What journaling the 99 names of Allah has taught me


Reflecting on the 99 names of Allah is a deeply spiritual and introspective experience for Muslims. This ramadan, I made it a goal to reflect and journal my thoughts on these names. Interestingly, the 99 names of Allah is also known as Asma al-Husna (beautiful names).

We are taught that the best way to connect with Allah is to learn about Him. This contemplation of the 99 names of Allah allows individuals to have a deeper understanding and connection to Allah’s attributes and qualities.

Personally, this exercise was to know Allah better and to strengthen my belief in Him. While there are days I almost got caught up with other responsibilities, I made it a priority to reflect on one of the 99 names each day.

All the names of Allah are beautiful and carry so much meaning. However, I feel like my inability to understand Arabic reduced the quality of my comprehension. A helpful pdf I found online made it a lot easier. In the pdf, for every name, there are verses of the Quran that explain that attribute of Allah. I would look up the verses and then reflect on what it means. I sometimes listen to the youtube series by Ustaz Abu Yusuf on the names of Allah. I totally recommend it. 

It was so refreshing to connect with Allah through journaling His names. In this article, I share some of the things I learned from this experience.

1. Many of Allah’s names usually have opposite names.

I began learning the 99 names from the bottom of the list, I have no reason for doing this. Often, I would learn a name and journal my thought, then proceed to the next name. As I did this, I quickly noticed a pattern. I was pleased to learn that the next name would be similar or opposite to the one I just learned. It excited me and scared me all at the same time. That He is the Provider (Ar- Razzaaq) but also the one who withholds (Al Mani’). He expedites our affairs (Al-Muqaddim), yet He Delays (Al-Mu’akhir). Importantly, we cannot only accept the qualities of Allah that serve our ego and deny the ones that challenge us to strive for better.

2. We are an embodiment of Allah’s 99 names.

Each one of us has some of the qualities in the 99 names of Allah. Some people are so generous, others are just in their dealings, some firm and so on. For me, it is empathy. I am glad that I am an embodiment of the quality of Allah and so I learned to live it fully. In the same vein, everyday of my life Allah bestows His qualities, this can be in the form of sustenance, protection, love and so on. Should I then not be grateful for being a reflection of His qualities?

This realization was an emotional one. Especially as a young person with so many ideas of self-actualization, learning that I have all I ever really prayed for was deeply gratifying. Which favors of our Lord can we deny? We are constantly moving to the next project or goal without reflecting on the journey and growth we have experience, and also the grace we enjoy.

3. Allah is beyond our comprehension.

While contemplating, there were days I fully connected with the name and days I did not. This learning experience reveals our limitations in wisdom and knowledge. There are things we would not understand about Allah. He is All Wise (Al-Azeez) and has reason for not making us know Him totally. At the same time, I am aware that Allah reveals Himself to us through knowledge and He gives this knowledge to whomever He wills.

4. Learning the names has increased my trust in Allah 

Opening my heart to learning the 99 names, eventually increased my love and trust in Allah- that He truly exists and He is real; that when I leave everything to Him, He will take care of me; that everything I do and do not do is ultimately by His will. My friend and I were discussing Allah one day and our actions as humans as it relates to His existence and power. We concluded that, our lives are always guided by Allah, especially when we center Him, even in ways we may fail to recognize or acknowledge; that idea you have was given by Allah. He gave you the Hikma (wisdom) and that ability to go to work,He gave you good health, that passing of exams, He guided you on what to learn. Why then will I not trust Him?

5. Be graceful to myself and extend the grace to others.

The 99 names of Allah is a great way to show myself grace. I would often feel sick and have so much anxiety that I had offended Allah. I will pray that Allah does not take my life away because I feel I have offended Him. Even though I still sometimes experience this anxiety, (Alhamdulillah, I do not want it to completely stop), I know what names to call on to make me feel better while striving. Similarly, when other people offend me, I extend that grace while creating boundaries and talking to them about it.

6. A better understanding of the self, and love of Allah

How would I worship Allah better if I do not know Him? In attempting to know Him, I also found myself. Through journaling the 99 names of Allah, I learned that when I know myself, strength and weaknesses, I would know which of Allah’s names to best call on, to bless me and make me better. Our spiritual personalities help us worship Allah better, in a way that comes easily to us.

The process of reflecting on the 99 names of Allah can take various forms for different individuals. It may involve reciting and meditating on each name, listening to sermons on the names, studying their meanings and interpretations, or as in my case journaling, or engaging in conversations and discussions with fellow Muslims. It always helps to find a style and process that feels more natural to you to ensure you make the most of the learning and discovery process.

May Allah Al-Maajid, bless us with the understanding of His names, may we be an embodiment of His attributes, benefit from His names and strive to please Him always. Aameen

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