God in Islam

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In Islamic theology, God (Arabic: الله‎, translit. Allāh‎, contraction of Arabic: الْإِلٰه‎, translit. al-ʾilāh‎, literally "the god") is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer and judge of everything in existence.[1][2]

Islam emphasizes that God is strictly singular (tawḥīd ): unique (wāḥid ), inherently One (aḥad ),[3] also all-merciful and omnipotent.[4] According to Islamic teachings, beyond the Throne[5] and according to the Quran, "No vision can grasp him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things."[6]

The Surat 112 Al-'Ikhlās (The Sincerity) says: "He is God, [who is] One. God, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent."[7]

In Islam, there are 99 known names of God (al-asmāʼ al-ḥusná lit. meaning: "The best names"), each of which evokes a distinct attribute of God.[8][9] All these names refer to Allah, the supreme and all-comprehensive god.[10] Among the 99 names of God, the most familiar and frequent are "the Compassionate" (Ar-Raḥmān) and "the Merciful" (Ar-Raḥīm).[8][9] Creation and ordering of the universe is seen as an act of prime mercy for which all creatures sing God's attributes and bear witness to God's unity.

Allah[edit]

Allah is the Arabic word referring to God in Abrahamic religions.[11][12][13] It is distinguished from ilāh (Arabic: إله‎‎), the Arabic word meaning deity, which could refer to any of the gods worshipped in pre-Islamic Arabia.[14][15][16]

Other names[edit]

God is described and referred to in the Quran and hadith by certain names or attributes.[17] The Quran refers to the attributes of God as "most beautiful names".[18] According to Gerhard Böwering,

They are traditionally enumerated as 99 in number to which is added as the highest Name (al-ism al-ʾaʿẓam), the Supreme Name of Allāh. The locus classicus for listing the Divine Names in the literature of Qurʾānic commentary is 17:110[19] “Call upon Allah, or call upon The Merciful; whichsoever you call upon, to Allah belong the most beautiful Names,” and also 59:22-24,[20] which includes a cluster of more than a dozen Divine epithets."

— Gerhard Böwering, God and God's Attributes[21]

The most commonly used[citation needed] names for God in Islam are:

  • The Most Compassionate (Al-Rahman)
  • The Most Merciful (Al-Rahim)
  • 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)

Non-Arab Muslims may or may not use different names as much as Allah, for instance "God" in English, "Tanrı" in Turkish,"Tengri" in Mongolia,[citation needed] Yakush in Berber,[citation needed] and "Zot" in Albanian,[citation needed] Khodā in Persian.[citation needed]

Phrases and expressions[edit]

There are numerous conventional phrases and expressions invoking God.

Name Phrase Citation
(Quran or Sunnah)
Takbīra
ʾallāhu ʾakbaru 9:72, 29:45, 40:10
أَللّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ
God is greatest
Tasbīḥa
subḥāna llāhi 23:91, 28:68, 37:159, 52:43, 59:23
سُبْحَانَ اللّٰهِ
Glory to God
Taḥmīda
ʾal-ḥamdu li-llāhi 1:2, 6:1, 29:63, 31:25, 34:1, 35:1, 35:34, 39:29, 39:74, 39:75, 40:65
أَلْحَمْدُ لِلّٰهِ
Thanks be to God
Tahlīla
lā ʾilāha ʾilla llāhu 37:38, 47:19
لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلّٰا اللّٰهُ
(There is) no god but God
Shahada
muḥammadun rasūlu llāhi 48:29
مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ اللّٰهِ
Muhammad is the messenger of God
Basmala
bi-smi llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīmi 1:1
بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحْيم[22]
in the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Insha'Allah
inshā' Allāhu 2:70, 12:99, 18:69, 28:27, 48:27
إِنْ شَاءَ اللّٰهُ
if God will
Mashallah
mā shāʾa llāhu 6:128, 7:188, 10:49, 18:39, 87:7
مَا شَاءَ اللّٰهُ
God wills that
ʿAlayhi as-salām
ṣallā llāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallama
صَلَّىٰ اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ[23]
God bless him and give him salvation
Rahimahullah
raḥimahu llāhu / raḥimaka llāhu
رَحِمَهُ اللّٰهُ / رَحِمَكَ اللّٰهُ
May God have mercy upon him / you
ʾAstaghfiru llāh
ʾastaghfiru llāhi 12:98, 19:47
أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللّٰهِ
I seek forgiveness from God
Ḥawqala
ʾlā ḥawla wa lā quwwata illā billāhi Riyad as-Salihin 16:36
لا حول ولاقوة إلا بالله
There is no might nor power except in God
Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un
ʾinnā li-llāhi wa-ʾinnā ʾilayhi rājiʿūna 2:156, 2:46, 2:156
إِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ
Indeed, (we belong) to God and indeed to Him we shall return
Jazaka llāh
jazaka llāhu khayran Riyad as-Salihin 17:32, Tirmidhi 27:141, Bukhari 7:3
جَزَاكَ اللّٰهُ خَيْرًا
May God reward you well
ʾAʿūdhu bi-llāh
ʾaʿūdhu bi-llāhi mina sh-shayṭāni r-rajīmi Riyad as-Salihin 1:46
أَعُوْذُ بِاللّٰهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطٰانِ الرَّجِيْمِ
I seek refuge with God from Satan, the accursed
Fī sabīli llāh
fī sabīli llāhi 2:154, 2:190, 2:195, 2:218, 2:244, 2:246, etc.
فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ
in the cause (way) of God
Yarḥamuka-llāhu
yarḥamuka llāhu Bukhari 78:248, Riyad as-Salihin 6:35
يَرْحَمُكَ اللّٰهُ
May God have mercy on you
Honorifics often said or written alongside Allah
Subḥānahu wa-taʿālā
subḥānahū wa-taʿālā[24] 6:100, 10:18, 16:1, 17:43, 30:40, 39:67
سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ
May He be praised and exalted[25][26]
Jalla jalālahu
jalla jalālahu
جَلَّ جَلَالَهُ[27]
May His glory be glorified
ʿAzza wa-jalla
ʿazza wa-jalla
عَزَّ وَجَلَّ
the Glorified/Exalted/Mighty and Sublime

Attributes[edit]

Oneness[edit]

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[28] (recited under oath to enter the religion), involves لا إله إلا الله (lā ʾilāha ʾillallāh), or, "I testify there is no god other than God."

Muslims reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and divinity of Jesus, who is believed to be a prophet, comparing it to polytheism.

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."

Tawhid constitutes the foremost article of the Muslim profession.[29] The deification or worship of anyone or anything other than God (shirk) is the biggest sin in Islam. The entirety of the Islamic teaching rests on the principle of Tawhid.[30]

Creator[edit]

God is the creator of the universe and all the creatures in it.

[All] praise is [due] to Allah , Creator of the heavens and the earth, [who] made the angels messengers having wings, two or three or four. He increases in creation what He wills. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.

— - Quran, Surah (Fatir)-35:1

[31]

And it is We Who have constructed the heavens (universe) with might and verily, it is We Who are steadily expanding it.

— - Quran, Surah 51 adh Dhariyat-51:47

We created man from an extract of clay. Then We made him as a drop in a place of settlement; firmly fixed (Uterus of woman). Then We made the drop into an alaqah (leech-like suspended blood clot), then We made the alaqah into a mudghah (chewed substances,little lump of flesh), then We made out of that mudghah bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, and then We brought it forth as another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators.

— - Quran, Surah Al Mu'minun-23:12

And God said: 'O Mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam) and from Him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women.

— - Quran, Surah 4:1

['Iesa (Jesus) said]: "And verily Allah (God) is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him (Alone). That is the Straight Path. (Allah's Religion of Islamic Monotheism which He did ordain for all of His Prophets)." [Tafsir At-Tabari]

— - Quran, Surah Maryam (Mary) 19:36

Mercy[edit]

The most commonly used names in the primary sources are Al-Rahman, meaning "Most Compassionate" and Al-Rahim, meaning "Most Merciful".[17] God is said to love forgiving, with a hadith stating God would replace a sinless people with one who sinned but still asked repentance.[32] Also the word Rahman comes from the word Rahm which means the womb of the mother so it is a comparison between God's mercy to the mercy of a mother with her child.[33]

His mercy takes many forms from as he say in the Quran "and My Mercy embraces all things.” [7:156] this is shown by a in Muslim narrated from Abu Hurairah said the Prophet said : “Allah has one hundred parts of mercy, of which He sent down one between the jinn, mankind, the animals and the insects, by means of which they are compassionate and merciful to one another, and by means of which wild animals are kind to their offspring. And Allah has kept back ninety-nine parts of mercy with which to be merciful to His slaves of the Day of Resurrection.”[34][35] Also God's mercy according to Islamic theology is what gets a person into paradise. According to Hadith in Shahih Al Bukhari “No one’s deeds will ever admit him to Paradise.” They said, “Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “No, not even me, unless Allah showers me with His Mercy. So try to be near to perfection. And no one should wish for death; he is either doing good so he will do more of that, or he is doing wrong so he may repent.”[35][36]

Omniscience[edit]

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.

And, [O Muhammad], you are not [engaged] in any matter or recite any of the Qur'an and you [people] do not do any deed except that We are witness over you when you are involved in it. And not absent from your Lord is any [part] of an atom's weight within the earth or within the heaven or [anything] smaller than that or greater but that it is in a clear register.

— Quran, Sura 10 (Yunus), ayat 61[37]

And indeed We have created man, and We know what his ownself whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.

— Quran, Sura Qaf: 50:16

Transcendent and Immanent[edit]

God is described as both transcedent and immanent. While on the one hand it is said, "like Him there is naught" the Quran says "We are nearer to him, than the jugular vein". In the sense of being omni-present, God is immanent and also thought to be known indirectly by his creation.[38][39]

Relationship with creation[edit]

As in the other Abrahamic religions, God is believed to communicate with his creation via revelations given to prophets. The Quran in particular is believed by Muslims to be the verbatim word of God as revealed to Muhammad. Hadith are the records of Muhammad's sayings and example, and Hadith Qudsi is a sub-category of hadith, which Muslims regard as the words of God repeated by Muhammad. According to Ali ibn Mohammed 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".[40]

Muslims believe that creation of everything in the universe is brought into being by God's sheer command, "..."Be," and it is.",[4][41] and that the purpose of existence is to worship God.[42][43] He is viewed as a personal God who responds whenever a person in need or distress calls him.[4][44] 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."[45] Muhammad al-Bukhari, in his Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī, narrates a ḥadīth qudsī' that God says, "I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am."[46][47]

Allah's relationship with his servants is like a loving master who overlooks their sins but asks them to repent. If they don't repent before death then his wrath will overtake them.[35][48] The relationship between Allah and his servants can be summed up in one verse, "Declare (O Muhammad) unto My slaves, that truly, I am the Oft-Forgiving, the Most-Merciful. And that My Torment is indeed the most painful torment.” [15:49-50][35]

Concepts in Islamic theology[edit]

Muʿtazila[edit]

The Muʿtazilites rejects the anthropomorphic attributes of God, because an eternal being must be unique. Attributes would make God comparable. The descriptions of God in the Quran are considered to be allegorys.[49] Nevertheless, the Muʿtazilites thought, God contains oneness (tawhid) and justice. Other characteristics like knowledge are not attributed to God, rather they describes his essence. Otherwise eternal attributes of God would give rise to multiplicity entities existing enternal besides God.[50]

Maturidi and Ash'ari[edit]

Ash'ari and Maturidi are in agreement about God's attributes are eternal but neither hold to be metaphorically (unlike Mu'tazilla) nor literally.[51] Therefore, God has hands but they do not resemble humans hands.[52] Althrough God's existence is considered to be possibly known by reason, human mind can not fully understand God's attributes. For example, then humans in paradise see God, they do not see God in the way humans are able to see on earth.[52]

Sufism[edit]

According to sufism, the divine being is manifested in different forms. Yet these forms are not God themselves, but they originate from God and God is immanent in his creation.[53] God is synonymous with The Pure Reality.[54]

Salafism[edit]

Salafism takes the descriptions of God literally and oppose widespread theological concepts including the ash'ari view.[55] Therefore, God has hands and is sitting on a throne literally.[56]

Comparative theology[edit]

Islamic theology identifies Allah as described in the Quran as the same God of Israel who covenanted with Abraham.[57] It rejects previous Meccan Religion's belief that Allah has daughters. Islam and Judaism alike reject the Trinity of Christianity.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Gerhard Böwering God and his Attributes, Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān Quran.com, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1998, p.22
  2. ^ "سورة الإخلاص - سورة 112 - عدد آياتها 4". www.holyquran.net. Retrieved 2017-05-22. 
  3. ^ John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1998, p.88
  4. ^ a b c "Allah." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica
  5. ^ Britannica Encyclopedia, Islam, p. 3
  6. ^ Quran 6:103
  7. ^ "The Noble Qur'an". 
  8. ^ a b 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. 
  9. ^ a b Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, Allah
  10. ^ Annemarie Schimmel,The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic, SUNY Press, p.206
  11. ^ "God". Islam: Empire of Faith. PBS. Archived from the original on 2014-03-27. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "Islam and Christianity", Encyclopedia of Christianity (2001): Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews also refer to God as Allāh.
  13. ^ Gardet, L. "Allah". In Bearman, P.; Bianquis, Th.; Bosworth, C.E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W.P. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Brill Online. Retrieved 2 May 2007. 
  14. ^ "God". Islam: Empire of Faith. PBS. Retrieved 2010-12-18. 
  15. ^ "Islam and Christianity", Encyclopedia of Christianity (2001): Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews also refer to God as Allāh.
  16. ^ L. Gardet. "Allah". Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. 
  17. ^ a b 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. 
  18. ^ Quran 7:180, Quran 17:110, Quran 20:8, Quran 59:24
  19. ^ Quran 17:110
  20. ^ Quran 59:22–24
  21. ^ Böwering, Gerhard. "God and God Attributes". Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān.
  22. ^ The phrase is encoded at Unicode codepoint U+FDFD
  23. ^ The phrase is encoded as a ligature at Unicode codepoint FDFA
  24. ^ Often abbreviated "SWT" or "swt".
  25. ^ Grob, Eva Mira (2010). Documentary Arabic private and business letters on papyrus: form and function, content and context. New York, N.Y.: De Gruyter. p. 26. ISBN 3110247046. 
  26. ^ Reynolds, Gabriel Said, ed. (2011). New perspectives on the Qur'an: The Qur'an in its historical context 2. London: Routledge. p. 259. ISBN 1136700781. 
  27. ^ The phrase is encoded as a ligature at Unicode codepoint U+FDFB
  28. ^ Hossein Nasr The Heart of Islam, Enduring Values for Humanity (April., 2003), pp 3, 39, 85, 27–272
  29. ^ D. Gimaret, Tawhid, Encyclopaedia of Islam
  30. ^ Tariq Ramadan (2005), p.203
  31. ^ "The Noble Qur'an - القرآن الكريم". quran.com. Retrieved 2015-09-25. 
  32. ^ "Allah would replace you with a people who sin". islamtoday.net. Retrieved July 23, 2012. 
  33. ^ Lessons From Surah Ar Rahman - Nouman Ali Khan, retrieved 2015-10-04 
  34. ^ "My Mercy Prevails Over My Wrath". www.onislam.net. Retrieved 2015-10-04. 
  35. ^ a b c d "The Mercy of Allah Towards His slaves - islamqa.info". islamqa.info. Retrieved 2015-10-04. 
  36. ^ "The Spiritual Season Part 3: Ramadan | Al-Madina Institute Blog". Retrieved 2015-10-04. 
  37. ^ "Surah Yunus - The Noble Qur'an - القرآن الكريم". quran.com. 
  38. ^ Ian Richard Netton Allah Transcendent: Studies in the Structure and Semiotics of Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Cosmology Psychology Press 1994 ISBN 978-0-700-70287-9 page 22
  39. ^ Frederick Copleston Religion and The One: Philosophies East and West A&C Black 2003 ISBN 978-0-826-46572-6 page 96
  40. ^ [1], 3rd paragraph, October 2015
  41. ^ Quran 2:117
  42. ^ "Human Nature and the Purpose of Existence". Patheos.com. Retrieved 2011-01-29. 
  43. ^ Quran 51:56
  44. ^ Quran 2:186
  45. ^ Quran 50:16
  46. ^ "I am as My Servant Thinks (expects) I am". hadithaday.org. Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  47. ^ "Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement". usc.edu. 
  48. ^ "We know the signs of Allah’s love for His slave; what are the signs of Allah’s hatred towards His slave? - islamqa.info". islamqa.info. Retrieved 2015-10-04. 
  49. ^ John Renard Islamic Theological Themes: A Primary Source Reader Univ of California Press 2014 ISBN 978-0-520-95771-8 page 138
  50. ^ Patrick Hughes, Thomas Patrick Hughes 'Italic textDictionary of Islam Asian Educational Services, 1995 ISBN 978-8-120-60672-2 page 425
  51. ^ Abdullah Saeed Islamic Thought: An IntroductionRoutledge 2006 ISBN 978-1-134-22564-4 chapter legal thought
  52. ^ a b Andrew Rippin Muslims: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices Psychology Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-415-34888-1 page 86
  53. ^ Karin Jironet The Image of Spiritual Liberty in the Western Sufi Movement Following Hazrat Inayat Khan Peeters Publishers 2002 ISBN 978-9-042-91205-2 page 32
  54. ^ Jean-Louis Michon, Roger Gaetani Sufism: Love & Wisdom World Wisdom, Inc, 2006 ISBN 978-0-941-53275-4 page 207
  55. ^ Alexander Thurston Salafism in Nigeria Cambridge University Press 2016 ISBN 978-1-107-15743-9 page 6
  56. ^ Quintan Wiktorowicz The Management of Islamic Activism: Salafis, the Muslim Brotherhood, and State Power in Jordan SUNY Press 2001 ISBN 978-0-791-44835-9 page 115
  57. ^ 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".

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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]