Is it permissible to invoke God with just one of His Names like “Allah, Allah”?
What is the invocation (dhikr) of God? Is it permissible to invoke God with just one of His Names like “Allah, Allah” and, “al-Rahman, al-Rahman,” without it being in a full sentence?
Linguistically dhikr has the opposite meaning of forgetting, as is mentioned by the author of Mukhtar al-Sihah. In the terminology of the shari’ah, dhikr has a more general set of meanings. For example, God referred to the Friday khutbah as dhikr saying, O you who believe! When the call is heard for the prayer of the day of congregation, haste unto remembrance (dhikr) of God and leave your trading [62:9]; He referred to the hajj as dhikr saying, Remember (dhikr) God through the appointed days [2:203]; He referred to prayer as dhikr saying, And if you go in fear, then (pray) standing or on horseback. And if you are again in safety, remember (dhikr) God, as He has taught you that which (heretofore) you knew not [2:239]; and He referred to the Qur’an as dhikr saying, This (which) We recite unto you is a revelation and a wise reminder (dhikr) [3:58]. All of these acts of worship are referred to as dhikr since Muslims invoke the Name of God in them.
As for the meaning of dhikr of God when not associated with any of these things, it is the invocation of God that Muslims do with their tongues and hearts outside of the acts of worship we have mentioned. God differentiates between invocation and prayer saying, Indeed, prayer preserves from lewdness and iniquity, but verily remembrance (dhikr) of God is greater [29:45]. The invocation of God may be done on one’s own or in a group, silently or out loud, it may be counted on one’s fingers or on prayer beads (as we made clear in the answers to the preceding questions), and it may be done with a phrase from the Qur’an and the hadith or not. It is permissible to compose a new invocation as long as it comprises meanings that do not conflict with Islam.
There is nothing wrong with invoking one of God’s Names, and there is no evidence to indicate that it is forbidden, rather there is evidence that indicates its permissibility. Those who differ may object to the invocation of God through one of His Names for the following reasons: They may say, for example, that invoking God through one of His Names has not been related from the Prophet. This is something we clarified in an answer to a question which discusses the issue of the evidentiary nature of the Prophet’s not having done an action. We will return to an examination of a hadith that was mentioned in that fatwa in order to prove the permissibility of composing a new [form of] invocation, even if that invocation is [used] in the prayer.
Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar mentions the hadith of Rifa’ah ibn Rafi’ al-Zarqi that says, “One day we were praying behind the Prophet and when he raised his head from bowing he said, “God hears those who praise.” A man behind him said, “O Lord, all praise is Yours, much good and blessed praise.” When he finished he asked, “Who was it that spoke?” The man replied, “It was I.” The Prophet said, “I saw thirty-odd angels hastening to be the first to write it down.” Following this he [Ibn Hajar] said, “This hadith has been used as evidence for the permissibility of composing a new invocation in prayer that is not from the Qur’an or the sunna as long as it does not contradict them.”
The objection may also be that invoking God with one of His Names alone does not carry the meaning of exaltation, and one must have a complete sentence in order for that meaning to be present. The answer [to this objection] is that the invocation of God’s Name alone does carry the meaning of exaltation, and this is what the scholars understood. The Imam of imams, Abu Hanifah asserts this when discussing the issue of whether or not one enters prayer merely by mentioning the Name of God alone.
The author of al-Bada’ says, “According to Abu Hanifah the text is understood [to mean that the opening of the prayer] has the meaning of exaltation, and that occurs with the Name alone. The evidence for this is that one would enter the prayer if he said, “There is no god but God,” and that occurs by his saying “God,” not by the negation.” So Imam Abu Hanifah is of the opinion that with the name God alone exaltation occurs without the condition of it being in a complete sentence.
This is a response to those who differ if they claim that it is not found in the Qur’an and sunna, or that exaltation does not occur with it. In addition to these responses, there are texts in the Qur’an and the sunna that permit one to say, “Allah,” like that, on its own, and this covers the invocation of the Name of God. These texts include: Say: Allah. Then leave them to their play of caviling [6:91], and, So remember the name of your Lord and devote yourself with a complete devotion [73:8]. The prophetic hadiths evidence that the invocation of God with His Name alone will exist and be praised before the coming of the Hour and that its vanishing will be one of the final signs: according to Anas, the Prophet said, “The Hour will not come until ‘God, God,’ is no longer being said.” Another narration says, “The Hour will not come upon anyone saying, ‘God, God.” Thabit said, “Salman was in a group invoking God when the Prophet passed by, so they stopped. The Prophet said, “What were you saying?” We said, “We are invoking, ‘Allah, Allah.” He said, “I saw mercy descending upon you so I wanted to join you in it.” Then he said, “Praise to God who has placed in my community those with whom I have been commanded to be patient.”
Muslims do not need evidence to say, “Allah” as long as they feel the meanings of exaltation, intimacy, and remembrance, as long as invoking the Name of God alone does not contradict the principles of faith and the bases of Islam, and as long as they assert that the invocations attributed to the Prophet are generally better. The transmitted and rational evidence we have mentioned, as well as the interpretation of the scholars, should make those who differ leave the invokers of God alone to invoke Him however their hearts are moved. And God is Most High and Knows best.