God in Islam

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This article is about the Islamic view of God. For the Arabic word "Allah", see Allah.

In Islamic theology, God (Arabic: اللهAllāh) is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer and judge of everything in existence.[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 Quran, "No vision can grasp him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things."[5] God, as referenced in the Quran, is the only God.[6][7]

Definition of God is given in the Surat 112 Al-'Ikhlāş (The Sincerity) it says "He is God, [who is] One. God, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent."[8]

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.[9][10] All these names refer to Allah, the supreme and all-comprehensive divine name.[11] Among the 99 names of God, the most familiar and frequent of these names are "the Compassionate" (Ar-Raḥmān) and "the Merciful" (Ar-Raḥīm).[9][10] 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]

Islamic theology makes a distinction between the attributes of God and the divine essence.[clarification needed][12] Islam also has a concept of negative theology, known as ta'tili "negation", stating that God exists without a place and has no resemblance to his creation.[13]


Main article: Names of God in Islam


Further information: Allah and El (deity)

Allah is the Arabic term used by Muslims (as well as Arabic speaking Christians and Jews) for the one God, while ilāh (Arabic: إله‎) is the term used for a deity or a god in general.[14] It is related to ʾĔlāhā in Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

Other names[edit]

God is described and referred in the Quran and hadith by certain names or attributes.[15] The Quran refers to the attributes of God as God's "most beautiful names".[16] 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 God: Allāh. The locus classicus for listing the Divine Names in the literature of Qurʾānic commentary is 17:110[17] “Call upon God, or call upon The Merciful; whichsoever you call upon, to God belong the most beautiful Names,” and also 59:22-24,[18] which includes a cluster of more than a dozen Divine epithets."

— Gerhard Böwering, God and God's Attributes[12]

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)

Non-Arab Muslims may or may not use different names as much as Allah, for instance "God" in English, "Tanrı" in Turkish, Yakush in Berber, and "Zot" in Albanian, Khodā in Persian, and also as a loanword in Bengali, Urdu, Sindhi, Hindi and several South Asian languages.

Phrases and expressions[edit]

There are numerous conventional phrases and expressions invoking God.

Name Phrase Citation
(Quran or Sunnah)
ʾallāhu ʾakbaru 9:72, 29:45, 40:10
أَللّٰهِ أَكْبَرُ
God is greatest
subḥāna llāhi 23:91, 28:68, 37:159, 52:43, 59:23
سُبْحَانَ اللّٰهِ
Glory to God
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
lā ʾilāha ʾillā llāhu 37:38, 47:19
لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلّٰا اللّٰهُ
(There is) no god but God
muḥammadun rasūlu llāhi 48:29
مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ اللّٰهِ
Muhammad is the messenger of God
Bi-smi llāhi
bi-smi llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīmi 1:1
بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ[19]
in the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful
in shāʾa llāhu 2:70, 12:99, 18:69, 28:27, 48:27
إِنْ شَاءَ اللّٰهُ
if God will
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[20]
God bless him and give him salvation
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
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 الشَّ يْطٰنِ 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 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[21] 6:100, 10:18, 16:1, 17:43, 30:40, 39:67
سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ
May He be praised and exalted[22][23]
Jalla jalālahu
jalla jalālahu
جَلَّ جَلَالَهُ[24]
May His glory be glorified
ʿAzza wa-jalla
ʿazza wa-jalla
عَزَّ وَجَلَّ
the Mighty and Sublime



Main article: Tawhid

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[25] (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.[26]

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.

— Quran, Sura 112 (Al-Ikhlas), ayat 1-4[27]

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.

— Quran, Sura 6 (Al-An'am), ayah 133[28]

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. Islam is not an iconodule religion. Any kind of visualization of God is forbidden.

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."[26][29] 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.[30]

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.[31]

Tawhid constitutes the foremost article of the Muslim profession.[32] 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.[33] The word 'we' in the Qur'an are majestic plurals.


Allah 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,sura 35(Fatir) ayat 1


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, suspending thing, 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


The most commonly used names in the primary sources are Al-Rahman, meaning "Most Compassionate" and Al-Rahim, meaning "Most Merciful".[15] God is said to love forgiving, with a hadith stating God would replace a sinless people with one who sinned but still asked repentance.[35] Also the word Rahman comes from the word Rahm which means the womb of the mother so it is a comparison between gods mercy to the mercy of a mother with her child.[36]

His mercy takes many forms from as he say in the Quaran "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.”[37][38] 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.”[39] [38]


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[40]

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 (by Our Knowledge).

— Quran, Sura Qaf: 50:16

Relationship with creation[edit]

Further information: Salat, Taqwa and Predestination
Further information: Islamic holy books, Quran and Quranic createdness

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".[41]

Muslims believe that creation of everything in the universe is brought into being by God’s sheer command, "..."Be," and it is.",[3][42] and that the purpose of existence is to worship God.[43][44] He is viewed as a personal God who responds whenever a person in need or distress calls him.[3][45] 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."[46] Muhammad al-Bukhari, in his Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī, narrates a ḥadīth qudsī' that God says, "I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am."[47][48]

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 over take them.[49] [38] 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][38]

Comparative theology[edit]

Further information: Comparative theology and Abrahamic religions

Islamic theology identifies God as described in the Quran as the same god of Israel who covenanted with Abraham.[50] Islam and Judaism alike reject the Trinity of Nicaean Christianity, which was a development peculiar to questions of Christology in Early Christianity. This has led to the medieval Christian view of early Islam as one of several non-Trinitarian Christian heresies.

The identification of God both in Islam and in Christianity with the God of Abraham has been used to argue for a limited amount of mutual recognition among the Abrahamic religions on the part of Ludovico Marracci, the confessor of Pope Innocent XI, who wrote in 1734:[51]

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.

See also[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. ^ 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. ^ Quran 6:103
  6. ^ Quran 29:46
  7. ^ F.E. Peters, Islam, p.4, Princeton University Press, 2003
  8. ^ "The Noble Qur'an". 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ a b Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, Allah
  11. ^ Annemarie Schimmel,The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic, SUNY Press, p.206
  12. ^ a b Böwering, Gerhard. "God and God Attributes". Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān.
  13. ^ often invoked in this context[according to whom?] is Sura 42:11, reading "there is nothing whatever like unto Him" Quran 42:11
  14. ^ "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. 
  15. ^ 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. 
  16. ^ Quran 7:180, Quran 17:110, Quran 20:8, Quran 59:24
  17. ^ Quran 17:110
  18. ^ Quran 59:22–24
  19. ^ The phrase is encoded at Unicode codepoint U+FDFD
  20. ^ The phrase is encoded as a ligature at Unicode codepoint FDFA
  21. ^ Often abbreviated "SWT" or "swt".
  22. ^ 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. 
  23. ^ 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. 
  24. ^ The phrase is encoded as a ligature at Unicode codepoint U+FDFB
  25. ^ Hossein Nasr The Heart of Islam, Enduring Values for Humanity (April., 2003), pp 3, 39, 85, 27–272
  26. ^ a b Vincent J. Cornell, Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol 5, pp.3561-3562
  27. ^ Quran 112:1–4
  28. ^ Quran 6:133
  29. ^ Quran 57:3
  30. ^ Roger S. Gottlie (2006), p.210
  31. ^ Asma Barlas (2002), p.96
  32. ^ D. Gimaret, Tawhid, Encyclopaedia of Islam
  33. ^ Tariq Ramadan (2005), p.203
  34. ^ "The Noble Qur'an - القرآن الكريم". quran.com. Retrieved 2015-09-25. 
  35. ^ "Allah would replace you with a people who sin". islamtoday.net. Retrieved July 23, 2012. 
  36. ^ Lessons From Surah Ar Rahman - Nouman Ali Khan, retrieved 2015-10-04 
  37. ^ ""My Mercy Prevails Over My Wrath"". www.onislam.net. Retrieved 2015-10-04. 
  38. ^ a b c d "The Mercy of Allah Towards His slaves - islamqa.info". islamqa.info. Retrieved 2015-10-04. 
  39. ^ "The Spiritual Season Part 3: Ramadan | Al-Madina Institute Blog". Retrieved 2015-10-04. 
  40. ^ "Surah Yunus - The Noble Qur'an - القرآن الكريم". quran.com. 
  41. ^ [1], 3rd paragraph, October 2015
  42. ^ Quran 2:117
  43. ^ "Human Nature and the Purpose of Existence". Patheos.com. Retrieved 2011-01-29. 
  44. ^ Quran 51:56
  45. ^ Quran 2:186
  46. ^ Quran 50:16
  47. ^ "I am as My Servant Thinks (expects) I am". hadithaday.org. Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  48. ^ "Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement". usc.edu. 
  49. ^ "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. 
  50. ^ 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".
  51. ^ William Montgomery Watt, Islam and Christianity today: A Contribution to Dialogue, Routledge, 1983, p.45


  • 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]