Tue. Apr 7th, 2020

Islamic Web Library

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The ‘Names’

7 min read

Quran 2:31:

And He taught Adam the names – all of them. Then He showed them to the angels and said, “Inform Me of the names of these, if you are truthful.”

According to Mufti Taqi Usmani,

“The word ‘Ism’ has many lexical and intellectual nuances of meaning, the knowledge of which would not be essential for the average reader. It is sufficient to know that this word is translated in English as ‘Name’. ” (Maariful Quran, Vol. 1 pg. 57)

According to Ibn Kathir, citing Ibn Abbas, the ‘Names’ refers to:

‘Meaning, the names that people use, such as human, animal, sky, earth, land, sea, horse, donkey, and so forth, including the names of the other species.’ (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, surah al Baqarah pg. 115)

According to Muhammad Asad (author of The ‘The Message of the Quran’),

“the names” refers to: Lit., “all the names”. The term ism (“name”) implies, according to all philologists, an expression “conveying the knowledge [of a thing] … applied to denote a substance or an accident or an attribute, for the purpose of distinction” (Lane IV, 1435): in philosophical terminology, a “concept”. From this it may legitimately be inferred that the “knowledge of all the names” denotes here man’s faculty of logical definition and, thus, of conceptual thinking. That by “Adam” the whole human race is meant here becomes obvious from the preceding reference, by the angels, to “such as will spread corruption on earth and will shed blood”, as well as from 7:11