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Nature of Allah

of Allah

Yasir al-Wakeel 


religious and philosophical outlook concerning The Nature
of Allah, the purpose of creation and the practical implications
of our faith in Allah

is based on monotheism. Tawhid, the oneness of Allah, is
an essential belief for all Muslims.
Islam teaches that Allah, the one
god, has 99 attributes. Although we can understand some of
His attributes, His essence cannot be comprehended by a human’s
limited mental capacity. Allah has created mankind primarily
so that they may know their creator through his creations.
Realisation of the supremacy of Allah, although necessary
for success in the hereafter, has not been enforced on man
– it is a test that is based on the fact that man has been
given free will. However, man’s free
will is limited, although he has
the freedom to choose between right and wrong, he cannot
change parts of his destiny that Allah
has pre-determined. Understanding
the nature of Allah is essential as it has a substantial
effect on a Muslim’s duties to Allah.

The oneness
of Allah is the one most important theological principal
in Islam. The first of the five pillars, the declaration of
faith, which is the first act that
one does to embark on Islam, reiterates
the necessity of the belief in the oneness of Allah. It begins
with the negation of any god other than Allah:

bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that
Mohammed is His messenger."

with negation rather than affirmation, in this case, serves
to emphasise strongly the importance of the oneness of Allah.

The Quran,
the words of Allah mediated to Prophet Muhammad
by the angel Jibril (Gabriel), is full of references to the
essential belief in one god:


‘He is Allah the One’ 112:1


Allah alone is the creator of all things and he is
the One, the Most Supreme 13:17

‘I am only a Warner, and there is no god but Allah,
the One, the Most Supreme. 23:66

is He! He is Allah the One, the Most Supreme 39:5

As well as
proving the oneness of god through the Quran, logic too
can help prove this as I shall explain. If you ask a believer in
god, whether he believes in one god
or ten, you will probably find
that somewhere in his definition of the term ‘God’ he rules
out the possibility of god being weak,
inferior or compromising. From
this, we may say that something that is weak, inferior or
compromising cannot be a God. Yet the
very fact that there is more
than one god suggests two contradictory possibilities; That
the Gods are of equal power and therefore
are compromising, or
that their power is uneven resulting in some Gods being inferior
to others. From this ontological argument one can conclude
that there can only be one true god.

the mainly Greek belief that refers to the belief that
there are two gods- one evil and one good- on account of
the reasoning that I have mentioned
can clearly be put aside. However
one can also add that if there was one good god and one
evil god, or even any other form of polytheism, the world
would be in chaos and thus the order
of the world would break down.
Logically, by the use of the common analogy that one can
not have more than one captain in a boat you can start to
see the reasoning that I am trying
to convey. With power in the hands
of more than one god there would clearly be argument.

one effective point that non-Muslims or curious ones such
as myself put across is that this theory is contradictory to
Islamic teachings, because we are associating
god with the human attribute
of not being able to share power. The answer to this
is clear. It is not an assumption by humans that there would
be chaos if there was more than one
god, for if it was -putting in mind
that Islam teaches that humans with their finite perceptions
cannot make any assumptions about God-
than it would be very wrong.
However it is a fact made known to us by Allah Himself in
the Quran:


there had been in them (the heaven and the earth)
other gods beside Allah, then surely both would have
gone to ruin." 21:23

is another theory that Muslims believe to be wrong. Although
Muslims believe that Allah is everywhere, he is a separate
entity and therefore cannot be reincarnated in everything
as the pantheists believe – who although are not strictly
defined as polytheists, they are certainly not monotheistic
in the Islamic sense.

against the oneness of Allah, Shirk, is a very major sin:


Allah will not forgive that any partner be associated
with him" Holy Quran 4:49

the attributes of Allah, Islam teaches that Allah although
He has many attributes, cannot be fully understood by man.
Man is restricted in thought into that which is manifest,
Allah however is unique and above human


the god of all humanity, is perceived differently in other
religions. Since man would be limiting
Allah by creating a physical
image of Him Muslims do not. Allah is as I said unique and
superior to His creations. Thus the biblical statement that
was mentioned in Genesis Ch1 v27 that
God has created man in his
own image is a view that is not shared by Muslims.

religions believe that God resembles creation- they believe
in describing causes by their effects. An example of this
is that we can describe a corpse to
be horrifying (the effect) but we
may also say that the person responsible for this death, the
murderer, (the cause) is also horrifying
– cause resembles effect. This
theory can easily be put aside, for although it may be true
for a limited number of examples, the
vast majority can prove it wrong,
i.e. a shoe does not resemble a shoe maker, etc.

Thus Islam
does not try in anyway to personify Allah. Whilst it may
be true that two of His attributes are that He ‘Sees’ and
‘Hears’, this does not mean that He
has eyes and ears like you and
I, His hearing or seeing cannot be comprehended by us as
finite beings.

the Almighty, is ideal. He is the ‘Just’ and the Judge, as
well as the ‘Avenger of Evil.’ It follows
that to test mankind one must
judge fairly and punish those who do evil. An example of
Allah’s justness is that we are only
accountable for our own actions,
unlike the Christian concept of the original sin, for the
Quran says that no bearer can bear
a burden of another.

do not agree with the Judaeo- Christian concept of God
having the necessity to rest as they say he did after creating
the world. All god needs to say is
‘Be and it is.’
Tiredness is a human
attribute as is making mistakes, this is not applicable to
god who is infallible. Allah is also
pre-existent to all he has created,
he is the first, and as Aristotle put it in his cosmological
theory ‘the prime mover.’

the Creator has perfect knowledge. Muslims believe in the
omniscience of Allah, He knows all that is tangible and that
is manifest, He knows the past and
the future. Muslims rebuke the
Christian belief that god does not have perfect knowledge,
for example in the bible it says that
God underestimated the intelligence
of His creations- He did not think that man could build
the tower of Babel (Genesis Ch11 v5-7, Exodus Ch32 v14).
Muslims argue that having created everything, He knows all
that there is to know.

To be
a Muslim it is essential to believe in the destiny, whether
good or bad, that Allah has set for
us (known as Qadr in Arabic).
The Quran says:


Nothing shall befall us save that which Allah has
ordained for us"

This however
does not mean that man does not have free will, for
if he did not Allah’s justice would be compromised for you
cannot judge a person if he does not
have the freedom of choosing
what he does. Allah, the ‘Just’, has given man both destiny
and free will, the action of a human is interrelated with
destiny and both are mutually necessary,
as Imam Ali son of Abi Talib
(AS) said:

predestined will of Allah and the action of a human
are like the spirit and the body, the spirit without
the body has no physicality and the body without
the soul is a picture without movement. If the
two are adjoined they become like Al-Qadr and
action, for if there was no Qadr then you would
not know the difference between creation and
creator, and if there was action without it being
willed and predestined by Allah than it would
not happen."

Some things
such as our deaths and disease are above human will,
no matter what a person does, if for instance God has set
the hour at which you are to die than
it will be so:

no soul can die except by Allah’s leave- a decree
with a fixed term" Holy Quran 3:146

"They say
‘If we had any part in the government of
affairs, we should not have been killed here.’ Say
‘If you had remained in your homes, surely those
on whom fighting had been enjoyed would have
gone forth to their deathbeds." Holy Quran 3:155

are also an example of things that are pre-destined by Allah,
a poor man could work all his life but never become rich
whilst others are rich without effort.
This generalised example serves
to bring us on to a specific comment; Even though things
such as our income are predestined
by Allah we must strive to improve
our conditions, for although they are willed by Allah, if
we will it Allah may change his will:


Allah changes not the condition of a people until
they change themselves" Holy Quran

Yet we
came back to the age old question: Why did God create man?
One always wonders about this question, if God is perfect
what use would man be to him? None.
Allah did not create man for
his own benefit, he created man for the benefit of man: The
hadith Qudsi says:


son of Adam, I did not create you for my own benefit, but that you benefit
from Me as your God, alone, for I am your saviour"

But how
can we benefit from Allah? We can benefit from Allah by
worshipping him, for if we worship Allah we will be rewarded.
This is a reason in its self:


I have not created the Jin and man but that they worship
Me" Holy Quran 51:57

Now the
next thing that one can ask is ‘How can we worship Him?’
To worship Allah we have to accept that there is a God, this
implies that God created man so that they may know Him, but
is this the primary reason? The grandson of the Prophet,
Imam Hussain bin Ali (AS), implies
that it is when he said:


people, Allah did not create mankind but that they
know Him, for if they know Him they will    
worship Him, and if they worship Him they will benefit
from his grace"

one may look at the purpose of creation from a different
aspect and thus end up with an altogether different answer
as to what the primary reason is. If you go back to the question
of how can we benefit from Allah, we may come up with
a different reason, other than worship. All of creation is
already at benefit. Our existence is
benefit. Being created is an example
of Allah’s mercy towards us. Thus one can conclude that
we were created, fundamentally because Allah is merciful.
However, although there are many different
perspectives to the answer
as to why we were created, they are all connected and in
a way each of them is right.

In defining
what is meant by a Muslim’s duties, we may generalise
that a Muslim’s duty is to worship Allah. To elaborate further,
Muslims do not see the term worship in the vague sense of
praying and fasting, etc – worship can be any aspect of a
Muslim’s daily life depending on the
intention. For example even a
when a Muslim goes to get an education, provided that he
intends to use it for good, it is seen
as worship and will be rewarded.

Each of
Allah’s divine attributes has practical implications in the
life of a firm Muslim. Clear, comprehension
of the uniqueness of Allah’s
nature improves a persons Taqwa, or belief in god. Having
taqwa in our hearts throughout our daily life adds a feeling
of contentment peace with one’s self and constant happiness,
for when they return to Allah He will say:

thou, O soul at peace. Return to thy Lord well pleased
with Him and He will be pleased with thee Holy Quran

that Allah knows all, hears all and sees all that we do is
one of the most important aspects of Allah’s nature that a
Muslim can benefit from. Knowing that
‘there are not two but that
the third is Allah (hadith) increases what we might call our
‘self-policing’. For example, when
one is alone such as when a teenager
is away from his strict parents, he may say that there is
no one to fear so why bother praying?
The answer to this is given
in the following hadith:


Allah as if you can see Him, if you cannot imagine
seeing Him, know that He sees you."

sees everything that we do and so we should be faithful in
our duties even when we are alone.

For those
who have a very high realisation of the nature of Allah,
they do not worship him for the fear of His hell, nor for
the want of His paradise but because
Allah is worthy of all praise.
Imam Ali (AS), the cousin of the prophet says:


Allah, I did not worship You for the greed of your
paradise nor for the fear of hell, but because you
are worthy of all praise."

is the ideal that all Muslims should aim for.
e greed of your
paradise nor for the fear of hell, but because you
are worthy of all praise."

is the ideal that all Muslims should aim for.


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