In Islam, we acknowledge that God has 99 names – Asma’a Allah Al-Husna, which is defined as The Beautiful Names of Allah. Each name represents an attribute of God. Since it’s forbidden to depict God visually – we instead emphasize the traits that make Him distinguishable and superior.
Among the 99 names is one that I personally believe is overlooked or not understood fully. After learning more about the name (thanks to a wonderful gathering with friends), it quickly became one of my favorites. I fell in love with what it represents – and I hope you will, too!
That name is Al-Wadud. It translates to “the affectionate” or “the most loving” – but it holds a much deeper meaning than that. It goes beyond the basic idea of love. Which is why Al-Wadud comes from the word Al-wud– which means the act of love through giving, and not Al-hub, which translates to just “love.”
Al-Wadud emphasizes the active expression of love rather than it just being an emotion. To break it down even further and put it into context, Allah SWT is a Al-Wadud because He shows us that He loves us through different aspects such as blessings, trials, protection, etc. All of which are constant reminders of our Creator. This includes every single struggle you’ve endured because they’re only meant to bring us closer to Him. And Allah loves those that return to Him (i.e: repentance, etc.) and have faith in His plans.
Al-Wadud is mentioned twice in the Qur’an. Once in Surat Hud (11:90):
Translation: “But ask forgiveness of your Lord, and turn unto Him (in repentance): For my Lord is indeed full of mercy and loving-kindness.”
And in Surat Al-Buruj (85:14):
Translation: “And He is the Oft-Forgiving, Full of Loving-Kindness.”
Have you ever thought about how God loves you? Take the time to reflect on this question. Don’t just think about your blessings – which are obvious ways you might feel loved. Instead, think about how many times you’ve gone through something and didn’t understand why you were struggling — only to find out later that the outcome was much better than what you had hoped for. Your full trust and acceptance in God’s plans will not only grant you a guided path, but also bring you two steps closer to strengthening your faith. Even when absolutely nothing makes sense sometimes, one thing is for sure, Allah SWT is always on your side if you open your heart to Him.
Think about how many times you’ve repented for the same sin – only to find His door of forgiveness and mercy still open for you. At your lowest and your highest – you’re not alone. Allah is your constant.
When we talk about unconditional love, we usually think of our parents. Despite how big their love is for us, even they will eventually give up if we continue engaging in the same mistakes over and over. Without discrediting them, it’s important to note that they’re still human and not perfect. No human can truly unconditionally keep their door open for you 24/7. But Allah SWT can, and He continues to do so. That’s why He’s Al-Wadud.
If Allah SWT never fails to bestow all of that love upon us, then why don’t we make a genuine effort to understand Islam beyond just the five prayers? I guess for a while fear is important so you don’t miss salah – but when you fall in love with what you believe, you start participating because you want to. Not because you have to. This is where the importance of perspective comes into play.
It’s very easy to make practicing Islam just another habit in your life – but that’s a dangerous route. Habits start to lose significance over time and you engage in them without thinking much about the action. When you’re doing things like kneeling in prayer, picking up the Qura’n on Friday, or just being a good neighbor – remember to keep renewing your intentions. This is a great way to avoid making the above just habitual because you’re removing the passiveness from the action.
On a final note: I mentioned that Allah will continue to guide your path if you open your heart to Him. So if you want to receive affection, then you should first embody it and implement this expression in your daily life. Tie your camel, ya know?
Be kind and compassionate, even to those that wrong you (easier said than done, but that’s why the reward is great). Do your best to represent Islamic values justly. Love for others what you love for yourself. And remember that no matter how far you walk down the wrong path, you can always turn around. Allah SWT says in Hadith Qudsi:
“I am as my servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.”
Allah is Al-Wadud.
These are all reminders to myself first and foremost. I hope we can all continue to share and benefit from the knowledge around us.