Bismallah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim
Today’s post will focus on five Divine Names concerning forgiveness, strength, blessings, provision, and the opening of the heart.
Four of the Divine Names concern the issue of forgiveness, Ghaffar considered “the ground floor in the forgiveness cluster of Names” since it “relates to a low point in the human process” when we “are usually unable to even consider the possibility of forgiveness” (Meyer, Hyde, Muqaddam, and Kahn. Physicians of the Heart 126). Despite our feelings about ourselves in these regards, Ghaffar, as with other Names consisting of the doubled consonant, suggests the forgiveness we feel we don’t deserve is “continuous and repetitive” (126).
Particularly applicable to “self-loathing, guilt, and blame” (43), Ghaffar suggests that though we may make the same mistake over and over and over again, God always forgives, hence the doubling of the consonant. Related to the Name is an Arabic word sharing the same root which means “a substance bees make that the Arabs used to fill in the cracks of a dried out, old leather water skin, so that it no longer leaks” (43). In other words, the forgiveness embodied in Ghaffar “repairs human dryness and bitterness..it brings moisture back in the system” (43).
There is a hadith that underscores this forgiveness, where a Bedouin asked Mohammed, “‘What if I do a really bad thing?'”
Mohammed replied, “God forgives.”
The man asked, “What if I do it again and again and again?”
“God continues to forgive,” was the response.
“Does God ever tire of forgiving?”
“No,” said Mohammed, “but perhaps you will grow tired of doing the same thing over and over again” (127).
This story illustrates not only the continuous, repetitive nature of forgiveness, but speaks as well to Ghaffar as this forgiveness relates to our lowest points: that even though we feel like we are not worthy of forgiveness, the forgiveness is always there, and despite what one feels, one “should always feel the invitation to return again” (127).
“The searing effect that a fire has on a piece of mean, which gets the juices flowing” (43).
Love is the fire; the heart is the meat.
This is the fire of longing, the fire about which so many Sufi poets wrote.
This fire is Qahhar, and as the Name’s form suggests, it is continuous and perpetual.
A related meaning of Qahhar is “‘that which is continuously overwhelming everything else” (142). It is yearning, the yearning that burns everything transitory, everything superficial away as it “causes the personality shell to dissolve” whereby a “shift of identiy occurs, and the spiritual wayfarer becomes the flame” (142).
Transcending time, this “burning power…simply is,” overcoming and annihilating all attachments “except your inherent relationship to the One” and “all that is left is the unity” (143).
Such dissolution of the “personality shell,” or ego, redefines our sense of who we are: we are not who we think we are. Qahhar, that burning love, “takes us right to the breaking point to reveal our undefeatable essence” (143).
Wahhab, Razzaq, Fattah
Much like the Names Khaliq, Bari’, and Musawwir form a complex of interrelations, so do the names Wahhab, Razzaq, and Fattah. As such, I will discuss the names together.
The “one who constantly refreshes,” Wahhab “gives divine blessings continually and universally” (44). A related Arabic term, mawhibah, meaning “a cloud that rains freely on everything,” provides an image underscoring these blessings which are “freely given without any expectation of return” (44), a “giving that is without any attachment…with no intention of gaining compensation, recompense, or requital” (284).
The free rain falling over all that is Wahhab, becomes “the water that flows into irrigation ditches” (44). Such is Razzaq, often translated as the “provider” as this Name “continuously provides the means for each of us to get what we need for our daily sustenance” (44). One may recall the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Razzaq gives us what we need, not what we want, for desires stem from the ego-personality. The things we need to sustain us are to be understood as blessings, as suggested in the Arabic term rizq, meaning “a gift of blessing,” which shares the same root as Razzaq.
But how often do we miss the blessings of receiving what we need, only to consider receiving what we want as blessings?
Last but not least is Fattah, which means “both to begin and to open” as through this name “you begin to open your heart to the infinite possibilities of the divine presence” (43). Like other Names consisting of the doubled-consonant, this “opening is continuous…an enlightening that keeps happening” (43).
In particular, Fattah “means to open something with something else, a key…the key to opening the heart to Allah, the key to finding the God within…even in the midst of despair” (45).
A variant on the root for Fattah “means to blossom” (286) and Fattah itself “also means for buds to open up and blossom” (286). Thus we see the relation between Wahhab, the freely given rain, Razzaq, the flowing water, and Fattah, that which is produced–the blossoming flower as we, underscored by another related meaning of Fattah, “open up to the light” (286).