ALLAH is an Arabic word which refers to the ONE ONLY ALMIGHTY GOD; the creator, the sustainer, the master of the entire creation including the earth, the universe and beyond. Muslims worship the God of all prophets including Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus – peace be upon them all. When prophet Muhammad was asked by people to describe ALLAH, he was given the following description by ALLAH Himself, “Say: He is Allah, the One and Only (1) Allah, the Eternal, Absolute (2) He begetteth not, nor is He begotten (3) And there is none like unto Him (4).” Qur’an 112:1-4) He is neither two nor three. He has neither spouse nor offspring nor ancestors. He is Supreme and Omnipotent. The Qur’an tells us, “…Take not two gods: for He is just One Allah…” (Qur’an 16:51). Elsewhere in the Qur’an we read, “…So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not “Three” – Cease! (it is) better for you! – Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that He should have a son. To Him belong all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender.” (Qur’an 4:171). The principle of “Oneness of God” or “Divine Unity” is the very soul of Islam. The Qur’an abounds with strong arguments supporting this principle. “Never has God begotten a son, nor has there ever been any other god besides Him. (If that happened), each god would govern his own creation, and some would have overwhelmed others. He knows what is hidden and what is open: Exalted is Allah above the partners they attribute to Him!” (Qur’an 23:91-92) In another place, “If there were, in the heavens and the earth, other gods besides Allah, both (the heavens and the earth) would have been ruined! But glory to Allah, the Lord of the Throne: (High is He) above what they attribute to Him! He cannot be questioned for His acts, but they will be questioned (for theirs).” (Qur’an 21:22-23).
It is established that there is a superior power which created, controls and manages the universe. This superior power is given different names by different people. The Qur’an however provides the name which incorporates all the perfect, sublime, and beautiful traits worthy of that superior power: “ALLAH”. The human mind is incapable of knowing the reality of Allah. Human mind cannot reach a full understanding of itself and the many facts of the reality of the universe. Man can only realize the effects of some natural forces and phenomenon, but not complete reality of things. How could a human being aspire to realize the Self of Allah, the Almighty? We can only know about His nature from His divine revelation. “This is God, your Lord, there is no God but Him, the Creator of all things, so worship Him; He is the guardian of all things. No vision can grasp Him, but He grasps all vision; He is the Subtle and All-Aware (of all things).” (Qur’an 6:102-103) Allah is not god of one clan, or one group of people, or one province, or one time-period. He is rather “…the Lord of the Worlds” (Qur’an 1:2), “…the Lord of the heavens and the earth…” (Qur’an 18:14), and “…the Lord of the east and west, and what is between them…” (Qur’an 26:28) The Qur’an says, “… Shall I seek a lord other than Allah, while He is the Lord of all things?” (Qur’an 6:164)
If there is one truth then it can only be reached with the negation of false assumptions. The Muslim starts his or her spiritual journey by the negation of all gods and the affirmation of The Absolute, “there is no god but Allah”. This testimony is the bedrock of belief and therein lies the spiritual and intellectual emancipation of the Muslim heart and mind – A relief from dogmas and misbeliefs. In its essence, the testimony of oneness is liberation from personal prison of a spiritual quagmire. Nothing is rightfully worshipped except the One and only One God, the Creator and the Sustainer of the entire universe whom Muslims call ALLAH. There is one Creator and everything else is God’s creation. We have direct bond with the Creator and a common bond with all that He has created. The following beliefs about Allah are necessary:
He is without body and form, free of restriction, limitation and resemblance, not divisible. Nothing is like Him and He is not like anything. He is not limited by measure, space and time. He is free from diligence, rest and change. Everything is in His grasp. He is above Throne, above heaven and above everything. He nevertheless fully comprehends all below the deeper depth. Yet He is near, very close to a thing, nearer to a person than his or her jugular vein. He is beyond space and beyond time. He expresses Himself through His creatures and He is free from change. No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things. (Qur’an 6:103)
He is Ever-living, All-powerful, Almighty, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient. He is free from faults and failures, slumber, sleep, disease, death. He is the Lord of the entire universe, angels and of everything. The heavens are controlled by His Powers. He is unique in creation and unrivalled in every creation. He fixed the provision and death of created being and nothing can escape from His power. His power and might are above counting.
He is the Omniscient. His knowledge is without limit and He knows everything. Whatever happens between the deepest abysses of the earth to the highest heaven is within His knowledge. The smallest atom in the earth or in heaven is not outside His knowledge. Everything open and secret is within His knowledge. Every thought in mind, every contrivance of the devil and every thought good or bad is within His knowledge. His knowledge is eternal and unlimited and without any defect.
Nothing comes into being small or great, good or evil, benefiting or not benefiting, faith or infidelity, known or unknown, profit or loss, sin or virtue without His order, power and will. What He will comes into being. What He does not will comes not into being. Not a glance of the eye, not a stray sudden thought in mind is outside His will. He does what He wills. There is none to rescind His command; there is no obstacle to it. There is no refuge except to him. There is none to follow His command without His will. If mankind, jinn, angels and devil want to remove an atom from its proper place, they won’t be able to do it without His will. His will lies naturally in His attributes which are unlimited. There is no precedence or subsequence of any event from its appointed time decreed by Him.
He hears and sees; He is the Omniscient. His hearing and sight encompass and pervade all things. Nothing however scanty can escape His hearing and nothing however subtle can go from His sight. Distance is no bar to His hearing and seeing, rather distance and nearness are all equal to Him. Darkness cannot obstruct His sight. He sees without eyes, catches without hand and creates without instrument. His attributes are not like those of the created beings as His being is not like that of the created.
Allah’s speech is eternal, ancient and self-existing unlike the talks of the created. The Qur’an, and the original Gospel, the Torah and the Psalms are His created books revealed to His respective Prophets. The Qur’an is recited by tongue, written in papers and preserved in heart; nevertheless it is an eternal existing Word of Allah.
There is no creator of actions except Him. He created everything in its best of make and form and no other form is better than that form. He is wise in His actions and just in His judgments. His justice is not comparable to that of men or any creature. Whatever exists in the universe: men, jinn, angels, devils, heaven, earth animals, plants, living or inanimate things, all are results of His creating power. He existed in eternity by Himself and there was nothing along with Him. Thereafter He originated creations from nothingness. In all Creations He never feels fatigue or languor. Whatever He does is from a sense of justice, not of oppression or injustice. He gave His prophets miracles and conveyed His injunctions and prohibitions to mankind through them.
The existence of Allah is proved and illustrated in the Qur’an in various ways referring to the best description of creations we see around us and within our own bodies. First, the Qur’an draws the attention of those who faithfully believe in the law of causation to the signs of the universe that point to the Creator. “In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of night and day; in the ships that sail the ocean bearing cargoes beneficial to man; in the water which Allah sends down from the sky and with which He revives the earth after its death, scattering over it all kinds of animals; in the courses of the winds, and in the clouds pressed into service between earth and sky, there are indeed signs for people who use their reason.” (Qur’an 2:164) There has to be a creator for this creation or an organizer for this perfect order, “Were they created of nothing, or were they themselves the creators? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay, they have no firm belief.” (Qur’an 52:35-36) When Pharaoh asked Moses, “Who is your Lord or Moses?” he replied, “Our Lord is He Who gave to each (created) thing its form and nature, then guided it.” (Qur’an 20:49-50)
Second, the Qur’an invokes human ‘innate faith’ (fitrah) that impels man to intuitively recognize the existence of Allah Who protects and give sustenance. Through one’s own natural instinct, especially during the time of utmost hardship, he or she will sincerely call upon Allah for help. “So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. (Adhere to) the ‘fitrah’ of Allah upon which He has created (all) people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know.” (Qur’an 30:30) If this pure and sound innate faith is belied in times of joy, amusement and well-being, it always comes to life in time of hardships, “It is He who enables you to travel on land and sea until, when you are in ships and they sail with them by a good wind and they rejoice therein, there comes a storm wind and the waves come upon them from everywhere and they assume that they are surrounded, supplicating Allah, sincere to Him in religion, If You should save us from this, we will surely be among the thankful” (Qur’an 10:22). This innate faith also comes to life when man is suddenly asked or wonders about the origin of the universe and its Creator. At this time, the word Allah will present itself. “If you asked them, “Who created the heavens and earth and subjected the sun and the moon? They would surely say, ‘Allah’. Then how are they deluded away (from the truth)?” (Qur’an 29:61) “Say, Who provides for you from the heaven and the earth? Or who controls hearing and sight and who brings the living out of the dead and brings the dead out of the living and who arranges [every] matter? They will say, Allah, so say, then will you not fear Him? For that is Allah, your Lord, the Truth. And what can be beyond truth except error? So how are you turned away?” (Qur’an 10:31-32)
Third, the Qur’an brings in historical evidence that the belief in Allah and His messengers has always meant life and well-being, and that disbelief and rejection have always meant destruction and loss. The case of Noah, “But they denied him, so We saved him and those who were with him in the ship. And We drowned those who denied Our signs. Indeed, they were a blind people.” (Qur’an 7:64) In the case of Hud, “So We saved him and those with him by mercy from Us. And We eliminated those who denied Our signs, and they were not [at all] believers.” (Qur’an 7:72) In the case of Saleh and his people of Thamud, “So those are their houses, desolate because of the wrong they had done. Indeed in that is a sign for people who know. And We saved those who believed and used to fear Allah.” (Qur’an 27:52-53) Addressing Muhammad (peace be upon him), the Qur’an refers to all these cases and others saying, “And We have already sent messengers before you to their peoples, and they came to them with clear evidences; then We took retribution from those who committed crimes, and incumbent upon Us was support of the believers.” (Qur’an 30:47)
Allah is One God with no partners whatsoever. There is no one or thing that is like Him in self, attributes or acts. The Qur’an affirms, “Say, He is Allah, The One and Only, The Eternal cause of all beings; He begets not, nor was He begotten. And there is none comparable to Him.” (Qur’an 112:1-4) In another place, “And your God is One God, there is no god but He, the Most Gracious, the Merciful.” (Qur’an 2:163) All the great beauty and order in the universe point to the fact that the Creator is one. If there were more than one, beauty and order would be replaced with anarchy and chaos. “Had there been within (the heavens and earth) other gods besides God, they both would have been ruined. So Exalted is Allah, Lord of the Throne, above what they describe.” (Qur’an 21:22) In another place, “Allah has not taken any son, nor has there ever been with Him any deity. (If there had been), then each deity would have taken what it created, and some of them would have sought to overcome others. Exalted is Allah above what they describe (concerning Him).” (Qur’an 23:91)
Allah is the sole Lord of the heaven and the earth and all what is in them and between them. He created everything and measured it exactly according to its due measurements, and it is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then guided it aright. No creature can ever claim to be the creator, sustainer or controller of even an atom of heaven or earth. Allah is the sole God; none else is worthy or deserving of worship. It is only Allah that people must look up to in fear and hope; it is only Allah that must be asked for mercy and good fortune. All mankind – be the prophets, saints, kings, emperors, presidents, ministers, or ordinary people – are all Allah’s creatures and servants who can do no harm nor affect no benefit except with Allah’s power. “Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to (Allah) Most Gracious as a servant.” (Qur’an 19:93) They cannot control life, death or resurrection. To ascribe divine to a human is to overate that human; and to submit oneself to a human is to underrate oneself.
Allah asked The Prophet Muhammad to call all people of earlier scriptures (Christians and Jews), “Say, O People of the Scripture, come to a word that is equitable between us and you – that we will not worship except Allah and not associate anything with Him and not take one another as lords instead of Allah. But if they turn away, then say, we Bear witness that we are submitting to Him.” (Qur’an 3:64) The Prophet of Islam is described in the Qur’an, “Muhammad is no more than a messenger. Other messengers have passed away before him.” (Qur’an 3:144) According to Islam, all the prophets of Allah are human beings like us who were chosen by Him to carry His message to His creatures and call them to worship Him alone. The Muslim testimony, “There is no god worthy of worship except the One Almighty God” marks a revolution against demigod of the earth, whether they are human, things, concepts or otherwise. No one has the right to be worshipped, except Allah.
To believe in the existence of Allah is to believe that He is perfect in the manner that is described of Him, that He is infallible and free from any imperfection or weakness. “He begets not nor is He begotten, And there is none comparable to Him.” (Qur’an 112:3-4) His perfection is illustrated by the beauty and perfection of the universe, and by sound and insightful nature of humans. The Qur’an has made a detailed account of this. “And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darkness of the earth and no moist or dry (thing) but that it is (written) in a clear record.” (Qur’an 6:59) “[He is] Creator of the heavens and the earth. He has made for you from yourselves, mates, and among the cattle, mates; He multiplies you thereby. There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.” (Qur’an 42:11) Allah is the All-Knowing, the All-Mighty, the Doer of what He wills. No one and nothing can conquer Him or oppose His will. “Say, O Allah, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, over all things you have power.” (Qur’an 3:26)
He is All-Able – there is nothing that He cannot do. It is He Who responds to the one in distress when he calls upon Him, and He Who removes evil. It is He Who will give to the dead when their bones have rotten away and become dust. It is He Who gives life to creatures as He creates them for the first time, and this is easily done, “Blessed is He in whose hand is sovereignty, and He is Able to do all things.” (Qur’an 67:1) He is All-Wise Who creates not in play nor without purpose. He leaves nothing neglected without judgment, reward or punishment. There is nothing that He does nor is a law that He gives that devoid of reason, even though it may not be understood by His creatures. Angels testify to this in the Qur’an, “They said, Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You Who is the All-Knowing, the most Wise.” (Qur’an 2:32) Likewise do all His prophets, devotees and all insightful people, “Those who remember Allah while standing or sitting or (lying) on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying), Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” (Qur’an 3:191)
He is the Merciful Whose anger is overwhelmed by His mercy and Whose mercy and Knowledge are all-inclusive. The Qur’an quotes the angels’ invocation, “… Our Lord, You embrace all things in mercy and knowledge…” (Qur’an 40:7). Allah says, “… As for My punishment, I afflict it whom I please, but My mercy encompasses all things. That (mercy) I shall ordain for those who do right, and practice regular charity, and those who believe in Our signs.” (Qur’an 7:156) To strengthen hope in Him in the hearts of His creatures, especially the sinners and wrongdoers, He says, “Say: O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an 39:53)
God is not isolated from the universe. He says, “It is a revelation from Him who has created the earth and the high heavens, the All Merciful settled on the throne. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth, and whatever lies in between them, and all that lies under the ground. Whether you speak aloud [or in a low voice], He hears all, for He knows your secrets and what is even more hidden. Allah, there is no deity but Him. His are the most excellent names.” (Qur’an 20:4-8) In another verse He says, “Allah: there is no deity save Him, the Living, the Eternal One. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belong whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows all that is before them and all that is behind them. They can grasp only that part of His knowledge which He wills. His throne extends over the heavens and the earth; and their upholding does not weary Him. He is the Sublime, the Almighty One!” (Qur’an 2:255)
God in Islam is the Creator of all, Giver of sustenance to all, the Exalted in Power over everything. He is fully aware of everything and has accounts of everything in the universe. His mercy includes all. He has created everything and then proportioned it. He has measured everything and guided it. He can hear and see and know all that is revealed or confided in the hearts. “Do you not see that Allah knows all that is in the heavens and on the earth? There is not a secret consultation between three, but He makes the fourth among them; nor between five but He makes the sixth; nor between fewer nor more than that, but He is in their midst, wherever they may be: in the end He will tell them the truth about their conduct on the Day of Judgment. For Allah has full knowledge of all things.” (Qur’an 58:7)
His is the creator of all living and non-living and all follow His commandment, and in His power is the dominion of all things. He merges night into day and merges day into night. He brings forth the living from the dead and the dead from the living. He gives wealth and sustenance to whom He wills without limit. Everything that is in the universe, high and low, with or without voice, animate or inanimate, all the stars, planets and their space and orbits, and all other objects in the space are subjected to the ordinance and law of Allah. They all testify to His Greatness and Oneness, bespeak His Knowledge and Wisdom and eternally glorify and praise Him. “The seven heavens and the earth and all who dwell therein glorify Him. There is not a single thing but glorifies Him with His praise; but you do not understand their glorification. Truly, He is forbearing and most forgiving.” (Qur’an 17:44) This universal glorification of and devotion to Allah is a great truth that many eyes fail to see and many ears fail to hear. It is, however, all too obvious for the insightful and sensible – who view the whole world as a place of worship with all its beings prostrating in devotion to Allah, reciting verses of glorification and praise of the All-Mighty, the All-Wise, the Most Beneficent and the Most Merciful. “All who dwell in heavens and on the earth submit to God alone, willingly or unwillingly, as do their shadows in the mornings and in the evenings.” (Qur’an 13:15) “Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Allah — He is the Mighty, the Wise One. He has sovereign control over the heavens and the earth. He gives life and brings death. He has power over all things. He is the First and the Last, the Outward and the Inward. He has knowledge of all things.” (Qur’an 57:1-3) “Do you not see that whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth, as well as the sun and the moon, and the stars and the mountains, and the trees and the beasts and many human beings — all submit to Allah? But there are many who have become deserving of punishment. Whoever Allah disgraces will have no one to honor him. Surely, Allah does what He wills.” (Qur’an 22:18)
The Qur’an establishes the magnificence and uniqueness of God through revealing His metaphysical attributes. He is self-subsisting and eternal (Qur’an 2:255, 3:2, 20:111, 25:58, 40:65) and also absolute (Qur’an 112:2), a perfection which combines infinity and self-sufficiency. God also has moral perfections which include absolute forms of wisdom, knowledge, power, goodness, mercy, and so on. Islam as an absolutely rigorous and unqualified monotheism, views the voluntary submission to God as providing yardstick of human worth. God is unseen, but we can sense His total omnipresence in the nature around us. Everything in the heavens and the earth glorifies God and declares His majestic grandeur (Qur’an 45:36; 57:1; 59:1; 59:24; 61:1; 62:1; 64:1). All creation, including the shadows of objects, bows to God (Qur’an 13:15; 16:48), though such worship is unlike the voluntary, rational and loving worship of human choice.
The perceptible divine dignity is described as glorified (Qur’an 11:73), overwhelming greatness (Qur’an 45:37), glory (Qur’an 17:1), dignified beauty (Qur’an 55:27; 55:58), honor (Qur’an 55:27; 55:78) and gravitas (Qur’an 71:13). He is the first and the last, the evident and hidden (Qur’an 57:3). He is the conqueror (Qur’an 6:18; 6:61) or in intensive form, the irresistibly dominant (Qur’an 12:39; 13:16; 14:48; 39:4; 40:16). “And God dominates in His purposes” (Qur’an 12:21; 65:3); His word is exalted (Qur’an 9:40). He is the All-Sufficient, free from needs (Qur’an 14:8; 27:40; 29:6; 31:12; 57:24; 64:6). “The revelation of the Book is from God, Exalted and Wise, Who forgives sins, accepts repentance, is severe in retribution, has far-reaching power, there is no god except Him; Unto Him is the journeying.” (Qur’an 40:2-3) God is only the genuine Doer: He is able to command anything according to His will (Qur’an 5:1; 3:154), He does all things He intends (Qur’an 11:107) and He directly cause events in nature (Qur’an 25:45-51). Indeed He alone is able to do anything since human agency is over-ridden by His divine actions (Qur’an 8:17, 85:16), especially in the exercise of the divine prerogative of bestowing life and death and of giving life to the dead (Qur’an 3:156; 15:23; 42:9; 44:8; 50:43; 53:44; 57:2).
While Allah is independent to creation, all creation depends on Him and is answerable to Him. He is our King, Owner, and Master. We are His servants, citizens of His kingdom. Allah is not accountable to His creatures – though He has voluntarily enjoined mercy on His nature and conduct (Qur’an 6:12). Yet all will return to Him for accountability and judgment as “their Master” (Qur’an 6:62), He has inalienable sovereignty over all creation, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds (Qur’an 1:2). As obedient servant, the wise person seeks security against divine anger (Qur’an 1:4-7). Allah is independent not only of His creatures, He is also unaffected by their response to His summons (Qur’an 2:57; 39:7). Human is dispensable, even disposable (Qur’an 35:15-17). Whether human beings respond in remorseful obedience or unremorseful rejection, it makes no difference to Allah. However, Allah has honored men and women by His gracious decision to reveal His will for them (Qur’an 17:70; 76:2-3). Though the initiative here is divine, it is we who need Allah (Qur’an 14:8). It is sensible to be aware of the Allah to Whom we are accountable (Qur’an 1:4; 21:23, 43:44), yet He offers us a good sense that is praised as a “bargain” i.e. if we obey we are the successful ones (Qur’an 61:10). If not, Allah warns us that we must be cautious of Him (Qur’an 3:28; 3:30). Allah is merciful to whom He wishes and gives wisdom and guidance to whomsoever He pleases (Qur’an 2:269). He forgives whom He pleases and punishes whom He pleases (Qur’an 5:18;; 42:8; 48:14; 76:31). In the first case the statement is made in the context of those who claim exemption from divine judgment (Qur’an 5:18).
While Allah is self-described as merciful, appreciative, forbearing and just, always rich in pardon for a corrupt community, He is also punishing those who reject the injunctions (Qur’an 13:6); if men and women believe and act virtuously, He is eager to reward them generously. “Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, a life that is good and pure and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.” (Qur’an 16:97)