The First - Al-ʾAwwal
Al-ʾAwwal, The Beginning-less
The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) said: “Any matter of importance which is not begun with ‘bismillah’ (in the name of God) remains defective.” [Ibn Hibban] They say that if you want to know what your priorities are, reflect on the first thing you think of in the morning. That thing (or things) which are foremost in your mind not only set the tone for your day, they also determine your destination. A person who wakes up thinking about money (whether it is because he is in financial difficulty or because he wants to become rich) will then seek out and prioritize those things that lead him to money. A person who wakes up thinking of a loved one will probably talk to him or her first thing in the morning and be connected all day if they can. God Almighty tells us: “He is the First (Al-Awwal) and the Last (Al-ākhir), the Ascendant and the Intimate, and He is, of all things, Knowing.” (Qur’an 57:3) God Almighty is, quite literally, the First. He was before anything was. He is also the Last because He is our destination and He remains when everything else goes away. There are deeper meanings here too. We prioritize things before God Almighty, and then we wonder why we feel a spiritual void. We may wonder why bad things happen, why we cannot seem to get something right or why nothing satisfies us despite our pursuit of material means. To know that God Almighty is Al-Awwal (the First) is to see God Almighty before seeing anything else, because even the physical means start with Him.