(The Dominant One)

The Tremendous, The Great, The Proud.

Al-Mutakabbir (in Arabic: ٱلْمُتَكَبِّرُ) means the supremely great one. He is exalted far above all creation, The One who is clear from the attributes of the creatures and from resembling them. He has rights, privileges, and qualities that others do not have. He is tremendous and manifests this greatness in all things and many ways.

Mentions of Al-Mutakabbir:
From Quran & Hadith

Arabic Root:
From the root kaf-ba-ra (ك ب ر), which in Classical Arabic means: to be great in size, rank or dignity to be great in size, to be vast, formidable to be great in age, oldest to be great in dignity, noble, majestic to be great in learning, most known to have rights above all others.

What it means for Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ to be proud:
The word Mutakabbir is derived from kabara meaning great, exalted, noble. Common translations of Al-Mutakabbir include "The All Supreme," "The Proud," "The Dominant One," and "The Great." These are all valid and acceptable interpretations of the name. This name shows there is a vast distinction between Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ and all His creation. Everything pales in comparison. Thus, He is the supreme, the proud, the dominant one. He is the king of kings, and we are His servants unworthy of consideration in relation to Him.

هُوَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِي لَآ إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ٱلۡمَلِكُ ٱلۡقُدُّوسُ ٱلسَّلَٰمُ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُ ٱلۡمُهَيۡمِنُ ٱلۡعَزِيزُ ٱلۡجَبَّارُ ٱلۡمُتَكَبِّرُۚ سُبۡحَٰنَ ٱللَّهِ عَمَّا يُشۡرِكُونَ

Huwal-laahul-lazee laaa Ilaaha illaa Huwal-Malikul Quddoosus-Salaamul Muminul Muhaiminul-aAzeezul Jabbaarul-Mutakabbir; Subhaanal laahi Ammaa yushrikoon

English Translation:
"He is Allah, other than whom there is no deity, the Sovereign, the Pure, the Perfection, the Bestower of Faith, the Overseer, the Exalted in Might, the Compeller, the Superior. Exalted is Allah above whatever they associate with Him." — (Qur'an 59:23)

The idea behind the name of Al-Mutakabbir, meaning "The Proud," is that Allah alone possesses greatness; no one can compete with Him. Abu Sa'id Khudri and Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said: Glory is His lower garment and Majesty is His cloak and (Allah says,) He who contends with Me in regard to them I shall torment him. [1]

Now, if you were the best in a particular field or sport, we're talking complete domination; no one comes close to winning. Wouldn't you feel proud of your ability and achievements? In this regard, Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is said to be proud. Imam Ghazali explains Al-Mutakabbir as the one "Who sees greatness and Majesty only in regard to himself, and looks upon others as a king looks upon his servants. And if his assessment be correct, he will be truly proud."

Avoid Arrogance:
Note the emphasis on "...if his assessment be correct" imagine if the presumptions of greatness were false, then that person is due for a rude awakening. This is the story of Iblis. He was the first to claim arrogance. He believed he was great in exclusion of all else, and he was humiliated by Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ. This danger looms true for all. Don't become arrogant, and believe in your superiority. Those who do fail to realize it was from Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ and not their own doing.

Even Firawn, the king of Egypt, likened himself to a God. But where are all the caesars and dictators now? What empires still stand that honor, worship, and praise them daily? Their pride became arrogance which was based on faulty presumptions. They believed they had no one to answer to, "Thus does Allah seal over every heart [belonging to] an (mutakabbirin jabbaar) arrogant tyrant." (Qur'an 40:35) In the tafsir of Abul-Maududi it says of this verse, "the seal is not set on the heart of anybody without a reason. This seal of curse is set only on the heart of the one who is filled with arrogance and spirit of violence and tyranny." In another ayah, "But Moses said, 'Indeed, I have sought refuge in my Lord and your Lord from every arrogant one who does not believe in the Day of Account." (Qur'an 40:27)

A lesson to be learned is as you grow skilled in a field, it's natural that you'd get more confident. But when you start to think of yourself as an expert, you make yourself vulnerable, hence the saying, "it's the strong swimmers who drown." It's the strong swimmers who take more risks and, as a result, face fatal accidents. It's too late for them, and their fate is sealed. Similarly, what's better for the believer is to focus on finding truth. To avoid arrogance in thinking that they already know.

The human condition is a desire to know, expand, and have power. It's hard to renounce all things - which, if you could, would be better. But that's the road less traveled. It's difficult and discomforting to assume you don't know or to admit you are uncertain. It feels reassuring to think you know something. But in this facade, you deprive yourself of going further. The tricky part of having poor judgment is you don't know when you have it. It's far better to find evidence in reality to support your view - and even then, not to draw conclusions. The moment you feel you know something, you allow yourself to stop searching.

We all likely share a similar experience in studying for a test. You may have gone over a homework problem, looked at the answer, and thought, "yeah that make sense" or "that's easy," and moved on. But when a similar question appeared on the test, we "blanked out" and couldn't answer it. Really we just fooled ourselves into thinking we knew and never got evidence to support that we really did. It would've been wise to test and practice, space out some time, and do it again. This way, we would not fool ourselves into thinking we knew something when we really didn't.

To try and characterize oneself as being great and as feeling proud of their achievements in a non-conceited way, we can simplify it to the basic philosophy of doing your best. Be clear and deliberate in understanding what's important to you, and then try your best to live up to that standard. If you could go to bed every day knowing you've done your best, how can you not say you succeeded in what you set out to do? As a result of doing this over an extended period, you will surely get recognition from those closest to you, and perhaps it will shine through for others to see as well. But that part is something that will happen as a by-product, not as the goal for attainment. More important to ask how to be deserving of greatness rather than a desire for greatness.

In another light, Al-Mutakabbir is also the one we can lean on when we are faced with an obstacle that seems insurmountable. It's a name that should inspire hope and optimism. As the Qur'an mentions:

إِن يَنصُرۡكُمُ ٱللَّهُ فَلَا غَالِبَ لَكُمۡۖ وَإِن يَخۡذُلۡكُمۡ فَمَن ذَا ٱلَّذِي يَنصُرُكُم مِّنۢ بَعۡدِهِۦۗ وَعَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَلۡيَتَوَكَّلِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ

Iny-yansurkumul laahu falaa ghaaliba lakum wa iny-yakhzulkum faman zal lazee yansurukum min ba’dih; wa ‘alal laahi falyatawakkalil mu’minoon

English Translation:
"If Allah should aid you, no one can overcome you; but if He should forsake you, who is there that can aid you after Him? And upon Allah let the believers rely." — (Qur'an 3:160)

[1] Sahih (Al-Albani) Sunan Abi Dawud 4090 & Sahih Muslim 2620

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