In the Name of Allah (God Almighty), Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Concept of GOD IN ISLAM

 

It is a known fact that every language has one or more terms that are used in reference to God, and, sometimes to lesser deities depending upon the beliefs of different people. However, in Islam, Allah is the personal name of the One True God. Nothing else can be called Allah. The term is unique, in that, it has neither plural nor feminine nor diminutive forms. This shows its uniqueness when compared with the word, "god", which can be made plural, i.e. "gods", or feminine, i.e. "goddess", or diminutive, i.e. "godling". It is interesting to notice that Allah is the personal name of God Almighty in Aramaic, the language of Jesus (peace be upon him), and also its sister language, Arabic, the language of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

The One True God is a reflection of the unique concept that Islam associates with God Almighty. To a Muslim, Allah is the Almighty, Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, Who is not similar to anything and nothing is comparable to Him. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was asked by his contemporaries about Allah; the answer came directly from God Almighty Himself in the form of a short chapter of the Holy Qur'an, which is considered to be the essence of the unity or the motto of monotheism. This is chapter 112, the English translation of which reads:

"In the Name of Allah (God Almighty), Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Say: He is Allah (God Almighty), the One and Only; Allah (God Almighty), the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him."

Some non-Muslims allege that God Almighty in Islam is stern and cruel who demands to be obeyed fully, and that He is not loving and kind. Nothing can be further from the truth than this allegation. It is enough to know that, with the exception of one chapter, each of the 114 chapters of the Holy Qur'an begins with the verse, the English translation of which is: "In the name of Allah (God Almighty), Most Gracious, Most Merciful." In one of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), we are told that "Allah (God Almighty) is more loving and kinder than a mother to her dear child."

But Allah (God Almighty) is also Just. Hence evildoers and sinners must have their share of punishment, and, the virtuous His bounties and favours. Actually Allah's (God Almighty's) attribute of Mercy has full manifestation in His attribute of Justice. People suffering throughout their lives for His sake, and, people oppressing and exploiting other people all their lives, should not receive similar treatment from their Creator. Expecting similar treatment for them will be tantamount to negating the accountability of everyone in the Hereafter and, thereby, negating the purpose of a moral and virtuous life in this world. The following Qur'anic verses are very clear and straightforward in this respect.
"Verily, for the Righteous, are Gardens of Delight in the Presence of their Lord, Cherisher and Sustainer. Shall We then treat the People of Faith like the People of Sin? What is the matter with you? How judge ye?" - (English Translation, Holy Qur'an 68:34-36).

Islam rejects characterizing Allah (God Almighty) in any human form or, depicting Him as favouring certain individuals or nations on the basis of wealth, power or race. He created all human beings as equals. They may distinguish themselves and obtain his favour through virtue and piety only.

The concept that Allah (God Almighty) rested on the seventh day of creation, that Allah (God Almighty) wrestled with one of His prophets, that Allah (God Almighty) is an envious plotter against mankind, or that Allah (God Almighty) is incarnate in any form, human or otherwise, are considered blasphemy from the Islamic point of view.

The unique usage of "Allah" as a personal name of God Almighty is a reflection of Islam's emphasis on the purity of the belief in God Almighty which is the essence of the Message of all Allah's (God Almighty's) Messengers. Because of this, Islam considers associating any deity or personality with Allah (God Almighty) as a deadly sin, for which a person must truly repent and seek Allah's (God forgiveness during his/her lifetime, otherwise Allah (God Almighty) will never forgive him/her despite the fact that He may forgive all other sins.

The Creator must be of a different nature from the things created, because, if he is of the same nature as they are, he will be temporal and will therefore need a maker. It follows that nothing is like Him. If the maker is not temporal, then he must be eternal. But if he is eternal he cannot be brought into existence, and if nothing brought him into existence, nothing outside Him causes Him to continue to exist, which means that he must be self-sufficient. And if he does not depend on anything for the continuance of his own existence, then this existence can have no end. The Creator is therefore eternal and everlasting. He is self-sufficient or self-subsistent, or, to use a Qur'anic term, Al Qayyum. The Creator creates, not only in the sense of bringing things into being, but, He also preserves them and takes them out of existence, and, is the ultimate cause of whatever happens to them.

"Allah (God Almighty) is the Creator of all things, and He is the Guardian and Disposer of all affairs. To Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth: and those who reject the Signs of Allah (God Almighty) -It is they who will be in loss." -(English Translation, Holy Qur'an 39:62-63).

"There is no moving creature on earth but its sustenance dependeth on Allah (God Almighty): He knoweth the time and place of its definite abode and its temporary deposit: all is in a clear record. - (English Translation, Holy Qur'an 11:6).

God Almighty's Attributes

If the Creator is eternal and everlasting, then His attributes must also be eternal and everlasting. He should not lose any of His attributes nor acquire new ones. If this is so, then His attributes are absolute. Can there be more than one Creator with such absolute attributes? Can there be, for example, two or three or four or five absolutely powerful Creators? A moment's thought shows that this is not feasible.

"No son did Allah (God Almighty) beget, nor is there any god along with Him: (if there were many gods), behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have Lorded it over others! Glory to Allah (God Almighty)! (He is free) from the (sort of) things they attribute to Him!" - (English Translation, Holy Qur'an 23:91).

The Oneness of God Almighty

The Holy Qur'an reminds us of the futility of believing in false gods.

To the worshippers of man-made objects, it asks:

"Worship ye that which ye have (yourselves) carved? But Allah (God Almighty) has created you and your handiwork." - (English Translation, Holy Qur'an 37:95-96).

To the worshippers of heavenly bodies, the Holy Qur'an cites the story of Abraham:

"When the night covered him over, he saw a star, he said: ' This is my, Lord.' But when it set, he said: 'I love not those that set'. When he saw the moon rising in splendour, he said: 'This is my Lord.' But when the moon set, he said: 'Unless my Lord guides me, I shall surely be among those who go astray.' When he saw the sun rising in splendour, he said: 'This is my Lord; this is the greatest (of all).'But when the sun set he said: 'O my people! I am indeed free from your (guilt) of giving partners to Allah (God Almighty). For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give Partners to Allah (God Almighty).' - (English Translation, Holy Qur'an 6:76-79).

The Believer's Attitude

In order to be a Muslim, i.e. to surrender oneself to Allah (God Almighty), it is necessary to believe in the Oneness of Allah (God Almighty), in the sense of His being the Only Creator, Preserver, Nourisher, etc. He is One and Indivisible. But this belief alone (called Tawhid Ar-Rububiyyah), is not enough. Many of the idolators knew and believed that only the Supreme God could do all this. But that was not enough to make them Muslims. Tawhid Ar-Rububiyyah must be followed by Tawhid Al-'Uluhiyyah, i.e. one acknowledges that it is Allah (God Almighty) alone who deserves to be worshipped and thus, one abstains from worshipping any other thing or being.

Having achieved this knowledge of the One True God, one should constantly have faith in Him, and should allow nothing to induce one to deny the truth.

When faith enters a person's heart, it causes certain mental states which result in certain actions. Taken together, these mental states and actions are the proof for true faith. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "Faith is that which resides firmly in the heart and which is proved by deeds".
Foremost among those mental states is the feeling of gratitude towards Allah (God Almighty), which could be said to be the essence of 'Ibada (Worship). The feeling of gratitude is very important, and non-believers, in Arabic "kaafiroon", means "those who deny a truth" and, also, "those who are ungrateful".

A believer loves, and is grateful to, Allah (God Almighty) for the bounties He has bestowed upon him/her; but being aware of the fact that his/her good deeds, whether mental or physical, are far from being commensurate with Divine favours, he/she is always anxious lest Allah (God Almighty) should be displeased with him/her, here or in the Hereafter. A believer, therefore, reverences Allah (God Almighty), surrenders himself/herself to Him, and, serves Him with great humility. One cannot be in such a mental state without being almost all the time mindful of Allah (God Almighty). Remembering Allah (God Almighty) is, thus, the life force of faith, without which it fades and withers away.

The Holy Qur'an promotes this feeling of gratitude by repeating the attributes of Allah (God Almighty) very frequently. We find most of these attributes mentioned together in the following verses of the Holy Qur'an:

"Allah (God Almighty) is He, besides Whom there is no other god; Who knows (all things) both secret and open; He: Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Allah (God Almighty) is He, besides Whom there is no other god; the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace (and Perfection), the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of Safety, the Exalted in Might, the Irresistible, the Supreme: Glory to Allah (God Almighty)! (High is He) above the partners they attribute to Him. He is Allah (God Almighty), the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms (or Colours). To Him belongs the Most Beautiful Names: Whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare His Praises and Glory; and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise."

(English Translation, Holy Qur'an 59:22-24).

"Allah (God Almighty)! There is no god but He, the Living, the Self-subsisting Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there that can intercede in His presence except as he permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory)."
(English Translation, Holy Qur'an 2:255).

"O People of the Book (O Jews and Christians)! commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah (God Almighty) aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah (God Almighty), and His Word which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah (God Almighty) and His apostles. Say not, 'Trinity': desist: It will be better for you: for Allah (God Almighty) is One God: Glory be to Him: (far Exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah (God Almighty) as a Disposer of affairs".
(English Translation, Holy Qur'an 4:171).


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