All Praise is for Allah.

Firstly,

In the Qur’an and Sunnah, comes name are mentioned which are clearly for the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him). In the Qur’an, he has been named “Muhammad” and “Ahmad”. In authentically reported hadith too, several of his name are mentioned. For example in the hadith reported in Sahih Al-Bukhari (no. 4896) and Sahih Muslim (no. 2354), the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “I am Muhammad and I am Ahmad, and I am al-Mahi (the obliterator) by whom unbelief would be obliterated, and I am Hashir (the gatherer) at whose feet mankind will be gathered, and I am ‘Aqib (the last to come) after whom there will be no Prophet.”

It is reported in Sahih Muslim (2355) from Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned many names of his and said: “I am Muhammad, Ahmad. Muqaffi (the last in succession), Hashir, the Prophet of repentance, and the Prophet of Mercy.”

In some hadiths it appears that the number of his names is limited. For example in Sahih Al-Bukhari (3532), it is narrated from Jubair Bin Mut’im that “I have five names: I am Muhammad and Ahmad; I am Al-Mahi through whom Allah will eliminate disbelief; I am Al-Hashir who will be the first to be resurrected, the people being resurrected there after; and I am also Al-’Aqib (i.e. there will be no prophet after me).”

Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajr said in his explanation of this hadith, “Apparently, he meant that I have five names which are mine exclusively such that nobody before me have been named with these names, or that these names were not esteemed or popular in the previous nations. He did not mean that his names are limited to this number…it is also said that the wisdom behind mentioning just five names is that these are the more well known of all of his names mentioned in ancient (pre-Islamic) books and previous nations.” [Fath Al-Bari]

Secondly,

Many scholars have written books in which they collected the names of the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him), which are more than 14 works. Also, the scholars writing on the subject of the Prophet’s biography and his characteristics have devoted chapters for mentioning his names, eg. Al-Qadhi ‘Iyadh wrote the “Chapter on his names, peace be upon him and his family, and his virtues contained in these names”, in his book “Al-Shifa bi Ta’rif Huquq al-Mustafa” (1/228). Similarly Al-Hafidh Ibn ‘Asakir too devoted a chapter on the subject in his book “Tarikh al-Dimishq”.

Sheikh Bakar Abu Zaid, may Allah have mercy on him, said: “Many works were authored about the names of the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him). In “Kashf Al-Dhunun” and “Dhail Kashf Al-Dhunun, the names of fourteen such books are mentioned. This was also mentioned by “Mu’jam al-Mawdhu’at Al-Matruqah fi Al-ta’lif Al-Islami” by Shaikh ‘Abdullah Bin Muhammad Al-Habashi Al-Yamani (page 435-436). These works are written by Ibn Al-Dihya, Al-Qurtubi, Al-Rassa’, Al-Sakhawi, Al-Sayuti, Ibn Faris etc.

These works are thorough researches of books written on the subject of the Prophet’s biography, characteristics and commentaries on hadith, as mentioned in ‘Aridha Al-Ahwathi (10/281). From these books, “Al-Riyadh Al-Aniqa fi Sharh Asma Khair Al-Khaliqah” by al-Sayuti has been published.”

[Mu’jam Al-Manahi Al-Lafdhiya (page 361)]

Thirdly,

The scholars have differed about many of these names: can they be correctly ascribed to the Prophet (peace be upon him or not? This lead to the difference of opinion among them about the number of these names.

One of the important reasons for this difference was that some scholars are of the opinion that every attribute of the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned in the Noble Qur’an is his name. Hence they think that, for example, Shahid, Al-Mubashir, Al-Nadheer, Al-Da’ii, al-Siraj Al-Munir are all his names, based on the verse: “O Prophet ! Verily, We have sent you as witness (shahid), and a bearer of glad tidings (mubashir), and a warner (nadheer), and as one who invites to Allah (da’ii) by His Leave, and as a lamp spreading light (sirajun munirun).” [Surah Al-Ahzab 33:45-46]

However, other scholars are of the opinion that these adjectives are his attributes, not his proper names.

Imam Al-Nawawi said: “Some of these words are attributes. Saying they are names is figurative.” [Tahthib al-Asma wa al-Lughat 1/49]

Imam Al-Sayuti said:

“Most of them are attributes.” [Tanvir Al-Hawalik (1/727)]

Sheikh Bakar Abu Zaid said:

“Some of these authors enumerated the names of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as equal to the number of Allah’s Names, i.e. 99 names, such that about seventy of them were the same Allah’s Names!

Al-Jazuli in “Dalail Al-Khairat” counted them as 200 names, while Ibn Al-Dihya appended more names to this list to make them about 300 in his book “al-Mustawfa”fi asma Al-Mustafa”.

Some sufis increased the list to a thousand names, saying there a 1000 names for Allah, and his Messenger (peace be upon him) too has a thousand names.” END QUOTE

[Mu’jam al-Manahi Al-Lafdhiyah, page 361]

It should be said however, that this large list contains a lot of exaggerations. The correct position is that the actual number of the Prophet’s names is much less. Also, it is not correct to count every attribute of the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah, as his names are such that it is not permissible to increase them except those proven in the Qur’an and Sunnah to be his names.

Sheikh Bakar Abu Zaid said:

What has been mentioned in the texts in this regard are either names, which are few, or attributes, which are many. Everything else is baseless. Hence, the Prophet (peace be upon him) should not be given names, as a precaution against exaggeration and excessiveness. The prohibition is more severe if these baseless names do actually contain exaggeration and excessive praise. This is the type we want to mention in this book, Al-Mu’jam, in order to warn against labeling the Prophet (peace be upon him) with names not mentioned by Allah or His Prophet (peace be upon him). The names under this type are very many, and their sources are books of Sufi tariqahs, wirds (repeated incantations) and innovated adhkar (words for Remembrance of Allah), e.g. “Dalail al-Khairat” by al-Jazuli. Some of these innovated names are:

  1. Uhaeed (the one),
  2. Waheed (unique),
  3. Manh (gift),
  4. Mad’u (invitee),
  5. Ghawth (help),
  6. Ghiyath (help),
  7. Muqeel al-’atharat (pardoner of errors),
  8. Safuh ‘An Al-Zallat (forgiver of errors),
  9. Khazin ‘Ilmullah (treasurer of Allah’s Knowledge),
  10. Bahr Anwarik (ocean of Allah’s Lights),
  11. Ma’din Asrarik (source of Allah’s Secrets),
  12. Nur Al-Anwar (the light of lights),
  13. Al-Sabab fi kulli mawjood (the reason behind all that is present),
  14. Ha’ Al-Rahmah (the letter M of Mercy),
  15. Meem Al-Mulk (the letter K of Kingdom),
  16. Daal al-Dawam (the letter E of Eternity),
  17. Qutub Al-Jalalah (the pole of Majesty),
  18. Al-sirr Al-Jami’ (the comprehensive secret),
  19. Al-Hijab Al-A’dham (the greatest veil),
  20. Ayatollah (Allah’s Sign).

In the Indian print of the Holy Qur’an used to have 99 Names of Allah printed on the back of its front cover, while 99 of the assumed names of the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to be printed on the back of the rear cover. Our teacher, Sheikh Ibn Baz has the distinction of having demanded that this addition should not be made to a copy of the Qur’an (even though it did not interfere with the text of the Qur’an which cannot be altered), and hence both these lists were deleted (from future prints). May Allah reward him for this. These 99 names are also written on the Ka’bah-facing wall of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina. May Allah enable a slave of His to purge the Prophet’s Mosque of a thing not mentioned in the Qur’an. It is Allah Whose help is sought.

After this, I came across a priceless statement of the grammarian scholar Ibn Al-Tayyib Al-Fasi in explanation of “ Kifayat Al-Muhtafidh”, a book by Ibn Al-Ajdab ( page 51). He said:

Then he, i.e. Ibn Al-Ajdab, described the Prophet with the attribute of his mentioned in the Qur’an, i.e. he is the final Prophet (peace be upon him). This is the path of respect and reverence, since this is how Allah described his Prophet (peace be upon him, and it is following the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the only way acceptable to him. Doing so is an admission of one’s inablilty to invent a description of the Prophet (peace be upon him) which befits him. That is why you will find the great scholars limiting themselves in describing him at what the Qur’an and Sunnah have described him with, without themselves inventing new expressions in general.” END QUOTE

[Mu’jam Al-Manahi Al-Lafdhiya (page 362-363)]

Allah knows best.

_______________________

Translated for Islam-QA

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