Abu Hurayrah (ra) reported that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Allah has ninety-nine names, one hundred less one. Whoever ‘ahsaaha‘ will enter Jannah.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
According to Shaykh Jamaal Zarabozo, the statement in the hadith “man ahsaaha” means “whoever enumerates them, believes in them, ponders their meanings, worships Allah by them and supplicates with them, and acts by them according to one’s belief in them.”
Many scholars state that one of the best ways to increase one’s iman (faith) is to learn the Names and Attributes of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (glorifed and exalted is He). In an effort to introduce readers to the beauty of His Names and to increase us in our faith and humility, this article will go through one of the Names of Allah. It will provide the meanings of this Name how we can worship Allah through this Name and how we can act upon this Name as well.
Al-Jabbaar is one of the authentic Names of Allah (swt) and it means ‘one who compels or restores.’ Al-Jabbaar, like the majority of the Names of Allah, is of an intensified form so Al-Jabbar not only means ‘one who restores,’ but “the One who restores completely.’
Jabbaar is from the root jabr (ج ب ر or جبر), and this root has several meanings:
a) The first meaning is ‘to pressurize, to compel and force someone to do something.’ From this, it is understood to mean ‘to tyrannize someone and be tyrannical.’ We learn from the Qur’an that:
“And when you strike, you strike as tyrants.” (Qur’an, 26:130)
Similarly in Surat al-Maryam, Prophet `Isa `alayhi salaam says:
“And He has not made me a wretched tyrant.” (Qur’an, 19:32)
b) Secondly, jabr means ‘to be strong, tall and great.’ ‘Nakhlatun Jabbaarah’ is used to describe a tall date palm tree that is very strong and gives a lot of fruit. Also in the Qur’an, when Bani Isra’eel (the children of the tribe of Isra’eel) were told to enter the city of Jerusalem, they said:
“Indeed within it is a people of tyrannical strength.” (Qur’an, 5:22)
c) The third meaning of jabr is ‘to repair the broken, fix and reform something.’ When something is incomplete and you complete it, that act is called jabr. Furthermore, when there is a deficiency and you make up for it that is called jabr. (Interesting fact: from the same root is the word ‘algebra:’ you ‘fix’ the equation. The word ‘jabeerah’ is also used for a splint, to help broken bones.)
Proof for this Name
The word ‘Jabbaar’ appears 10 times in the Qur’an, but only once for Allah (swt). This word is used nine times for people who are strong, oppressive, or commit dhulm (injustice), who compel and force others. The last time it is used in the Qur’an in Surat al-Hashr (verse 23) is for Allah (swt).
If Allah is Jabbaar, what does it mean?
a) According to al Khattaabi, it means: “He is the One who forces His creation upon what He commands and upon what He has forbidden. In other words, whatever Allah wills, His will is executed.” The first meaning of Jabbaar is ‘Compeller,’ so whatever He wills is what happens. He is the One who implements His will.
b) Secondly, it means ‘al ‘Aali fawqa khalqihi’, the One who is Exalted and High above His creation. In other words, He is the Greatest One. We said ‘nakhlatun jabbaarah’ is the tallest tree in the orchard. Allaah (swt) being al-Jabbaar is the Greatest and there is no one else who is greater than Him. He is the One who is Qawwiy, A’dheem (The Most Strong, The Most Great). He is the One who has ‘tawl’: He owns a lot and can give a lot. The Supreme Power and Authority belongs to Him Alone.
c) Thirdly, Jabbaar means ‘Al Muslih, the One who Reforms, the One who fixes the situation for His creation. When we find our resources to be incomplete, Allah (swt) completes them. When we are unable to reach our goals, Allah (swt) assists us. He is the One who amends the affairs of His creation. It means if a slave is unable to reach His goal, Al-Jabbaar will enable Him and provide Him with the sources to reach this goal.
Difference when Jabbaar is used for Allah and for people
When Jabbaar is used for people, it is in a negative sense, because they have no right to be tyrannical and oppress others. If Jabbaar is used for humans as ‘one who restores,’ it is negative again because they use their oppressive nature to fix things. When Allah (swt) fixes things, it is not oppressive – it is positive. Jabr does not befit or suit human beings because they are supposed to be servants.
If Allah is Al-Jabbaar, what are we supposed to do?
1) We must know that He is Al Jabbaar alone, and we cannot imitate Him. For many Names of Allah, we must act upon them in a way most suitable for us. Allah is Ar-Rahman (The Entirely Merciful) so we should have mercy on others. However, because Allah is Al-Jabbaar it does not mean we become jabbaar. Why? Because He has told us to not be jabbaar and He does not like those who are arrogant.
From Surat Ibrahim we learn:
“And they requested victory from Allah, and disappointed, [therefore], was every obstinate tyrant.” (Qur’an, 14:15)
Similarly, Allah says:
‘Thus does Allah seal over every heart [belonging to] an arrogant tyrant.” (Qur’an, 40:35)
So whoever is jabbaar, it leads to their heart being sealed and his ultimate loss in this life and the next.
From a hadith in Sahih Bukhari, we learn that hellfire is for the jabbaareen, those who are jabbaar, Hellfire said: ‘I have been given the privilege of receiving the arrogant and the tyrants.’
We may think that we are not oppressive, and that such a title only belongs to the rulers who kill people and commit injustice, but we are also jabbaar sometimes. In the context of Isa (as), it is said he was righteous towards his mother and he was not a jabbaar (disobedient). So jabbaar means ‘one who is forceful against his parents’ in this context; i.e., when parents tell their child to do something and the child doesn’t listen. Jabbaar is not just a mighty tyrannical ruler, but jabbaar can be any person who refuses to obey, harms and hurts other people and does not listen to the authority. The first lesson for us is that we are ‘ebaad (servants) and we should recognize ourselves as ‘ebaadAllah (servants of Allah).
2) The second lesson we learn is that if someone is unable to reach their goals, they find constriction in time and ability. We should ask Al-Jabbaar to fix our deficiencies. When we are unable to achieve a goal and find ourselves weak and when we find ourselves in a mess, we should ask for the help of Al-Jabbaar who will make up all of the deficiencies.
Du`a’s with this Name
a) In between the two sajdahs, there is the du`a’:
Allahumma-ighfirlee warhamnee wahdini warhamnee wajburnee wa ‘aafinee warzuqnee warfa’nee,
‘O Allah, forgive me, have mercy upon me, guide me, enrich me, give me health, grant me sustenance and raise my rank.’
Jabr in this duaa does not mean to compel, but rather it means ‘fix my situation’, in the meaning of muslih (reformer).
b) There is a sahih hadith in Abu Dawood that mentions a du`a’ that the Prophet ﷺ would recite in sujood and ruku’:
Subhana dhil jabaroot wal malakoot wal kibriyaa’i wal ‘athamah.
Glorified is the the One who possesses jabaroot- which means greatness and power here, wal malakoot is all of His dominion, wal kibriyaa’ and the greatness, wal ‘athamah, and the grandness. (‘How perfect He is, The Possessor of total power, sovereignty, magnificence and grandeur.’)
We should write these du`a’s down and memorize them, so we may benefit from them.
Why are these du`a’s mentioned in sajdah? We are most close to Allah in sujood and mentioning His Greatness expresses our humility.
So Allah (swt) is Al-Jabbaar: The One who Compels, The One who Reforms and The One who is Great.