السلام عليكم و رحمة الله,
Today we’re going to look at Allah’s name, العَزِيْز, and other words in the Quran that derive from the root ع – ز – ز.
Let’s look at some meanings that come from this root…
To be hard and difficult to overcome
- عِزَّة (‘izzah) is a situation that prevents someone from being defeated or conquered
- أرْضٌ عَزازٌ is used for terrain that is hard and rough.
- أَيَبْتَغُونَ عِندَهُمُ الْعِزَّةَ فَإِنَّ الْعِزَّةَ لِلَّهِ جَمِيعًا (“Do they seek ‘izzah with them? But indeed ‘izzah belongs to Allah completely”) [4:139] – They were seeking protection from their idols from being defeated
- ُتعزّزَ اللَحْم (“The meat became hard”) – It became tough
- عَزِيْزٌ- One who defeats and is not defeated
- إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ (“Indeed, He is al-Azeez, al-Hakeem”) [Quran 29:26]
- يَا أَيُّهَا الْعَزِيزُ (“O Azeez”) [12:88] when the brothers of Yusuf عليه السلام addressed him as a ruler
- وَلِلَّهِ الْعِزَّةُ وَلِرَسُولِهِ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ (“And to Allah belongs all ‘izzah, and to His Messenger and to the believers” ) [63:8]
- سُبْحَانَ رَبِّكَ رَبِّ الْعِزَّةِ (“Exalted is your Lord, the lord of ‘izzah“) [37:180]
Sometimes used as dispraise
Sometimes عِزّة is used as praise and sometimes as dispraise. For example, بَلِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فِي عِزَّةٍ وَشِقَاقٍ (“Nay, those who disbelieve are in ‘izzah and opposition”) [Quran 38:2]. This is because the ‘izzah that is ascribed to Allah, His messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم and the believers, is the permanent, ever-lasting one that is the true ‘izzah. On the other hand, the ‘izzah that is ascribed to the disbelievers is merely a feigned form of it, and in reality is actually a disgrace!
On this basis, the polytheists are mentioned: وَاتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ آلِهَةً لِّيَكُونُوا لَهُمْ عِزًّا (“And they have taken besides Allah deities so that they would be an ‘izz for them”) [19:81] They took these deities so that they would be prevented from the punishment, but they are in for a major humiliation.
A very important lesson here: مَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعِزَّةَ فَلِلَّهِ الْعِزَّةُ جَمِيعًا (“Whoever desires ‘izzah, then ‘izzah belongs to Allah completely”) [35:10]. Whoever wants to be given ‘izzah needs to earn it from Allah, because it all belongs to Him.
Fanaticism and haughtiness
ٍSometimes the word عِزَّة is borrowed to give the meaning of fanaticism and haughtiness.
- أَخَذَتْهُ الْعِزَّةُ بِالْإِثْمِ (“‘Izzah in sinfulness takes ahold of him”) [2:206]
- تُعِزُّ مَن تَشَاءُ وَتُذِلُّ مَن تَشَاءُ (“You honor whom You will and You disgrace whom You will”) [3:26] – From this ayah we understand that to give ‘izzah to someone is the opposite of disgracing them.
The roots ع-ز-ز and ذ-ل-ل work as opposites here. In the Arabic and Urdu languages, the word ذَلِيْل means something that is lowly and despicable. Knowing that عَزِيز is the opposite of ذليل, whatever arises in your heart and mind when you hear the word ذليل, the opposite should come when you hear عزِيز.
To be difficult and hard to bear
عَزَّ عَلَيَّ would mean “it became hard on me” as in عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ (“ًWhat you all suffer is ‘azeez on him”) [9:128], meaning that what causes suffering to the followers of Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم is difficult on him.
To defeat someone
- عَزَّه gives the meaning “he overcame/conquered him”.
- وَعَزَّنِي فِي الْخِطَابِ (“And he overcame me in speaking”) [38:23]. Meaning “he got the better of me in the argument”, or “he was stronger than than me. so he beat me in the conversation and argument”
To pour down
- عَزَّ المَطَرُ الأرضَ – meaning the rain poured down on the ground
To be little in number or rare
- شاةٌ عَزُوْزٌ – a sheep that gives only a little milk
- عَزَّ الشَيْء – The thing was scarce/rare
- وَإِنَّهُ لَكِتَابٌ عَزِيزٌ (“And indeed it is a book that is ‘azeez“) [41:41] – You cannot find or attain a book like it
Power and strength
- فَعَزَّزْنَا بِثَالِثٍ (“… so we strengthened with a third”) [36:14]. When two messengers were denied by their people, Allah strengthened them with a third one
A pagan deity
العُزّى (Al-‘Uzza) is one of the main idols that the pagans of the pre-Islamic era of ignorance worshipped. It is the female form of الأعَزُّ (“the more honorable one” or ” the one with more ‘izzah“).
أَفَرَأَيْتُمُ اللَّاتَ وَالْعُزَّى (“Have you then considerd Al-Laat and Al-‘Uzza?”) [53:19]
To be overcome by sickness or death
استُعِزَّ بِهِ has the meaning that he was overcome by sickness or death
The word عَزِيز means one who is strong, forceful and victorious. Other words derived from the same root letters combine the meanings of forcefulness and strength. When you think of Allah’s name العزيز, combine all of these meanings, and it will affect you much more إن شاء الله
- Powerful and forceful in strength
- Uniquely rare. Nothing can be found like Him
- The one who defeats all and is never defeated, invincible.
- No one else can reach His status or level of nobility
Also whenever you see one of these related words, try not to limit it to just one shade of the meaning. You’ll find that things make more sense when you try to combine multiple meanings.
If you have other words that you wonder about, I’d love to hear your ideas.
Until next time, السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
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