God’s Name Al-Quddous (The Holy)
By Muhammad Ratib An-Nabulsi
[In Arabic the word “Al-Quddous” denotes holiness and purity.]
Why should we get to know God?
Is He not in no need to be known? : “…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.” [Ibrahim 14; 8]
We know God simply in order to worship Him; and we shall never worship Him unless we know Him in order to be happy with Him and therefore to achieve the purpose of His creating us: “And I created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).” [Adh-Dhariyat 51; 56]
As to His being Al-Quddous (The Holy) God 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.” [Al-Hashr 59; 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.” [At-Taghabun 64; 1]
In Arabic the 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.
How God is Quddous (Holy)?
1- God’s name Al-Quddous (The Holy) is taken to mean that He is free from any attribution of perfection. The point here 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.
Therefore, whatever qualities of perfection you might think of do not apply to Allah, for He is far above them: “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.” [Al Shura 42; 11]
God is “Al-Quddous” that He is free from and far exalted above any quality or attribute that can be conceived or imagined by the human mind or perceived by the human senses.
2- God 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.
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.
3- Another more advanced meaning of God’s name “Al-Quddous” is that He is free from and far exalted above any quality or attribute that can be conceived or imagined by the human mind or perceived by the human senses.
For example, one of the meanings of the Arabic words “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is The Greatest) is that whatever you know about Allah, Allah is far exalted above that.
4- God is “Al-Quddous” that He is pure from all needs, self-sufficient, Whom all creatures need, and Who is Free from all kinds of imperfection, is free from any needs. As human being, you are in need of countless things. You are poor: all your personality, intelligence, knowledge, power over other people, patience, and endurance…all vanish before a drink of water when you are thirsty. You are in need of air; and if it were withheld from you, you would buy it for the treasures of the present world. Therefore, man is weak. He needs air, water, food, family, entertainers, lovers …etc. To this Allah says: “O mankind! It is you who stand in need of Allah. But Allah is Free from all needs, Worthy of all Praise.” [Fatir 35; 15]
5- “Al-Quddous” 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.
6- God 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. Thus, a person is not holy unless he is free from impurities or qualities of perfection.
7- “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 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.” [Al-A’raf 7; 179]
Thus, the more man gets near to Allah the more magnanimous and kind-hearted he becomes and the more pure his heart is, because it is filled with love for Him: “The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, except him who brings to Allah a clean pure heart.” [Ash-Shu’ara 26; 88, 89]
8- 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.
9- Also “Al-Quddous” 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” is God Who purifies the hearts of true believers from love for the present world; 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. Those who 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 really desire to be always with Allah, you have to free yourself not only from sins and defects but everything except Him as well, so that He, the knower of the unseen, may accept you.
How to Be Acquainted With Al-Quddous?
1- About His holy angels God says: “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.’” [Al-Baqarah 2; 30]
The angels therefore purify and sanctify themselves in order to be well-prepared to turn to God with obedience and devotion, which is also man’s duty in the life of the present world. This is because Allah is pure, and therefore, He does not accept in His company except those who are pure. In the Divine Hadith, God 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?!”
2- 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: “So put your trust in Allah; surely, you are on manifest truth.” [An-Naml 27; 79] For that, feelings of oppression, subjugation and humiliation are not known to a true believer who knows that all his affairs and matters are in Allah’s hand.
3- He who knows Allah being Quddous 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. He who knows this name, scholars say, purifies himself from following his desires and caprices, purifies his wealth from unlawful or dubious things; purifies his time from the sin of wrong-doing, his heart from the way of heedlessness and his soul from idle life.
Therefore, a true believer dominates over his desires and is never dominated by them; 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; enjoys a high moral standard to which he sticks and has an elevated level of knowledge that he never deviates from.
4- Also, he who knows God “Al-Quddous” does not humble himself to any other creature; neither does he stand in submission before a rich person because his soul has become sanctified by his knowledge of Allah: “So do not become weak nor be sad, and you will be superior if you are indeed true believers.” [Al-Imran 3; 139]
5- And he who knows God “Al-Quddous” never magnifies any creature in his heart whereby he has known Him. His heart, which has magnified Allah, is impossible to magnify with Him anyone else: “They swear by Allah to you in order to please you, but it is more fitting that they should please Allah and His Messenger, if they are believers.” [At-Tawbah 9; 62]
6- He who is aware of God being Al-Quddous must never care about whatever things he may miss after having found his Lord. Such is a crystal clear fact.
7- To know this name a believer should double up his efforts until Allah purifies him from all his defects, faults and impurities, purifies him from all his sins and misdeeds, and purifies his heart from all impurities, so that he may turn to Allah with true faith and sincere devotion: “– ‘while we glorify You with praises and thanks and sanctify You.’ He (Allah) said, ‘I know that which you know not.’” [Al-Baqarah 2; 30]