I first encountered Shaykh Ahmad Sam’ani’s beautiful book on the Divine Names many years ago through an article by Prof. William Chittick written as a response to comments by Pope John Paul II that the God of Islam was distant and unloving (not his exact words). This is a common criticism/misunderstanding of many Christians who seem to think their faith has a monopoly on Love. Shaykh Ahmad’s commentary on the Asma al Husna is an elegant exposition of the very subtle sufic understanding of the Divine and Its relationships with creation generally and with the human being in particular.

Khadim has rendered a valuable service by making these translations of Prof Chittick available on his blog. I encourage all readers to read his posts on Shaykh Sam’ani in detail. Here are a few extracts:

” From the Throne down to the earth, no love whatsoever is sold except in the house of human grief  and joy. Many sinless and pure angels were in the Court, but only this handful of dust was able to carry the burden of this body melting, hear burning verse: “HE LOVES THEM, AND THEY LOVE HIM”.

God gave news of the attribute of His Knowledge –Surely God knows everything 29:62.
He also gave news of the attribute of our ignorance –Surely he is very ignorant, a great wrongdoer 33:72

He gave news of the attribute of His power –Surely God is powerful over everything 2:109.
He also gave news of the attribute of our incapacity –God strikes a likeness: a servant possessed by his master, having no power over anything 16:75.

He gave news of the attribute of His exaltation –Surely the exaltation, all of it, belongs to God 4:139.
He also gave news of our abasement –And faces are humbled to the Living, the Self subsistent. 20:111”

However when he gave news of Love, just as He affirmed love for Himself, so also He affirmed love for us –He loves them, and they love Him 5:54