God in Islam

God in Islam

In Islam, God is believed to be the only real supreme being, all-powerful and all knowing Creator, Sustainer, Ordainer, and Judge of the universeGerhard Böwering, "God and his Attributes", Encyclopedia of the Quran] John L. Esposito, "Islam: The Straight Path", Oxford University Press, 1998, p.22 ] Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular ("tawhid"). [John L. Esposito, "Islam: The Straight Path", Oxford University Press, 1998, p.88 ] He is unique ("wahid") and inherently one ("ahad"), all-merciful and omnipotent. "Allah." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica ] According to the tradition of Islam there are 99 Names of God ("al-asma al-husna" lit. meaning: "The best names") each of which evoke a distinct characteristic of God.cite book |last=Bentley |first=David |coauthors= |title=The 99 Beautiful Names for God for All the People of the Book |publisher=William Carey Library |year=1999 |month=Sept. |isbn=0-87808-299-9 ] Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, "Allah" ] All these names refer to Allah, the supreme and all-comprehensive divine name. Annemarie Schimmel,"The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic", SUNY Press, p.206 ] Among the 99 names of God, the most famous and most frequent of these names are "the Merciful" ("al-rahman") and "the Compassionate" ("al-rahim").

Creation and ordering of the universe is seen as an act of prime mercy for which all creatures sing his glories and bear witness to his unity and lordship. According to the Islamic teachings, God is present everywhere without having incarnated in anything. According to the Qur'an, "No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things" (Qur'an 6:103)

God in Islam is not only majestic and sovereign, but also a personal God: According to the Qur'an, he is nearer to person than person's jugular vein. He responds to those in need or distress whenever they call him. Above all, he guides humanity to the right way, “the straight path.”Britannica Encyclopedia, "Islam", p. 3]

Islam teaches that its God is the same god worshiped by the members of other Abrahamic religions such as Christianity and Judaism (cite quran|29|46|style=nosup|expand=no). F.E. Peters, "Islam", p.4, Princeton University Press, 2003 ] This is not universally accepted by non-Muslims.

Oneness of God

Oneness of God or Tawunicode|ḥīd is the act of believing and affirming that God (Arabic: Allah) is one and unique ("wāunicode|ḥid"). The Qur'an asserts the existence of a single and absolute truth that transcends the world; a unique and indivisible being who is independent of the entire creation. Vincent J. Cornell, Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol 5, pp.3561-3562] According to the Qur'an:

"Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him." (Sura cite quran|112|1-4|style=nosup|expand=no, "Yusuf Ali")
Thy Lord is self-sufficient, full of Mercy: if it were His will, He could destroy you, and in your place appoint whom He will as your successors, even as He raised you up from the posterity of other people." (Sura cite quran|6|133|style=nosup|expand=no, "Yusuf Ali")
According to Vincent J. Cornell, the Qur'an also provides a monist image of God by describing the reality as a unified whole, with God being a single concept that would describe or ascribe all existing things:"He is the First and the Last, the Outward and the Inward; He is the Knower of everything (Sura cite quran|57|3|style=nosup|expand=no)" Some Muslims have however vigorously criticized interpretations that would lead to a monist view of God for what they see as blurring the distinction between the creator and the creature, and its incompatibility with the radical monotheism of Islam. [ Roger S. Gottlie (2006), p.210 ]

The indivisibility of God implies the indivisibility of God's sovereignty which in turn leads to the conception of universe as a just and coherent moral universe rather than an existential and moral chaos (as in polytheism). Similarly the Qur'an rejects the binary modes of thinking such as the idea of duality of God by arguing that both good and evil generate from God's creative act and that the evil forces have no power to create anything. God in Islam is a universal god rather than a local, tribal or parochial one; an absolute who integrates all affirmative values and brooks no evil. Asma Barlas (2002), p.96 ]

Tawhid constitutes the foremost article of the Muslim profession. D. Gimaret, "Tawhid", Encyclopedia of Islam ] To attribute divinity to a created entity is the only unpardonable sin mentioned in the Qur'an. Muslims believe that the entirety of the Islamic teaching rests on the principle of Tawhid. [Tariq Ramadan (2005), p.203]

God's attributes

The Qur'an refers to the attributes of God as God's “most beautiful names” (see cite quran|7|180|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|17|110|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|20|8|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|59|24|style=nosup|expand=no). According to Gerhard Böwering, "They are traditionally enumerated as 99 in number to which is added as the highest name (al-ism al-aʿẓam), the supreme name of God, Allāh. The locus classicus for listing the divine names in the literature of qurʾānic commentary is cite quran|17|110|style=nosup|expand=no, “Call upon God, or call upon the merciful; whichsoever you call upon, to him belong the most beautiful names,” and also cite quran|59|22-24|style=nosup|expand=no, which includes a cluster of more than a dozen divine epithets." Böwering, Gerhard. "God and his Attributes ." Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān.] The "most beautiful names" of God include:

*The Most Gracious
*The Most Merciful
*The Ever Forgiving
*The Ever Providing
*The Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds
*The Self Subsisting (upon whom all creatures depend for sustenance)
*The Eternal Lord (who never dies)
*The Supremely Wise

Islamic theology makes a distinction between the attributes of God and the divine essence.

God's omniscience

The Qur'an describes God as being fully aware of everything that happens in the universe, including private thoughts and feelings, and asserts that nothing can be hidden from him:

Cross-religion comparison

Some western scholars have suggested that Muhammad used the term Allah in addressing both pagan Arabs and Jews or Christians in order to establish a common ground for the understanding of the name for God, a claim Gerhard Böwering says is doubtful. Böwering, Gerhard, "God and His Attributes", Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān, Brill, 2007.]

;God in Islam vs God in pre-Islamic Arabian conceptionsIn contrast with Pre-Islamic Arabian polytheism, God in Islam does not have associates and companions nor is there any kinship between God and jinn. Pre-Islamic pagan Arabs believed in a blind, powerful, inexorable and insensible fate over which man had no control. This was replaced with the Islamic notion of a powerful but provident and merciful God.

;God in Islam vs God in JudaismAccording to Francis Edwards Peters, "The Qur'an insists, Muslims believe, and historians affirm that Muhammad and his followers worship the same God as the Jews [see Qur'an cite quran|29|46|style=nosup|expand=no] . The Quran's Allah is the same Creator God who covenanted with Abraham". Peters states that the Qur'an portrays Allah as both more powerful and more remote than Yahweh, and as a universal deity, unlike Yahweh who closely follows Israelites. F.E. Peters, "Islam", p.4, Princeton University Press, 2003 ] According to Encyclopedia Britannica (see also the following section for comparison between God's love in Islam and Christianity) :

God, says the Qur'an, “loves those who do good,” and two passages in the Qur'an express a mutual love between God and man, but the Judeo-Christian precept to “love God with all thy heart” is nowhere formulated in Islam. The emphasis is rather on God's inscrutable sovereignty, to which one must abandon oneself. In essence, the “surrender to Allah” (Islam) is the religion itself.

;God in Islam vs God in ChristianityIslam vigorously rejects the Christian belief that God is three persons in one substance (see Trinity). In Islamic conception of God, no intermediaries between God and the creation exists and God's presence is believed to be everywhere, and yet he is not incarnated in anything. "Islam." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online, p.3 ]

The Christian West perceived Islam as a heathen religion during the first and second Crusade. Muhammad was viewed as a kind of demon or false god worshipped with Apollyon and Termangant in an unholy trinity. Alford Welch, "Muhammad", Encyclopedia of Islam online, Brill] Bernard Lewis, "The Arabs in History", Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 45.] The traditional view of Christianity however was that Muhammad's God is the same as the true God. Ludovico Marracci (1734), the confessor of Pope Innocent XI, states:William Montgomery Watt, "Islam and Christianity today: A Contribution to Dialogue", Routledge, 1983, p.45 ]

That both Mohammed and those among his followers who are reckoned orthodox, had and continue to have just and true notions of God and his attributes (always excepting their obstinate and impious rejection of the Trinity), appears so plain from the Koran itself and all the Mohammaedan divines, that it would be loss of time to refute those who suppose the God of Mohammed to be different from the true God.

Numerous passages in the Old testament refer to God's love. A central theme in the New Testament is God's love in sending of Jesus. In Islam, God's love is shown through his signs and the creation of the Earth where humans can live in moderate comfort.

"O ye people! Adore your Guardian-Lord, who created you and those who came before you, that ye may have the chance to learn righteousness;
Who has made the Earth your couch, and the heavens your canopy; and sent down rain from the heavens; and brought forth therewith fruits for your sustenance; then set not up rivals unto Allah when ye know (the truth)." (Sura cite quran|2|21-22|style=nosup|expand=no, "Yusuf Ali")
The most common Muslim invocation of God is 'the Most-Gracious, the Most-Merciful'. Two other of the "beautiful names" of God are 'the very Loving' (wadud) and 'the constant Giver'(wahhāb). William Montgomery Watt holds that Christianity has however much more emphasis on God's "active" role as a shepherd who goes out to look for the lost sheep and rescuing it. On the other hand, Islam retains some hope for those who have gone astray. In Islam, Watt says, God has provided the "opportunity" for each community to attain the great success (i.e. the life in Heaven) by sending messengers or prophets to them. Islam has also developed a doctrine of intercession of Muhammad on the Last Day that would be received favorably, though the sinners might be punished for their sins either in this life or for a limited time in hell.William Montgomery Watt, "Islam and Christianity today: A Contribution to Dialogue", Routledge, 1983, p.53 ]

The relation between the God and human in Islam

See also

*99 names of God
*Conceptions of God
*Existence of God
*Oneness of God (Islam)


External links

* [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005770/Allah Allah] an article by Encyclopaedia Britannica
* [http://www.searchtruth.com/99Names.php Allah's 99 Names, their Meanings and related audio] at www.SearchTruth.com
* [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/introduction/wasiti/taimiyah_5.html Allah's Names and Attributes in the Qur'an]
* [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/tawheed/conceptofgod.html Who is Allah?]


* Al-Bayhaqi, (1999), "Allah's Names and Attributes", Publisher:ISCA, ISBN 1-930409-03-6, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN1930409036&id=PM7wz92Tq6oC&dq=allah+255]
* Hulusi,Ahmed, (????), ""Allah" as introduced by Mohammed" , ISBN 975-7557-41-2 [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN9757557412&id=zF9LbVmf1SQC&dq=allah+intitle:allah]
* Muhaiyaddeen,M. R. Bawa, (1976), "Asma'ul Husna - The 99 Beautiful Names of Allah: The 99 Beautiful Names of Allah", Publisher:The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship, ISBN 0-914390-13-9 [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0914390139&id=6HP-C04hTdUC&dq=allah+intitle:allah]
* Netton,Ian Richard (1994), "Allah Transcendent: Studies in the Structure and Semiotics of Islamic Philosophy, Theology and...", Publisher:Routledge , ISBN 0-7007-0287-3 [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0700702873&id=u8GkenNKEvMC&dq=allah+255]

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