Pearl of Wisdom
'When Allah Almighty sent Hud (AS), the descendants of Sam believed in him. As for the others, they said, 'Who can be stronger than us?' So they were destroyed with the barren wind. Hud exhorted them and informed them of Salih (AS).'
Imam Ja'far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq [as]
Kamal al-Din, p. 136, no. 5
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"... what they call upon besides Him is falsehood; Allah is the High, the Great" (Quran, 22:61).
"Al-`Aliyy" is one of Allah's Attributes, and it is derived from uluww, height, sublimity, or loftiness versus lowliness.
The height referred to here is that of status. Al-`Aliyy is high, so high that He can never be conceived or visualized. Minds are at a loss regarding His Greatness; intellects are incapable of conceiving His perfection. According to Al-Mufradat, one who is `aliyy is a prominent person, a man of distinction.
When applied to the Almighty, as in 22:61 cited above, the implied meaning is that He is above being described by anyone or truly known by anyone, and He is above what anyone says about Him.
He is the One above whose status there is none at all, and everything in existence is under His control. Allah has said, "He is the Most High, the Great" (Quran, 2:255), "... judgment belongs to Allah, the High, the Great" (Quran, 40:12), and, "... the Great, the Most High" (Quran, 13:9).
"High" and "low" may be applied both to tangible as well as intangible things. As regarding the tangible ones, the `Arsh (Throne) is said to be higher than the Kursi (the Seat of Authority), and the heavens is higher than the earth. Such words are applied only to tangible things, things which have dimensions. Since the Almighty is above having dimensions, His being al-`Aliyy is above being as such.
The One Who is al-`Aliyy is above being conceived by any intellect, and Whose Attributes are too great to be described. He is the One in Whose Greatness minds are puzzled, and in trying to realize His Essence the intellects fall short.
Among the good manners adorning a believer is: humbleness and submissiveness before the Glory of the Almighty. It is only then that He exalts his status. Al-Qushayri has reported saying that Allah inspired Moses to go near a mountain so that He would address him. Every mountain there vied with the others in the hope of being the one near which such a divine address would take place. Mount Sinai thought very humbly of itself saying, "Since when do I deserve the honor of being the site worthy of the status of Moses when addressed by his Lord?" For this reason, Allah inspired Moses to go near Mount Sinai due to the latter's humility.
According to Al-Asma' wal sifat, where a qudsi tradition is quoted, the Messenger of Allah heard during the Night of Isra (the night journey to Jerusalem) a praising in the high heavens saying: Subhan al-`Aliyy al-A`la, Subnahu wa Ta`ala, that is, "Glory to the Most High, Glory to Him and Exaltation." Iyas ibn Salmah has quoted his father saying that he had heard the Messenger of Allah starting every supplication by saying, "Subhana al-A`la al-Wahhab," "Glory to the Most High, the ever- Giving."