B’ismi-Allah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim… Allah, who created me with His Names (exalted, magnificent, and perfect qualities), is Rahman and Rahim!
Let us heed the fact that a ‘name’ is only used as a reference to an object or quality. A name does not explain what it references in totality, but merely alludes to an identity, or an attribute of an identity. Sometimes, a name is used only to channel the attention to multiple qualities, without revealing anything about the identity.
In the case of the Names of Allah, let us contemplate the following: Are the Names of Allah a collection of fancy titles of a God beyond? Or, are they references made to the creational properties of Allah (which the senses and conditionings externalize!) with which the entire known cosmos and everything in it becomes manifest from nothingness into a shadow existence?
Once this reality is fully conceived and comprehended we may move on to the Names of Allah.
The Quran, which has been conveyed as a Dhikr, i.e. ‘the remembrance of man’s essential reality’, is actually a disclosure of the Names to expound ‘Uluhiyyah’. It is the Totality of the Names (all of the Names that have been imparted to us and that comprise our existence) that man has been endowed with and is invited to remember! Some of these have been disclosed in the Quran and some were revealed by the Rasul of Allah. One can never say that the names that refer to Allah are limited to only 99. Let us give an example… There are many names, such as Rabb, Mawla, Kareeb and Hallaq, that are mentioned in the Quran but are not included as part of the 99 Names. The name Mureed, which alludes to the attribute of ‘will’ (i.e. He does as He wishes) mentioned in the verse ‘yaf’alu ma yureed’, is also not included among the 99 Names. Contrarily, the names Jalil, Wajid and Majid are all included in the 99 Names but are not mentioned in the Quran. Thus, it would be a mistake to confine the Names of Allah to only 99, when the Dimension of the Names designates the infinite quantum potential, which involves the act of observing in Allah’s Knowledge. Man is provided with these Names as a reminder of their own true essence. Perhaps once one remembers and lives accordingly to their essential reality, many more Names will be disclosed to them. Also, we may say heaven alludes to this truth too, while we may not even be aware of the Names that pertain to and compose the universes within universes of infinite existence!
The enlightened ones (Ulul Albab) have used the phrase ‘the shadow existence’ to mean ‘the things we perceive do not exist in and by themselves but they are compositions of Names that manifest according to the perceiver’.
In fact, even the phrase ‘Name compositions’ is metaphorical; it is only to adapt the dual view to the One reality. Absolute reality is the observing of the ‘multidimensional single frame’ by the One who ‘manifests Himself every moment in yet another wondrous way’. (Quran 55:29) What we refer to as ‘Name compositions’ is only like one stroke of the paintbrush on this magnificent picture.
Due to having a name all perceivable things seemingly have a separate individual existence, whereas, because there is no God beyond, what is really perceived as an existent object is essentially none other than the materialized Names (qualities) of Allah.
This being said, the One denoted by the Names cannot be divided or fragmented into pieces, it is not composed of parts, it is even beyond concepts such as being ‘absolute One’, ‘illimitable’, ‘infinite’ and so on. It is ‘Ahad-us-Samad’ (the Absolute Self-Sufficient One) and only mentioned this way in the Quran once! Allah, HU, other than whom nothing exists! This knowledge cannot be comprehended by the human mind unless it is revealed or divinely inspired and observed in one’s consciousness! The mind, logic and judgment cannot survive here. He who attempts to intellectualize this reality will only be misguided. This reality is not open for debate! Any urge to do so will only reveal ignorance! This is the reality that pertains to Gabriel’s words: “If I take one more step I will burn”!
It must be realized that the Names of Allah point to the quality of His knowledge, not His mind, as this is inconceivable. The mind is a function of the brain designed to create the world of multiplicity. Essentially, even the phrases ‘the Universal Intellect’ (Aql-i kull) and ‘the First Intellect’ (Aql-i awwal) are relative concepts and are used metaphorically to denote the system by which the attribute of knowledge is disclosed.
The Universal Intellect refers to the dimension of knowledge that is present within the depths of all beings, within one’s essence. This is also the source of revelation.
The First Intellect, on the other hand, is a tailored phrase for the novice mind, to describe the dimension of knowledge present in the manifestation (sh’an) of the Names.
‘The dimension of Acts’ (af’al) is nothing but the disclosure of the Dimension of Names which ‘manifests itself every moment in yet another wondrous way’! The material world as we know it is this quantal plane, though differences of perception have led to the assumption that it is a different dimension.
The observing One, the one being observed, the observation, are all ONE! ‘The wine of paradise’ alludes to this experience. One who is caught up in the perception of multiplicity has no chance but to engage in the chatter of this knowledge, without any experience of its reality.