The Names of Allah and His Attributes – What is the difference between them?

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The Names of Allah and His Attributes both share the trait that it is allowed to seek refuge
and to swear oaths by them, but there are some important differences between them, some of which are as follows:

A. It is allowed to supplicate to Allah using one of His Names, or name oneself “the slave of one of His Names, but this is not allowed with his Attributes.

Thus, one may call himself Abd al-Kareem (the slave of the Most Generous) but not Abd al-Karam (slave of Generosity), and one may supplicate “O Most Generous (Kareem)!” but not “O Karam (Generosity) of Allah!”

B. One may derive Attributes from Allah’s Names, but one may not derive names from his Attributes.

Thus one may derive the Attribute ‘rahmah’ (mercy) from His Name ‘Ar- Rahman’ (The Merciful), but not the name ‘al-mustawi’ (The One who Rises Over)
from His Attribute of al-istiwaa’ (Rising Over)’.

C. One may not derive Names from the actions of Allah. Thus, one may not say that one of the names of Allah is al-ghaađib (the Angry) based on the fact that Allah becomes angry.

One may, however, derive Attributes from His actions, and thus affirm that one of the Attributes of Allah is Ghadab (anger) because He becomes angry.

Source: Tafseer Ushr lakr

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