What are the Attributes of Allah?

To know Allah, one has to learn and study His Attributes. His Attributes can be divided into three. Those are His Essential Attributes, Appearance and Deeds.

  1. His Essence
  2. The Essential Attributes have to do with all the fundamental Attributes that Allah has revealed through the Quran and Prophetic narrations. It has to do with His Existence, Immortality and that He does not need anyone.

  3. His Appearance
  4. Allah possesses various Outer Attributes which He has narrated through the Quran and Prophetic traditions. This is a favor to the Ummah who have been given the Quran.

  5. His Deeds
  6. The Deeds of Allah are different. These have been made known through the Quran and Prophetic narrations. Allah Rises, Descends, Speaks and more.

1. Essential Attributes

We know these Attributes without needing books or writings. Muslims believe that Allah's Essence is known by natural disposition. The natural predisposition is called Fitrah in Arabic.

Allah has created the Fitrah for everyone to recognize Him. Because of this, the people who don't know about religion can also know Allah as He wants to be known.

His Existence

Every Muslim knows of Allah His Existence. This is because of the logical reasoning that each one has been given. It means that Allah must exist before we can.

His Oneness

Muslims believe in the concept that Allah is One. Belief in the Oneness of Allah indicates that He has no partners. The belief in His Oneness is therefore the foundation in Islam.

It is essential in Islam to worship Allah alone, not to give away His Names and Attributes and to assign His Lordship to anyone. This concept is also known as Tawhid.

His Uniqueness

In Islam Allah cannot be compared to anyone or anything. It is considered disbelief when a person compares Allah with His creation. That is called Tashbeeh (compare with creation) in Arabic.


The Islamic concept that Allah knows everything implies that He is aware of what is yet to happen, what has already happened and what is happening now. He is aware of everything and nothing escapes His Knowledge.

There are some groups including Qadarism that deny the Knowledge of Allah because they claim that He contains no Knowledge of what is yet to come. That is considered disbelief.

Might and Power

Allah possesses the Power over His creation. If He wants something to happen, He has full control over it. Muslims thus believe that Allah has the Might and Power over everything and everyone. He takes care of the rain, sun, wind etc.

2. Appearance of Allah

Allah also has Outer Attributes. No one knows the quality of His Appearance, and He cannot be imagined thereby. However, it has been described what Outward Attributes Allah possesses.

There are different groups that have their own interpretation of this. For example, there are groups like the Asha'irah that claim that Allah has no Outer Attributes and that they should be taken figuratively.

In the Sunnism it is different. Allah does possess Outer Attributes and that they are described in the Quran and Ahadith. It is taken literally as it is, according to Sunni Muslims, without comparing Allah to His creation. And this is what corresponds to what the pious predecessors (Salaf Saliheen) of Islam believe.

There are also groups that claim that Allah has limbs. They compare The Creator with the creation and see no difference there. That is a form of extremism, for Allah says in the Quran:

And nothing or no one is comparable to Him.
Surah Al-Ikhlas verse 4

Below you will see what the Outer Descriptions of Allah are as reported in the Quran and Hadith. And also you get to see the sayings of the Salaf Saliheen (pious predecessors) to perceive the correct interpretation of His Attributes.

What Outward Attributes Allah possesses as He described Himself:
  • Eyes
  • Hands
  • Fingers
  • Feet
  • Image

Eyes of Allah

It is narrated that Allah has Eyes. His Eyes cannot be compared with His creation, nor should they be interpreted figuratively, because the Salaf Saliheen took His Attributes literally without any interpretation.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
"Allah is not hidden from you; He is not one-eyed”, pointing his hand to his eye, adding: "Al-Masih Ad-Dajjal is blind in the right eye, and his eye looks like a bulging grape."
(Sahih al-Bukhari 7407)

Ad-Dārimi (pious predecessor) said:
“The explanation of the saying of Allah's Messenger, 'Verily Allah is not one-eyed' is that He is the All-Seeing who has two Eyes, not like the one-eyed [Dajjal].”
(An-Naqd 'ala Bishr Al-Mareesee, p.48)

The Hands of Allah

His Hands do not resemble those of the creation. He has two Hands that are totally Unique. It is an act of disbelief within Islam to compare His Outer Attributes with those of creation. And it is an innovation to delve into how they look like.

(Allah) said: "O Iblees! What prevents you from prostrating before the One whom I have created with both My Hands? Are you too proud or are you one of those who is exalted?"
(38:75 Quran)

Abdur-Rahman Bin Al-Qasim (pious predecessor) said:
"It is not permissible for anyone to describe Allah except with that with which He Described Himself in the Quran. One cannot compare Allah's two Hands, nor his Face with anything. He should say: 'He (Allah) has two Hands as He Described Himself in the Quran, and He has a Face as He Described Himself'. He must stop at what Allah Described about Himself in the Quran, there is no resemblance to Him, nor any like it, He is Allah la ilaha illa huwa (no one has the right to be worshiped but Him)."
(Narrated by Ibn Abi Zamanin in “Usool As-Sunnah” page 75)

The Fingers of Allah

In the Hadith we see that the Prophet (ﷺ) says that Allah has Fingers. When it is said that He has Fingers, you should say that it is so without comparing His Fingers to those of creation. He is unique and nothing and no one resembles Him.

Abdullah b. amr b. al-'As reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say:
"Verily, the hearts of all the sons of Adam are between the two Fingers. He turns that in any direction He wills." Then Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: "O Allah, the Turner of hearts, turn our hearts to Your obedience."
(Sahih Muslim 2655)

Feet of Allah

These too do not resemble His creation. He is unique and nothing and no one resembles Him. It is not authorized to ask what His Feet look like, for that is an innovation and every innovation is error.

Ibn Abbas (pious predecessor) said:
"The Kursi (footstool), is the place of the two Feet."
(Al-'Arsh number 61 by Ibn Abi Shaybah)

Abu Musa al-Ash'ari (pious predecessor) said:
"The Kursi (footstool), is the place of the two Feet."
(Al-'Arsh number 60 Ibn Abi Shaybah)

His Form

His Form is not like ours, nor does it resemble ours. Believing that Allah has a Form is what is right, and interpreting His Form figuratively is incorrect. This Attribute is to be taken literally like all Attributes.

Ibn 'Abbas narrated:
that the Prophet ﷺ said: "My Lord, blessed be He and the Most High, came to me in the best Form. So he said: 'O Muhammad!' I said: 'Here I am, my Lord, and I am at your service.' He said, "What is the most exalted group concerned with?" I said, '[Lord] I don't know.' So He placed His Hand between my shoulders, until I felt the coolness between my chest, so I knew what was between the east and the west. He said, 'O Muhammad!' I said: 'Here I am oh my Lord, and I am at your service.' He said, "What is the most exalted group concerned with?" I said: 'In the acts that raise the ranks and the acts that make atonement, and in recording the footsteps to the jama'ah, Isbagh Al-Wudu is in trouble, and he waits for the Salat after his Salat. And whoever watches over prayer, he will live in goodness and die in goodness, and his sins on that Day will be as if his mother bore him.”
(Sunan Tirmidhi 3234 (Hasan))

Abu 'Eesa At-Tirmidhi (pious predecessor) commented on this hadith:
“The appearance of Allah is mentioned in the dream of the Prophet (ﷺ), and the appointment of the placing of His Hand on which the Prophet (ﷺ) felt coolness on his chest is mentioned in this hadith. It is impossible for us to know what the Form of Allah is and what His Hand is like.”
(Commentary on hadith 3234)

3. His Deeds

We come to know what the Deeds of Allah are by delving into the Quran and Prophetic traditions. There are also certain Deeds that we know from our natural disposition (Fitrah). These Attributes are, for example, that He Sees, Hears and Creates all.

Anyone who desires a reward in this life: it is with Allah that the reward is for this worldly life and the Hereafter. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.
(Quran 4:134)

And let not their words grieve you, for all power and honor belongs to Allah. He is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
(Quran 10:65)

And Allah is not heedless of what you do.
(Quran 2:85)

What we learn from the sources

Everything He does belongs to His Attributes. Thus we know from sources that Allah Descends to the lowest heaven in the last part of the night. How He does this we do not know, but we must accept His Deeds as they come to us.

Examples where Allah does something:
  • Descending (Nuzol)
  • Rising (Istiwa)
  • Speaking
  • Laughing

Descending (Nuzool) of Allah

The Prophet (ﷺ) said that Allah descends in every last third of the night. How He Descends? Allahu a'lem. It is also not right to wonder as the pious predecessors avoided it.

Abu Huraira reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said:
“Our Lord, the Blessed and the Exalted, Descend every night to the lowest heaven when a third of the last part of the night is left, And Say: Who begs Me to answer him? Who asks Me that I can give him? Who asks My forgiveness so that I can forgive him?”
(Sahih Muslim Book 6, Hadith 201)

Ahlu Sunnah wal Jama'ah believe that Allah Descends in the literal sense. They believe He Moves. How He Moves is known by Him alone. Jahmiyyah believe that Allah does not Move, and assume it figuratively. That is why the pious predecessors declared them to be unbelievers. They thus deny what Allah has attributed to Himself.

Fudhayl ibn 'Iyadh said:
If a Jahmi (follower of Jahmiyyah sect) says to you, "I do not believe in a Lord who Moves from His place," then say to him, "I believe in a Lord who acts as He wills."
(Khalq af'al al-'Ibaad 1/36 of Bukhari)

Rising (Istiwa) of Allah

The Salaf Saliheen have elaborated on where Allah is. Sects like Jahmiyyah, Asha'irah and Mu'tazilah reject Allah being above His Throne in the literal sense.

The resurrection of Allah has been discussed by many of the pious predecessors. It is understood in the literal sense, and that is the correct methodology in believing His Attributes. Allah says in the Quran:

He is the One Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, after which He sat on the Throne. He knows what goes into the earth and what comes out again, and what descends from heaven and what ascends into it. And He is with you wherever you are. And Allah is All-Seeing of what you do.
(Quran 57:4)

Imam Tirmidhi said:
"The Knowledge of Allah, His Power and His Sovereignty is everywhere. And He is on His Throne as He Described Himself."
al-Jāmi' al-Kabīr 5/327

Al-Darimi said:
“The Muslims all agree that Allah is on His Throne, above the heavens.”
Naqd Al-Darimi 3ala Al-Mirisi 1/340

“We know, without a doubt, that Allah is on His Throne, above His heavens, as He has described Himself. Separated from His creation.”
Al-Radd 3ala Al-Jahmiyya from Al-Darimi p.36

“Allah exalted is He, on His Throne, above His heavens, apart from His creation, and whoever does not know Him as such, does not know the God whom he worships.”
Al-Radd 3ala Al-Jahmiyya van Al-Darimi p.39

Allah Speaks

As we already know, the Quran is the Speech of Allah. They are His Words and therefore the Quran is uncreated. Allah Speaks in addition to the Quran, and He Speaks with sound. The pious predecessors believe that Allah Speaks with sound and that is the correct methodology.

Imam Ahmad said:
“Jahmiyyah reject that Allah Speaks with sound, and whoever does this disbelieves. They (i.e. The Jahmiyyah) want to distort the meaning for the people. Verily, we tell the Hadith about the Attributes of Allah just as they come.”
(As Sunnah number 534 of Abdullah ibn Ahmad)

Allah Laughs

This Attribute is not like the laughter of His creation. We take it literally that Allah Laughs. How He does that, Allahu A'lem. We should not delve into that either, since the Salaf Saliheen did not do this.

On the authority of Abu Huraira, it is reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
"God Laughs at the two men one kills the other; both will enter Paradise." They (i.e. the Companions) said: "How (are they killed), O Messenger of Allah?" He said: "One is killed (in the way of Allah) and enters Paradise. Then God forgives the other and leads him to Islam; then he fights in the way of Allah and dies as a martyr."
(Sahih Bukhari Book 33, Hadith 190)

Correct interpretation of His Attributes

The correct methodology in understanding Allah's Attributes is to take it literally. The literal assumption is what the companions of the Prophet, and their students, stand behind.

The Sunni understanding in this is to follow the teachings of the Prophet and his companions. Everything that does not correspond to it is thus avoided.

Sufyan Ibn 'Uyaynah said:
“Everything that Allah described Himself with in the Qur'an, its interpretation is its recitation, without (asking) how, and without comparing Him (with creation).”
(Kitab As-Sifat” by Ad-Daraqutni (p.70))

awza'i said: “I asked az-Zuhri and Makhul about the verses that talk about the Attributes of Allah. They said by leaving it as it is.”
(Sharh Usool I'tiqaad 3/340, Dhammul-Kalaam 18)

Awza'i also said:
"The verses that have about the Attributes of Allah you should leave as it is, without asking 'how'."
(Sharh Usool I'tiqaad number 875)

Al-Waleed Ibn Muslim said:
“I asked Malik ibn Anas, Awza'i, Layth Ibn Sa'd and Sufyan Ath Thawri may Allah have mercy on them, about the hadeeth which talk about the Attributes of Allah. They all said, "Let it be how it is without asking 'how'."
(Sharh Usool I'tiqaad page 118)

Abu Athari writes about basic principles within Islam. He uses his critical and well-researched way to spread knowledge of the first three Muslim generations.

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