Attributes of God

Different religious traditions assign differing (though often similar) attributes and characteristics to God, including expansive powers and abilities, psychological characteristics, gender characteristics, and preferred nomenclature. The assignment of these attributes often differs according to the conceptions of God in the culture from which they arise. For example, attributes of God in Christianity, attributes of God in Islam, and the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy in Judaism share certain similarities arising from their common roots.

Main articles: The Attributes of God

The philosophy of religion recognizes the following as essential attributes of God:

The Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity

Attributes of God in Christianity

When we speak of the attributes of God in Christianity, we are talking about those characteristics that helps us to understand who He truly is.

The most common way to classify God’s attributes divides them into:

  • Incommunicable attributes (traits that God doesn’t share or “communicate” to others)
  • Communicable attributes (traits that God shares or “communicates” with us).

God’s incommunicable attributes

  • Aseity (God is so independent that he does not need us)
  • Eternal nature (God is infinite, but we are finite)
  • Holiness (He is separate from sin and incorruptible)
  • Immanence (divine encompasses or is manifested in the material world)
  • Impassibility  (God does not experience pain or pleasure from the actions of another being)
  • Immutability (he never changes, but we do)
  • Infinity (God includes both his Eternity and his immensity)
  • Impeccability (God cannot sin)
  • Incomprehensibility (Acatalepsy; God is not able to be fully known)
  • Incorporeality (Not composed of matter; having no material existence)
  • Mystery (God only reveals certain knowledge to the human race. “God is ultimate mystery.”)
  • Omnibenevolence (“unlimited or infinite benevolence”
  • Omnipotence (All powerful, Almighty)
  • Omnipresence (God is everywhere at once, but we can only be in one place at a time)
  • Omniscience (God has the capacity to know everything including the future)
  • Oneness (The oneness, or unity of God refers to his being one and only)
  • Simplicity (God is not partly this and partly that, but that whatever he is, he is so entirely.)
  • Transcendence (Wholly independent of the material universe, beyond all known physical laws)

God’s communicable attributes

  • Goodness (“God is the final standard of good, and all that God is and does is worthy of approval.”)
  • Graciousness (“the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not necessarily because of anything we have done to earn it”)
  • Jealousy (God “zeal to protect a love relationship or to avenge it when broken”)
  • Justice (God is just, and we’re capable of justice)
  • Love (God is love, and we’re capable of love)
  • Knowledge (God has knowledge, and we can have it, too)
  • Mercy (God is merciful, and we’re also capable of mercy)
  • Mission (Christian Mission is not primarily an activity of the church, but an attribute of God)
  • Righteousness  (God’s holiness, to his justice, or to his saving activity)
  • Providence (God‘s intervention in the Universe. God’s care for the universe)
  • Sovereignty  (God being in complete control as he directs all things)
  • Trinity (The relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit described in the Bible)
  • Veracity (“God, who does not lie.”)
  • Wrat (“God’s wrath is his love in action against sin.”)

Attributes of God Judaism

The single attributes are contained in the verses as follows:

  1. יְהוָה YHVH: compassion before a person sins;
  2. יְהוָה YHVH: compassion after a person has sinned;
  3. אֵל El: mighty in compassion to give all creatures according to their need;
  4. רַחוּם Raḥum: merciful, that humankind may not be distressed;
  5. וְחַנּוּן VeḤanun: and gracious if humankind is already in distress;
  6. אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם Erekh appayim: slow to anger;
  7. וְרַב-חֶסֶד VeRav ḥesed: and plenteous in kindness;
  8. וֶאֱמֶת VeEmet: and truth;
  9. נֹצֵר חֶסֶד לָאֲלָפִים Notzer ḥesed laalafim: keeping kindness unto thousands;
  10. נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן Noseh avon: forgiving iniquity;
  11. וָפֶשַׁע VaFeshah: and transgression;
  12. וְחַטָּאָה VeḤata’ah: and sin;
  13. וְנַקֵּה VeNakeh: and pardoning.
Allah's Attributes

Allah’s Attributes

Attributes of God Islam

According to the religious methodology or the basic principles of religion, the Attributes of God in Islam consist of certain transcending and blessed concepts—whose transcendence and blessedness come from the Being Whom they describe; these describe God Almighty and are, in one sense, regarded as the veils of the Divine Essence. These blessed concepts, mentioned as the Attributes of the Divine Being, are either in the form of nouns, infinitives, adverbs, or of adjectives.

Attributes of God in Islam divided into 5 categories;

The Attributes of Exemption

God Almighty is absolutely free or exempt from any:

  • need
  • defect
  • fault
  • shortcoming
  • impotence
  • poverty
  • neediness
  • the need to eat or drink
  • to beget or be begotten

The Essential Attributes

  • (The All-Holy, Self-) Existence (Wujud)
  • Oneness (Wahdaniyya)
  • Having No Beginning (Qidam)
  • Eternal Permanence (Baqa’)
  • Being Unlike the Created (Muhalafatun lil-hawadith)
  • Self-Subsistence (Qiyam bi-nafsihi)

 

 

Affirmative Attributes

  • Life (Hayah)
  • Knowledge (‘Ilm)
  • Hearing (Sam‘a)
  • Sight (Basar)
  • Will (Irada)
  • Power (Qudra)
  • Speech (Kalam)
  • Making Exist (Takwin)

The  Attributes of Action

  • Creation (Khalq)
  • Originating Uniquely (Ibda’)
  • Producing (Insha’)
  • Giving Life and Reviving, and Causing to Die (Ihya’ and Imata)
  • Providing (Tarziq)

 

God’s Figurative Attributes

  • Coming” in And Your Lord comes (89:22);
  • Self-Establishment” in The All-Merciful, Who has established Himself on the Supreme Throne (20:5), which means God’s subjugating the creation to His command, manifesting His Sovereignty, Grandeur, and Power;
  • Avoidance” in God avoids but completing His light (9:32);
  • Self” in He has bound Himself to mercy (6:12), And I have attached you to Myself (20:41), and in the Prophetic saying, “You are as You have praised Yourself;” and the Prophetic quotation from God, “Surely I have made wrongdoing unlawful for Myself.”
  • Wrath” in God has become wrathful with them (4:93), which means punishment and condemnation;
  • Hand” in verses such as God’s hand is over their hands (48:10), and All grace is in God’s hand (57:29), which means power, ownership, control and disposal, and help;
  • Face” in verses such as Everything is perishable except His Face (28:88), But there remains forever the Face of Your Lord (55:27), and We feed you only for the sake of God’s Face” (76:9), which means the Divine Being Himself or God’s approval and good pleasure.
  • Saying” in verses like: When your Lord said to the angels (2:30);
  • Speaking” in His Lord spoke to him (7:143);
  • All-Hearing, All-Seeing” in the Divine declaration, Surely God is All-Hearing, All-Seeing (22:75);
  • Companionship” which is understood from God is with You (47:35); and
  • Footing” in They have a sure footing with their Lord (10:2),
  • “Asking” in “He asks the angels;”
  • Ordering” and “Prohibiting” in the Prophetic sayings where we see the phrases “He orders” and “He prohibits;”
  • Witnessing” in the sayings where the phrase “He witnesses” is mentioned;
  • Moving Speedily” in the sayings such as “He moves speedily to respond with favor;”
  • Approaching” in such sayings as “He immediately approaches with favor;”
  • Descending” in the sayings such as “He descends to the heaven of the world,” and several other concepts such as:
  • Loving, Becoming Wrathful, the Best Form, Exhilaration, Smiling, Grasping, Contracting, Expanding, Struggling, Feeling Wonder, Showing Care, Heed and Sensitivity, Being with or Companionship” in the Prophetic say­ings where we see the phrases, “He loves; He becomes wrathful; He is seen in the Best Form; He exhilarates; He smiles; He grasps; He expands; He struggles; He feels wonder; There is none more careful and sensitive than God,” and “I am with him when he mentions Me,” respectively.

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Gender of God

The gender of God may be viewed as either a literal or an allegorical aspect of a deity who, in classical western philosophy, transcends bodily form. Polytheistic religions commonly attribute to each of the gods a gender, allowing each to interact with any of the others, and perhaps with humans, sexually. In most monotheistic religions, God has no counterpart with which to relate sexually. Thus, in classical western philosophy the gender of this one-and-only deity is most likely to be an analogical statement of how humans and God address, and relate to, each other. Namely, God is seen as begetter of the world and revelation which corresponds to the active (as opposed to the receptive) role in sexual intercourse.

Frequently Asked Questions about God

God’s existence in Sufism

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