What are the guidelines concerning names which may correctly be attributed to Allaah, may He be exalted?
Praise be to Allaah, and blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of Allaah (S) and his family and companions.
All the names of Allaah are tawqeefi, i.e., we should accept what is narrated in the Qur’aan and Sunnah and not add or subtract anything. Based on this, it is not correct to call Allaah by any name other than those by which He has called Himself in His Book or those that His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) called Him by in the saheeh ahaadeeth, because the human mind cannot work out the names that Allaah deserves, so we must stop at what is mentioned in the texts, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And follow not (O man, i.e., say not, or do not, or witness not) that of which you have no knowledge. Verily, the hearing, and the sight, and the heart of each of those ones will be questioned (by Allaah)”
Calling Allaah by a name that He has not called Himself, or denying a name by which he has called Himself is a transgression against the rights of Allaah. So we should observe the proper etiquette and adhere to that which is narrated in the texts.
With regard to words which are mentioned in the Qur’aan and Sunnah only by way of description or information, and it is not narrated that Allaah is called by these names, it is not correct to call Him by them, because some of the attributes of Allaah have to do with His actions, and the actions of Allaah have no end, just as His words have no end.
For example, some of the attributes of Allaah that refer to His actions describe Him as coming, bringing, taking, withholding and seizing etc., as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And your Lord comes with the angels in rows”
“He withholds the heaven from falling on the earth except by His Leave”
“Verily, (O Muhammad) the Seizure (punishment) of your Lord is severe and painful”
So we attribute these characteristics to Allaah as they are mentioned, but we do not call Him by them (i.e., we do not make names out of them), so we do not say that among His names are al-Jaa’i (the Comer), al-Aati (the Comer), al-Mumsik (the Withholder) or al-Baatish (the Seizer), etc. Rather we say that this is what He does and attribute those actions to Him.
And Allaah knows best.
See al-Qawaa’id al-Mathla fi Sifaat-Illaahi wa Asmaa’ihi al-Husna, 13, 21, by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him).