(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, at any time, and in any way.
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 mentioned, 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 in 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 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 gives 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, we become deluded. It is easy to become distracted and believe all of this is real and that the goal of living is to consume and conquer. Our ego inflates if we see success, and we are prone to become less akhirah motivated. This is why receiving wealth is a blessing from Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ but also a test in disguise. Will they use their wealth in a manner pleasing to Him, or will they become a servant to their ego?
Take a second to reflect on this hypothetical scenario, and try to really see yourself in this scenario. You just bought your first home and looking at this beautiful structure, envision all the future memories that'll reside within. What feelings flood your heart and brain? Now, many years have passed. Alhamdulillah, you're doing well financially and closed on your second, third, and looking for a fourth investment properties. What feelings come to you as you stand there looking at each of your properties. In your mind, does the inner dialogue say, "wow, I can't believe this is mine!" It's not far-fetched you'd feel this way, but this is where the danger creeps in. The development of this self-image, being "the owner" of these properties and land. A sense of great pride and honor envelopes your psyche. The scariest part is you may not even realize it. But how many people stood on this same land before you? How many people before you held a written document proclaiming the ownership of the very land you currently stand on? All were deluded by this temporary ownership. This failure is partly due to the omission and deep resonation with the saying of alhamdulillah (all praise is due to Allah). Allah gives some of His servant's temporary ownership, but He is the eternal owner.
This tiny thought experiment is on such a small scale, but still, we see the nature of the human condition. A few are given the position of extreme wealth, like Firawn or Nimrod. 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 go 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 collapsed 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.