God in Islam

In IslamGod (الله, Allāh, contraction of الْإِلٰه al-ilāh, lit. “the God“) is indivisible, the God, the absolute one, the all-powerful and all-knowing ruler of the universe, and the creator of everything in existence. Islam emphasizes that God is strictly singular (tawḥīd): unique (wāḥid ), inherently One (aḥad ), also all-merciful and omnipotent. God is neither a material nor a spiritual being. According to Islamic teachings, beyond the Throne 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.”

Chapter 112 of the Quran, titled Al-‘Ikhlās (The Sincerity) reads:

“He is God, [who is] One. God, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent.”

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. All these names refer to Allah, the supreme and all-comprehensive god. Among the 99 names of God, the most familiar and frequent are “the Compassionate” (Ar-Raḥmān) and “the Merciful” (Ar-Raḥīm). Creation and ordering of the universe is seen as an act of prime mercy for which all creatures praise God’s attributes and bear witness to God’s unity.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque – Blue Mosque

Allah

Main article: Allah, and Who Is Allah?

Allah is the Arabic word referring to God in Abrahamic religions. 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.

Allah

Other names

Main article: Names of God in Islam

God is described and referred to in the Quran and hadith by 99 names that reflect his attributes. The Quran refers to the attributes of God as “most beautiful names”. 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 “Call upon Allah, or call upon The Merciful; whichsoever you call upon, to Allah 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 God’s Attributes

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, Yakush in Berber, and “Zot” in Albanian, Khodā in Persian.

Phrases and expressions

There are numerous conventional phrases and expressions invoking God.

Name Phrase Citation 
(Quran or Sunnah)
Takbīra    
allāhu ʾakbaru 9:72, 29:45, 40:10
أَللّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ
God is greater (than anything you see, hear, or do)
Tasbīḥa
subḥāna llāhi 23:91, 28:68, 37:159, 52:43, 59:23
سُبْحَانَ اللّٰهِ
Glory to God
Taḥmīda
al-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 ʾillā 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 
in the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Insha’Allah
ʾin shāʾa llāhu 2:70, 12:99, 18:69, 28:27, 48:27
إِنْ شَاءَ اللّٰهُ
if God is willing
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 وَآلِہِ وَسَلَّمَ‎ 
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
ʾastaġfiru llāhi 12:98, 19:47
أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللّٰهِ
I seek forgiveness from God
Ḥawqala
ʾlā ḥawla wa lā quwwata illā bi-llāhi Riyad as-Salihin 16:36
لا حول ولا قوة 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 ḫayran Riyad as-Salihin 17:32, Tirmidhi 27:141, Bukhari 7:3
جَزَاكَ اللّٰهُ خَيْرًا
May God reward you well
ʾAʿūdhu bi-llāh
ʾaʿūḏu bi-llāhi mina š-šayṭāni 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
subḥānahu wa-taʿālā 6:100, 10:18, 16:1, 17:43, 30:40, 39:67
سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ
May He be praised and exalted
Jalla jalālahu
jalla jalālahu  
جَلَّ جَلَالَهُ
May His glory be glorified
ʿAzza wa-jalla
ʿazza wa-jalla  
عَزَّ وَجَلَّ
the Glorified/Exalted/Mighty and Sublime

Attributes

Oneness

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 (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. 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.

Big bang in space, computer generated fractal background

Creator

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.

— Quran35:1

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

— Quran51:47

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.

— Quran23:12

[‘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]

— Quran19:36

Mercy

The most commonly used names in the primary sources are Al-Rahman, meaning “Most Compassionate” and Al-Rahim, meaning “Most Merciful”. The former compasses the whole creation, therefore apply to God’s mercy, that gives every necessary condition to make life possible. The latter apply to God’s mercy, that gives favor for good deeds. Thus Al-Rahman includes both the believers and the unbelievers, but Al-Rahim the believers. God is said to love forgiving, with a hadith stating God would replace a sinless people with one who sinned but still asked repentance. 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.

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.”

Also God’s mercy according to Islamic theology is what gets a person into paradise. According to hadith in Sahih 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.”

Omniscience

God is fully aware of everything that can be known. This includes private thoughts and feelings. The Qur’an 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

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

Relationship with creation

Further information: Salah, Taqwa, and Predestination In IslamIslamic holy books, The Holy Quran

Muslims believe that God is the only true reality and the creation including its creatures are just a derivative reality created out of love and mercy by God’s command, “…”Be,” and it is.” and that the purpose of existence is to worship or to knowGod. As in the other Abrahamic religions, God is believed to communicate with his creation via revelations given to prophets to remind people of God. 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”. 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.” People may enter a particular relationship with God any time and in different circumstances through the divine names or attributes. Thus God is also a personal God who responds whenever a person in need or distress calls Him. Muhammad al-Bukhari, in his Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī, narrates a ḥadīth qudsī that God says, “I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am.” When Sufis claim union with God, it is not that they become one in essence, rather the will of the Sufi is fully congruent to God.

Concepts in Islamic theology

Shia Islam

Main article: Shia Islam

Isma’ilism

According to Isma’ilism, God is absolutely transcendent and unknowable; beyond matter, energy, space, time, change, imaginings, intellect, positive as well as negative qualities. All attributes of God named in rituals, scriptures or prayers refers not to qualities God possesses, but to qualities emanated from God, thus these are the attributes God gave as the source of all qualities, but God does not consist on one of these qualities. Since God is beyond all wordings, Isma’ilism also denies the concept of God as the first cause.

Sunni Islam

Main articles: Sunni Islam

Muʿtazila

The Muʿtazilites reject the anthropomorphic attributes of God because an eternal being “must be unique”. Accordingly, attributes would make God comparable. The descriptions of God in the Quran are considered to be allegories. Nevertheless, the Muʿtazilites thought, God contains oneness (tawhid) and justice. Other characteristics like knowledge are not attributed to God; rather they describe his essence. Otherwise eternal attributes of God would give rise to multiplicity entities existing eternal besides God.

Maturidi and Ash’ari

Ash’ari and Maturidi are in agreement about God’s attributes are eternal but neither hold to be metaphorically (unlike Mu’tazilla) nor literally. Therefore, God has hands but they do not resemble humans hands. Although God’s existence is considered to be possibly known by reason, human mind can not fully understand God’s attributes. For example, when humans in paradise see God, they do not see God in the way humans are able to see on Earth. Ashʿari asserts, since God is the creator of everything that exists and creation does not affect nor alter God, the Throne of God is not a dwelling place for God. Accordingly, God is above his Throne means, God exist unattached of any place.

Sufism

Main articles: Sufism and What Is Sufism?

Since God in Islam is transcendental and sovereign but also immanent and omnipresent, the Sufi view holds that in reality, only God exists. Thus everything in creation is reflecting an attribute of God’s names. Yet these forms are not God themselves. The Sufi Saint Ibn Arabi stated: There is nothing but God. This statement was mistakenly equalized to Pantheism by critics, however, Ibn Arabi always made a clear distinction between the creation and the creator. Since God is the Absolute Reality, the created worlds and their inhabitants are merely illusions. They just exist because of Gods command Kun, but everything that would be, was already known by God.

Salafism and Wahhabism

Salafism and Wahhabism refuse interpretations on Quran to avoid altering of its message, thus taking the descriptions of God literally and oppose widespread theological concepts including the Ash’ari view. Therefore, God’s hands must be taken literally and is sitting on or above his throne.

Comparative theology

Further information: Abrahamic Religions

Islamic theology identifies God as described in the Quran as the same God of Israel who covenanted with Abraham. It rejects previous Meccan Religion’s belief that God has daughters. Islam and Judaism alike reject the Trinity of Christianity. However the Islamic concept of God is less personal (human-like) than his Judeo-Christian aspect.

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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