God in Islam

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In Islamic theology, God (Arabic: اللهAllāh) is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer and judge of the universe.[1] Islam emphasizes that God is strictly singular (tawḥīd )[2] unique (wāḥid ) and inherently One (aḥad ), all-merciful and omnipotent.[3] According to Islamic teachings, God exists without place[4] and according to the Qur'an, "Vision perceives Him not, but He perceives [all] vision; and He is the Subtle, the Acquainted." (Qur'an 6:103) God, as referenced in the Qur'an, is the only God. (29:46)[5]

In Islam, there are 99 known Names of God (al-asmāʼ al-ḥusná lit. meaning: "The best names"), each of which evoke a distinct attribute of God.[6][7] All these names refer to Allah, the supreme and all-comprehensive divine name.[8] Among the 99 names of God, the most familiar and frequent of these names are "the Compassionate" (al-raḥmān) and "the Merciful" (al-raḥīm).[6][7] Creation and ordering of the universe is seen as an act of prime mercy for which all creatures sing God's glories and bear witness to God's unity and lordship. God responds to those in need or distress whenever they call. Above all, God guides humanity to the right way, "the holy ways".[4]


Main article: Allah

Allāh is the term with no plural or gender used by Muslims and Arabic speaking Christians and Jews meaning the one God, while ilāh (Arabic: إله‎) is the term used for a deity or a god in general.[9][10][11] It is related to ʾĔlāhā in Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Other non-Arab Muslims may or may not use different names as much as Allah, for instance "Tanrı" in Turkish, Khodā in Persian, Yakush in Berber, and "Zot" in Albanian.


Main articles: Quran and Hadith

The Islamic concept of God is formulated from the Quran and Hadith. The Quran is believed by Muslims to be the verbatim word of God as revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Hadith are the records of Muhammad's sayings and example. Hadith Qudsi is a sub-category of hadith, which Muslims regard as the words of God repeated by Muhammad. According to as-Sayyid ash-Sharif al-Jurjani, the Hadith Qudsi differ from the Quran in that the former are "expressed in Muhammad's words", whereas the latter are the "direct words of God".


Islam's most fundamental concept is a strict monotheism called tawhīd, affirming that God (Arabic: Allah) is one and incomparable (wāḥid). The basic creed of Islam, the Shahadah[12] (recited under oath to enter the religion), involves لا إله إلا الله (lā ʾilāha ʾillallāh), or, "I testify there are no deities other than God alone." 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.[13]

Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.

—Qur'an, Sura 112 (Al-Ikhlas), ayat 1-4[14]

Thy Lord is self-sufficient, full of Mercy: if it were God's will, God could destroy you, and in your place appoint whom God will as your successors, even as God raised you up from the posterity of other people.

—Qur'an, Sura 6 (Al-An'am), ayat 133[15]

Muslims reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and divinity of Jesus, comparing it to polytheism. In Islam, God is beyond all comprehension or equal and does not resemble any of his creations in any way. Thus, Muslims are not iconodules and are not expected to visualize God.

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: "God is the First and the Last, the Outward and the Inward; God is the Knower of everything." (Sura 57:3)[13] 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 monotheism of Islam.[16]

The indivisibility of God implies the indivisibility of God's sovereignty which in turn leads to the conception of a universe as a just and coherent moral universe rather than an existential and moral chaos. 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.[17]

Tawhid constitutes the foremost article of the Muslim profession.[18] To attribute divinity to a created entity is the only unpardonable sin mentioned in the Qur'an.[17] Muslims believe that the entirety of the Islamic teaching rests on the principle of Tawhid.[19]

Other attributes[edit]

Main article: Names of God in Islam

God is described and referred in the Quran and hadith by certain names or attributes (see Names of God in Islam).[6] The Qur'an refers to the attributes of God as God's "most beautiful names" (see 7:180, 17:110, 20:8, 59:24). 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 17:110, "Call Him Allah (the God), or call Him Ar-Rahman (the Gracious); whichsoever you call upon, to Him belong the most beautiful names," and also 59:22-24, which includes a cluster of more than a dozen divine epithets."[20] The most commonly used names for god in Islam are:

  • The Most High (al-Ala)
  • The Most Glorious (al-ʻAziz)
  • The Ever Forgiving (al-Ghaffār)
  • The Ever Providing (ar-Razzāq)
  • The Ever Living (al-Ḥayy)
  • The Self-Subsisting by Whom all Subsist (al-Qayyūm)
  • The Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds (Rabb al-ʻĀlamīn)
  • The Ultimate Truth (al-Ḥaqq)
  • The Eternal Lord (al-Bāqī)
  • The Sustainer (al-Muqsith)
  • The Source of Peace (As-Salām)

Islamic theology makes a distinction between the attributes of God and the divine essence.[20]

Furthermore, it is one of the fundamentals in Islam that God exists without a place and has no resemblance to his creation. For instance, God is not a body and there is nothing like him. In the Quran it says: "Nothing is like him in any way." (see Quran 42:11) Allah is not limited to dimensions.


The most commonly used names in the primary sources are Al-Rahman, meaning "Most Compassionate" and Al-Rahim, meaning "Most Merciful".[6] God is said to love forgiving, with a hadith stating God would replace a sinless people with one who sinned but still asked repentance.[21]


The Qur'an describes God as being fully aware of everything that happens in the universe, including private thoughts and feelings, and asserts that one can not hide anything from God:

In whatever business thou mayest be, and whatever portion thou mayest be reciting from the Qur'an, – and whatever deed ye (mankind) may be doing, – We are witnesses thereof when ye are deeply engrossed therein. Nor is hidden from thy Lord (so much as) the weight of an atom on the earth or in heaven. And not the least and not the greatest of these things but are recorded in a clear record.

—Qur'an, Sura 10 (Yunus), ayat 61[22]

Relationship with creation[edit]

Main article: Salat

Muslims believe that creation of everything in the universe is brought into being by God’s sheer command, "Be’ and so it is",[3][23] and that the purpose of existence is to worship God.[24][25] He is viewed as a personal God who responds whenever a person in need or distress calls Him.[3][26] There are no intermediaries, such as clergy, to contact God who states in the Qur'an, "We have created man, and We know whatever thoughts his inner self thinks, and We are closer to him than (his) jugular vein."[27] Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī narrates a ḥadīth qudsī that God says, "I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am."[28]

Comparative theology[edit]

Further information: Comparative theology and Abrahamic religion

Islamic theology identifies God as described in the Qur'an as the same god of Israel who covenanted with Abraham.[29] Islam and Judaism alike reject the Trinity of Trinitarian Christianity, instead teaching that God is a singular entity beside whom no one else should be worshiped. However, the identification of God both in Islam and in Christianity with the God of Abraham led to a limited amount of mutual recognition among the Abrahamic religions.[30]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Gerhard Böwering God and his Attributes, Encyclopedia of the Quran Quran.com, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1998, p.22
  2. ^ John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1998, p.88
  3. ^ a b c "Allah." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica
  4. ^ a b Britannica Encyclopedia, Islam, p. 3
  5. ^ F.E. Peters, Islam, p.4, Princeton University Press, 2003
  6. ^ a b c d Bentley, David (September 1999). The 99 Beautiful Names for God for All the People of the Book. William Carey Library. ISBN 0-87808-299-9. 
  7. ^ a b Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, Allah
  8. ^ Annemarie Schimmel,The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic, SUNY Press, p.206
  9. ^ "God". Islam: Empire of Faith. PBS. Retrieved 2010-12-18. 
  10. ^ "Islam and Christianity", Encyclopedia of Christianity (2001): Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews also refer to God as Allāh
  11. ^ L. Gardet. "Allah". Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. 
  12. ^ Hossein Nasr The Heart of Islam, Enduring Values for Humanity (April., 2003), pp 3, 39, 85, 27–272
  13. ^ a b Vincent J. Cornell, Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol 5, pp.3561-3562
  14. ^ Quran 112:1–4
  15. ^ Quran 6:133
  16. ^ Roger S. Gottlie (2006), p.210
  17. ^ a b Asma Barlas (2002), p.96
  18. ^ D. Gimaret, Tawhid, Encyclopedia of Islam
  19. ^ Tariq Ramadan (2005), p.203
  20. ^ a b Böwering, Gerhard. "God and his Attributes". Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān.
  21. ^ "Allah would replace you with a people who sin". islamtoday.net. Retrieved July 23, 2012. 
  22. ^ Quran 10:61
  23. ^ Quran 2:117
  24. ^ "Human Nature and the Purpose of Existence". Patheos.com. Retrieved 2011-01-29. 
  25. ^ Quran 51:56
  26. ^ Quran 2:186
  27. ^ Quran 50:16
  28. ^ "I am as My Servant Thinks (expects) I am". hadithaday.org. Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  29. ^ According 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 29:46]. The Quran's Allah is the same Creator God who covenanted with Abraham".
  30. ^ 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, appears so plain from the Koran itself and all the Muslim laws, that it would be loss of time to refute those who suppose the God of Mohammed to be different from the true God.


  • Al-Bayhaqi (1999), Allah's Names and Attributes, ISCA, ISBN 1-930409-03-6
  • Hulusi, Ahmed (1999), "Allah" as introduced by Mohammed, Kitsan, 10th ed., ISBN 975-7557-41-2
  • Muhaiyaddeen, M. R. Bawa (1976), Asmāʼul-Husnā: the 99 beautiful names of Allah, The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship, ISBN 0-914390-13-9
  • Netton, Ian Richard (1994), Allah Transcendent: Studies in the Structure and Semiotics of Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Cosmology, Routledge, ISBN 0-7007-0287-3

External links[edit]