(The Exalter)

Ar-Rafi Meaning:

The Exalter, The Elevator, The Raiser.

Allah is Ar-Rafi (in Arabic: ٱلْرَّافِعُ). He is The One who lowers whoever He wills and raises whoever He wills. The One who chooses who will be raised in rank in every way.

Mentions of Ar-Rafi:
From Quran & Hadith

From the root r-f-‘ which has the following classical Arabic connotations: to raise or elevate something, to uplift, to take it up, to make high, to exalt, make honorable, make eminent, to bring a thing near.

This name is contrasted with al-Khafid, meaning the reducer. Just as Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ can lower, He has the power and ability to raise. He honors certain individuals like the Prophets (may peace be upon them), who are still revered to this day. Others have been disgraced, like Abu Lahab, the uncle of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ who has an entire Surah debasing Him (i.e., Surah al-Masad).

As we mentioned in the name al-Khafid, varying scholars have different criteria for what constitutes a name of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ. Of the 99 names, 81 are explicitly mentioned in the Qur'an. Therefore, there is not one agreed-upon list for the remaining 18 names. Because of this, you won't find ar-Rafi recognized as an official name by certain scholars. This includes Ibn Uthaymeen and Ibn Hazm, among others. As a general rule of thumb, if the name includes the prefix alif lam in the Qur'an, then that's a clear indication of belonging as a name of Allah. In this case, you can see how more generally, these verses describe the attribute of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ being the one who raises.

وَتِلْكَ حُجَّتُنَآ ءَاتَيْنَـٰهَآ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ عَلَىٰ قَوْمِهِۦ ۚ نَرْفَعُ دَرَجَـٰتٍۢ مَّن نَّشَآءُ ۗ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ حَكِيمٌ عَلِيمٌۭ

Wa tilka hujjatunaaa aatainaahaaa Ibraaheema ‘alaa qawmih; narfa’u darajaatim man nashaaa’; inna Rabbaka Hakeemun ‘Aleem

English Translation:
"And that was Our [conclusive] argument which We gave Abraham against his people. We raise by degrees whom We will. Indeed, your Lord is Wise and Knowing." — (Qur'an 6:83)

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ إِذَا قِيلَ لَكُمْ تَفَسَّحُوا۟ فِى ٱلْمَجَـٰلِسِ فَٱفْسَحُوا۟ يَفْسَحِ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمْ ۖ وَإِذَا قِيلَ ٱنشُزُوا۟ فَٱنشُزُوا۟ يَرْفَعِ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ مِنكُمْ وَٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا۟ ٱلْعِلْمَ دَرَجَـٰتٍۢ ۚ وَٱللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌۭ

Yaaa ayyuhal lazeena aamanoo izaa qeela lakum tafassahoo fil majaalisi fafsahoo yafsahil laahu lakum wa izaa qeelan shuzoo fanshuzoo yarfa’il laahul lazeena aamanoo minkum wallazeena ootul ‘ilma darajaat; wallaahu bimaa ta’maloona khabeer

English Translation:
"O you who have believed, when you are told, “Space yourselves” in assemblies, then make space; Allah will make space for you. And when you are told, “Arise,” then arise; Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do." — (Qur'an 58:11)

رَفِيعُ ٱلدَّرَجَـٰتِ ذُو ٱلْعَرْشِ يُلْقِى ٱلرُّوحَ مِنْ أَمْرِهِۦ عَلَىٰ مَن يَشَآءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِۦ لِيُنذِرَ يَوْمَ ٱلتَّلَاقِ

Rafee’ud darajaati zul ‘Arshi yulqir rooha min amrihee ‘alaa mai yashaaa’u min ‘ibaadihee liyunzira yawmat talaaq

English Translation:
"[He is] the Exalted above [all] degrees, Owner of the Throne; He places the inspiration of His command upon whom He wills of His servants to warn of the Day of Meeting." — (Qur'an 40:15)

The story of Iblees encapsulates these two names perfectly. It is yet another example of how if Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ chooses, He can either exalt or debase. The popular belief among scholars is that Iblees was not an Angel but among the Jinns. But he was a high-ranking and pious one devoted to Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ. He was given the privilege to be the only one among the Angels when Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ revealed to them His latest creation in Adam (as). The reasoning for him being among Jinn is that "..angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded." (Qur'an 66:6) Angels have no free will and carry out the commandments of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ, there is no disobedience. We're also told by Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) that The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, "Angels were created from light, jinns were created from a smokeless flame of fire, and 'Adam was created from that which you have been told (i.e., sounding clay like the clay of pottery)." [1]

The confusion among people comes from this verse, "And [mention] when We said to the angels, 'Prostrate before Adam'; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers." (Qur'an 2:34) The exclusion 'except Iblees' seems to imply He was among the Angels. Al-Qurtubi said in his tafsir of Surah Baqarah: "The idea that he was one of the angels is the view of the majority [i.e., of the early sahaba], Ibn Abbas, Ibn Mas'ud, Ibn Jurayj, Ibn al-Musayyib, Qutadah and others." But in Surah Kahf it is made clear, "And [mention] when We said to the angels, 'Prostrate to Adam,' and they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was of the jinn and departed from the command of his Lord." (Qur'an 18:50) Still the view among some is he was an Angel and then became of the Jinn upon his refusal. But in Surah Sad, when Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ asked why he refused to prostrate, "He said, 'I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay.'" (Qur'an 38:76).

From this is seems evident that the popular opinion should be Iblees was a high ranking Jinn who became debased. "[Allah] said, 'Get out of here; surely you are rajim accursed, And indeed, upon you is My curse until the Day of Recompense.'" (Qur'an 38:77-78)

Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ raised the ranks of Muhammad ﷺ:
In Surah ash-Sharh verse 4, Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ reminds Prophet Muhammad ﷺ He had raised his status to comfort him. Remember that this was an early Meccan surah when the Prophet was relatively unknown, with a few followers.

وَرَفَعْنَا لَكَ ذِكْرَكَ

Wa raf ‘ana laka zikrak

English Translation:
"And raised high for you your repute." — (Qur'an 95:4)

The believer benefits from the knowledge of this name. It re-affirms the reality that ar-Rafi is the one we should rely upon. Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is high above all, so whatever it is you wish to be increased in call upon this name. It is only Him who can increase your ranks; there is no other.

[1] Sahih Muslim 2996 & Riyad as-Salihin 1846

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