He is Allah—there is no god except Him: the King, the Most Holy, the All-Perfect, the Source of Serenity, the Watcher ˹of all˺, the Almighty, the Supreme in Might,1 the Majestic. Glorified is Allah far above what they associate with Him ˹in worship˺! [Surah al-Hashr 59:23]
Al-Malik is a name of Allah(SWT) which is translated as the only, absolute and true Sovereign King, complete and perfect in His Kingship, the One Whom there is no Kingship above His Kingship nor anywhere near it, everything being incomparable to Him and beneath Him, the Sovereign Owner of everything who does whatever He wishes with regard to the creation with nothing to prevent or hinder Him, whose commands are fully effective within His dominion, the king of all kings.
There are three names which are built around the root word – al malk, which infers absolute possession and absolute control. These are:
- Al-Malik which appears five times in the Qur’ān including “So high above all is Allāh, the King…” [Surah Taha 20:114]
Imam Ibn Kathīr’s definition of Al-Mālik was: “The owner of all things who executes his will over them without any resistance.”
- Al-Maalik which appears twice in the Qur’ān including: “The Owner of the Day of Recompense.” [Surah al Fatihah, 1:4]
- Al-Maleek which appears only once in the Qur’ān: “Indeed, the righteous will be among gardens and rivers, in a seat of Honour, near a Sovereignperfect in ability.” [Surah al Qamar 54:55]
Allah(SWT) describes the concept of complete possession and control in many places in the Qur’an including
Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “O Allah! Lord over all authorities! You give authority to whoever You please and remove it from who You please; You honour whoever You please and disgrace who You please—all good is in Your Hands. Surely You ˹alone˺ are Most Capable of everything.
You cause the night to pass into the day and the day into the night. You bring forth the living from the dead and the dead from the living. And You provide for whoever You will without limit.” [Surah aale-Imran 3:26-27]
The difference between al Malik and al Maalik
Al-Malik (the King)
You may own something but if you cant command and control it, you are not its true malik (king). For example, most of us own a car but we cant drive it at 150mph, hide its number plate identification or even park it wherever we please without a traffic warden fining us for it. As for Allāh (SWT), however, He is Al-Mālik (the Owner) of all, and Al-Malik (the King) Whose command comes to pass over every inch of His Kingdom.
The oppressors may think they can drive their power over others and possess land wherever they please, but all it takes is for a coronavirus particle to shut down the whole world – something so small that it you need an electron microscope to see them, if you lined up 80,000 of them side by side, they span 1 centimetre, approximately the size of your thumb.
The human brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to 10,000 other neurons. Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe, gifted to you by al-Malik, the most generous King, Allah(SWT). Your brain is faster and more powerful than a supercomputer, generating enough electricity to power a lightbulb, with information reaching it at more than 150 miles per hour, which changes in structure every time you learn or have a new thought. Yes, we may own it in our head, but we don’t control it. All it takes, is a high blood pressure, liver disease or head trauma which can cause bleeding to the brain – haemorrhage – and we don’t own any part of our body.
Al Maalik(Owner) refers to own something specific e.g. a car, house, mobile phone, but al-Malik (the King) is in reference to complete ownership. In Fath ul Bari, its stated that in the entirety of human history, only four individuals have ever been known to have reigned over the entire globe – two Muslims and two non-Muslims:
- Prophet Sulayman (AS)
- Dhu al-Qarnayn
- Nebuchadnezzar, the 7th century Babylonian king who destroyed the city of Jerusalem and exiled the Jews
Nevertheless, even in their cases, their kingdoms were limited to their time, and everyone has to hand it over sooner or later willingly or forcefully, as he either leaves it or it leaves him.
During his dying moments, the 7th Abbasi Khaleefah, Al-Ma’mūn, son of Hārūn Al-Rashīd, requested to be carried off his bed and laid flat on the ground. There, with his face on the ground in humility to Allāh, he was heard saying:
“O You Whose kingdom never perishes, have mercy on the one whose kingdom has perished.”
Allāh’s Kingdom (mulk), has always been His and can never be taken away from Him, neither by coups, illness, nor death. His Kingdom is not limited to time or space; it extends from the eternal past all the way into the eternal future. In Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs (RA), its mentioned that
On the day when we will emerge from our graves, and everything we have done will be exposed, Allah (SWT) will roll up the heavens and the earth in His Hand and will say, “I am the King, I am the Compeller, I am the Proud. Where are the kings of the earth? Where are the tyrants? Where are the proud’?
Allah(SWT) will take the souls of all of His creatures, and will say, Li man il mulk al yawm “Whose is the kingdom today” three times, and when no-one responds, He(SWT) will answer Himself by saying,
لِلَّهِ الْوَحِدِ الْقَهَّارِ It is Allah’s, the One, the Irresistible!
الْيَوْمَ تُجْزَى كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَـسَبَتْ لاَ ظُلْمَ الْيَوْمَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ
(This Day shall every person be recompensed for what he earned. This Day no injustice (shall be done to anybody). Truly, Allah is swift in reckoning.) Here Allah tells us of His justice when He judges between His creation; He does not do even a speck of dust’s weight of injustice, whether it be for good or for evil. For every good deed He gives a tenfold reward and for every bad deed He gives recompense of one bad deed. Allah says:
لاَ ظُلْمَ الْيَوْمَ This Day no injustice (shall be done to anybody. The only true Merciful and Just King.
The kings and rulers of this world rely on deputies, architects, financers, and supporters. Trump planned to build a wall to keep out immigrants and drugs crossing the border, and in 4 years, with all his resources and in spite of some disagreement, he only managed to build 15 miles of new border wall. In fact, the number of foreign-born people living in the US rose by about 3% from 43.7 million to 45 million in 2020.
Whereas, Allah(SWT) has never been in need of any support or deputy – ˹Allah is˺ the One to Whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, Who has never had ˹any˺ offspring, nor does He have a partner in ˹governing˺ the kingdom. (Wa lam ya kullahu shareekun fil mulk) He has created everything, ordaining it precisely. [Surah al-Furqan 25:2]
When a king of this world spends, their wealth and resources diminish, but Allahs kingdom continues to expand year after year – world population has increased from 1 billion in 1800 to 4.4 billion in 1980 and 7.9 billion today. Even, the universe has been expanding continuously for more than 13.8 billion years, and at an accelerating rate.
With the kings and rulers of this world, increased power seems often to cause increased corruption and oppression – whether its Syria, Yemen or Palestine, those in authority aim to usurp and take advantage of others. Hence, it will be on the Day of Reckoning that man will realise in the starkest of ways that kingdom only ever belonged to Al-Malik, whilst everything in his hands was but a mirage.
In sharp contrast, Allāh’s name “Al-Malik” features alongside His name “Al-Quddūs” (the Pure). Not only is He King of all, but His Kingdom is – as we have discovered – free from any defect, and whether in this life or on the Day of Judgement, every injustice will be accounted for.
Alhamdulillāh that True Kingdom has not been placed in the hands of man and that our existence has been entrusted to none but Allāh.
How do we apply this in our lives?
Respond to the call of al-Malik: Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (SAW) as saying: Allah descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the first part of the night is over and says: I am the Lord; I am the Lord: who is there to supplicate Me so that I answer him? Who is there to beg of Me so that I grant him? Who is there to beg forgiveness from Me so that I forgive him? He continues like this till the day breaks. [Sahih Muslim, Book 6, Hadith 202]
Use this name in your dua: Its mentioned in the sahih of Al-Tabarani in Al-Mu’jam Al-Sagheer No# 558 that the Prophet(SAW) said to Muadh(RA) “Shall I not teach you a du’ā which, if you say it, Allāh will take care of your debts even if they are like a mountain in size? Mu’ādh, say the following
“O Allāh, Possessor of the kingdom, You give the kingdom to whom You will, and You take the kingdom from whom You will, and You endue with honour whom You will, and You humiliate whom You will. All goodness is in Your Hands. You are certainly able to do all things. You are the Rahmān of this world and the next, and their Rahīm. You give from them to whom You will and deprive from whom You will. Have mercy upon me, a mercy that will suffice me from the mercy of all others.’
Stay in the limits of Al-Malik: Would you drive 60 mph while in a 30 mph zone when you know a camera is ready to record you and fine you accordingly? In your daily life keep reminding yourself to remain within the bounds set by Allah, al-Malik, your King, and imagine both His punishment and reward.
Retreat to Al-Malik: Never again will the worshipper of Al-Malik be seen begging from creation, nor will his heart latch on to creation during his times of need.
Its narrated that al-Mahdi (the third Abbasi Khaleef) went to perform Hajj and on entering the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina, everyone inside stood up for him with the exception of one person – Ibn Abi Al-Dhi’b, a jurist of Madina. When the entourage of the Khaleef pushed him to stand, saying this is the leader of the believers.” Ibn Abi Al-Dhi’b replied Innamaa yaquumu naas li rabbil ‘aalameen, “People stand before Allāh, the Lord of the Worlds.” referring to the words of Surah al Mutafifeen [83:6]
Upon hearing this, Al-Mahdi said “Leave him alone, for every hair on my head has just stood on end.”[ Siyar A’lām Al-Nubalā]
Humbleness towards people: This sense of independence from people should not cause arrogance. Rather the Prophet(SAW) showed us how to understand the meaning of al Malik. On the day when Mecca was conquered, a man came to speak to the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), and when his eyes fell on the Messenger, he was overcome by awe and began to shake.
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) calmed him down by saying to him “Be calm, for I am not a king. (lastu bi malik) I am just the son of a woman from Quraish who used to eat dry meat. [Dalā’il Al-Nubuwwa, Al-Bayhaqi]
Knowing Al-Malik is to know that the money that you count today was counted by hands before yours and will be counted by hands after yours. Your home was inhabited by people before you and will be inhabited by people after you. Knowing Al-Malik, therefore, rouses inner humility by force. It leaves no room for self-admiration, selfishness, or pride. It allows one to be quick to offer and accept apologies, to give excuses to people, to offer the benefit of the doubt, to show patience towards ignorant behaviour, and to be far more interested in discharging the rights of others than claiming one’s own.
Ibn Taymiyya would frequently be heard saying: Ma lee shay’un, wa laa minnee shay’un wa laa fee shay’un“I possess nothing, I have done nothing, and I am nothing.”[ Madārij Al-Sālikīn]
Submit to the decree of Al-Malik: Many may question that we have made dua many times for something – family members to be reconciled, a happy marriage, overcoming an illness or financial independence – but have yet to see these materialise. Know that Al-Malik, is free to do as He wishes in His Kingdom.
Shaykh Ibrahim narrates a story about an old man who was a devout worshipper who spent his time remembering Allah(SWT) often; but he was slightly pre-occupied with the loaf of bread, which was his sustenance for the entire day.
Sayyidina Musa (AS) happened to be walking past. The old man thought, ‘Here is my chance to send a message to Almighty Allāh..’.
So, he greeted Sayyidina Musa (AS) and said somewhat falteringly, “O Musa, when you speak to your Creator, can you please ask Him to increase my rizq [sustenance], for so long now, all I have is single loaf of bread per day. I long for more. Can I not have more than this? If you ask him, O Musa, surely He will answer your request, and grant me more.”
Without hesitation, Sayyidina Musa (AS) affirmed he would be ask Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.
Sayyidina Musa (AS)received a reply and said to the old man, “This is your lot in life, to receive one loaf of bread a day. This was what had been written for you, for all the days of his life.”
The old man was overjoyed. He clapped his hands with delight! Surprised by this reaction,
Sayyidina Musa (AS)asked him the reason for his joy?
The man replied, “If it is written – then so it shall be! I have nothing to worry about anymore. At least, I will always receive one loaf of bread, for the rest of my life.”
And with that he went back to his prayers.
Months passed, the man’s tranquillity increased with the knowledge, he was not worried about his sustenance, anymore. Which enabled him to focus on his remembrance of Allāh; which caused him less time, to focus on food, and even less time to eat.
So, from eating one loaf of bread per day, he barely managed to eat half a loaf. What remained of the loaf of bread every day, was put in a corner. Soon, the pile in the corner began to increase, until it became a huge heap.
One morning a herdsman was passing through the village, and he stopped to speak to the old man. He was looking for hay for his livestock – but there was none to be found.
The old man said to him, “Why don’t you take the stale bread that is lying in that heap, soften it with water, and give it to your animals.”
The herdsman did this, his herd happily ate every last crumb. The herdsman, to show his gratitude, gave the old man a female goat, and went on his way.
Days passed into months, and a few years had gone by when Sayyidina Musa (AS)happened to be passing this way again.
To his astonishment, he found the old man’s place, had been transformed into a garden.
There were fruit trees growing nearby, and animals grazing not very far away. There was a field with grain, full of abundance and well being.
Sayyidina Musa (AS) found out that all this belonged to the same old man.Puzzled, because he knew what was written in the old man’s destiny- a single loaf of bread a day.
Sayyidina Musa (AS) asked the old man, “What is this?”
The old man replied, “One loaf of bread was written as my sustenance in life. The fruit trees, the livestock, and field of crops, are the Barakah and Grace of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, which have come from being content with Allāh’s decree.”
“If you are grateful, I will give you more.” – Qur’an.
May Allah(SWT) enable understanding of Him as Al-Malik enable our hearts to find rest and our limbs to submit to the decree of Al-Malik.