Al-Aliyy / Al-Alee

(The High)

Al-Ali Meaning:

The Exalted and High. The One who is High in all respects.

Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is Al-Aliyy (in Arabic: ٱلْعَلِيُّ), the most exalted and all high. He exceeds all others, and there is nothing higher. He is the one whose rank and station are the highest. He is above all that has or will ever be.

Mentions of Al-Ali:
From Quran & Hadith

Arabic Root:
From the root ayn-lam-waw (ع ل و), which has the following classical Arabic connotations: to be high, elevated, lofty to be exalted, to rise up, to ascend to be higher, to exceed, surpass, to overcome, overwhelm, to advance, promote, rise above, to mount, be overtop, eminent.

Al-Aliyy, Al-Ala, and Muta-Ali:
There are two names, Al-Aliyy (The High) and Al-Ala (The Most High). This is separate from the 78th name, Al-Muta'Ali, which means The High Above, The Exalted. These names describe the transcendent nature of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ and His loftiness when compared to all other creations. Imam al-Ghazali mentions, "[He] is the one above whose rank there is no rank, and all ranks are inferior to Him. This is because high is derived from 'height', and 'height' is taken from elevation that is the opposite of lowness." Al-Aliyy is the all-high without any reference point. This is an intrinsic quality. Al-Muta-Ali is a variation that is a more intensified form.

In the Qur'an, the name Al-Ala appears five times, Al-Aliyy five, and Al-Muta'Ali only once.

سَبِّحِ ٱسْمَ رَبِّكَ ٱلْأَعْلَى

Sabbihisma Rabbikal A'laa

English Translation:
"Exalt the name of your Lord, the Most High," — (Qur'an 87:1)

Connecting with this name in your salah:
His essence to being above His creation in a literal sense. This may be more subjective, but when we cry out to Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ in a time of need, we have this intuition to look up to the sky. We make du'a seeking His guidance or help. Another act of submission is how we bow our heads in ruku or sujood to show He سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is higher. At our lowest point in sujood (prostration), we say, Subhana Rabbi Al Ala meaning, "Glory is to my Lord, the Most High."[1] And in the Qur'an, "They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded." (Qur'an 16:50)

Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is above:
The other meaning refers to the highness of His attributes being above all. He is above all creation in all respects. As we've studied up to this name of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ, many of His qualities often indicate a form of being grand or perpetual. That is why it's The Most Merciful, The Most Gracious, The All-Hearing, and The All-Seeing.

Being above the Throne:
"It is He who created the heavens and earth in six days and then established Himself above the Throne. He knows what penetrates into the earth and what emerges from it and what descends from the heaven and what ascends therein; and He is with you wherever you are. And Allah, of what you do, is Seeing." (Quran 57:4) It is oft-mentioned in the Qur'an that Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is above the Throne or ascended the Throne, (i.e., sits on the Throne).

The throne is often interpreted as being the place which Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ governs the entire universe, the place where He showers blessings of life and power. Imam al-Ghazali writes, "For the throne is the most exalted body, and is above all bodies: an object far beyond determination and calculation in terms of the boundaries of bodies and the measure proper to them; it is above all bodies in rank.Special mention is made of." Many other verses mention Him being above the throne. We've included them here for your reference: 13:2, 10:3, 7:54, 25:59, 20:5. The most well-known verse would be "the Verse of the Throne" or Ayatul Kursi:

ٱللَّهُ لَآ إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ٱلۡحَيُّ ٱلۡقَيُّومُۚ لَا تَأۡخُذُهُۥ سِنَةٞ وَلَا نَوۡمٞۚ لَّهُۥ مَا فِي ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَمَا فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِۗ مَن ذَا ٱلَّذِي يَشۡفَعُ عِندَهُۥٓ إِلَّا بِإِذۡنِهِۦۚ يَعۡلَمُ مَا بَيۡنَ أَيۡدِيهِمۡ وَمَا خَلۡفَهُمۡۖ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيۡءٖ مِّنۡ عِلۡمِهِۦٓ إِلَّا بِمَا شَآءَۚ وَسِعَ كُرۡسِيُّهُ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَۖ وَلَا يَـُٔودُهُۥ حِفۡظُهُمَاۚ وَهُوَ ٱلۡعَلِيُّ ٱلۡعَظِيمُ

Allahu laaa ilaaha illaa Huwal Haiyul Qaiyoom; laa taakhuzuhoo sinatunw wa laa nawm; lahoo maa fissamaawaati wa maa fil ard; man zal lazee yashfa’u indahooo illaa bi-iznih; ya’lamu maa baina aydeehim wa maa khalfahum wa laa yuheetoona bishai’im min ‘ilmihee illaa bimaa shaaa’; wasi’a Kursiyyuhus samaawaati wal arda wa laa Ya’ooduhoo hifzuhumaa; wa Huwal Aliyyul Azeem

English Translation:
"Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great." — (Qur'an 2:255)

Things are elevated to Him:
There are also verses that mention things ascending to Him, meaning they are low and must rise upwards to Him, "Whoever desires honor [through power] – then to Allah belongs all honor. To Him ascends good speech, and righteous work raises it." (Qur'an 35:10) and "The angels and the Spirit will ascend to Him during a Day the extent of which is fifty thousand years." (Qur'an 70:4)

Ibn Abbas reported that Allah's Apostle ﷺ used to supplicate during the time of trouble (in these words): La ilaha illallahul-Adhimul-Haleem. La ilaha illallahu Rabbul-‘Arshil-‘Adhim. La ilaha illallahu Rabbus-samawati, wa Rabbul-ardi, wa Rabbul-‘Arshil- Kareem. "There is no god but Allah, the Great, the Tolerant, there is no god but Allah, the Lord of the Magnificent Throne There is no god but Allah, the Lord of the Heaven and the earth, the Lord of the Edifying Throne."[2]

The believer benefits in knowing that Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is Al-Aliyy. He is The Most-High, The Exalted. There is no one else we need to rely upon but Him. The believers will be among those who are higher. Musa (as) was commanded to appear before Firawn and cast his staff. He was fearful as he did not know what would happen next, but Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ comforts him in saying, "Fear not! Lo! thou art the higher."

وَلَا تَنفَعُ ٱلشَّفَٰعَةُ عِندَهُۥٓ إِلَّا لِمَنۡ أَذِنَ لَهُۥۚ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا فُزِّعَ عَن قُلُوبِهِمۡ قَالُواْ مَاذَا قَالَ رَبُّكُمۡۖ قَالُواْ ٱلۡحَقَّۖ وَهُوَ ٱلۡعَلِيُّ ٱلۡكَبِيرُ

Wa laa tanfa’ush shafaa’atu ‘indahooo illaa liman azina lah; hattaaa izaa fuzzi’a ‘an quloobihim qaaloo maazaa qaala Rabbukum; qaalul haqq, wa Huwal Aliyul Kabeer

English Translation:
"And intercession does not benefit with Him except for one whom He permits. [And those wait] until, when terror is removed from their hearts, they will say [to one another], “What has your Lord said?” They will say, “The truth.” And He is the Most High, the Grand." — (Quran 34:23)

Another hadith narration provides us with a supplication we can recite using the name Al-Aliyy. Best for the one who may find themselves wrestling to learn the Qur'an and/or it's concepts. It was narrated that Ibn Abi Awfa said: "A man came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said: 'I cannot learn anything of the Quran; teach me something that I can say instead of reciting the Quran.' He said: 'Say: SubhanAllah, wal-hamdulilah, wa la illaha ill-Allah, wa Allahu Akbar, wa la hawla wa la quwwata illa Billahil-aliy al-azim (Glory be to Allah, praise be to Allah, there is none worthy of worship except Allah, Allah is Most Great, and there is no power and no strength except with Allah the Exalted and Magnificent).'" [3]

[1] Sahih (Darussalam) Jami At-Tirmidhi 262
[2] Sahih Muslim 2730a
[3] Hasan (Darussalam) Sunan an-Nasa'i 924

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