Names of Allah Series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | Part XXIV | Part XXV | Part XXVI | Part XXVII | Part XXVIII | Part XXIX | Part XXX |Part XXXI | Part XXXII | Part XXXIII | Part XXXIV | Part XXXV | Part XXXVI |Part XXXVII | Part XXXVIII | Part XXXIX | Part XL | Part XLI | Part XLII | Part XLIII
“Say, ‘O Allah , Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent.’” (Qur’an, 3:26)
The beautiful poem in the video above by Brother Ammar al-Shukri reminds us of Allah Maalik al-Mulk. We will explore these meanings today.
Recently, we were all shocked to hear the news of the tragic murder of three beautiful souls: Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha. For many of us, this violence was, and still is, hard to process. Perhaps what made it more infuriating was some of the media coverage: some giving ample airtime to the wife of the man who committed the murders while others used it to talk about how to calmly get parking space. In Canada, a dear brother, Mustafa Mattan, was also shot and killed, but the media coverage was almost non-existent. We look around and the world seems to be overtaken by tyrants and oppressors. And those people act as though they are kings or possessors of other people, acting how they will with the lives of innocents.
But who is ultimately in control?
Al-Ghazali stated about Allah, al-Malik, that “everything other than He is subject in its essence and its attributes, while He is independent of everything—and this is what it is to be king absolutely.”
At the end of it all, even if it seems that people are able to act in unjust ways, they are all subject to Allah, who is both al-Malik and al-Maalik; He is both the King and the Ultimate Possessor. When we recite Surat al-Fatiha, we say, “Maaliki youm ad-deen” or “Maliki youm ad-deen” (“Sovereign of the Day of Recompense”) depending on the type of recitation. They both come from the same root, m-l-k (م-ل-ك), which means to have power over, to possess, and to have kingship.
Maalik means a possessor, while Malik means that you have sovereignty over something and can do with it as you wish. And Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) is both Maalik and Malik. He fully controls and has ownership over the Day of Judgment and what occurs therein. He is also Maalik al-Mulk, to emphasize and intensify these meanings, that He is the Sovereign over all worlds. And this is something we seldom reflect upon; there will be a day when we will be face to face with the One who has true sovereignty over everything.
Allah tells us that He is “Maaliki youm ad-deen” after He tells as that He is Lord of the worlds. If He is the Lord of the worlds, then He must also be the Lord on the Day of Judgment. But to specifically single out the Day of Judgment is for all of us, who either behave in unethical ways or wonder how others are allowed to behave in such ways. But Allah reminds us that the innocent lives lost are not lost forever. Power will fade. And we will all be before Allah, al-Malik al-Maalik.
While the above Names speak of the reality of who is truly in control, we need to be acquainted with another Name of Allah to understand how Allah exercises His power. We know that “Indeed, Allah does what He intends,” (Qur’an, 22:14). We are also told that on the Day of Judgment:
“And the record [of deeds] will be placed [open], and you will see the criminals fearful of that within it, and they will say, ‘Oh, woe to us! What is this book that leaves nothing small or great except that it has enumerated it?’ And they will find what they did present [before them]. And your Lord does injustice to no one,” (Qur’an, 18:49).
We are also told in a beautiful hadith (narration):
“O my servants, I have forbidden oppression for myself and I have made it forbidden among you, so do not oppress one another. ” (Muslim)
Allah is al-`Adl. This word comes from the root `a-d-l (ع-د-ل) which is the opposite of transgression, and thus means to act justly and fairly. Allah has no desires and so His judgment is never clouded, and thus He is able to apply true justice. Al-Ghazali states that to know Allah is Most Just enables us to feel tranquility and prevents us from objecting to God’s judgment or cursing Fate. We know that He is the Most-Merciful as well as the Most-Just.
Connecting to these Names
Al-Ghazali recounts a story where one person said “to a certain shaykh: ‘Advise me’, and he said to him: ‘Be a king in this world and you will be a king in the next.’ When he said: ‘How might I do that?’ The shaykh answered: ‘Renounce this world and you will be a king in the next.’ He meant: detach your needs and your passions from this world, for kingship lies in being free and able to dispense with everything.”
In knowing that Allah is just, we must seriously consider whether we apply justice in our own lives. Are we just to our souls, in ensuring that we have connected to Allah? Are we just to our relatives? And are we just to animals?
Allah (swt) tells us that He has forbidden oppression for Himself and made it forbidden for us. So we should be vigilant over our souls and actions.
In the end, we must know with certainty that Allah is the Ultimate Possessor of everything, and this will be made apparent on the Day of Judgment. We are reminded of this everyday when we recite Surat al-Fatiha so that we never lose sight of that, even when tyrants act like they run the world And Allah, the Possessor and the Most Just, will surely make justice prevail.