Oriental Mysticism, by E.H. Palmer, , at sacred-texts.com
SHEIKH Sadr-ud-dín Rúmí 1 affirms that the Attributes The Distinction between Names and Attributes investigated. and Names of God are convertible terms; but Sheikh Sa’ad-ud-dín Hamawí 2 maintains that the Corán and Hadís contain no synonymous words whatever, and that it is incompatible with the character of a Sage to make use of two or more expressions to convey a single meaning. According to him Attributes are intrinsic and Names descriptive; the former relating to the Nature, the latter to the Aspect of
the being described. Works again relate to the Individuality. This is the opinion generally received among the Súfís. Sheikh Sadr-ud-dín, on the other hand, maintains that the Attributes of God are from one point themselves the Nature of God, and are contrary to it from another. They are themselves the Nature of God in this way, that where there is no existence save His Nature, His Attributes must of necessity be His Nature also. They are contrary to it in this way, that as things understood are necessarily various, the names used to express them must be various too, and must imply distinctions of meaning and idea. But all distinction and divisibility is contrary to the Nature of God.
Classification of the Attributes.The names applied to God, of Living, Eternal, Author or Disposer, and Omnipotent, imply His Eternal and Abiding Nature; actual names according to the Mohammedan theory having existed prior to their meanings 1. Such expressions therefore are the names of the actual names, and are called Positive Attributes. These names are called the four pillars of Divinity. Such names however as The Exalter and Debaser, The Giver of Life and Death, refer to attendant powers, and are called Relative Attributes. Lastly, such names as The Blameless, The Holy One, The Independent One, relate to the absence of imperfection, and are hence called Negative
[paragraph continues] Attributes. All the other names of God may be referred to one or other of these three classes, except the name Allah itself 1, which comprises all Allah. The name the attributes of His Eternal and Abiding Nature, for all the other names can be used to qualify it. The name Merciful, occurring in the initiatory formula, "In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate," is held in the next greatest reverence, although referring to the outward attributes of God only. The Corán says, "Say, Pray unto God (Allah), or pray unto the Merciful One (Ar Rahmán). By whichsoever of the two names ye invoke Him it is equal, for to Him belong the best of names." (Cor. cap. 17, v. 110.) All these names collectively or individually indicate One and the same God.
27:1 Also called El Kúnawi. Vide Hajji Khalfa, ed. Flügel, Vol. I. p. 350, &c.
27:2 Vide Hajji Khalfa, Vol. III. pp. 78, 582.
28:1 It must be borne in mind that one of the principal dogmas of Islám is that the Corán was preexistent to all created things, and by implication also the Arabic language in which it is written, and to which the names above mentioned belong.
29:1 The name Allah is abbreviated from Al-Iláh, "the God" par excellence.