Allah calls Himself Al-‘Allaam— The Most Knowing, the All-Knowing— on four occasions in the Quran. He is the one with the highest level of knowledge. Al-‘Allaam is both All-Knowing and Most-Knowing; His knowledge is complete, perfect, encompasses all of creation, and is far above any other knowledge!
The Most Knowing, the All-and-Ever-Knowing
‘Allaam comes from the root ‘ayn-laam-meem, which points to four main meanings. The first main meaning is to have knowledge and be aware and certain, and the second is to gather information. The third main meaning is to have deep knowledge of minute details, and the fourth main meaning is to act according to knowledge.
This root appears 854 times in the Quran in 14 derived forms. Examples of these forms are ‘aleemun (“All-Knowing”), ‘ilm (knowledge), ‘alima (to know), ‘allama (to teach), and ‘aalemeen (the worlds).
Linguistically, ‘aleem is the intense form of ‘aalim (one who knows) and ‘allaam is the most emphatic form of the word.
Al-‘Allaam therefore refers to the highest form of knowledge of all things, past, present and future, an attribute which only belongs to Allah ‘azza wa jall.
Al-‘Allaam Himself says: You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen [Quran, 5:116] . . . Say, ‘Indeed, my Lord projects the truth. Knower of the unseen.’[Quran, 34:48]
The Knower of the Unseen
All four times Allah’s name Al-‘Allaam occurs in the Quran, it comes in the same combination: ‘Allaam-ul-ghuyoob – Knower of the unseen. His attribute of being most knowledgable, All- and Ever Knowing is linked to the unseen as this is an ultimate example of how human knowledge fails, regardless of all our technology and scientific discoveries.
However, there are also those who falsely claim to have knowledge of the unseen. Related to this issue ‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: Whoever tells you that he knows what will happen tomorrow is lying. Then she recited, “No person knows what he will earn tomorrow [Al-Bukhaaree]
The Prophet salallahu ‘alayhi beautifully explained: … And with Him are the keys of the Ghayb (all that is hidden), none knows them but He…[Quranm 6:59] by referring to five things mentioned in Surah Luqmaan: Verily, Allaah, with Him (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain, and knows that which is in the wombs. No person knows what he will earn tomorrow, and no person knows in what land he will die. Verily, Allah is All‑Knower, All‑Aware (of things. [Quran, 31:34]
How Can You Live by This Name?
1. Strive for the best of knowledge.
There are different types and branches of knowledge; one example that of things created by Allah, of which some are beneficial and others are not. Knowing all about the life of a certain pop star is an example of knowledge of no benefit to your life in this world and the next. Whereas knowledge of certain skills can be of benefit in this life to be able to practice a certain career. Another example of knowledge, which is the most honourable knowledge with most benefit, is the knowledge of the Creator Himself. So study His names and attributes with the intention to transform your life by them!
- Realize the virtue of seeking (beneficial) knowledge.
هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ – Are those with knowledge equal to those without knowledge? [Quran, 39:9] To which group do you want to belong? And the Prophet said: Whoever travels a path in search of knowledge, Allah makes easy for him a path to Paradise [Muslim] Keep reminding yourself of the importance of daily seeking Islamic knowledg, instill this eagerness in your children and start by asking Al-‘Allaam to increase you in knowledge which will benefit you in this life and the next by memorizing this beautiful Quranic supplication:
رَّبِّ زِدْنِى عِلْمًا (rabbee zidnee ‘ilma) -O my Lord! Advance me in Knowledge [Quran, 20:114].
- Convey knowledge.
The Prophet salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: Convey from me even a single verse…[Al-Bukhaaree] and mentioned an amazing fact: By Allah, were Allah to guide a single man through you would be better for you than a herd of red camels [Abu Dawood, saheeh] Make it a mission to share a piece of Islamic knowledge with someone every day inshaa’Allah!
- Be comforted and motivated.
Let the all-encompassing knowledge of Al-‘Allaam of not only each leaf that falls, but also each of your thoughts and feelings comfort you and tell yourself in times of hardship: Allah knows. At the same time, realize Al-‘Allaam knows of every move you make, even when no other human being is aware, and let this motivate you to not only watch your actions, but strive to show Him the best of you, each and every day He gives you.
- Leave a legacy of knowledge.
The Prophet said: When the human being dies, his deeds come to an end except for three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, or a righteous child who prays for him [Muslim]. When you die, you cannot do a single good deed anymore and you never know when the angel of death comes for you. Out of His mercy Al-‘Allaam taught you above three deeds which will keep counting for you, even when you die. An example is printing a leaflet with Islamic knowledge, think of a project to leave a legacy of knowledge and ask Al-‘Allaam to give you the ability to make it happen!
O Allah, Al-‘Allaam, we know that Your knowledge is above any other knowledge. Guide us to beneficial knowledge, increase our knowledge of Yourself and accept our efforts to gain knowledge. Aid us in conveying the best of knowledge and adorn us with true awareness of Your knowledge so it instills a feeling of comfort in us and motivates us to do that which pleases You most, ameen!
Wallahu ta’alaa ‘alem.
To learn how to live by the beautiful Name Al-‘Aleem, click here: https://understandquran.com/and-the-answer-is-al-aneem.html.
The Understand Quran Academy Team