The Holy Qur’an states:
“Allah is He, except Him, none is worthy of worship, the Ever-living, the Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining. Slumber seizes Him not, nor sleep. To Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows all that is before them and all that is behind them, and they cannot compass aught His knowledge, except that which He pleases. His knowledge extends over the heavens and the earth; and the care of them wearies Him not. He is the Most High, the Most Great.”(1)
Here God has been described as a Being Who has no associate with Him in respect to the qualities mentioned. He alone is alive and all other receive life from him. He exists in His own being and everything else exists through His support.
The attributes of God mentioned above already existed in the Old Testament as well. For example Isaiah(as) says,
“The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary.”(2)
Jeremiah(as) the prophet says,
“The Lord is a living God and an Everlasting King,”(3)
In Psalms we read,
“He knoweth the secrets of the heart.”(4)
While most of the attributes of God were described in the Bible as just shown, the details of the attributes were not given as in the Holy Qur’an.
Islam has presented four attributes of God that may be considered the master attributes because all others fall under these four. The four attributes are:
Malikiyyat of the Day of Judgment
Surah Fatiha describes Allah to set forth these master attributes by calling Him:
Rabbul-Aalameen: Sustainer of all the worlds
Rahmaan: The Most Gracious
Raheem: The Most Merciful
Malik-e-yomiddin: Master of the day of judgement
The divine grace is manifested in the world in four types. The first is the most general type of grace. The Rabubiyyat is the absolute grace which perpetually envelopes everything from the heavens to the earth without distinction of animate or inanimate. Creation of everything from non-existence and its development is through this grace. This grace is the very life of the universe. Without this grace, the universe will end and that is why this attribute of God being Rabbul Aalameen or Sustainer of all the worlds is mentioned first in the list of the attributes. This is the natural order because this attribute of grace is most general in scope and it comes before the other attributes and it comprehends everything whether animate or unanimate.
The second type of grace Rahmaniyyat is also of a general scope but the difference between this and the first attribute is that it is bestowed only upon animates. The special attention of the Divine towards living things is called the Rahmaniyyat. It operates according to the needs of all living things completely gratuitously. It is not the result of or reward for any action. Through this grace, all the means of life which are needed by every living being or its species for own continuance, are made available. It is the consequence of this grace that not only the physical needs are satisfied but also to provide the nourishment for the spiritual development, word of God descends on the living beings. It is Rahmaniyyat that has provided the surface of the earth for residence, the sun and the moon for light, air for breathing, water for drinking, all varieties of food for eating, millions of medicines for treatment and the Divine books for spiritual guidance. There is no basis to say that these blessings are a result of anyone’s actions or efforts or a result of anyone’s asking, therefore it must be understood that this is a gratuitous bounty and a manifestation of divine compassion so that all animate should achieve its natural purpose and all its needs may be fulfilled.
The third type of grace is not general but a special grace. Under the general grace, a beneficiary need not be good, nor is required to put forward any effort to take advantage of it. However, in the case of the special grace called Rahimiyyat, striving and effort and purification of the heart and supplication and attention towards God and every other kind of appropriate effort is needed. The existence of this grace is proved by observation of the law of nature. Without doubt, a special mercy descends upon people who strive truly in the cause of God and withdraw from darkness and disorder. By virtue of this grace, God’s name is mentioned as Rahim. Because the attribute of Rahimiyyat is special and follows upon fulfillment of certain conditions and it is mentioned after Rahmaniyyat in Surah Fatiha.
The fourth attribute Malik-e-youmiddin indicates that on the Day of Judgment, comfort or suffering and pleasure or pain, whatever is experienced by man, will proceed directly from God. He will be the master of all conditions. On that day God’s Rahimiyyat will manifest itself without the intervention of material means and it will be observed and felt that everything besides the great power and might of Allah is non-existent. Then all comfort and joy and all reward and punishment will appear clearly as coming from God and there will be no veil in between and there will be no room left for any doubt. Those who had believed in Him, had adhered to unity, and had dyed their hearts in his pure love will experience the light of his mercy clearly and openly, and those who had not achieved faith and the love of God will be deprived of this delight and comfort and will be involved in painful torment.
Under all these four attributes fall all other attributes of God mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. The attributes that the Holy Qur’an has set out for us are in the following verses:
Allah is He, besides Him there is no God. Knower of the unseen and the seen, He is the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful, Master of the Day of Judgment, the Sovereign, the Most Holy, the Source of Peace, the Bestower of Security, the Protector, the Mighty, the Subduer, the Exalted. He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, and the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies him. He is Mighty the Wise .(5)
He has power to do all that He wills. He is the Lord of the world, Most Gracious, Ever merciful, Master of the Day of Judgement.(6)
I respond to the call of the caller when he calls on Me.(7)
The Ever-living, He is Allah, the Single, Allah the Self-Existing and Besought of all. He begets not nor is He begotten and there is none like unto Him.(8)
COMPARISON WITH OTHER RELIGIONS:
Now let us examine how the concept and the attributes of God presented by Islam compare with that of the other religions.
The older religions such as Hinduism even deny the basic attributes presented by Islam. For example, generally they do not believe in the real creation by God from non-existence but according to their belief the particles were there and God only assembled them and that is as far as the concept of creation goes. They do not believe that God could forgive anyone’s sins but is like a judge who must punish if the sin is committed. Islam, however, presents God as the creator of everything from non-existence and the Master of the Day of Judgment, not a mere judge. Therefore, to forgive His creation or to reward extraordinarily for limited actions is within His power. Whatever God bestows upon a creature as a reward for his actions is purely his bounty.
Looking at the Gospels, we find that it teaches to pray in the following words:
“Our Father Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and put us not in temptation, but save us from evil for Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”
However, the Holy Qur’an says that the earth is not empty of God’s Holiness which is proclaimed not only in Heaven but also on earth. It says:
“There is not a thing, but glorifies Him with His praise”.(9 )
The mountains glorify Him, the rivers glorify Him, the trees glorify Him and many righteous ones are occupied with His remembrance. Everything is obedient to Him. Not a leaf can fall without His command. Every particle of the earth and mountains, every drop of the rivers and oceans, every leaf of trees and plants and all particles of men and beasts recognize God and obey Him and are occupied with His glorification and praise Him because they are all subject to His rules of creation. How can it be said that God’s kingdom is not on earth when some of the things obey the commandment of the law and some are obedient to divine decrees and some are occupied with obedience of both. But the Gospel says that the earth is empty of the glorification of God and the reason is indicated in the sentence that follows, namely, that the kingdom of God has not yet arrived on earth. That is why God’s will has not been put into effect on the earth as it operates in Heaven. The teaching of the Qur’an is altogether contrary to this.
Aside from the above example, Christians of today present God as part of trinity, of which Jesus(as) and the Holy Spirit are parts as well. It goes against the concept of oneness presented by Islam, and God being unique to say that Jesus(as) also had the same attributes. The concept of accepting Jesus(as) as having divine attributes is in clear contradiction of the Bible as well. It is written that the Lord fainteth not, neither is weary but we find that Jesus(as) used to get tired and sleep; as once he fell asleep in the ship according to Matthew.(10) It is written that the Lord is a Living God and an Everlasting King and we find that Jesus(as) was not only lacking kingdom but stated,
“Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have their nests, but the son of man hath not where to lay his head.”(11 )
He did not even possess a small portion of the earth. It is written that God knoweth the secrets of the heart and we find that Jesus(as) was not even close to being the All-Knowing because he said,
“But of that day and of that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the son, but the Father.”(12)
Furthermore, how could he be even considered to be Self-Subsistent when he required food like anyone else and declared,
“As the living Father has sent me and I live by the Father.”(13 )
That is what Islam has presented that everything in the universe lives by God alone.
In comparing the concept of God as presented by Islam with that of Christianity, you must have heard many times the remarks in reference to the name of God: Allah. First, let us understand that the word Allah is not an invention of Islam. The word in Arabic language was given to the Creator and God of the worlds. In English language, if someone asks another person if he believes in God, he may answer yes I believe in God. Since we cannot differentiate in speech the difference of capital G or small g, it does not give us a clear understanding of which god he is speaking of. However, if the answer is that one believes in Allah, the answer becomes clear because Allah denotes certain attributes and qualities that only pertain to the Creator God and no confusion is left open.
There is only one group of Christians who makes a big issue of the name given to God that is the Jehovah Witnesses. They come knocking on your doors and ask you if you know the name of God and regardless of your answer let you in the information that God’s name is Jehova. The name Jehovah is not unfamiliar to the Christians. It occurs frequently in the Old Testament but its origin is uncertain. The name Jehovah is supposedly a development of a Hebrew name, formed from the four Hebrew letters equivalent to YHWH. A vast philosophy has grown up around Yahweh as the name of God but until the movement known as Jehovah’s Witnesses began changing its English scriptures to include Jehovah in every possible place, not much of an issue was made of the divine name by Christians.
First of all, Jehovah, the name used today, cannot possibly be Hebrew. The letters j and v do not occur in that language. The argument that Jehovah is the true and original name of God then cannot be valid if the Hebrew origin of the Scriptures is kept in view.
Biblical scholars have stated that the Old Testament is composed essentially of four major narratives that have been combined to give a single account of the creation and the early history of the people of Judah and Israel. These narratives each introduce God in a different manner and by a different name. The first group of documents supposedly originated in the southern kingdom of Judah among the people who came to be known as the Jews. These are the Yahweh or Jehovah documents called J documents by the scholars. The J documents are believed to have been produced around the 9th century B.C. During the 8th century B.C., about one hundred years later, another set of writings were produced in the northern kingdom of Israel. In these Israelite writings, God is referred to as Elohim. These are called the E documents. Still later around 5th century, Jewish Rabbis combined materials from J and E documents and produced a set of books called the JE documents. In these writings, the Israelites and Judaic names were combined to form the name Jehovah Elohim that in today’s Bible is translated into English as the Lord God.
The word Elohim is the plural form of the word Eloh. It is very possible that the singular word Eloh originated from the word Allah and later on was changed to plural form for Elohim. Just the idea of similarity between the name Allah and Elohim was so offending to the Gospel followers that in today’s Bible, we no longer find Elohim. In his place has been substituted “The Lord” or the “Lord of Israel”. The closest of the Hebrew names to the names of one true God, without question is Elohim, although it is still corrupt because of the addition of the plural form. There is enough evidence and the characteristic of the word Allah makes it clear that it is the original name given to God and considering that Arabic is the mother of all languages, it becomes easier to comprehend why Islam refers to God as Allah.
NEED OF PROPHET TO UNDERSTAND GOD:
In reviewing different concepts of God in various religions and descriptions of philosophers, how do we go about understanding God Almighty? It should be understood that ever since the creation of the world, the recognition of God is tied to the recognition of a prophet. It is impossible that the knowledge of Divinity could be obtained except through a prophet. A prophet is a mirror for beholding God. It is only through this mirror that the countenance of God may be seen. When God Almighty desires to manifest Himself to the world, He sends a prophet into the world who reflects His powers and to whom He displays His Rabubiyyat. The prophet then realizes first hand who the Rab is and then the world realizes His existence. It is not possible to achieve faith in the pure unity of God in the absence of heavenly signs and wonders which are displayed by the prophets whereby they lead people to full understanding.
The meaning of what has just been stated can be clearly understood by reviewing the example of the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam. Many people may believe God to be having all knowledge but the way the Holy Prophet(sa) could understand this attribute, no one else could. In his time, people had to put forth tremendous amount of effort to learn the Bible and Hebrew language and find the old books to get the knowledge of Jewish religion. But the Holy Prophet(sa) would go to sleep without having any formal education or lessons on the Bible and God would teach him so much knowledge, while he was asleep, about Moses(as), Jacob(as), Joseph(as) and Jesus(as) that fourteen hundred years later, we find that the knowledge given to the Holy Prophet(sa) is accurate and the scholars of that day were wrong and had defective research. This is how the Holy Prophet(sa) knew God to be the knower, the Aleem, by firsthand experience.
Another example will clarify it further. Many people believe that God is the Sustainer and provides food. Most of us, however, see our parents providing us food and we may, as a formality, believe that God is providing us the food but we are at a real loss to strongly understand this connection. In the life of the Holy Prophet(sa), it was neither his father nor his mother who provided him food but it was provided by Allah Himself. When he was a child, the time came according to the tradition of Arabia that he be sent with a childcare taker to the village areas where the language is better spoken along with the healthy atmosphere was better for children. Because he was an orphan, no one wanted to take him considering that the rewards will not be significant. On the other hand, Halima, the caretaker, could not get a child because she was wearing worn out clothes and whoever saw her considered that she is so poor how she could afford to take care of the child. Finally, someone told this disappointed woman that she should go and get Muhammad(as) who is still available. At that point, she only accepted him to save her face in her village. However, as soon as Muhammad(sa) came to her house, abundance of food took place. The goats that were not producing milk were all of a sudden producing plenty of milk. She admitted at that point that that food was given to her because of this child. Now, knowing all of this the knowledge of God being the Rab or Sustainer and Provider of food was so clear to the Holy Prophet(sa) that no one else could comprehend it any better.
The same examples can be related about various other attributes of God, which the Holy Prophet(sa) acknowledged by his experience and then explained to his companions.
POWER OF SPEAKING:
This brings me to an attribute of God that all religions are refusing to accept but it has been clarified to us by the Prophet of this age–the Promised Messiah(as). That is the power of speech. Whether it is the Hindus, the Jews, the Christians, or the Muslims, everyone seemed to think that God, while He is exercising all other powers, has ceased for whatever reason to speak to us. It was through the firsthand experience that the Promised Messiah(as) announced speaking of God to him. He states:
“The God Who has manifested Himself to all the prophets and appeared to Moses(as) on Mount Sinai and appeared to Jesus(as) on Mount Seir and shone forth to Hazrat Muhammad(sa), the chosen one, peace be on him on Mount Paran, the same Mighty and Holy God has manifested Himself to me. He has talked to me and has said: “I am the High Being to establish Whose worship all the prophets were sent. I alone am the Creator and the Master and have no associate. I am not subject to birth or death.”(14)
It was a result of this direct speech that the faith in God was firmed up by the Promised Messiah(as) and then he could not stop himself from declaring to the people to accept and acknowledge the existence of God. He declared:
Our God is our paradise. Our highest delight is in our God for we have seen Him and have found every beauty in Him. This wealth is worth procuring though one might have to lay down one’s life to procure it. This ruby is worth purchasing though one may have to lose oneself to acquire it. 0’ ye, who are bereft, run to this fountain and it will satisfy you. It is the fountain of life that will save you. What shall I do, and beating what drum shall I make the announcement that this is your God, so that people might hear? What remedy shall I apply to the ears of the people so that they should listen?(15)
As God’s tradition has been in the past, he started to show signs to His prophet in this age as well. As He spoke to the Promised Messiah(as), things started happening in Qadian, a remote town, an obscure and hidden place became the talk of the country. The sick were being healed and the dead were given life and the existence of God started to become clear to the people around this prophet. As his master had gotten knowledge directly from Allah, he was also taught Arabic language by God Himself and challenged the rest of the world on his knowledge of Arabic. Here was a non-Arabian challenging the world without going through formal universities providing the clear proof that same God known as Aleem, the knower has shown his face again. Once again it was proved through a prophet that God is alive and He speaks. Unlike a philosopher’s reasoning which may get him as far as saying that God should or could exist, the prophet showed by miracles and signs and knowledge of things that God not only should or could but does in fact exist, and His proof is that He speaks today as He spoke in the past. If you keep on calling someone and he does not speak back, after a while, you may lose faith is his hearing capability as well.
This is the Islam’s concept in brief. God is a living power, speaking to His chosen ones, and keep on announcing that He exists. All other religions have given up on Him because if you keep on calling someone and get no response you will doubt the existence of that being. Promised Messiah(as)‘s following announcement makes it clear about God’s speech with him. He says:
“..Unless God Almighty affirms His existence through His Word, as He has manifested it through His work, the observation of the work alone does not afford complete satisfaction. For instance, if we are confronted by a room the door of which is bolted from inside, our immediate reaction would be that there is someone inside the room who has bolted the door from inside, inasmuch as it is apparently impossible to bolt a door from inside by some device employed for the purpose from the outside. But if, despite persistent calls from the outside over a period of years, no response becomes audible from inside, our supposition that there must be someone inside would have to be abandoned and we would be compelled to conclude that the door has been bolted from inside through some clever device. This is the situation in which those philosophers have placed themselves whose understanding is limited solely to the observation of the work of God. It is a great mistake to imagine that God is like a corpse interred in the earth whose recovery is the business of man. If God has only been discovered through human effort, it is vain to expect anything from Him. Indeed, God has, through eternity, called mankind to Himself by affirming: I am present. It would be a great impertinence to imagine that man has laid God under an obligation by discovering Him through his own effort, and that if there had been no philosophers He would have continued unknown.
It is equally stupid to enquire how God can speak unless He has a tongue to speak with. The answer is: Has He not created the earth and the heavenly bodies without physical hands? Does He not view the universe without eyes? Does He not hear our supplications without physical ears?
Then it is not necessary that He should also speak to us? Nor is it correct to say God spoke in the past but does not speak now. We cannot limit His Word or His discourse to any particular time. He is as ready today to enrich His seekers from the fountain of revelation as He was at any time, and the gates of His grace are as wide open today as they were at any time. It is true, however, that as the need for a perfect law has been fulfilled all law and limitations have been completed. Also all prophethoods, having arrived at their climax in the person of our lord and master, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, have been filled.”(16)
If anyone has the desire to know about God and the desire to meet His Maker and to have audience with Him he must go through and learn the ways through the prophet of this age. Just as Moses(as) was for his times, as Jesus(as) was for his times, Hazrat Ahmad(as) is the truth, the light, the way and there is no other door open but his to accomplish the purpose of our creation…meeting our God–Allah.
- Holy Qur’an 2:256
- Isaiah 40:28
- Jeremiah 10:10
- Psalms 44:12
- Holy Qur’an 59:23-25
- Holy Qur’an 1:2-4
- Holy Qur’an 2:187
- Holy Qur’an 112:2-5
- Holy Qur’an 17:45
- Mathews 8:24
- Mathews 8:20
- Mark 43:32
- John 6:57
- Government Angrezi aur Jihad, Ruhani Khazain Vol.17, Page 29)
- Kishti Nooh, Ruhani Khazain Vol.19 PP 21-22)
- The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, Revised Edition reprinted in UK 20155, Pages 81-83