(Master of the Kingdom)
The Owner of Absolute Sovereignty, The Owner of Dominion.
Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is Malikul-Mulk (in Arabic: مَالِكُ ٱلْمُلْكُ), The Lord of the Kingdom. He is the sole owner of all creation and with absolute authority can act in any manner, any time, and in anyway.
From the root mim-lam-kaf (م ل ك) which has the following classical Arabic connotations: to possess, to own exclusively to exercise authority to command to have power over, command, reign to have dominion over, to have ruling power to have kingship.
This is similar to a previous name of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ we've discussed, al-Malik (The Owner). As we've discussed in that section, there is a difference between Malik (king) and Mālik (owner). Al-Mulk refers to His dominion, territory, or kingdom. So together, Malik Al-Mulk or Mālik Al-Mulk means The King of Absolute Sovereignty, The Owner of Absolute Sovereignty. No one possesses perfect power but Him. He carries out whatever He wants in a manner which pleases Him, and nothing can come the way of His decree. All of creation comes from Him, and He remains with absolute control over them, not suffering from any limitations. If he so wished to bring about its complete destruction or annihilation, He could. Now, imagine Him by your side, supporting you in your cause, "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)
Qulil laahumma Maalikal Mulki tu’til mulka man tashaaa’u wa tanzi’ul mulka mimman tashhaaa’u wa tu’izzu man tashaaa’u wa tuzillu man tashaaa’u biyadikal khairu innaka ‘alaa kulli shai’in Qadeer
"Say, “O Allah, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent." — (Qur'an 3:26)
Wa lillaahi mulkus samaawaati wal ardi wa ilal laahil maseer
"And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and to Allah is the destination." — (Qur'an 24:42)
In our daily prayers and in the opening chapter of the Qur'an we are reminded that He is the "master" or "owner" of the day of judgment. This reminds us that He alone possesses power and give His final verdict.
"Sovereign of the Day of Recompense." — (Qur'an 1:4)
This name reminds us of the temporary nature of our existence on earth. Part of living is our desire to expand endlessly, acquiring things. In this acquisition of land, property, and material things, we become deluded. Our ego inflates, and we are prone to become less akhirah motivated. This is why receiving wealth is a blessing disguised as one of Allah's many tests.
Imagine the feeling that would overcome you buying your first home. Now, imagine getting a second, third, or fourth. It's doubtful you would start to feel like a great ruler, but you might look at your properties and think, "wow, all this is mine!" The self-image enters of being the owner of this property. A sense of great pride and honor envelopes your psyche. But how many people stood on this same land before you? How many people before you held a written document proclaiming the ownership of that very land you currently stand on? All were deluded by this temporary ownership. Part of this failing is from the omission and deep resonation with the saying of the phrase alhamdulillah (all praise is due to Allah).
This is our thought experiment on a very small scale but can give us insight into how Firawn or Nimrod operated in this world. The power which they likely craved was given to them by Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ, and it had corrupted them. They began to feel like untouchable kings with no authority to prevail over them. In Surah Baqarah, it mentions how the tyrant King Nimrod believed he had absolute sovereignty over his land and people. His word became the law of the land. If he was so inclined to kill a man, he could without recourse.
Alam tara ilal lazee Haaajja Ibraaheema fee Rabbiheee an aataahullaahul mulka iz qaala Ibraaheemu Rabbiyal lazee yuhyee wa yumeetu qaala ana uhyee wa umeetu qaala Ibraaheemu fa innal laaha yaatee bishshamsi minal mashriqi faati bihaa minal maghribi fabuhital lazee kafar; wallaahu laa yahdil qawmaz zaalimeen
"Have you not considered the one who argued with Abraham about his Lord [merely] because Allah had given him kingship? When Abraham said, “My Lord is the one who gives life and causes death,” he said, “I give life and cause death.” Abraham said, “Indeed, Allah brings up the sun from the east, so bring it up from the west.” So the disbeliever was overwhelmed [by astonishment], and Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people." — (Qur'an 2:258)
Prophet Ibrahim (as) then challenges Him to control the sun's setting. The Tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi mentions how Nimrod did not deny the existence of God or believe He was the creator of heaven and earth. So this statement was meant to remind him of a greater authority that rules over whatever dominion he thinks he has.
In comparison, Prophet Sulaiman (as) was a wise and noble king. He was blessed by Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ, and we can see the difference in leadership and mindset from this one du'a he made.
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)
He is well aware of what troubles arise from getting what you want. You can become arrogant, ungrateful, and prideful. So in his du'a, he asks Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ to "enable me to be grateful for Your favor" and "do righteousness of which You approve." His leadership was rooted in His submission and gratitude to Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ. His mission was driven to be of service to His Lord, who He knows is the true king.
Again, we see the central theme around humility. The moment you begin to think you're greater than you are, you've collpased whatever blessings Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ has given you. Abu Huraira reported from Allah's Messenger ﷺ as saying: The most wretched person in the sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection and the worst person and target of His wrath would of the person who is called Malik al-Amlak (the King of Kings) for there is no king but Allah.