God in Islam
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In Islamic theology, God (Arabic: الله Allāh) is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer and judge of the universe. Islam emphasizes that God is Single (wāḥid ), that means there is no god besides Him; and that God is One (aḥad ), that means oneness of His names and attributes. According to the Qur'an, God is over the seven heavens above the throne: "The Most Merciful is established above the Throne." (Qur'an 20:4); "Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him." (Qur'an 9:31). God, as referenced in the Quran, is the only God.
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. All these names refer to Allah, the supreme and all-comprehensive divine name. Among the 99 names of God, the most familiar and frequent of these names are "the Compassionate" (al-raḥmān) and "the Merciful" (al-raḥīm). 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 highness and lordship. God responds to those in need or distress whenever they call. Above all, God guides humanity to the right path.
|Conceptions of God|
Allah 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. 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.
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 tawhid, affirming that God is one and incomparable (wāḥid). The basic creed of Islam, the Shahada (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 Quran 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.
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.
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.
Muslims reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and divinity of Jesus (ʿĪsā), 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 Quran 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 Evident and the Immanent: and He has full knowledge of all things." 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.
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 Quran 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.
Tawhid constitutes the foremost article of the Muslim profession. To attribute divinity to a created entity is the only unpardonable sin mentioned in the Quran. Muslims believe that the entirety of the Islamic teaching rests on the principle of Tawhid.
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They are traditionally enumerated as 99 in number to which is added as the highest Name (al-ism al-ʾaʿẓam), the Supreme Name of God: Allāh. The locus classicus for listing the Divine Names in the literature of Qurʾānic commentary is 17:110 “Call upon God, or call upon The Merciful; 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."—Gerhard Böwering, God and his Attributes
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)
Furthermore, it is one of the fundamentals in Islam to believe that God is over the seven heavens above the throne. For Muslims the name of God Most High means that God is above everything He created. God has no resemblance to His creations.
"The Most Merciful is established above the Throne."—Qur'an, Sura 20 (Ta-Ha), ayat 4.
"There is nothing like unto Him and He is the Hearing, the Seeing."—Qur'an, Sura 42 (Ash-Shura), ayat 11.
The most commonly used names in the primary sources are Al-Rahman, meaning "Most Compassionate" and Al-Rahim, meaning "Most Merciful". God is said to love forgiving, with a hadith stating God would replace a sinless people with one who sinned but still asked repentance.
The Quran 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.
Relationship with creation
Muslims believe that creation of everything in the universe is brought into being by God’s sheer command, "..."Be," and it is." and that the purpose of existence is to worship God. He is viewed as a personal God who responds whenever a person in need or distress calls him. There are no intermediaries, such as clergy, to contact God who states in the Quran, "It was We Who created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein." Muhammad al-Bukhari, in his Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī, narrates a ḥadīth qudsī' that God says, "I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am."
Islamic theology identifies God as described in the Quran as the same god of Israel who covenanted with Abraham. 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.
- Gerhard Böwering God and his Attributes, Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān Quran.com, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1998, p.22
- Quran 29:46
- F.E. Peters, Islam, p.4, Princeton University Press, 2003
- 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.
- Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, Allah
- Annemarie Schimmel,The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic, SUNY Press, p.206
- "God". Islam: Empire of Faith. PBS. Retrieved 2010-12-18.
- "Islam and Christianity", Encyclopedia of Christianity (2001): Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews also refer to God as Allāh
- L. Gardet. "Allah". Encyclopaedia of Islam Online.
- Hossein Nasr The Heart of Islam, Enduring Values for Humanity (April., 2003), pp 3, 39, 85, 27–272
- Vincent J. Cornell, Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol 5, pp.3561-3562
- Quran 112:1–4
- Quran 6:133
- Quran 57:3
- Roger S. Gottlie (2006), p.210
- Asma Barlas (2002), p.96
- D. Gimaret, Tawhid, Encyclopaedia of Islam
- Tariq Ramadan (2005), p.203
- Quran 7:180, Quran 17:110, Quran 20:8, Quran 59:24
- Quran 17:110
- Quran 59:22–24
- Böwering, Gerhard. "God and his Attributes". Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān.
- "Allah would replace you with a people who sin". islamtoday.net. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
- Quran 10:61
- Quran 2:117
- "Human Nature and the Purpose of Existence". Patheos.com. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
- Quran 51:56
- Quran 2:186
- Quran 50:16
- "I am as My Servant Thinks (expects) I am". hadithaday.org. Retrieved 2014-07-31.
- Hadith Qudsi 15
- According to Francis Edwards Peters, "The Quran insists, Muslims believe, and historians affirm that Muhammad and his followers worship the same God as the Jews [see Quran 29:46]. The Quran's Allah is the same Creator God who covenanted with Abraham".
- 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