(The Flawless Shaper)
The Fashioner, The Bestower of Form, The Shaper of Unique Beauty
Allah is Al-Musawwir (in arabic: ٱلْمُصَوِّرُ), meaning He brings into existence whatever He wills and in whatever manner He wills it. He says, kun faya kun, “Be! and it is". He is the fashioner of every creation and has given it a special form whereby it is distinguished.
From the root sad-waw-ra (ص و ر), which has the following classical Arabic connotations: to make something incline, lean or bend towards, to form, fashion, sculpt, imagine or picture something, to have an inclination or desire towards something.
The three names of creation, Al-Khaliq (The Creator), Al-Bari (The Producer), and Al-Musawwir (The Fashioner). These names may seem synonymous with Allah's ability to invent or create. But they are distinct names offering unique shades of meaning, bringing out different aspects to Allah's creating of creation. For example, these three names are often said to represent an order to His creation. First, you have Al-Khaliq, The Creator. He who produces something from nothing, i.e., He plans and creates. Secondly, He is Al-Bari, The Producer - the one who initiates and brings into existence. Lastly, He is Al-Musawwir, The Fashioner - He organizes and shapes the arrangement of the creation.
What's amazing is these names are followed in this exact sequence based on their meaning in in the following ayah:
Huwal Laahul Khaaliqul Baari ‘ul Musawwir; lahul Asmaaa’ul Husnaa; yusabbihu lahoo maa fis samaawaati wal ardi wa Huwal ‘Azeezul Hakeem
"He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor, the Fashioner; to Him belong the best names. Whatever is in the heavens and earth is exalting Him. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise." — (Qur'an 59:24)
Imam al-Ghazali compares these three names to the process of constructing a house. You have the planner, the builder, and the designer who gives it its final shape. Similarly, Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ takes on the three roles - the creator, producer, and the fashioner. However, the difference is we are not really inventing. Only Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ creates and He does so on an unimaginable scale. He creates from nothingness, whereas we are merely finding ways to transform material from one form to another. We are limited in what we can make, whereas Allah's creation is unbounded.
We've covered the only verse which explicitly mentions the name Al-Musawwir which establishes it as a name of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ. The following verses further exemplify the quality of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ as being the fashioner:
Yaaa ayyuhal insaaanu maa gharraka bi Rabbikal kareem Allazee khalaqaka fasaw waaka fa’adalak Feee ayye sooratim maa shaaa’a rakkabak
"O mankind, what has deceived you concerning your Lord, the Generous, Who created you, proportioned you, and balanced you? In whatever form He willed has He assembled you." — (Qur'an 82:6-8)
Wa min Aayaatihee khalqus samaawaati wal aardi wakhtilaafu alsinatikum wa alwaanikum; inna fee zaalika la Aayaatil lil’aalimeen
"And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge." — (Qur'an 30:22)
Wallaahu akhrajakum mim butooni ummahaatikum laa ta’lamoona shai’anw wa ja’ala lakumus sam’a wal absaara wal af’idata la’allakum tashkuroon
"And Allah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and intellect that perhaps you would be grateful." — (Qur'an 16:78)
These verses and Allah's names of creations are a reminder to us of how we should be grateful to Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ. You can read the benefits of knowing these names, as we already discussed in al-Khaliq and al-Bari. We can take with us a lesson from the life of Prophet Suleiman (as). Remember this as you read this next section, Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is the fashioner; he forms us unique and however, He pleases.
Prophet Suleiman (as) was a wealthy King, ruling over the Israelites, loved by the people, and endowed with many unique abilities. The Qur'an says that he gifted "the language of the birds." We also learn that he could hear the ants when they spoke and that he could command the Jinn. Moreover, he was wise, "And We had certainly given to David and Solomon knowledge" (27:15). Do you think he cultivated this ability on his own? No, of course not. These are the gifts that only the creator can bestow. Prophet Suleiman (as) knew this himself, which is why he made the following du'a which we are told in Surah Naml:
Fatabassama daahikam min qawlihaa wa qaala Rabbi awzi’nee an ashkura ni’mata kal lateee an’amta ‘alaiya wa ‘alaa waalidaiya wa an a’mala saalihan tardaahu wa adkhilnee birahmatika fee ‘ibaadikas saaliheen
"So [Solomon] smiled, amused at her speech, and said, 'My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to do righteousness of which You approve. And admit me by Your mercy into [the ranks of] Your righteous servants.'" — (Qur'an 27:19)
The complete du'a of Prophet Suleiman (as) starts with the word Rabbi, meaning "My Lord." This du'a has been highlighted for your reference.
In concluding on these three names of creation we accept, whether we deem a thing good or bad, it is all perfect because it is how Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ intended it to be, "Such is Allah; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, 'Be,' and it is." (3:47)