Knowing Allah through His beautiful names 7b: Ad Dhahir and Al Batin
Ad Dhahir wal Batin, the Evident and the Hidden
Know Allah Almighty through the manifestation of His creation
Ad Dhahir in Arabic comes from dhahara which means to appear, to be very clear, very obvious, and dhahir i.e. evident. In Arabic dhara means obvious and so this is why Dhuhr prayer is when the sun is in the middle of the sky, it is very obvious, dhaahir, no can dispute it. How is Allah Almighty evident when we cannot see Him? Allah Almighty states in the Quran that He cannot be grasped by our sight:
لَا تُدْرِكُهُ الْاَبْصَارُ وَهُوَ يُدْرِكُ الْاَبْصَارَۚ وَهُوَ اللَّطِيْفُ الْخَبِيْرُ
Vision perceives Him not, but He perceives [all] vision; and He is the Subtle, the Aware. (6:103)
Allah Almighty is not like any of His creation. Therefore if you want to know Allah Almighty, you will perceive Him through His creation. Everything in this universe is evidence of His existence, of His magnificence, of His greatness. Those searching for Him visually will not find Him, but those who are searching for the meaning, will see it everywhere. Even in yourself as Allah Almighty stated repeatedly that on Earth there are many signs for those who reflect, such as:
إِنَّ فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍۢ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ٣
Surely in ˹the creation of˺ the heavens and the earth are signs for the believers.
وَفِى خَلْقِكُمْ وَمَا يَبُثُّ مِن دَآبَّةٍ ءَايَـٰتٌۭ لِّقَوْمٍۢ يُوقِنُونَ ٤
And in your own creation, and whatever living beings He dispersed, are signs for people of sure faith.
Yet look at what happened to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He was from Quraysh but they couldn’t see that he was the Messenger of Allah Almighty (peace be upon him). They fought him, tortured him, abused him even though he was carrying the light of Allah Almighty. As Allah Almighty states in the Quran it’s not the eyes that are blind but the hearts that cannot see. The blindness of the heart is more serious than the blindness of the eyes. There are many blind people who have very bright hearts, whilst there are many more sighted people who have very dark hearts. So perceiving Allah does not come from external vision but internal vision.
To perceive Allah is a choice
The name Ad Dhahir means that Allah Almighty’s existence is so evident, so obvious, for those who want to see, for those who are using their faculties which Allah Almighty has given them in the first place, to see the truth through it. But for those who are freezing these faculties, not thinking properly, not looking properly, not listening properly, they will not see the truth. As I’ve mentioned regarding Quraysh as an example, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was walking before them, talking to them, they can see him, they could hear him (peace be upon him) but they chose not to see him and not to hear him (peace be upon him).
Supplication of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
In the beautiful hadith, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) mentioned when he used to go to sleep:
O Allah, Lord of the heavens, lord of the earth and lord of the exalted throne, our Lord and the Lord of all things, Splitter of the seed and the date stone, Revealer of the Torah, the Injeel and the Furqan, I seek refuge with You from the evil of all things You seize by the forelock (i.e. You have total mastery over).
اللهُمَّ رَبَّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَرَبَّ الْأَرْضِ وَرَبَّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ، رَبَّنَا وَرَبَّ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ، فَالِقَ الْحَبِّ وَالنَّوَى، وَمُنْزِلَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنْجِيلِ وَالْفُرْقَانِ، أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ أَنْتَ آخِذٌ بِنَاصِيَتِهِ، اللهُمَّ أَنْتَ الْأَوَّلُ فَلَيْسَ قَبْلَكَ شَيْءٌ، وَأَنْتَ الْآخِرُ فَلَيْسَ بَعْدَكَ شَيْءٌ، وَأَنْتَ الظَّاهِرُ فَلَيْسَ فَوْقَكَ شَيْءٌ، وَأَنْتَ الْبَاطِنُ فَلَيْسَ دُونَكَ شَيْءٌ، اقْضِ عَنَّا الدَّيْنَ، وَأَغْنِنَا مِنَ الْفَقْرِ
O Allah, You are The First so there is nothing before You and You are The Last so there is nothing after You. You are Ad Dhahir so there is nothing above You and You are Al Baṭin so there is nothing closer than You, remove the burden of debt from us and relieve us from want settle my debt for me and spare me from poverty. (Muslim)
When he said “wa anta-Dhahir” one of the meanings of Ad Dhahir can also be the Most High. The Most High means there is nothing above Him. It means Allah Almighty has full control over everything.
The poet says ‘In everything there’s a sign leads that He is the One and Only.’ For those who want to see, need only look around them as everything points to Him. Even our fingerprints. There are no identical fingerprints. You look at the roses, you look at the sky, at water, fruit, the weather, the rain, the seas – no matter what you examine, you find it is perfectly designed. It’s not a coincidence. Allah is the One who is behind all this. His presence is obvious in His creation.
Reflecting Ad Dhahir in our life
We can emulate this divine attribute by being clear and unambiguous. Don’t be a person of ambiguity. For instance in your business be transparent; it’s about accountability. Don’t keep two records – have one set of clear accounts. It gives you peace of mind because you’re not carrying the burden of hiding this and hiding that.
Al Batin means the Inner One, the Intimate, the One who is Hidden or Secret, so it can mean different things – it is the opposite of dhaahir. This is why we said we have this pairing paradox, the two together – Dhahir and Batin – the inward and outward. In Surat al Hadid, Allah Almighty says:
هُوَ الْاَوَّلُ وَالْاٰخِرُ وَالظَّاهِرُ وَالْبَاطِنُۚ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيْمٌ ( الحديد: ٣ )
He is the First and the Last, the Ascendant and the Intimate, and He is, of all things, Knowing. (57:3)
Ad Dhahir and Al Batin has been translated as the Obvious and the Hidden, or the Intimate or the Innermost, or Topmost.
Imam al-Ghazali commented on that Ad Dhahir and Al Batin means the Manifest and the Hidden, relating to perception. If you need to see to believe, you will surely miss Him because you can’t see Him in the dunya.
We know the story of Musa (peace be upon him) who wanted to see Allah Almighty but was told he would not be able to withstand this. And was shown how the mountain crumbled to dust when Allah revealed Himself.
وَلَمَّا جَآءَ مُوسَىٰ لِمِيقَـٰتِنَا وَكَلَّمَهُۥ رَبُّهُۥ قَالَ رَبِّ أَرِنِىٓ أَنظُرْ إِلَيْكَ ۚ قَالَ لَن تَرَىٰنِى وَلَـٰكِنِ ٱنظُرْ إِلَى ٱلْجَبَلِ فَإِنِ ٱسْتَقَرَّ مَكَانَهُۥ فَسَوْفَ تَرَىٰنِى ۚ فَلَمَّا تَجَلَّىٰ رَبُّهُۥ لِلْجَبَلِ جَعَلَهُۥ دَكًّۭا وَخَرَّ مُوسَىٰ صَعِقًۭا ۚ فَلَمَّآ أَفَاقَ قَالَ سُبْحَـٰنَكَ تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَأَنَا۠ أَوَّلُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ١٤٣
When Moses came at the appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he asked, “My Lord! Allow me to see you.” Allah answered, “You cannot see Me! But look at the mountain. If it remains firm in its place, only then will you see Me.” When his Lord appeared to the mountain, He levelled it to dust and Moses collapsed unconscious. When he recovered, he cried, “Glory be to You! I turn to You in repentance and I am the first of the believers.” (7:143)
If you need to see Allah to believe in Him, you will surely miss Him. However if you see the ways in which He manifests Himself through His prophets and messengers, through His books, through His power, His knowledge, then you will surely find Him.
I was listening to a lecture by a professor in physics, and another in biology and one in mathematics. It was a long lecture, in which the mathematician said we have discovered actually the longest word ever, which is the DNA. It is a word, if you were to change a letter it will change the whole system. So it’s very well designed the whole DNA system and map. However he was too shy to say that there had to be a Creator behind it. The presenter asked, is God behind this? And he replied ‘We cannot say it is God because that would not be scientific.’ Yet the signs are shouting out at us, calling upon us to see Him.
Reflecting Al Batin in our lives
For us, the inward is our heart and outward is our actions. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would call upon Allah Almighty with these names. Reflecting on the attribute of Al Batin means shaping and perfecting our inner reality. Allah Almighty knows what’s in our hearts and knows what we’re intending to do. He sees our actions; He sees our goodness. He also sees our bad deeds, so we have to be careful. Whatever you do He is observing you so be careful how you do things and what the intention behind your actions is, because Allah Almighty is Ad Dhahir and Al Batin.
Ultimately the name Al Batin signifies that no one knows Allah Almighty fully, but Allah Almighty Himself. Haqeeqat-Allah, the reality of Allah Almighty can be known only to Him, because we do not have the ability to comprehend Him – He is so High and unlimited and we are so limited. As Allah Almighty stated in Surat al Isra:
وَمَآ أُوتِيتُم مِّنَ ٱلْعِلْمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًۭا ٨٥
O humanity˺ have been given but little knowledge.” (17:85)
All the science we have discovered is very little.
As Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said ‘You are the Innermost and the Closest.’ There is nothing closer to us than Him. And He is closer to everything than anything else.” Therefore Al Batin means Allah Almighty is very close to us. As He stated in Surat Qaf:
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا ٱلْإِنسَـٰنَ وَنَعْلَمُ مَا تُوَسْوِسُ بِهِۦ نَفْسُهُۥ ۖ وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ ٱلْوَرِيدِ ١٦
Indeed, ˹it is˺ We ˹Who˺ created humankind and ˹fully˺ know what their souls whisper to them, and We are closer to them than ˹their˺ jugular vein. (50:16)
And in Surat al Imran, He said:
قُلْ إِن تُخْفُوا۟ مَا فِى صُدُورِكُمْ أَوْ تُبْدُوهُ يَعْلَمْهُ ٱللَّهُ ۗ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ قَدِيرٌۭ ٢٩
Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “Whether you conceal what is in your hearts or reveal it, it is known to Allah. For He knows whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And Allah is Most Capable of everything.” (3:29)
So be aware when you plan something or do something, what you intend, because it is not hidden from Allah Almighty.
When we reflect on the name Ad Dhahir and Al Batin it helps us to become closer to Allah Almighty. As Imam al Qushayri said ‘He who knows the name of His Lord, forgets his own name. And he who accompanies the name of His Lord will feel His closeness.’
Al Batin is closer to you than anything else, while Ad Dhahir is about clarity and seeing the signs of Allah Almighty all around us, and in everything, when we eat and drink and when we breathe, when we exhale and we inhale. In every second it reminds us about Allah Almighty. He is Ad Dhahir, Obvious in everything, very clear.
We ask Allah Almighty to enable us to always be connected with Him and make His names our companions wherever we go and whatever we do as well, we reflect upon His names and live by His names. Ameen.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – 23 Mar 2023
Transcribed by S Jawaid
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