, Allah, Most Merciful, says, “So put your trust in Allah; surely, you are on manifest truth.” [XXVII; 79] He also says, “So do not become weak nor be sad, and you will be superior if you are indeed true believers.” [III; 139]


Feelings of oppression, feelings of subjugation and feelings of humiliation are not known to a true believer who knows that all his affairs and matters are in the Allah’s Hand and that Allah is the One Who has the Beautiful Divine Names and Attributes.


That is why whenever befallen by a mischief, the holy Prophet, Muhammad, (PBUH), used to invoke: “There is no god but Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. There is no god but Allah, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. There is no god but Allah. All things are in Your Hand, o Lord, and You are Most Gracious, Most Merciful.” And that is why the one who reads Allah’s Holy Quran never feels sad or depressed. He who reads Allah’s Holy Quran is never unhappy or depressed because he knows – through the Holy Quran – that all matters and issues are in the Hand of Allah: “Be! And it is”. As for man, everything is limited, everything is rationed; but Allah’s Divine Favors are Infinite and Unlimited.


When those who know Allah set out to do anything, they set out by Allah; when they speak, they speak by Allah; At all times and under all circumstances, their hearts are constantly conscious of Allah.


Are you a true believer? Have you covenanted Allah, All-Mighty, All-Majestic? In weal and woe, in poverty and richness, in health and illness, when you have a job or are unemployed, whether married or single, whether you own a dwelling or not, Allah will get to you: Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah; of them some have fulfilled their obligations (i.e. have been martyred), and some of them are still waiting, but they have never changed in the least.” [XXXII; 23]


Some knowledgeable men said: “May Allah let us taste even a bit of that which He let them (i.e. those true believers mentioned in the above Verse) taste, for He is the Owner of every Grace.


Yes, indeed: the taste of nearness; and he who tastes knows. To talk about nearness is something and to taste it is something else. And there is a great difference between pronouncing “one million Guineas of gold” and possessing them.


Now then, what is our relationship, we believers, with this Divine Name? It has been said: He who knows this Divine Name of Allah purifies himself from following his desires and caprices. In other words, if you really desire to be always with Allah, you have to free yourself not only from sins and defects but everything except Allah as well, so that He, the Knower of the Unseen, may accept you.


Therefore, he who knows this Name of Allah has to purify himself from following his desires and caprices, so that he may reach the rank of “Ihsan” (Perfection of deeds), which means “to worship Allah as if you saw Him, with fear and love, for even if you cannot see Him, He can see you”. Such is the state of watchfulness (with Allah).


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